4 min read

Yoga for Runners

To be a runner takes dedication, smart training, and a tremendous amount of mental stamina. Runners often go long distances without rest. They hit the pavement when it’s raining, frigid cold, and hot as the dickens.


What is Yoga for Runners?

woman doing yoga and pilateso utdoor with her mat as part of yoga for runners

Many long-distance athletes are interested in yoga for runners, especially those who struggle with runners knee1.

To be a runner takes dedication, smart training, and a tremendous amount of mental stamina. Runners go long distances without rest. They hit the pavement when it’s raining, frigid cold, and hot as the dickens.

Because of these physical and mental stressors, it makes sense that practice as calming and gentle as yoga could be appealing to runners. In truth, the appeal is warranted. Yoga is an excellent practice for all types of runners, from novices to professionals. If you are looking for pain relief as a runner, then gentle yoga would be an excellent alternative for you. 

Here’s more on why yoga and running go together like two peas in a pod.


Why Should A Runner Do Yoga?

If you’re a runner and interested in yoga, you’re “on the right path”!

For millennia, both athletes and non-athletes alike have been using yoga to soothe sore muscles, increase flexibility, strengthen joints, bolster lung capacity, and improve mental stamina.

While some yoga poses may work better for runners, there aren’t any specific “running poses” per se.

Most of the time, yoga routines for runners are simply designed to cater to the joints and muscles that are most affected by running. Yoga postures for runners may include those that help with runner’s knee, shin splints, or plantar fasciitis, for example.

Here is a full list of ways that yoga can benefit runners. Yoga:


What Type of Yoga Is Best for Runners?

A yoga routine that many runners enjoy is hatha yoga.

Hatha yoga2 is sort of catch-all in that it refers to most Western styles of yoga — basically, any yoga that encompasses physical postures, including:

  • Ashtanga yoga

  • Vinyasa yoga

  • Iyengar yoga

Hatha yoga is great for runners — especially for those who have never tried yoga before. That’s because it’s usually gentle, relaxing, and fairly basic.

In terms of when and how to do yoga for running, that’s up to the athlete. For instance, many runners just want a simple yoga routine they can do on their “off days” or as a quick pre run yoga to get stretched out before a workout.

Others want to stretch out with yoga after running or to do specific yoga for sore muscles. Lastly, a great many avid runners are looking to yoga to treat their runner’s knee or other injury treatments.


The Upside of Doing Yoga as A Runner

Benefits of doing yoga for runners3 include:

  • Improved core strength

  • Increased blood flow to tight joints

  • Gentle stretching for overworked muscles that become tight while running

  • Improved flexibility

  • Restored range of motion

  • Soreness and discomfort relief

  • Ideal workout on off days

  • Ideal warmup and/or cooldown

  • A way to continue your fitness routine even during injury recovery (pending your doctor’s approval)

Yoga is also an excellent way for you to incorporate corporate wellness into your daily work life. Keeping a good balance between health and work is important and this could be a way to solve this issue. 


Can Yoga Help With Runners Knee?

Running and yoga are a match made in heaven. And that especially goes for those who struggle with runner’s knee.

Athletes with runner's knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) can particularly benefit from the gentle muscle-strengthening poses of yoga. In fact, doing yoga before or after running can also help prevent runners knee in the first place.

With that said, it’s critical to know whether you have runner's knee or not before performing yoga. Start by using a knee pain symptom checker. The following can all be signs of patellofemoral pain syndrome or runner’s knee:

  • Pain behind knee

  • Knee pain when bending

  • Lateral knee pain

  • Pain in front of knee

If you indeed have a knee condition, yoga before or after cardio can help, but always talk to your doctor or trainer first.

In general, here are some yoga postures for runners — along with other exercise tips — that can help with knee pain if you are a runner:

  • Lizard stretch

  • IT band stretch4 (IT band stretches work the iliotibial band, which goes from the hip to the knee)

  • ITB stretches with a foam roller

  • Yoga quad stretch

  • Yoga poses for hamstrings5 (downward facing dog, gate pose, firefly pose, etc.)

  • Hip stretches for runners

  • Hugging knees pose

  • Runners lunge

Reach out to us if you would like to discuss a private yoga session in regards to runner's knee or if you have other questions!


Yoga for Runners: Frequently Asked Questions


What type of yoga is best for runners?

Most types of yoga will benefit runners, but here are a few types you may want to try:

  • Restorative yoga: Intended to relax and calm (perfect after a vigorous run)

  • Power yoga: Great for improving both flexibility and strength

  • Ashtanga yoga: A type of yoga as exercise; good for knee pain relief


Why is yoga good for runners?

Yoga offers both physical and mental benefits to runners.

Physically, it can improve flexibility, posture, and strength, and it can also help prevent injuries. Unlike running, yoga can stretch out and flex all of your muscles in unique ways. It’s the ideal cross-training workout.

Mentally, yoga boosts concentration and focus, increasing stamina and drive.


What is better for runners: yoga or pilates?

This depends on your goals and current training routine.

As far as cross-training for strength and stamina, pilates may be better as it tends to be a bit more intensive. If your goals are more focused on improving flexibility with better warmups and cooldowns, or on finding more centeredness with a focused and calming practice, yoga may be for you. Learn more about yoga vs pilates here. 


What is best for runners: Weights or Yoga

Runners can certainly benefit from both weights and yoga. Typically, weights and weight training provide more joint protection and muscle-building capabilities.

Yoga, on the other hand, focuses more on gentle stretching and breathwork. While yoga can certainly strengthen muscles too, it’s also the best exercise for calming the mind and cooling down after a run. Why not try one of our online yoga sessions, they might be just what you are looking for! 


Additional References

  1. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/runners-knee
  2. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/hatha
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat
  4. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/08/understanding-the-it-band/
  5. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/anatomy/hamstrings

Chat with an Anahana Wellness Advisor to get the help you need to alleviate your issues with runner's knee. We are here to help and awaiting to hear from you!

The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.

― B.K.S Iyengar

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