Runners are some of the most driven and dynamic of all athletes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t reap the benefits of yoga.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite yoga asanas to help you build strength in your body.
As you already know (if you have been reading my posts), strength is crucial for runners. It can help you achieve your best running performance while also shielding your body against common injury.
That’s why you can’t do much without a comprehensive strength training program. In my experience, the healthiest runners are, after all, those who do some form of strength training on a regular basis—whether it’s traditional weight lifting, inspired CrossFit WODs, bodyweight training, or Yoga.
In other words, in my opinion, yoga is the best functional and well-rounded training that there is.
This is the beauty of yoga, and why I love it sooooo much.
Why Runners Should Do Yoga
As a runner, this balanced approach can help you fix (and prevent) many of the muscles imbalances that lead injury and hamper performance.
I can go on and on about the importance of strength training and yoga for efficient and injury-free running, but that ain’t the purpose of this blog post.
The goal of this post is to provide you with a practical yoga strength routine you can do anytime, anywhere.
No more. No less.
So let’s get the ball rolling..
The Strength Yoga Routine
Here are 7 yoga poses that every runner should do to increase strength in the whole body
If you find any of these poses too easy and boring, then just hold the asana for one full minute or longer while making sure you have proper alignment and the right form to test your strength and stamina.
Don’t cheat. That’s the motto.
Note on warming up
Please keep in mind that you need to be well warmed to do yoga—as it is the case with any other training routine.
So invest in a good yoga warm-up. I highly suggest starting your session with doing two to three Sun Salutation A’s and two Sun Salutation B’s to warm up.
Do this warm-up even if you are doing the strength yoga as a post-run ritual.
1. Downward Dog Split
This is a powerful variation of the classic downward dog asana, and it will help you build immense strength and mobility in your lower body, especially in the glutes—also known as the buttocks—and lower back.
In downward dog, step your feet together so your big toes are touching.
Then with arms and legs straight, inhale and raise your right leg while keeping your hips level and the right foot strongly flexed, raising the right leg up in the air, and coming into a downward Dog split.
Hold the pose for five deep breaths, then switch sides.
Make sure to engage your core throughout the pose and to keep your shoulder parallel to the floor.
For more challenge, try balancing on one the right foot, left arm, then switch side—left foot with the right arm.
2. Low Lunge
The low lunge is a great pose that strengthens the thighs and the calves. This asana also stretches the front of your hips.
To perform Burning Low Lunge, step your right forward three to four feet to assume a lunge position.
Next, press back through the right heel to straighten the left leg.
Lower your left knee until it almost touches the floor and bring down your hands to the sides of the front foot, under the shoulders.
Hold the position for five deep breaths, then switch sides.
3. Bent Standing Split
If you have any flexibility issues in the hamstrings, quads and hips then this asana will be extremely difficult (and really useful!). Chances you are tight in these areas if you run regularly (and don’t a proper stretching routine to counteract the effects of pounding the pavement).
From mountain pose, or Tadasana, hinge at the hips to come into a mild forward fold, with your fingertips touching the ground.
Next, shift your weight onto the right foot, then on the inhale, lift your left leg parallel to the floor.
As you lift your leg higher bring your torso closer to your right leg.
For more challenge, walk your hands to either side of your right foot and grab your foot or ankle as much as you can.
Hold the pose for five deep breaths, then bring your left leg down on the exhale, recover for a moment, then on the inhale repeat on the other side.
This dynamic standing yoga pose strengthens all the muscles in your lower body. It also stretches the lower body, while improving balance and stability.
From mountain pose, step your right foot three to four feet in front of you, then lower your hips into lunge position and shift your weight onto the ball of your back foot, bringing your hands to your hips or above you and reach for the ceiling, with palms facing each other if balance is not an issue.
Make sure to keep your upper body as high as you can while staying up on the ball of the back foot. And check that your hips are squared the entire time.
Hold the position for five breaths then switch sides.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana
This is a must since running is an exclusive lower body activity, so the upper body gets tossed to the side. So don’t be surprised if you have the upper strength of a 9-year-old.
The good news is that this pose is perfect for you. This yogic pushup position builds strength in the upper body when done properly.
Lie facedown, then propel yourself up to plank position. Make sure your body is aligned from head to toe.
Next, come a little bit forward on your toes, and bend the arms straight back, keeping the upper arms hugging into your sides as you lower your body to hover a few inches above the floor. Pause for a moment, then push back up slowly to plank position, or roll over the toes, and come back to upward facing dog.
Make sure to keep your shoulder below the level of your elbows, and keep your whole body straight.
Do at least 10 slow push-ups before you move on to the next asana. Ideally, shoot for five sets of 10 reps.
Running requires a lot of glutes and quads action, and this pose can come in handy. The Goddess asana is a wide squat variation that will tone your lower body and core like no other asana.
From mountain pose, take a step open to the right so your feet are about three to four feet apart, and lift your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
Next, turn your toes out slightly, then on the exhalation, bend your knees directly over your toes and squat down so your quads are parallel with the floor.
Hold the position for up to ten deep breaths, then slowly lower your hands to your hips, and press firmly into your feet to go back to starting position.
7. Warrior III
Warrior III increases strength and length in the spine, core and torso while also strengthening the muscles in your legs. Plus, it also builds balance and concentration.
Start by standing in mountain pose with feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides. Then, step forward with your right foot three to four feet in front. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so your toes point to the top of the mat, and pivot your left foot inward at a 45-degree angle.
Next, shift your weight forward onto the front heel as you gently kick up your back up in the air, while bringing your torso forward until it is parallel to the floor.
Make sure to engage your core and that your neck is in a relaxed position.
Gaze at the floor a few feet in front of your body and hold the pose for 5 deep breaths, then bring your left leg slowly to the floor, and switch sides.
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Feautured Image Credit – Chronic Crippler Through Flickr