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11 Yoga Poses Every Runner Needs to Know

Exercisers who regularly pound the pavement know that the lean mass, increased cardiovascular endurance, and endorphin rush you gain from running is great, but those running perks also come with a few downsides, like decreased flexibility, sore muscles, and tight hips. Luckily, there’s an easy way to combat the negative effects of training: yoga!

Yoga is great for runners because it counteracts the pounding, tightening, and shortening of muscles they experience, says Kiley Holliday, a yoga instructor who teaches workshops geared specifically to runners at Pure Yoga in NYC. Holliday created this sequence to target areas of the body that are problematic for runners, like the hamstrings, the IT band, hip flexors, psoas, and shoulders. Get ready to feel restored, elongated, and loose! (And if you're into sculpting muscles on the mat, here's The Yoga Workout That Tones with Dumbbells.)

How it works: Perform this sequence of yoga poses before or after a run to help loosen up your muscles and prevent injury.

Total Time: up to 15 minutes

You will need: Mat, Yoga block

1. Shoulder Openers

A.

Interlace fingers behind back, palms touching if possible. Bend elbows and place knuckles on lower back near sacrum.

B.

Attempt to close elbows behind back.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds

2. Standing Forward Fold

A.

Stand with feet parallel, hip-width distance apart.

B.

Gently bend over the legs, pulling abs in and bending slightly at knees. Use blocks if hamstrings are tight, or grab opposite elbows and hang.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds

3. Supported Backward Bend

A.

Stand with feet parallel, hip-width distance apart.

B.

Place hands on lower back with fingers pointed down. Reach chest up, opening the shoulders, without crunching in the lower back.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds

4. Crescent Lunge

A.

Come into a lunge with left knee directly in line over the heel and back knee lifted.

B.

Carefully drop the back knee and un-tuck toes. Place hands on top of front thigh and align shoulders over hips. Let the top of the back thigh melt downward.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

5. Half-Split with Flexed Foot

A.

Begin in crescent lunge.

B.

Carefully drop the back knee and un-tuck toes. Place hands on the top of the front thigh and align shoulders over hips. Let the top of the back thigh melt downward.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

6. Half-Split with IT Band Stretch

A.

Begin in half split, using blocks under each hand for support.

B.

Spin the pinky toe edge of the left foot down, so the side of the foot touches the mat. Walk blocks over to the outside of left leg. Gaze over left shoulder.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

7. Forward Fold with Ankles Crossed

A.

Standing up, cross left ankle in front of right, leaving some space between the feet.

B.

Fold forward and down, rolling to the outside edges of both feet.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

8. Lizard

A.

Begin in crescent lunge.

B.

Place hands inside the left foot and wiggle the foot to the left edge of the mat. Try to place forearms on to ground. Use blocks if necessary.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

9. Lizard Variation with Quad Stretch

A.

Begin in lizard pose.

B.

Come up off forearms and onto hands. Turn left foot out at a forty-five degree angle and roll onto the outer edge of the foot. Use left hand to push against inner left thigh, opening up hip. Hold for a few breaths.

C.

Bend right knee and catch the pinky toe edge of the right foot with the left hand. Pull to stretch the quad.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

10. Beginner’s Ankle to Knee

A.

Sit with left shin crossed directly in front of right. Align left heel with right knee and flex both feet.

B.

Fold forward, reaching outwards.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

11. Seated Figure Four

A.

Sit with the left knee bent towards the chest and the foot on the floor as close to the butt as possible. Arms should be behind you, fingertips pointing forward. Cross right ankle over left thigh.

B.

Turn hands around and push chest forward, bringing chest into legs. Keep the back straight.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

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