8 Best Yoga Poses for Runners

One of the things new run­ners learn is that run­ning can hurt—and not just the lung-burst­ing, calf-burn­ing sen­sa­tion of the first runs, but the total leg and some­times abdom­i­nal tight­ness the days after. For new and vet­er­an run­ners alike, the tight­ness can lead to some seri­ous injuries if you don’t learn to stretch it out post-run.

For­tu­nate­ly, yoga com­ple­ments your runs nice­ly by both stretch­ing out those tight mus­cles and build­ing strength where you need it. Here are the best yoga pos­es for runners:

But­ter­fly

If you’ve ever tak­en a P.E. class ever, you’re prob­a­bly famil­iar with the But­ter­fly pose. Sit tall on your mat, and put the bot­toms of your feet togeth­er. Inter­lace your fin­gers around your toes and sit up straight, rolling your shoul­ders back and down. If you don’t feel a nice groin stretch already, either bring your feet clos­er in or low­er your knees clos­er to the ground. If you need more, lean for­ward. With every inhale, visu­al­ize the crown of your head reach out to the wall in front of you and with every exhale, sink a lit­tle deep­er and bring your chest clos­er to the ground.

Runner’s Lunge

As the name sug­gests, this pose is great for run­ners. It’ll stretch out your groin and hip flex­ors. Start in a lunge posi­tion with either foot back first. Press through your back heel to straight­en the leg. (Don’t hes­i­tate to let your back knee drop to the ground if you need to.) Your front knee should be over your ankle and your hands on the ground on either side of the front leg. Tuck your tail­bone and raise your heart up with­out mov­ing your hands. And don’t for­get to breathe. Switch up your legs to get the stretch on the oth­er side.

Stand­ing For­ward Bend

Stand up with the out­er edges of your feet par­al­lel (so you’re slight­ly pigeon-toed) and your feet hip’s width dis­tance apart. With a flat back, bend over and let your fin­gers rest on the ground. If your ham­strings are tight, it can be hard to have straight legs; so don’t hes­i­tate to bend your knees. The key is to make sure you’re bend­ing from the hip, rather than round­ing too much. Let your head drop and feel a nice spinal and ham­string stretch.

Dia­mond Pose With Toes Tucked

This one will hurt so remem­ber to breathe. Start by sit­ting on your knees with your shins par­al­lel to each oth­er. Tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels. Rest your hands on your thighs. You will know you’re doing this right when it feels like your toes are scream­ing. Hold for 10 or more breaths to get a nice arch stretch.

Half-Pigeon Pose

Start in a low lunge. Then lay your front leg down so it’s par­al­lel to the front of your mat and bring your back leg down stretch out straight behind you. Sit nice and tall and then slow­ly bend over your front leg—straightening on your inhales and sink­ing on your exhales. You’ll stretch the thighs, groin and your hips. Be sure to do the oth­er side to stay even.

Child’s Pose

Start by sit­ting on your knees with the tops of your feet flat on your mat. Lay over the front of your knees, stretch­ing your arms out. This’ll give you a nice relax­ing pos­ture with a good back stretch. You can also bring your arms behind you on either side for a shoul­der stretch.

Quad Stretch

Begin in a low lunge and bring your back knee to the ground. Then, bend your back knee and reach around to grab the foot, using the same hand as leg. If you want to add a twist, use your oppo­site hand. Hold for sev­er­al breaths, and switch sides. This’ll help loosen up those quadri­ceps while also build­ing bal­anc­ing strength.

Boat

No runner’s yoga prac­tice is com­plete with­out a lit­tle ab work. Sit up straight with your knees and ankles togeth­er, your hands, palms up, by your sides. Lean back, keep­ing a flat back and your stom­ach tight, tail­bone-tucked. And then lift your arms and feet off the ground and straight­en your legs so your body is in a V shape. While this’ll def­i­nite­ly start to work your core, lean­ing back a lit­tle and low­er­ing your legs a lit­tle simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and then crunch­ing back up a few times will help you get that strength your core needs for your hard­er runs.