Yoga for Runners

5 Poses Every Runner Can Use

The benefits of yoga practice are endless. Seriously, it creates a heightened sense of body awareness, improves flexibility, helps prevent injuries, increases strength of key muscle groups, reduces stress and anxiety — need we go on? New Balance fitness ambassador Aly Raymer has been a fitness instructor for more than 7 years teaching cycling and yoga, and has even created her own style of yoga for runners. "I understand athlete's bodies need to build flexibility and strength, however I realize the limitations that constant training can have," says Raymer. Understanding the countless benefits yoga and stretching can have on the body, we've asked Aly to provide us with some insight on how you can incorporate yoga into your everyday training to become a better athlete and a better runner. Here's her expert advice along with the 5 best yoga poses for runners:

Runners, in particular can reap gigantic benefits from practicing yoga — deep stretching after a run will keep your muscles long and loose as well as prevent soreness and stiffness caused by the buildup of lactic acid. Not to mention, it can teach you to cope with the discomfort and intensity of both long runs and tempo runs — practitioners of yoga see a heightened ability to control emotions while running. We're not saying you have to attend an hour yoga class twice a week — you can hold poses or run through a quick sequence before or after your runs.

Not only does yoga increase flexibility of the body, it also increases strength in major muscle groups such as the core, quads, hamstrings and hips. The increase in physical power and resilience will help you run more efficiently, and safely! Yoga also places a large focus on muscle and bone alignment which helps correct postural and gait problems that often lead to knee, hip and back pain for runners.

Here are five important yoga poses you can do anywhere, any time — great for stretching out post-run!

Downward Facing Dog

With hands and knees on the floor, place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees away from the floor. As you do this, gradually straighten your knees (without completely locking them); activate your shoulder blades so they are firm and pushing into your back. Keep your head down between your upper arms.

This pose promotes lengthening of the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings. Aly Raymer

Reclined Cobbler Pose

Start seated with legs out in front of you. Bend your knees and bring your heels towards your pelvis letting your knees drop and open up on both sides. Lean back and bring your elbows to the floor. Draw your shoulders blades inward as you hold the pose.

This will open up your inner thighs, hips and lower back. Aly Raymer

Low Lunge

Start with your right knee bent in front of you — knee in line with your heel. Bring your left knee towards the floor and slide it back behind you until you can feel a stretch in your groin/thigh. Your upper body should be upright, stretch your arms and fingers up towards the sky. Repeat on the other leg after holding this pose.

This is a great stretch for your hip flexors and also helps strengthen your core. Aly Raymer

Pyramid Pose

Start standing with your right foot about 3 feet in front of your left foot. With feet about hip-width apart, have your right foot pointing forward and your left foot pointing about 60 degrees out towards the top left side of your mat. With your torso facing forward and your weight evenly distributed between front and back feet, make sure your hips are square. Draw your shoulder blades into your back and reach your arms out and behind your back. Fold and the hips and extend your torso forward over your front leg. Your head should be extended forward.

A great stretch for your entire leg and back. Aly Raymer

Half Pigeon/Reclined Pigeon

Step into a low lunge with your right foot out in front. Toe-heel your right foot over to the left and bring your knee down to the ground as you sit down onto the floor. Slowly bring your torso forward and walk your hands out as far as you can in front of you and hold the pose. Switch sides and repeat.

The juiciest of these poses — this opens up your lower back, outer hips and hamstrings. Aly Raymer

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