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10 best yoga poses for endurance athletes

Yoga is a popular physical exercise that enhances performance, body awareness, flexibility, and develops one's breathing controls. More like a yin to your running yang. Yin yoga is essential in an athlete’s regime as it encourages relaxation, relieves tension, and improves their range of motions. It may also help in stress relieving which is common among athletes. Restoration yoga promotes relaxation among athletes by alleviating pain while hatha yoga uses physical techniques to channel and preserve energy. Here are the 10 best yoga poses for athletes to understand why yoga is recommended for runners and the impact of indulging in a pre-run yoga pose.

Downward facing dog expands

Downward facing dog is a classic and traditional yoga pose that improves your lengthening and strengthening. It targets your glutes, ankles, calves, hamstrings, and lats. The pose deeply stretches your back, opens your chest, and builds your upper strength. It also stimulates your nervous system, and brain, and improves your concentration.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Place your knee and hand with your wrist underneath shoulders and the knee underneath hips

  • Curl your toes under your hands to lift your hip and straighten your legs

  • Spread your fingers, ground down from your forearms into the fingertips

  • Rotate your upper arms outwards for collarbone broadening

  • With your head hanging, move your shoulder blades towards your hips and away from your ears

  • Ensure the distance between your feet and hands is correct by coming forward to a plank position

  • Take a deep breath and bend your knees to come back to your hands and knees then release

Mountain pose

Mountain pose is the best pre-run yoga considering it has a great impact on improving your focus, confidence, tone core muscles, facilitates circulation, body awareness, and strengthening of your legs, hips, and back. Mountain pose reduces the risks of Parkinson’s disease by building low strength in your body and improving the posture and balance among athletes. It also reduces pains related to ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and increases flexibility. Consider safety, awareness, and comfort while practicing yoga. When you feel overwhelmed, you can select two to three body parts to focus on. Once you have achieved your targets, focus on a few new body parts to target.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your toes touching the ground, and make a gap between your heel

  • Press your thigh bones back while bending your tailbone forward

  • Unstiffen your ribs and pull your shoulder back

  • Press down through your legs as you lengthen your body

Lizard lunge

Lizard lunge is a perfect yoga after running. It focuses on your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors to improve mobility and limit injuries. The pose has many benefits for your body such as releasing emotions, energizing creativity, and reducing stress. Yoga instructors recommend lizard lunge to athletes looking to tone different muscle groups. While lizard pose provides several benefits, you should take caution to avoid strains. You need to stay controlled and focus to avoid injuries.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Start with the downward-facing dog pose and keep your right foot up intact with your right hand from outside as if you are in a lunge position.

  • Put your left knee towards the ground and press into the hips

  • Make sure your front heel is directly below and slightly in front of your knee, avoid stressing your knee

  • Lower your forearms towards the ground (keep your aligned with your spine and your back straight)

  • Straighten your left leg pressing up on the ball of your foot

Tree poses

It is an intermediate level of yoga that builds on stability and improves your posture while developing your shoulder, lats, and cores. It also stretches your groin, thighs, torso, shoulders, and calves while strengthening your ankle. Tree poses challenges body balance and tones your abdominal muscle.

Photo by Kaylee Garrett on Unsplash


How to do it:

  • Stand up with your feet hip-width apart

  • Put your hands in a prayer position in front of you

  • Slowly move your weight onto your right foot and elevate your left leg above the ground

  • Keep the bottom of your left foot on the inside of the right thigh (your pelvis must be straight with your toes pointed down)

Half pigeon

Half pigeon is one of the great yoga poses that increase your external range of motion of the femur in your hip socket, prepare your body backbends, lengthen hip flexors, and prepare your body posture.

Photo by Elina MART PRODUCTIONS on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Start with a down-facing dog with your right foot above your right wrist

  • Lay your right knee and shin on the ground

  • Straighten your leg down to the floor (your leg should look like number 7)

  • Minding your flexibility, move your legs as much as possible away from the groin

  • Keep your shin parallel to the front of your mat

  • Walk your hands forward and lower your forehead onto the ground

Forward fold

Forward fold posture poses are important to an athlete’s muscles, especially when tightened. You should consider this pose to improve your flexibility.

How to do it:

  • Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart

  • Bend your hips and exhale (your back should be flat as possible)

  • Bend your elbow and hold on to each elbow by the opposite hand

  • Let your head hang

  • Raise your sit bones and press your heels onto the ground

  • Lengthen your torso while breaking and raise the lift

  • While exhaling goes deeper into the pose

Bridge pose

Bridge pose is essential in strengthening your legs, glutes, ankle, and back. It also has an impact on stimulating organs of your abdomen, thyroids, and lungs. An athlete should consider bride poses for chest, shoulder, spine, and neck stretching.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Lie on a flat surface with your knees bent while fattening your feet on the floor

  • Bring your feet as close as possible

  • Place your arms on the ground, raise your hip, and exhale

  • Put your hands together below your pelvis and stay on top of your shoulder

  • Lift your hip till your thighs are parallel to the ground

  • Keep your neck straight and tilt your chin away from your chest

Camel pose

Camel pose stretches your shoulder, chest, abdomen, front of your thighs (quadriceps), and the front of your hip (hip flexors). It also strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, and your back muscles. It facilitates improved posture and stimulates organs of the neck and abdomen.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Start with your knees on the floor

  • Hip with the distance apart and stack your hip over your knees and put your hands to your lower back

  • Take your shoulder back and the center of your chest up. Opening up your chest will naturally give you more space to breathe (more oxygen resulting in more power)

Four-limbed staff pose

The pose facilitates energy, builds confidence and empowerment, and fights fatigue. It also has a vital role in the strengthening of your cores, shoulder, wrist, thighs, ankle, and arms.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels


How to do it:

  • From the plank pose position, put your shoulders ahead of your wrist and come to the balls of your feet

  • Push your back through your heels to engage the front of your thighs as you reach your forward sternum, creating a taut line of energy from your head through your feet

  • On exhalation, slowly lower your body straight and bend your elbows until the elbows reach 90 degrees. Ensure that your elbows are directly over your wrist and drawn in against your side. Press your hands strongly into the ground

  • On about 6 inches in front, bring your gaze to the ground and continue to lower your shoulder at the same level as your elbow

  • Continue to reach your sternum, heels, and crown of your head as you breath

  • To come out of the four-limbed staff pose, lower down your belly, exhale and push back up to the plank pose

Crescent lunge

The crescent lunge pose is essential in stretching the groin area, strengthening your arms, legs, and lengthening your spines. It helps in improving your coordination, and balance and builds your mental focus a common challenge with athletes.

Photo by Alena Darmel on Pexels


How to do it:

  • Drop your back knee from a low lunge (the right knee for this case) to the ground. If your knees are sensitive, consider adding more cushioning.

  • Put your hands onto your left knee directly over your left ankle

  • Raise your arms above your head, inhale, keeping the arms in perpendicularly with your ears

  • To deepen into the lunge press strongly into your feet as you allow your hips to move forward. Your right thigh comes closer to the ground. To avoid sinking and support engagement, hug your inner thighs towards another to create abduction

  • To release the hands down, reframe your front foot, exhale, and release the pose

  • Repeat the procedure on the right side

Yoga poses are crucial to athletes in maintaining stability, endurance, and overall fitness. By including yoga poses in your running regime, you may recover from the run, prepare your body for a run and maintain a good running posture. Athletes should incorporate yoga poses in their training sessions to improve their physical and mental abilities. Proper techniques and forms of yoga poses ensures the effectiveness and safety of yoga practice. Consult your physician if you have pre-existing health conditions before practicing yoga poses.


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