Runners, whether they are sprinters or marathoners, look for ways to improve their stride, breathing rate and muscular fitness. One of the techniques that is least invasive and less likely to have dangerous side effects is yoga. The use of yoga for runners is beneficial in a holistic approach. While yoga is a form of exercise, it is gentle enough to provide sustainable energy without requiring the use of equipment. Additionally, yoga is a solid way to reduce stress levels, which helps to keep hormone levels in check [3]. This is useful for reducing stress placed on the body through extreme forms of running, such as long distance running or sprinting. Some studies are also looking at the use of yoga for motivation for runners. [1]

A study published in 2006 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, titled “Effects of brief yoga exercises and motivational preparatory interventions in distance runners: results of a controlled trial” looked into yoga for runners [1]. This study focused on high school long distance runners who used yoga postures as a form of exercise pre-run. The other methods used were motivational shouting and zero intervention. Results found that yoga proved some benefit in motivation for runners, while not as much as the motivational shouting. Issues of the study include the long term use of yoga, in addition to the personal beliefs of using complementary and alternative medicine among the participants. At any rate, the use of yoga exercises have been used by runners for various reasons ranging from motivation to stress reduction.

In order to use yoga as a runner, you can focus on what aspect of yoga most interests you. For instance, some runners are looking for ways to reduce the impact of running on their joints, bones and muscles, which can often be an issue as we age, are pregnant or are recovering from surgery. Yoga Journal notes that yoga practice can provide mental training, as well as physical strength [3]. Asanas, when practiced consistently over the long term, can help a runner increase their range of motion and improve their physical stamina, which is essential in overcoming physical limitations. Additionally, the use of yoga postures puts all of your muscle groups into action, while providing strength to your core muscles. This overall exercise, in addition to the mental benefits, is substantial for anyone interested in moving beyond the wear and tear associated with solely running as an exercise routine [3].

Some of the most popular forms of yoga for runners includes bends, twists and stretches. has some suggestions for a classic stretching routine to support you as part of a responsible pre and post running regimen and a part of your overall self care practice. As this Runners World article states in its own way, don’t be a hero and work responsible and carefully as Yoga invites a very different approach to achievement to avoid injury and to get more out of the practice [2].

Of course, beyond the basic support the above article suggests the activity of running can bring to light more basic movement/functional issues that require more complete attention. A balanced and functional body can tolerate and thrive under the demands of any endeavor running included. So when problems occur address them full on with an appropriate regimen.

Pain, unbalanced stride, repeated injury or the need for extra support via equipment technology(special shoes, braces, etc.) are all ways we can tell that our bodies are under undue stress in running or any sport. My articles Is Pain a Problem and How Posture Therapy Works can offer some insight into how the postural/functional approach to training can restore the foundation of balanced and powerful movement and support the resolution or so many of the difficulties runners and other athletes encounter in their sport.