Yoga for Runners: 7 Standing Poses to Build Ultra-Strength Legs

Ever wondered if yoga for runners would make a difference?

But what about strengthening your legs?

Strengthening the legs in order to run better is a no brainer, right? 

Strong legs and glutes:

  • Stabilize the ankle, knee and hip joints, decreasing injury risk
  • Support the upper body and back
  • Propel the body forward
  • Make climbing hills easier
  • Helps the quads handle long downhills more efficiently 
  • Increase stamina for long runs 
  • Improves speed 

Yet, many runners balk at traditional strength training, going to the gym or picking up weights. 

If that’s you, yoga offers a different approach to gaining leg strength that might appeal to runners. 

A typical flow or vinyasa-style yoga practice incorporates a total body approach. Most classes are structured in an order like this or similar to it:

Strength and balance paired with flexibility and decompression makes yoga a perfect complement to running.

In this article, you'll learn seven standing yoga poses taught in most flow or vinyasa classes. 

When to practice yoga poses for runners

They are best practiced after a yoga warm-up and before a cool down.

Warm-ups can include yoga salutations such as these:

Note: The poses can also be done after a run.

  • If choosing to do so, slowly jog around to bring the heart rate down and get the breathing under control.
  • Perhaps do a few of the above sun salutations, and then practice the poses. 
  • It helps to bring a towel or yoga mat to the trailhead, track or park if running somewhere other than from your front door. Be sure to stretch afterward.

For best results, practice the poses outside of a run, such as in the morning upon rising as part of a yoga routine.

How to practice the poses

  • Hold each pose for five to eight breaths
  • Transition from one pose to the next for poses that have one leg forward - for instance, move from Warrior I to Warrior II to Reverse Warrior. 
  • Some of the poses can be taught dynamically - for instance, inhale to straighten the front bent leg and exhale to bend again, repeating as many times as you’d like
  • End with a cool-down like this
1. Warrior One (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

1. Warrior One

Instructions:

  • Begin by standing with the feet together at the top of a yoga mat
  • Step the left leg back about three to four feet, depending on the length of your legs
  • Spin the left heel in 45 degrees
  • Turn the hips toward the front of the mat
  • Bend the right leg until the thigh comes parallel to the ground
  • The right knee stacks directly on top of the right ankle - if the knee juts forward beyond the ankle, wiggle the front foot forward more so that the legs are  in a longer stance
  • Reach the arms up to the sky
  • Gaze forward or up at the thumbs 
  • Option: lift the right heel (as shown in photo) 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hips while stretching the hip flexor of the back leg
2. Warrior Two (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

2. Warrior Two

Instructions:

  • From Warrior One, reach the right arm forward and left arm back so that the arms are parallel to the ground
  • The back toes point to the side now, not at a 45 degree angle
  • Open the hips to the side rather than spinning them toward the front of the mat
  • Gaze over the front middle finger 
  • Option: lift the right heel (as shown in photo) 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hips 
3. Reverse Warrior (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

3. Reverse Warrior

Instructions:

  • From Warrior Two, reach the right arm up toward the sky
  • Lean back
  • Reach the back arm down the back leg or wrap it around the low back as shown in the photo
  • Keep the 90 degree bend in the front leg
  • Gaze up toward the right palm 
  • Option: lift the right heel (as shown in photo) 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hips while stretching the front rib cage area and abdomen
4. Side Angle Pose, version one (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)
4. Side Angle Pose, version two (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

4. Side Angle Pose

Instructions:

Version one:

  • From Reverse Warrior, lean the torso forward to a 45 degree angle, hovering above the right thigh
  • Keep the chest and shoulders open, not collapsing toward the ground
  • Keep the 90 degree bend in the front leg
  • Version one:
    • Keep the back arm wrapped around the low back

Version two:

  • Reach the back arm over the face, framing the face with both arms
  • Gaze down, to the side or up toward the top palm 
  • Option: lift the right heel (as shown in photo) 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips and obliques
5. Goddess Pose, version one (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)
5. Goddess Pose, version two (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)
5. Goddess Pose, version three (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

5. Goddess Pose

Instructions:

  • Stand with the feet about three to four feet apart, depending on the length of your legs
  • Turn the toes out slightly 
  • Be sure the knee tracks over the big toe
  • Bend the knees so that both thighs become parallel to the ground
  • Push the knees back so they are not collapsing inward 
  • Adjust the stance as needed so the low back and knees are not straining
  • Slightly tuck the tailbone, coming to neutral, in order to create space in the low back 

Options for practicing:

  • Hold for five to eight breaths
  • Inhale to straighten the legs and exhale to sink back into the pose - repeat 10 to 25 times for one to three sets

Version one:

  • Interlace the fingers and press the palms up to the sky

Version two:

  • Lift one heel off the ground

Version three:

  • Lift both heels off the ground 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, abductors and hips while stretching the side body
6. Wide-Legged Chair Pose (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

6. Wide-Legged Chair Pose

Instructions:

  • Stand with the feet slightly wider than the hips
  • Sink the butt down and back until the thighs are parallel to the ground
  • Lower the torso so that it rests between the thighs 
  • Squeeze the thighs into the rib cage
  • Reach both arms forward as shown in the photo or press the palms together in front of the heart if reaching them forward creates strain on the neck
  • Slightly tuck the tailbone, coming to neutral, in order to create space in the low back 

Options for practicing:

  • Hold for five to eight breaths
  • Inhale to straighten the legs and exhale to sink back into the pose - repeat 10 to 20 times for one to three sets

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, hips and back while stretching the backs of the lower legs
7. Utkatasana/ Chair Pose (Photo/ Colleen O’Neil)

7. Utkatasana/ Chair Pose

Instructions:

  • Stand with the feet together, big toes touching and a quarter inch or so of space between the heels
  • Sink the butt down and back 
  • Lift the torso 
  • Reach the arms toward the sky (as shown in the photo) unless that puts pressure on the neck, then press the palms together in front of the heart
  • Slightly tuck the tailbone, coming to neutral, in order to create space in the low back 

Options for practicing:

  • Hold for five to eight breaths
  • Repeat the hold up to five times in a yoga class 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, hips and back while opening the backs of the lower legs and chest

More on yoga for runners

Rate This:


Share This:

Subscribe

and never miss our new running content!
(you also score chances to win gear)
456
Brynn Cunningham
Ambassador

Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, backcountry skier, yogi, mom and writer. www.inhaleexhalerun.com

Comments

Login to your account to leave a comment.

Related Articles

Trending WeeViews

User uploaded image of Palmetto Dunes Turtle Trot 5K
Full Review
User uploaded image of Levitate Stealthfit GTS 5
User uploaded image of Aeropex Headphones
User uploaded image of Aonijie
User uploaded image of 26th Boston Marathon

Join the Community

It’s FAST and FREE. Create a short profile and link any desired social media accounts, personal websites or blogs.

Search