The Only 6 Yoga Poses Runners Need to Stay Limber and Injury-Free

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Yoga can increase your body and breath awareness, which helps make you a better runner.
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If you're a runner, you're likely familiar with the importance of stretching before and after your run, but incorporating yoga — not simply stretching — into your cross-training routine can help increase your endurance, mobility, strength and body awareness, as well as enhancing your focus.

"It not only helps you remain calm and focused, but it helps with knowing where your body is and how your joints, ligaments and muscles are feeling to help prevent injury," says St. Louis-based registered yoga teacher Taneisha Earts. "This may look like knowing the difference between when your body has reached its limit, compared to when you can push yourself a little further."

For runners interested in incorporating yoga into their routines, Earts recommends practicing yoga poses that target the entire body before and after a run for at least 10 to 20 minutes a session.

"The quads, hamstrings, hips, core and shoulders, all play a role when it comes to the runner being faster and stronger," she says. "You will notice how your running style improves from a consistent yoga practice."

Below is a list of some of the poses Earts recommends for runners to do after a run to help reduce tightening of the muscles.

1. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

1. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Sit up tall with your legs extended in front of you and with your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Bring your knees toward your chest with your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Exhale and open your knees, drawing your thighs to the floor. Use your hands to press your feet together and keep the outer edges of your feet pressed into your mat.
  4. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Kneel with your knees directly below your hips.
  2. Bend forward until you're on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders.
  3. Exhale, press your hips back while lowering your chest toward your mat.
  4. Curl your toes under and press your fingers down firmly into the mat.
  5. Push your hips up toward the ceiling as you press your shoulders away from your ears.
  6. As you exhale, push your thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor.
  7. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Stand up straight and tall in Mountain pose (Tadasana), exhale, then step sideways so your feet are 3 to 4 feet apart.
  2. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them out to the sides with your shoulder blades wide and away from your ears, with your palms facing downward.
  3. Turn your right foot out to about 90 degrees and align your left heel with the arch of your right foot.
  4. Exhale and bend your left knee, so that your shin is perpendicular to the mat.
  5. Turn your head to the left and set your gaze over your fingers.
  6. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch sides.

4. Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana III)

4. Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana III)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Sit up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee, pulling your heel toward the outside of your left hip and anchoring it at your side.
  3. Keep your left leg extended with your knee pointed toward the ceiling and focus on keeping your leg grounded. Place your hand on the floor by your sides.
  4. Push your right foot and left leg into the floor, inhale, and lift up through your spine and chest. Keep both sit bones on the floor and relax your shoulders.
  5. Exhale and begin twisting toward your right knee. Place your left hand or if possible, your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh, pulling your knee toward your abdominals.
  6. Press the fingertips of your right hand on the floor behind your hips and turn your head to the right.
  7. Lean back slightly to help with twisting your entire spine and with every exhale, allow yourself to twist a little deeper.
  8. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.

5. Wide-Angle Standing Forward Bend (Pradarita Padottanasana)

5. Wide-Angle Standing Forward Bend (Pradarita Padottanasana)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Stand up straight and tall in Mountain pose (Tadasana). Take a large step — about 3 to 4 feet — to the side. Your feet should be parallel to each other.
  2. Lift up through your spine, contract your thigh muscles, exhale and bend forward from your hips, keeping your back flat.
  3. With your elbows straight, place your fingertips on the floor and exhale as you place your hands on the floor between your feet.
  4. Lengthen your spine by pulling your sit bones up toward the ceiling and allowing your head to drop to the floor.
  5. If possible, bend your elbows and place your forehead on the floor.
  6. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

6. Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

6. Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
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Activity Yoga
  1. Stand up straight and tall in Mountain pose (Tadasana), exhale and step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart.
  2. Raise your arms parallel to your mat and reach them out to the sides, with your shoulder blades wide and palms facing down.
  3. Turn your left foot out to 45 degrees, with your right facing toward the front of your mat.
  4. Align your left heel with the arch of your right foot, exhale and turn your torso to the right, squaring your hips with the front edge of your mat.
  5. Exhale and turn your torso farther to the right, leaning forward over your front leg.
  6. Reach your left hand down either to the floor, your shin, or a block if your have one, as you allow your left hip to drop more toward the mat.
  7. Turn your head to gaze at the right fingertips.
  8. Shift most of your weight to your front hand and back heel.
  9. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.
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