Exercise and Fitness Guide

Best Yoga Poses for Marathon Runners

Dr. Cindy Haines Mar 18th, 2014 (updated Jun 9th, 2015)
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Is a marathon on your personal radar this year? Then lots of running is on your to-do list and other cross-training should be too. You may be aware of the importance of core strength, total-body conditioning and stretching in optimizing your runs, but did you know that yoga could be one of the best things you can do to supplement your training? Read on for the top five yoga moves every marathoner should add to his or her training routine.

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Mountain pose
Mountain pose

Mountain pose may seem like a simple standing stance, but it is much more than meets the eye. Standing with feet hip width apart, arms at sides, shoulders relaxed, crown lifting skyward, tail scooping slightly down towards the ground--mountain pose is a great one to incorporate into each day as well as prior to each race, to ground and center you.

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Warrior 1
Warrior 1

In Warrior 1, all four corners of each foot root into the ground as the hips move toward squaring forward. Arms sweep high, fingertips reaching skyward, shoulders relaxing away from the ears, with a gentle arching in the spine as the crown of the head lifts. This pose helps strengthen the lower body and cultivate openness in the hips and counteracts the "hunching forward" that can afflict many runners.

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Seated twist
Seated twist

Flexibility in the spine and pelvis will help you run more fluidly and efficiently. From a cross-legged seated position, step right foot over left leg, reaching left arm across the front of the right shin or hooking left elbow outside the right knee with right hand to the ground behind you. Twist to the right from the base of the spine up through the crown. Reverse the posture; repeat the twist to left.

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Downward-facing dog
Downward-facing dog

An overall body toner, lengthener, strengthener and tension reliever, downward-facing dog is a staple to any yoga (or running!) practice. From a tabletop position, press palms into the ground as you lift hips and press them up and back. Allow your shoulder blades to roll back and down. Continue to press earth away as your hips lift; option to pedal through your feet, sway your hips a bit.

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Meditative breathing
Meditative breathing

While breathing is automatic, having a good breathing practice is key to optimizing your run - both in preserving your energy stores and in providing a useful tool for focus when the going gets rough. "Yogic" meditative breath work in running could simply involve focusing on strides per inhale and exhale. And taking a few rounds of deep, full body breaths can be a yoga practice anytime, anywhere.