6 Yoga Poses That Will Complement Your Running and Lead to Happy Hips

Adina Crawford in yoga pose

Most runners experience hip pain at some point during their running journey. This is often a result of an imbalance in your musculature from a lot of running (forward motion) and not enough cross training to create balance in your body.

To reduce your chances of having pain and injury, incorporate yoga into your cross-training routine. Studies have shown that practicing yoga poses (or asanas) before or after your run can provide tremendous gains in your running performance and overall flexibility.

A regular yoga practice also lengthens and strengthens your muscles. Try the yoga sequence below from Adina Crawford to help you become a stronger, more flexible and injury-resistant runner.

Adina Crawford in the Cowface yoga pose

Reclined Cow Face

Breakdown: Begin by lying on your back. Press your back firmly into the mat. Cross your right knee over your left knee and squeeze your thighs together. Lengthen your spine, keep your feet flexed. Pull your legs towards your chest. Switch by crossing the left knee on top of the right knee. Hold for one to two minutes.

Modifications: If you can’t reach your feet, grab the tops of your shins. Grab the outside of your feet for a deeper stretch.

Benefits: Opens the hips, relieves back pain and stretches the legs.

Toe squat yoga pose

Toe Squat

Breakdown: Start in a tabletop position, with hips over knees, shoulders over wrists and a flat, neutral spine. Your hands can be spread wide like pizza slices. Bring your feet together, slowly walk your hands back towards your knees and lift your knees while shifting your weight to the balls of your feet. Press into the ground with equal pressure from your pinky toe to your big toe. Move your hips towards your heels. Place your hands on the outside of your feet. Hold for one to three minutes and breathe.

Modifications: If you have achy knees, place a blanket under your knees for added support. If you can’t bring your feet to touch the mat, try again on another day.

Benefits: Strengthens your ankles and feet, and provides an overall excellent ankle stretch.

Standing Forward Fold yoga pose

Standing Forward Fold

Breakdown: With feet together, bring your hips over your heels, press the four corners of your feet down, and with a slight bend in your knees, begin to hinge from your hips. If you have tight hamstrings (which most runners do), deepen the bend in your knees in order to protect your low back.

Bring your tailbone up, engage your core, vacuum seal your belly to your thighs, lengthen your spine and lower your hands down to the mat/floor. Allow your head to hang heavy, so that the blood and oxygen flows towards the top of your head. Hold for one to two minutes.

Modifications: Bend your knees more to avoid stretching your back, bring your feet hip-distance apart and lower our hands only to your shins.

Benefits: Stretches the hips and hamstrings.

Reverse prayer yoga pose

Child’s Pose to Reverse Prayer

Breakdown: Begin with Child’s Pose. Kneel on your knees. Spread your knees wide and bring your big toes to touch. Bring your hips towards your heels, send your tailbone back and lengthen your spine by bringing your arms forward, fingers wide. Hold for 3-4 minutes.

Reverse Prayer: To add this variation, remain in Child’s Pose and bend your elbows, keeping your palms squeezed together in prayer, move them behind the base of your head. As you breathe deeply, move them back further for a deeper shoulder opener. Hold for three to four minutes.

Modifications: Begin in Child’s Pose and bring your arms along your sides, palms facing up. Draw your knees closer together, and gaze sideways. *You can use a block for added support for your elbows.

Reverse Prayer: Unable to bring your hands behind your head? Separate your hands on your shoulders, and point your fingertips toward your back.

Benefits: Releases tension in the neck and shoulders, increases flexibility.

Shoelace yoga pose

Shoelace Pose

Breakdown: Like Reclined Cow Face, start in a tabletop position, with hips over knees, shoulders over wrists and a flat, neutral spine. Take one knee behind the other and spread your heels as wide as you can.

Slowly lower down to sit between your heels. Pull your feet inward, and extend your spine. You can take any variation here by bringing your hands down by your side or to a prayer position. Hold for two to three minutes and switch sides.

Modifications: You can sit on the edge of a folded blanket for added comfort and height. Extend your legs long in front of you, sit tall, keep your left leg long, foot flexed and cross your right leg over your left leg above your kneecap. Bend your knee, place your hands down by your side or rest them on your chest and focus on deep breaths.

Benefits: Improves digestion, stretches hips and thighs.

Malasana squat yoga pose

Malasana Pose

Breakdown: Stand tall, arms down by your side, bring your feet into a wide stance, bend your knees and slowly start to lower your hips down to a squat position. Gradually separate your thighs wider than your torso. Find the support under your heels.

Press the palms of your hands together in front of your heart in prayer position. Press your elbows into your legs and squeeze your inner thighs while also pressing out with your elbows. Raise your chest and sit tall for a slight, energizing backbend. Breathe deep into your belly, and hold for one minute. If your heels don’t touch the floor, it’s okay; go where you can.

Modification: If you need extra help, try using a blanket. Roll a blanket and place it in the crease behind your knees.

Benefits: Stretches the hips, ankles and thighs. Improves circulation and blood flow in the pelvis.