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Yoga for runners

03 May, 2012 0 comments

Yoga for runners


Yoga for Runners

Whether you are a recreational runner trying to lose a few kilos, a first time 10k-er or a seasoned triathlete then one of the most important things to you will be staying injury free.

One of the things that most runners love about their sport is the constant repetitive motion, which, over long distances becomes meditative, taking the athlete into ‘the zone’. The downside of this repetitive type of sport is that one set of muscles is constantly under stress pre-disposing the athlete to injury over many thousands of foot strikes. This risk of injury rises exponentially if there is a mechanical problem caused by faulty alignment. Typically, runners tend to have tight, overworked hip flexors and quads and often suffer with ITB syndrome (iliotibial band syndrome) which causes pain in the outer knee. Weak glutes can be a problem for runners and can contribute to both ITB syndrome and knee pain. Yoga can help you to rectify such imbalances and will help you to develop strength through the full range of the muscles and joints. It can also help to bring awareness to the athlete with simple barefoot movements such as heel raises and static lunges highlighting any imbalances in the feet, ankles and knees.


Yoga for today’s athlete

Yoga Sports Science (YSS) was developed by Hayley Winter to help athletes maximise their performance. YSS forms a part of the athletes periodized training and can provide a dynamic, vigorous practice, or a gentler, static session depending on the athlete’s training schedule. With a strong focus on anatomy and with elements of dynamic yoga to develop power, strength and endurance, YSS represents a modern, science based Yoga utilising all we have learnt over the last 5000 years.


Founder  Hayley Winter says “It was over ten years ago when I was invited to deliver yoga to a group of athletes, that I started to question why wasn’t yoga used more widely in helping develop athletic performance? I had been practising yoga for over 25 years, teaching for 15 and had seen and experienced the many performance benefits for myself. So, in 2001 I started working with a small group of coaches and athletes, developing my Sports-Specific Yoga techniques, putting them into practice, and assessing their impact. Over the years I went on to deliver my techniques to athletes in a wide range of sports with the outcome being the same – improved athletic performance.  I believe that one of the reasons why yoga hasn’t been embraced by sport is that it’s not easy to quantify its effect and also its never been sports specific enough to know how it fits into an athlete’s training. At YSS we do just that and teach others how to do it too.’


Another great benefit of yoga for runners is enhanced concentration: Yoga, with its focus on synchronized breath and movement can help an athlete to get into ‘flow’ or be in the zone. It will also help to focus the mind and can therefore be useful if a runner is suffering pre-race jitters, or is struggling with negative thoughts during a run. As a yoga and Pilates teacher currently studying Yoga Sports Science, I have been working with an athlete to improve his 5k speed. Already a passionate athlete with vast knowledge of his sport and techniques, he immediately connected with the YSS method and within 3 sessions had made clear improvements with his breathing which enabled him to breathe easier during his training.


To improve your performance and protect your body from injury my recommendation is to look for a ‘Yoga for Runners’ class in your area if you cannot find a YSS teacher near you. As a word of caution: yoga is challenging and in the wrong hands and with inappropriate techniques can actually cause problems, so start out slowly and always work within a comfortable range.


To find a Yoga Sports Coach in your area or for more info go to

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