Combat ultra-tight legs with this yoga flow for runners


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Photo: Elena Mudd for Well+Good

For so many people, running is movement gold. It’s a way to clear the mind, amp up the endorphins, and cross off a sweat sesh all in one go; yet, as weekly mileage creeps upwards, and muscles get tighter, however, incorporating a stretch day or two into your routine is just the ticket. Or in other words, yoga for runners is good way to balance out that trendy treadmill class to be able to run farther, go faster, and all around kick more booty.

As someone who runs about five times a week, I can sympathize. Real talk: My gams can feel as heavy as cement, feet can feel the pain, and the various muscles throughout them can easily become tight—all making it decidedly difficult to get back out there. While a simple stretch is always helpful, yoga in particular can really open up your body so that you feel relaxed and ready to jog it out again. At the Well+Good Cedar Lakes Retreat a few months ago, yoga instructor superstar Beth Cooke—who teaches at New York’s Sky Ting studio as well as private clients like Lena Dunham—revealed a yoga sequence that’s particularly magical for runners.

The secret? It’s all about opening up the legs, stretching out the hips, and—one that people often forget about—tending to the feet. While the flow definitely gets you warmed up in all the right spots for a kickass run, it’s also equally beneficial for cooling you down after you log your miles. So namaste and prepare to bookmark this vinyasa sequence to conquer every run from here on out.

Keep scrolling for Cooke’s yoga sequence for runners.


1. Start in a downward dog. “Put your hands down and stretch your toes, lift your hips up so that you can bend your knees a whole bunch here,” says Cooke. “Find a deeper crease in your hips and stick your tailbone high.”

2. Make your way into a low lunge. “From downward dog, step your left foot by your left thumb for a low lunge,” says Cooke. “Then drop your hips a little bit and open up across the chest to get more breath into the lungs.”

3. Low lunge with bent knee. “Lower your back knee down to the ground, untuck your back toes, reach your arms up and grab for opposite elbows,” she says. “Try to fit your elbow into your palm here so you can pick the elbows up and lift the chest up taller. Your pubic bone is pulling forward and you’re opening up your right hip flexor. Inhale, lift the elbows, and exhale.”

4. Modified pyramid pose. “Tuck your back toes, bend your back knee, and straighten your front leg as best as you can,” says Cooke. “Then flex your front toes—you’re opening up the whole back of your leg, so you’re opening up the hamstring, the back of your calves, the achilles. Dig your heels into the ground and slide your left hip back in space, and you can relax the head down. Stay for about 3 breaths.”

5. Modified lizard pose. “Rebend your front knee and lower the back knee down to the ground,” says Cooke. “Put your hands down onto the ground or a block and bend your right knee to catch your right toes with the left hand. You can gently with your breath glide the left heel a little bit closer to the glute and get a really nice quad stretch.” Release and take it all on the other side.

6. Modified thunderbolt pose. “This is something that people often forget about—it’s so important to open up the feet,” says Cooke. “So this is just a little stretch for your feet so that you can roll through them on your run. From downward dog, take your toes and tuck them underneath you, and then go down and tuck your little pinky toes underneath. Seal the insides of the feet and the insides of the ankles, and sit your butt right onto the heels. You can interlace your fingers, reach your arms up to the sky and really open up the chest for a better posture when you’re running.” She says to stay here for 3-5 long exhales.

7. Tabletop toe taps. “When you’re done, take your hands back down to the ground and pad out the tops of your toes,” says Cooke. “Now have a great run.”

For more vinyasa magic, here are desk yoga poses that help your back, and a couch yoga routine you can do at home

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