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Reasons Runners Should Try Ashtanga Yoga

Why Runners Should Do Ashtanga Yoga

As a runner, I feel like it's one of the best forms of exercise. It's fairly inexpensive, I can do it anywhere, and it strengthens and tones my legs and booty. It also works my heart and lungs, increasing my endurance for other forms of exercise like biking and swimming, and it prevents me from gaining weight. With all those benefits, running also has some disadvantages. My hamstrings and hips are much tighter, which sometimes causes pain in my lower back. I'm sure you fellow runners can relate, and although stretching can definitely help, let's be honest — I know most of us aren't stretching as long or as often as we should.

That's where yoga comes in. Ashtanga yoga is the perfect complement to your running routine for so many reasons.

To find out why,


  • Ashtanga yoga classes are an hour and a half long, and in 90 minutes you stretch every part of your body. The room is also heated, so you're at less risk for pulling a muscle.
  • Primary Series is the first series you will learn in an Ashtanga yoga class, and many of the poses (like these) target your hamstrings, hips, and lower back — the exact areas runners need to stretch.
  • It's extremely challenging, and since many runners are tough and like to push themselves physically, Ashtanga yoga is a better fit than other types like Kripalu or Jivamukti.
  • Throughout the 90-minute practice, you do Sun Salutations and vinyasas, which strengthen the upper body. This is very important since running primarily works your legs. Strength imbalances between your upper and lower body can make you more prone to injury.
  • Yoga also strengthens your core, improving your posture when running.
  • Once you learn Sun Salutation B in class, it's a great running warmup.
  • Connecting your breath with your movements is essential when doing Ashtanga, and it's something you can practice on your runs too. By concentrating on each inhale and exhalation, my runs become something of a meditation.
  • The sequence in an Ashtanga yoga class is the same no matter who the instructor or where the class. So if you're traveling, you can always pop into a studio and you'll be doing the same order of poses you'd be doing at your home studio.

Are you a runner who already practices yoga? Then I have a poll for you in my Yoga Stretch and Tell group.

Image Source: Getty
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georgie2 georgie2 6 years
What's the difference between bikram and ashtanga then?
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
Glad I could help! Let me know how it goes - I've become such a fan of Ashtanga over the past few months.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
Thanks, yoga - that's really helpful! I've located a studio that offers Ashtanga near where I live, so I think I'm going to give it a try.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
Chloe Bella - you don't need to be advanced at all! If you do Bikram, you can do Ashtanga. The vinyasa in between each asana is Chatarunga, upward dog, downward dog. The asana's are broken into sun salutations A and B, Standing Poses (standing forward bends), a sun transition where you do the warrior poses, seated poses (seated forward bends), and inversions (wheel pose, shoulder stand, head stand). If there are poses you can't do, the instructor should give you a modification. A lot of ashtanga places have a beginner or half primary series to ease you into ashtanga before you get into the difficult poses. The link below (where I go) is a list of all the primary series poses.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
I do Bikram yoga, which I love, but I want to try Ashtanga at some point. How "advanced" in yoga do you need to be before starting?
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
Love Ashtanga!
Loren02 Loren02 6 years
Thanks sugar.. Ashtanga is great for people who lift weights too...I guess its great for everyone!
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