10 Yoga Poses For Trail Runners

Trail running and yoga appears to be very different activities, with the former being a very active sport done in challenging terrains while the latter is a meditative exercise performed mostly in serene environments. However, many trail runners incorporate yoga exercises in their training regimen, either to stretch and strengthen their lower extremities before a run or to relax afterward. If you’re interested in trying yoga for trail runners, here are some yoga poses you can do at home or the park before or after hitting the trails.

1. Half Front Splits Pose

The Half Front Splits yoga pose (Ardha Hanumanasana) stretches various muscles engaged in running activities such as the hips, hamstrings, and calves. It also targets the groin muscles and the lower back. As it warms up the whole lower extremities, it’s a good exercise to perform before putting on your trail running shoes.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Half Front Splits Pose
Step 1: Start with a low lunge position with your hands and knees on the mat.
Step 2: Put your right foot forward between your hands and leaving the left knee planted on the mat. Plant your hands directly beneath your shoulders on the ground. If you can’t reach the mat, you can use some blocks instead.
Step 3: Shift your hips back to stack over your left knee and straighten your right leg.
Step 4: Flex your right toes until they’re pointing upwards so that only the heel of your front feet is touching the mat. Keep your right knee pointed directly up with just enough bend to avoid hyperextending your leg.
Step 5: Press down through your fingertips to keep length in the torso and engage the muscles in your belly.
Step 6: Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds before returning to a lunge. Repeat with the other leg.

2. Seated Spinal Twist Pose

The Seated Spinal Twist yoga pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) is primarily practiced to strengthen the spine and open the chest and shoulders, while the twisting maneuver helps to stretch the muscles of the lower back which are engaged while running.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Seated Spinal Twist Pose
Step 1: Start by seating on the mat with both legs in front of you. Next, bend your right knee up and step your right foot outside your left leg. Then bend your left knee bringing your left foot towards your right hip.
Step 2: Plant your right hand on the ground behind your hips then twist to the right and hook your left elbow outside your right leg. Turn your head and gaze over your right shoulder.
Step 3: Hold the position for 5 breaths before letting go of the pose. Rest for a few breaths and repeat with your other side.

3. Seated Forward Bend Pose

The Seated Forward Bend yoga pose (Paschimottanasana) targets the muscles and bones from the heels to the cervical spine. It is also a great exercise to stretch the hamstrings and the lower back.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Seated Forward Bend Pose
Step 1: Sit on the mat with your legs close together and extend them out in front of you. Then flex your toes upwards and place the palms of your hands on the floor beside your hips.
Step 2: Lift your hands from the floor and extend them towards the front reaching for your toes as you bend forward, keeping your elbows straight. As you bend deeper, bend your elbows out and up.
Step 3: Hold the pose for up to 3 minutes before slowly releasing.

4. Bridge Pose


The Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) is generally known for providing a great stretch for the chest, neck, and spine. However, this poses also conditions and strengthens the legs.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Bridge Pose
Step 1: Start by lying flat on your back. Then bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Place your arms beside your body with your palms facing downwards.
Step 2: Inhale and slowly lift your back off the floor until your chin touches your chest. Let your shoulders, feet, and arms to support your weight. Tighten your buttocks as you lift your torso upwards. Push against the floor with your hands to lift your torso higher.
Step 3: Hold the pose for one minute before exhaling and releasing.

5. Tree Pose

The Tree pose (Vrksasana) stretches the inner thighs, calves, foot, and groin muscles. It also engages the shoulders and core muscles. If there is one basic pose taught in yoga for trail runners classes, this would be one of them.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Tree Pose
Step 1: Start with the Mountain pose or Tadasana.
Step 2: Shift your weight to the left foot then bring your right foot up against your left leg with your toes pointed to the ground. If you can’t reach your left leg, you can place your right foot against your left calf or ankle, but never against the knee.
Step 3: Bring your palms together to your chest as though you were praying.
Step 4: Hold the pose for one minute before returning to the Mountain pose. Repeat the same steps with the other side.

6. Triangle Pose

The Triangle pose (Trikonasana) is great for stretching the hips and the groin.
Best Done: Before trail running.
How to Do the Triangle Pose
Step 1: Stand on the mat with your legs apart. Turn your right foot outwards while keeping your left toes pointed forwards. Then lift your arms until they are parallel to the floor.
Step 2: Inhale and extend your torso over your right leg. Then exhale as you bring your right arm down towards the floor and bringing your left arms up towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for one minute.
Step 3: Inhale as you come up by pressing your heel to the floor and reaching the left arm toward the ceiling. Pivot your heels and repeat with the other side.

7. Thread the Needle Pose

The Thread the Needle yoga pose (Sucirandhrasana) stretches your hip flexors and increases your range of motion.
Best Done: Before and after trail running.
How to Do the Thread the Needle Pose
Step 1: Lie on your back with your kneed bent upwards and the soles of your feet on the mat.
Step 2: Lift your right foot and place your right ankle against your left leg. Then lift your chest and pass your right hand between your legs and your left hand outside your left hand. Interlock your fingers and relax your head and shoulders on the mat. To deepen the stretch, pull your left knee towards your chest.
Step 3: Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds, then release and repeat on your other side.

8. Extended Side Angle Pose

The Extended Side Angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) targets the groin, back, spine, and shoulders while at the same time stretching the legs, knees, hips, and ankles. This makes it an essential trail running and yoga pose that all runners should practice.
Best Done: After trail running.
How to Do the Extended Side Angle Pose
Step 1: Start with the Warrior II pose with your right foot forward. Then extend your torso and reach your right arm toward the top of your mat, extending through the sides of your torso. Afterward, lower your right hand down to the mat and your left hand toward the ceiling.
Step 2: Draw both shoulders away from your ears and square them to the left side.
Step 3: Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then return to warrior II and release. Repeat on the other side.

9. Wide-angle Seated Forward Fold Pose

The Wide-angle Seated Forward Fold or Upavistha Konasana is a great exercise that stretches your hamstrings and calves.
Best Done: After trail running.
How to Do the Wide-angle Seated Forward Fold Pose
Step 1: Start with the Staff pose or dandasana. Then slide your heels outwards as wide as you can. Rotate your inner thighs upwards toward the ceiling so that your kneecaps face straight up.
Step 2: Press your thigh bones into the ground and bend forward. As you do, keep your front torso long and your spine neutral. Bring your hands as far forward as you can.
Step 3: Hold the pose for 60 seconds. Then lift your torso and use your hands to bring your knees together to release.

10. Head to Knee Pose

The Head to Knee Pose or also known as the Janu Sirsasana is a yoga pose that stretches your hamstrings.
Best Done: After trail running.
How to Do the Head to Knee Pose
Step 1: Begin by sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you making sure that your thighs and calves are resting on the floor.
Step 2: Turn your torso towards your left leg, bend over and reach for your left heel. As you bend forward, your belly should touch your thighs first, then your chest, then your chin, and finally your forehead.
Step 3: Hold the pose for three minutes before lifting yourself up and out of the posture. Return to a seated position and repeat on the other side.

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It is widely accepted that trail running and yoga are complementary, especially when you consider that yoga can be used to stretch and strengthen various muscles that you need to overcome challenging trails. This is why yoga for trail runners are being practiced by trail running athletes around the world. If you’re just getting started with trail running, try incorporating yoga into your pre-run or post-run routine. This way, you’re bound to feel much more focused and relax, and this improvement in your state of mind can be of immense help in helping you achieve your trail running goals.


  1. Yoga and Balance, Trail Runner Magazine
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