Using Yoga to Build Core Strength for Better Running

The interconnection between yoga and running is often overlooked. However, many runners are discovering yoga’s transformative impact, especially in enhancing core strength. This blog post explores how Using Yoga to Build Core Strength for Better Running and improving their overall running performance.

Importance of Core Strength for Runners

Core strength is an often underestimated component of running performance. A strong core—the muscles encompassing the abdomen, lower back, and hips—provides stability, better alignment, and more overall control. This stability allows for increased efficiency and power during running. Moreover, it helps maintain proper form even during fatigue and plays a significant role in injury prevention.

Overview of Yoga

With roots traced back to ancient India, yoga is a comprehensive physical and spiritual practice involving breath control, meditation, and specific body postures. It has many styles and forms, with certain styles like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga often emphasizing strength-building, including core strength.

Benefits of Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga offers an excellent way to build a strong core. Unlike isolated core workouts, yoga encourages full-body engagement, fostering functional core strength that benefits runners. Various yoga poses require stabilizing your body, challenging and strengthening your core muscles.

Stronger core muscles contribute to improved running form and efficiency. They allow you to maintain a tall, upright position, optimize your leg movements, and provide better balance. Moreover, a strong core can help protect against common running injuries related to weak core muscles, such as lower back pain or hip injuries.

Top Yoga Poses for Building Core Strength

Numerous yoga poses effectively work on core strengthening. Here are a few.

  1. Boat Pose (Navasana): This pose challenges your balance and works your deep core muscles.
  2. Plank Pose: Similar to a push-up position, this pose engages the core region.
  3. Side Plank (Vasisthasana): This variation of the Plank Pose targets the obliques.
  4. Crow Pose (Bakasana): An advanced pose, the Crow Pose, strengthens the upper body and core.
  5. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III): This balancing pose activates the abdomen and the lower back.

Always ensure proper form and consider seeking guidance from a qualified yoga instructor.

Boat Pose boat pose

Boat Pose, or Navasana in Sanskrit, is a seated yoga pose that requires and builds core strength. It primarily targets the rectus abdominis (the “abs”) but also engages the hip flexors and the muscles along the spine.

To perform Boat Pose, start in a seated position on your yoga mat. Bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core and lean back slightly while maintaining a straight spine. Lift your feet off the floor, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. If you feel stable and comfortable here, you may straighten your legs so that your body forms a ‘V’ shape. Next, extend your arms forward, parallel to the floor, palms facing each other. Maintain this pose for several breaths, then release gently back to the floor.

In addition to building core strength, Boat Pose can help improve balance, stimulate the kidneys, thyroid, and prostate glands, and strengthen the hip flexors and spine.

Plank Pose

The Plank Pose, known as Phalakasana in Sanskrit, is a strength training pose that works for several muscle groups. It is particularly effective for building core strength.

To perform Plank Pose, start on all fours, with your hands placed directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Next, step your feet back, coming onto the balls of your feet, creating a straight line from your heels to your head. Ensure your hands are shoulder-width apart, fingers spread wide, pressing firmly into the mat.

Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button towards your spine, and avoid letting your lower back sag. As a result, your legs are active and straight, your glutes are engaged, and your gaze is down at the mat, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.

In this position, every part of your body is working. Your shoulders, arms, and wrists are building strength, and your core muscles—including your abdominals, obliques, and lower back—are engaged, increasing stability and endurance.

Maintain the pose for several breaths, like a wood plank, keeping your body as straight as possible. Then, gently lower your knees to the mat to leave the pose.

As with any yoga pose, it’s essential to be mindful of your body’s limits and ensure that the pose is done with the correct form to prevent injury.

Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Side Plank Pose, also known as Vasisthasana in Sanskrit, is a challenging pose that strengthens the core, especially working the obliques, while also targeting the shoulders and arms.

To perform Side Plank Pose, start in a regular Plank Pose. Next, shift onto the outer edge of your right foot, stacking your left foot on top of the right. Keep the right hand under the right shoulder on the floor and balance as you extend your left arm towards the ceiling.

Your body should form a straight line from head to heels, like a regular Plank Pose, but turned sideways. Keep your core engaged and your hips lifted, not allowing them to sag toward the floor. Turn your gaze towards your left hand if it’s comfortable for your neck.

Holding this pose tests your balance and engages and strengthens your core muscles, particularly the obliques, which help stabilize the spine. It’s also an excellent pose for strengthening the wrists, arms, and shoulders.

After holding a few breaths, return to Plank Pose and repeat on the other side for balanced strength.

As always, in practicing any yoga pose, listen to your body, respect its limits, and consider seeking guidance from a qualified yoga instructor to ensure proper form and safety. Modify as needed, such as dropping the bottom knee to the ground for extra support.

Crow Pose

Crow Pose, or Bakasana in Sanskrit, is an arm balancing yoga pose that requires and builds both upper body and core strength.

To perform Crow Pose, squat with your feet slightly apart, wider than hip-width. Place your hands flat on the mat in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Press your knees against your upper arms, close to your armpits. Lean forward, transferring your weight onto your hands, keeping your gaze forward.

Engage your core and lift one foot and then the other off the ground, balancing on your hands. Your knees rest on your upper arms or triceps, and your feet draw towards your buttocks. Ensure your elbows are slightly bent above your wrists to prevent hyperextension.

This pose significantly works the core muscles, which must lift and balance the body. It also strengthens the wrists, arms, and shoulders. Flexibility in the hips and focus are also cultivated in this pose.

Crow Pose is considered an advanced pose and should be attempted with caution. When first trying this pose, a yoga mat and perhaps a cushion for potential falls should be used. As always, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher to ensure proper form and safety. Again, listening to your body and working within your current abilities in your yoga practice is essential.

Warrior III

Warrior III, also known as Virabhadrasana III in Sanskrit, is a balancing yoga pose that requires and builds core yoga to build core strength strength and strength in the legs and shoulders.

To perform Warrior III, start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Then, step your right foot a stride’s length towards the back of your mat, and shift all your weight onto this leg. Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, palms facing each other.

On an exhale, lean your body forward and lift your left leg off the ground so your body forms a straight line from your left heel to your head. Your torso, arms, and raised leg should parallel the ground, and your standing leg should remain straight but not locked. Engage your core muscles to help maintain your balance and alignment.

In Warrior III, the abdominal muscles, lower back, and muscles along the spine are all engaged, strengthening your core and improving balance and stability. This pose also strengthens the legs, shoulders, and ankles and can help to improve concentration and coordination.

After holding several breaths, return to Mountain Pose and repeat on the other side to maintain balance.

Including Yoga in Running Training

Including yoga in your running training strengthens your core, can improve your running performance, and prevent injuries. Here are some tips on how to do this:

Yoga Warm-Up Before Running

Begin your running sessions with a brief yoga warm-up sequence. Poses like Cat-Cow, Downward Dog, and Sun Salutations can help to loosen the joints, warm up the muscles, and activate the core, preparing your body for the run.

Yoga Post-Run

After a run, your body is warm and more flexible. This is an excellent time to do some yoga poses focusing on core strength, such as Boat Pose, Plank Pose, and Warrior III. This helps engage and strengthen your core muscles while stretching and relaxing your leg muscles.

Regular Yoga Sessions

In addition to including yoga in your running routine, have dedicated yoga sessions 2-3 times a week. These sessions can be longer and more intense, focusing on core-strengthening poses and sequences.

Including yoga in your running routine need not be complex. Start by dedicating a few minutes post-run to perform yoga poses focusing on core strength. Gradually, you can increase the duration of your practice. Aim for consistency rather than intensity. Regular, short yoga sessions are often more beneficial than sporadic, intense ones.


With its holistic focus on strength, flexibility, and mindfulness, yoga offers runners an effective cross-training method. By improving core strength can lead to noticeable improvements in running efficiency, form, and injury prevention. Including yoga in your running routine could be the key to unlocking your full running potential. So, unroll that yoga mat, and give it a try.

Happy running, and Namaste!

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