ask a yogi: yoga for runners and growing bellies

yoga for running from lululemon
A post-run stretch in La Jolla!

you asked...

Can you give runners some tips on practicing safe yoga to avoid knee pain/injuries? Is there something we are all doing wrong to hurt ourselves further? Is there a type of yoga to avoid, or stretches we should focus on? - Amber

yoga for runners - ask a yogi from lululemon

a yogi answers

Running typically shortens your muscles rather than lengthens. Over a period of time, this repetitive motion contributes to tight hamstrings, sore backs and feet and often stress on the knees due to misalignment and excessive pounding. Yoga is a wonderful therapy for runners, but I have found that generally runners want to get to the finish line quickly, so be patient and gentle with your yoga practice. It is not a race but a lifelong process.

Regarding tips for yogis who run, I suggest that you try to incorporate yoga postures before and after your run. Start with some basic sun salutations that commonly include lunges, which will help open up the hip flexors, forward folds, which will stretch the hamstrings, and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), which will touch on your hamstrings and calves while lengthening the muscles in your back. If you have really tight hamstrings, you can try stretching your hamstrings while lying on your back by bending one leg and keeping that foot on the floor. Take your other leg up so it is perpendicular to the floor. Interlace your fingers around your hamstring and gently pull your leg in closer to your chest at the same time pressing your leg into your hands. End with stretching out the quadriceps, perhaps in Saddle Pose, a variation on Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) and which is typically easier on the knees.

Perhaps most importantly, if during any yoga pose you feel any sensation in or around the knees, slowly and mindfully get out of the pose and ask your yoga teacher for a variation. If you ever get to the point of pain, you definitely have gone too far in that pose and need to modify. For example, you will probably want to avoid any half or full lotus postures if you have tight hips or hamstrings. There are countless variations on all yoga poses. Remember to be gentle and never force a stretch. You should feel the stretches in the largest part of the muscle that you are stretching and not where your muscles attach to bone, i.e. around your knees or under your buttocks.

I hope this helps and good luck with your yoga and running!

- Danielle

yoga and pregnancy
Frances from the Guest Education Centre and her growing belly!

pregnancy yoga tips from lululemon

you asked...

I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and I was wondering what poses are off limits during pregnancy? I know there are some obvious ones, like inversions and anything involving being flat on your stomach. Thanks so much! - Danielle

a yogi answers

Hi Danielle,

First, congratulations and enjoy this exciting time in your life! Since almost all pregnancies are different, not to mention the differences in body types, it is imperative that you explain to your doctor the details of your yoga practice and listen to your doctor’s advice so that you understand your limitations during this special time. This time being pregnant will go by quickly, and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. I have two children and practiced throughout both pregnancies but my practice changed throughout both pregnancies as I was constantly confronted with different physical issues.

The following are some of the postures that various yogis have recommended be avoided during pregnancy: Parivritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle pose), Parivritta Parsvakonasana (revolved side angle pose), Parivritta Utkatasana (revolved chair pose) and any other twists because of the pressure they may put on the abdominal cavity; all inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog); and deep backbends because they might stretch the abdominal wall too much; Navasana (boat pose) because of the stress it causes to your abdominals; intense vinyasa sequences that require you to jump forward or back; and of course any posture in which you are required to lie on your stomach.

You might be able to modify twists by taking open twists or do open-seated twists. You also might be able to do seated hip openers to relieve the pressure in your lower back. Most standing postures were fine for me, but I practiced next to a wall for all of the balancing postures. Finally, I recommend that you consider more restorative types of yoga especially during the first trimester when your body is building a life support system for the baby inside and perhaps devoting a greater portion of your practice to meditation.
Again, congratulations and enjoy!


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I wanted to say that yoga has done so much for my running. Since I added vinyasa yoga twice a week to my training, I recover quicker from my runs because of my increased flexibility and my form is better because of my increased core strength and improved balance.

Comment by Jeff — April 20, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

Thanks to some yoga stretches I learned from my physical therapist, I completed my 2nd marathon (Boston) yesterday in 3 hours 34 minutes. Lululemon also furnished my outfit for the race, which was all too comfortable but a bit short on pocket space. Thanks Lululemon…love your products.

Comment by Yvonne — April 20, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

for yoga and pregnancy see a certified prenatal yoga instructor if you can. there will be modifications for the phase of your pregnancy as well as any conditions that arise. in my practice I did inversions until baby went head down and it is crazy to see how my body changes day to day with my practice (I am certified for prenatal and watching these changes is wonderful and amazing)

Comment by kia — April 21, 2010 @ 9:26 am


I’m recovering from a total abdominal hysterectomy, where all my muscles were cut horizontally. I’ve been restricted to gentle walking for the past couple of months, and I’m doing pretty well, energy levels have returned and pain is practically gone. The only thing is, I get swelling in my lower belly if I do too much, and generally that lower ab area looks lumpy, paunchy and horrible.

I’m hoping next week to get the all clear to start exercising again. Do you have any suggestions to help me gently rebuild core strength without damaging the delicate repair process going on inside?

Comment by Skater — April 21, 2010 @ 9:33 am

Skater – I’m a Stott pilates instructor and have become one since having surgery similar to yours and also pelvic radiotherapy. I’d recommend trying to see someone 1-1 if you can at least initially to do some very focussed and gentle exercises to build strength.

You will find that the scar tissue may be a little sore at first but gentle exercise will help it get supple again!

Comment by Zoe — April 21, 2010 @ 9:55 am

I have also had a complete abdominal hysterectomy like you. I will tell you that it does take time. Mine has been 2 years and still my lower ab area is not just right. What I would recommend that helped me a lot was actually going to a physiotherapist. Mine put me right back on track and gave me exercises to do at home to help. My doctor recommended this to me and it was the way to start out.The scar tissue was really sore at first, but with a few appts, it didn’t hurt nearly as much. Make sure your Dr. gives you the green light though first. I started going 6 weeks after my surgery.

Comment by Kim — April 21, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

I have continued my yoga practice through 2 pregnancies and found that an Iyengar class was a wonderful choice for me. The use of props made poses more achievable as my belly grew. I also was able to enjoy handstands until the belly go too big for me to overcome gravity (2nd baby was HUGE) and headstands up until the very end. It felt great to get upside down as it changed the direction of the pull of gravity on my belly. My last headstand before birth was about 22 hours before the onset of labor.

Comment by Nickie — January 9, 2011 @ 11:52 am

Appreciate it for helping out, good info. “I have witnessed the softening of the hardest of hearts by a simple smile.” by Goldie Hawn.

Comment by Katerine Alba — July 24, 2012 @ 11:49 am

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