The competitive marathon runner subjects his or her body to periods of intense physical effort, pushing it to the limit during training and in races to stay that crucial step ahead of the competition.

Training regimens now embrace modern technology and techniques, supplemented by the latest principles of nutrition. Every runner, professional or otherwise, acknowledges the role that the pre- and post-race periods play in his/her performance, and takes care of the body accordingly.

“The bane of the modern athlete is injury," explains Yashwant Saran of 136.1, a Chennai-based yoga studio. “However, through regular practice of yoga, people can manage not only to stay injury free, but calm and collected too." Saran narrates the example of Ryan Giggs, the Welsh soccer star and yoga practitioner who made his debut for Manchester United in 1990, and is still one of United’s top players.

“Ryan Giggs proves one outlives his shelf life through regular yogic practice," he says.

Yoga has entered the training routine of competitive runners across the world. Marathon runners employ yoga to strengthen specific muscles of their body and to recover swifter than usual from a race. “When it comes to a runner, certain parts of the body like the lower back and quadriceps require more attention," says Manish Tiwari, a yoga instructor who runs Cosmic Fusion in Mumbai.

Lean periods characterized by low physical activity, both before and after the race, are recommended by Tiwari, supplemented by certain yogic postures that quicken recovery. Saran, meanwhile, shifts focus to the psychological and emotional aspects of the athlete, for “their (the athletes) high levels of endurance tend to take care of their physical recovery". Tiwari and Saran pick their choice of yoga poses for strengthening key muscles and for faster recovery.

Yogic postures for active recovery

Photograph by Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Stand with your feet together and hands by your sides. Put your right leg forward. Now bend your right knee, and push your left leg behind till you feel the stretch on your left thigh. Inhale and raise your hands up, palms together, while straightening the elbows and arching your back. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing normally. Repeat the same with the other leg.

What it does:The asana tones the thighs, butt and arms and stretches the quadriceps, abdominal and back muscles. It also helps in reducing the stiffness in the quadriceps and the

Photograph by Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Stand straight, place your feet together with the hands on the side. Raise your right hand up towards the ceiling. Now stretch while bending your body towards the left side. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute, and then come back to the starting position. Repeat the asana with the other side.

What it does:The asana helps reduce fat from your love handles, obliques and arms. It is also beneficial for asthma patients.

Yogic postures for muscle strengthening


Photograph by Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

What it does: The asana is beneficial for the calf muscles as well as thighs, and gives the body a sense of balance while increasing your stamina.


Photograph by Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

What it does: The asana makes the spine flexible and strengthens the hamstring muscles, thereby increasing the adrenalin level and the blood flow to the upper body.

Photo by Nathan G/Mint

Stand with your feet 2-3ft apart and your hands by your sides. Slowly twist your torso towards your left leg, also turning your left foot perpendicular to the right. Your posture should resemble that of someone taking a big step, or a lunge. Now bend your left leg till the thigh is parallel to the floor. Raise your hands from your sides towards the ceiling till the palms meet. Hold this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.


Assume the lunge position as before, leading with the left leg. Raise your hands sideways till they form a straight line with your shoulders.

Turn your torso towards the right as much as possible while keeping your head in line with your left leg. Hold this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

What it does: The asana strengthens the shoulders, the back, belly, calves and ankles.