As we know I am not an expert on anything, I asked for the input of Lynne McSweeney, owner of Savannah Yoga Barre, to give us some advice on running and Yin yoga. Lynne teaches Dynamic Yoga Flow, All Levels Yoga Flow, Gentle Yoga, Slow Burn Yoga, Yoga 2.0, and Yin Yoga at SYB.

Lynne McSweeney on Running and Yin Yoga

Interview with Lynne McSweeney

What brought you to yoga and why do you stay?

I was a gym rat and avid non-competitive runner when my gym began offering yoga classes in 1998. Always looking for new ways to keep fit, I gave it a try. It was billed as “Power Yoga” which seemed right up my alley.  I had absolutely no experience or knowledge of yoga and guess I assumed, as many do, that it’s nothing more than stretching and chanting. My first time on the mat I was hooked. I had taken dance for many years and although I was in my mid-40s when I first took yoga, I loved that it was graceful and fluid like dance, but the “power” part provided a great work-out. That’s what kept me going back for more.

As a runner, I thought it was a great component to add to my workout regime. I ran every morning and took a yoga class in the afternoon whenever one was offered. I started to seek out other places to practice and was exposed to styles other than power yoga. I loved that I could still feel that I was getting a workout from yoga by moving slowly and holding the poses for longer times. The long holds helped me gain more awareness of alignment, but also built a lot of strength. It was a complete full-body workout! I started attending workshops and practicing with lots of teachers. In 2007 I took my first 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program (I’ve taken 4! and have taught Yin in area programs). Eventually, I stopped running and doing all other forms of exercise since I felt that yoga gave me everything I needed.

Running and Yin yoga stones


Running and Yin Yoga

What do you recommend to a runner trying yoga for the first time?

Most runners seem to have a lot of tightness in the hips and hamstrings and I always suggest they try a Yin Yoga class. All of the asanas (physical postures) are practiced on the ground in yin. There are no standing poses, arm balances, or inversions. Yin yoga focuses on releasing the connective tissue and fascia and in order to do that, each pose is held for at least 2 minutes, but as long as 6 minutes. Yin is a great way to become aware of imbalances in our body and work on getting a little more even.

The essence of yin is yielding, letting go, allowing things to release. Our job is to let every muscle relax and that can be a real chore in our culture. We usually think we have to be “doing” something all the time and in Yin we want to just Be. Yin is not meant to be comfortable; it’s meant to take you out of your comfort zone. Much of the benefit of a yin practice comes from staying in the place of discomfort.

Once we come into a pose and create some amount of ease, we seek stillness. That’s our commitment in this practice.  No matter what urges arise in the mind, and no matter what sensations arise in the body, we commit to be still. Stillness of mind is also an important aspect of the practice.  And after maybe just one or two yin classes, you’ll understand how difficult that can be.

Once we are still, we hold for a time. The long, gentle pressure coaxes the yin tissue to become strengthened. From the physiological perspective of Yin, time – not intensity – is the magic ingredient. To go deeper in yin means to hold longer, not necessarily to move further into a pose.

How does yoga become more than “just a workout”?

I think most people who try yoga initially go for the workout, but over time begin to realize the many other benefits. Yoga helps reduce stress and it gives us an opportunity to slow down and breathe. When we’re on our mat, we have no choice but to stop thinking. Regardless of the style of yoga you might choose to try, you’re so busy breathing that you don’t have time to think!
Running and Yin Yoga

Should I go to yoga class before or after my run?

If you’re going for a run in the morning, come to yin in the afternoon. We have classes on Tuesday & Thursdays from 4:15-5:15 and on Sundays 4:00-5:15. My personal preference was always running first, then yoga, but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong order – whatever feels good in your body.

Savannah Yoga Barre has all styles of yoga classes suitable for all levels of experience. Whether you’re a novice or been practicing for years, we would love to have you join us for class. Mention Rebekah’s blog post and take your first class FREE! We’re located at 2132 Victory Dr at the intersection of Skidaway Rd., by Starbucks and the Children’s Theater. Visit our website for a complete listing of classes. For more information, give us a call at 912.200.4809. We’d love to hear from you!

A big thank you to Lynne for sharing with us! And if you’re local to Savannah, please visit Savannah Yoga Barre and mention my blog for your first class free!

Related Reading:

How do you deal with tight hamstrings and hips?

Do you think yoga could make you a happier runner?