Winter Runner

YIN YOGA: An essential Practice for Runners

Yoga is a fantastic complement to running and is one of the best practices for our physical and emotional well being. Yin Yoga, specifically, is an ideal practice for athletes as it targets the denser connective tissue, particularly within the joints, which other styles of yoga or exercise can’t adequately address. More active forms of yoga such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, Flow and Core style classes may also attract runners as they are great for building strength and balance, enhancing range of motion and creating greater body awareness.

Yin Yoga is a naturally meditative practice.

By spending time in stillness, Yin Yoga creates the opportunity to pay attention to what arises. We are able to closely examine the nuanced sensation of the tissue as it receives the benefits from the long holds, as well as observe the natural tendencies of the mind. This time of inward focus directly parallels all that takes place on a challenging run and is a valuable component to athletic training. It allows us to become receptive to any adversity whether it’s mild discomfort in the body, or agitation in the mind. By learning to be with these sweeping states, we can become more tolerant of that discomfort, and may notice that a certain level of calm arises. Within a more peaceful and grounded state, we have a greater capacity to examine our goals and appreciate our accomplishments. It’s truly the ultimate recharge.

Here are a few Yin poses that can be incorporated into your existing routine and are designed to energetically complement the Transition/Build phase of training. These postures are part of a longer sequence. To receive this sequence in full, please email

Yin Yoga Butterfly Pose

BUTTERFLY — Target Areas: spine/inner lines of legs

Yin Yoga Dragonfly Pose

DRAGONFLY (to the side) — Target Areas: spine/back and inner lines of legs

Yin Yoga Dragonfly Pose

DRAGONFLY (center)

Yin Yoga Sphinx Pose

SPHYNX — Target Area: lumbar and potentially cervical spine


Yin Yoga Twisted Root Pose

TWISTED ROOT — Target Areas: spine/upper body/massage for stomach and internal organs


How to practice

There are three main principles of Yin Yoga. First, we come into a shape and go to the first point of resistance, and from that mild “edge” of sensation, observe what is being felt. Sensation should be no more than a mild, dull ache, and not gravitate toward anything sharp, stabbing or burning.

The second principle is to remain still. With the muscles relatively relaxed, the stress will transfer to the denser connective tissues. Keep in mind, you are not fixed in a single spot for the duration of the pose. Do be sure to change the angle of the pose to accommodate for any release, or to back away from sensation that becomes too intense.

Lastly, yin postures are held for longer periods of time. Postures can be held anywhere from 3 to even 20 minutes, but start with a time frame that makes sense for you, honoring the foregoing tenets.

Practice the postures sequentially as listed, allowing for 3-6 minutes in each pose. Give yourself at least 1-2 minutes between postures to rest in a prone or supine position (savasana), observing the effects. It is normal to feel some fragility as you exit a posture, and that sensation may stay present for a minute or two.


Disclaimer: Not all yoga poses are suitable for all persons. Always consult your health care provider and obtain full medical clearance before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice or direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.


Terry Cockburn has been teaching yoga since 2006 and owns Freeport Yoga Company (Freeport, Maine) and Yarmouth Yoga Studio (Yarmouth, Maine). A marathon runner, mother to two boys (and one yellow dog), business owner and outdoor adventure seeker, she balances an active yang lifestyle with time on the meditation cushion and a contemplative yin practice. Terry teaches classes, workshops and retreats and has a passion for working with the athletic population. Check out her upcoming offerings at

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