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  • Rebecca Foster

'Spring into Spring' Yin Yoga Workshop: Q&A with Katie

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga, incorporating principles of traditional Chinese medicine, with asanas (postures) that are held for longer periods of time than in other styles. Here's what to expect in our upcoming 'Spring into Spring' yin workshop on 23rd April.

Q: What is yin yoga?

Yin yoga is a floor-based practice that involves long holds - around three to five minutes - to target the connective tissues (or fascia) of the body. We can think of the connective tissue like the matrix that surrounds and holds the whole body together. The fascia is less elastic than the muscles which is why we hold the poses for such a long time.

The connective tissues we’re looking at in yin yoga include the ligaments, bones, tendons and layers of the joints. The aim of yin yoga is to improve, maintain and make more resilient our connective tissues, especially our joints so we can have a healthy range of motion well into old age.

Q: How is yin yoga different to other styles?

It draws on the meridian theory, which is a huge part of Chinese medicine. It’s concerned with the qi (pronounced ‘chi’) energy that moves around the body via meridian lines, which we can think of as channels of energy that run deep through the fascia.

Yin yoga is all about maintaining a healthy flow of vital energy through the meridian lines for optimal physical and mental well-being.

Q: Tell us more about how the theme of Spring relates to yin yoga.

To understand the background, let’s take a closer look at the Five Element Theory in Chinese medicine. According to this philosophy, everything we see in nature – human beings, animals, the seasons themselves – is made up of the five elements. These are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

We associate the season of spring with the wood element. When we look around us at this time of year we see growth, expansion and renewal – the tiny bud bursting into flower.

The poses we’ll do in the workshop will be chosen to stimulate the meridian energy lines of the liver and gall bladder, which are specifically associated with the wood element and spring. Using this observation within the yoga practice helps us to come into alignment with nature around us.

Q: Why is it good to practice yin at the transition of seasons?

Changing of season is a time when the body is vulnerable. One moment, we’re experiencing a hot, sunny day and wearing t-shirts. The next day, it could be freezing.

For our bodies, this constant change of conditions often produces an elimination, perhaps in the form of a cough, cold or runny nose or digestive upsets. What we do in yin yoga is about keeping our energy stable, free-flowing and grounded as we navigate the change of seasons.

Q: What kind of thing can I expect to do in the workshop?

I’ll be talking you into poses with variations, alternatives and giving you plenty of ideas on how to use props (blocks, straps, bolsters etc). During the long holds I’ll be talking around the themes of Chinese medicine and spring, but also delving into the other foundations of yin practice, like the connective tissues.

Most importantly, I’ll give you some space to be with yourself and connect to the present moment.

Q: Can anyone do this workshop?

Absolutely – this style of yoga is perfect for everyone, whether you’re coming back from an injury, stressed out, you’ve been unwell or you simply want to take some time for self-care.

Whatever is going on your life, this practice is designed to let your body do what it knows how to do best, balance you!

Q: If I'm joining the workshop via Zoom, what props do I need?

The starting aim of each pose is to find the form of the shape in a way that works for your skeleton, supporting the body so you can relax in that shape and feel supported by the earth.

To facilitate this, we often need to bring the earth up to meet our bodies by using props: blocks, bolsters, straps and blankets. Learn more about how to get creative with props at home here.

Q: What are your top tips for a great yin practice?

Make sure you’re wearing loose and comfortable clothes so nothing is restricting you – for instance, think about any zips or buttons that might get in the way.

Another key thing – especially if you’re practicing at home – is to choose an environment where there aren’t any stresses. Turn your phone off and put it away! Let the people in your household know you’re doing the workshop so – if possible – they don’t come in and disturb you.

Try to establish a calm environment you can relax in. If you’re coming to the studio, we’ll provide that for you.

Be sure to sign-up for our 'Spring into Spring' workshop taking place on Saturday 23rd April from 2pm-4pm. You can join us online or in-person at Lumi Power Yoga (121 King Street, Hammersmith W6 9JG).

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