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Yinfest: exploring the world of yin yoga

  • by Claire Ferry - May 30, 2018

What is yin yoga?

There are so many definitions floating about, and the word is used by teachers from many different lineages.

So we thought we would offer an exploration of this at Maitri Studio this summer, with local teachers Patricia Lübeck and Maria Hogarty, and guest teacher Grace Tempany from Dublin.

Hence a yinfest!

Traditional yoga has always included the extended holds of certain asanas, and this extended into the teachings of key teachers in the 1900s, including in Iyengar yoga with which I am familiar. In the West in the 1970s, Paulie Zink, a martial arts and Taoist yoga practitioner, synthesised his skills and taught what he called 'yin and yang' yoga.

Most recent western teachers became familiar with these terms through the teaching of Paul Grilley, yoga teacher and anatomist, who studied with Zink. Paul Grilley evolved the teaching to be focused on connective tissue and meridian theory, with an emphasis on functional skeletal/muscular/connective tissue integrity. His teaching was itself developed by Sarah Powers who brought her own Buddhist meditative and psychology experience to bear, and it was she who suggested using the term 'yin yoga'. Sarah emphasised the mindfulness aspects of the practice. Subsequent students turned yin yoga teachers include Bernie Clark and Josh Summers who have taught globally, writing online or book materials to support yin yoga practice.

However as there is no one yin yoga trademarked school, the term has gone into wide use, with teachers from different lineages using the word to describe longer held, generally seated or supine poses. For more on all the background there's a useful wikipedia link.

Chatting between the two regular yin yoga teachers at Maitri (Maria Hogarty and Patricia Lübeck) and then introducing experienced teacher Grace Tempany from Dublin, we recognised the wide variety of yin styles out there. It can be a problem for the student, who might see yin on the tin but find the contents very different! As I said in a previous article, it's usually the case that you need to find the teacher for you no matter what the description, but nevertheless we felt it might be helpful - and fun - to explore.

So we're sticking with these principles:

  • forming a pose (shape/asana) to feel the target area (of the body) to the appropriate depth for you (without violence)
  • holding the pose for some time, at least three minutes but often up to ten minutes
  • resolving to be still and mindfully aware of the practice (again, appropriately and without violence)

The Yinfest!

On the weekend 29 June - 1 July Maitri Studio is hosting these three yin yoga teachers to showcase their teaching and offer you a yintroduction, or a yindepth practice, depending on your desires! [Sorry, these yin puns are just too much fun!]

For the beginner, people with busy weekends, or complete yin addicts who just want to come to everything (!) there are three hour-long classes on Saturday morning. These are £8 each.

For people who want to dive in a bit more, we have three two-hour workshops which you can do as a set, or just one or two of them according to your interest and availability.

These are £17 for one, £32 for two or £45 for all three. All are suitable for every body! You do not need to be 'flexible' already to try yin yoga. Click on any workshop for more information and the booking links for single or multi-tickets.

On Sunday evening 4-5.30pm Patricia continues her regular donation-based yin yoga class series: turn up and donate what you can afford.

And finally, although not strictly yin yoga, Sunday afternoon finds experienced teacher Orla Wallace running the second of seven chakra workshops, focusing on svadhishthana. Might be just what you wanted to complete your weekend!

Your teachers

Patricia is a yin yoga teacher and Reiki Master, who brings her all-love approach to a caring, grounded and nurturing practice. You can read more on her page.

Maria is a chakra evolution yin yoga teacher whose training focussed on using the energy centres as a way to connect to the physical, emotional and spiritual levels of practice. She continues her studies with a Diploma in Massage and Sport Specific Yoga for Professionals and Amateurs. More on her page here.

Grace is a Dublin-based educator, yoga teacher and wellbeing practitioner. Her teaching stems from a keen awareness of anatomical singularities and meridian theory, coupled with a deep focus on cultivating greater awareness and compassion in her students. This is grounded in her personal mindfulness and meditation practice. Her website has much more information.

Taking it further

Grace will be back with teacher partner Eimear Beardmore in November to run what we think is the first yin yoga training here in Belfast (do correct us if we're wrong!) Get all the details and tempt yourself to sign up in this article.

Contact Us

Maitri Studio Limited
4 The Mount, Belfast, BT5 4NA

Tel: +44 (0)28 9099 2428

Company number: NI635546