Relax with yin yoga

Laura helping a student settle into a relaxing yoga pose

‘Tis the season for being indoors in the Northern Hemisphere. Time for hibernation and hygge—and there’s no better way to hide from the greyness and colder temperatures than yoga!

Starting Tuesday, October 29th I’m teaching yin yoga from 19:45-21:00 every Tuesday at Younion Yoga in Zürich. This lovely boutique yoga space is loaded with props (and I looove using lots of props) and the slow, meditative movements of yin yoga are excellent for encouraging a zen-like state. I draw on extensive teaching, training, and personal practice experience to make sure students are well-supported in every pose, allowing the sense of dropping into the positions and surrendering to relaxation.

Join me for a yin yoga practice that will help reconnect body and mind—and escape from autumn’s gloom!

A sense of savasana

“Hari om, tat sat. Hari om, tat sat. The practice of yoga nidra concludes.” 

Satisfied that the class has surrendered to the spell of my voice, I sink down to the bolster, knees out to the side, ankles crossed. From this so-called easy pose, I observe my prone students enjoying their supervised nap—but hopefully without the actual REM state. 

From the depths of the candlelit studio I hear, “Snork.” Ah. Who has succumbed? I scan shadowed faces, looking for the tell-tale droop of slumber. There! The parent who earlier complained of sleeplessness, lips moving with each noisy exhale. 

Up I creep, deliberately placing each step, skirting around arms, legs, and squeaky floorboards. Holding my breath, I move through the kaleidoscope of yoga mats until I am next to the slumbering student. I crouch down and gently reach out a hand. With a touch, I bring the snorer back from dreamland. Eyes fly open in response and I nod reassuringly. A sheepish smile and the student’s eyelids descend once more.  

Another careful dance through the yoga mats and I am re-seated. Again I look out over the darkened room, hearing a few deep exhales, but no further clattering breaths. 

The silence of savasana continues.

Back to the original (or orig-yin-al)

In what now feels like a completely different lifetime, I borrowed Yin Yoga: The Foundations of a Quiet Practice on DVD from my local library—and kickstarted my love of yin yoga. 

Laura settling in to a yin squat pose
Me settling in to a yin squat

The DVD led me to seek out yin yoga in real life and I stumbled into an amazing class at a local community centre with the knowledgable, approachable, sensitive, fantastic Brenda from Beautiful Yoga. Eventually, I was able to stop repeatedly borrowing the DVD when I received it as a Christmas present. Again and again and again I followed Paul & Suzee Grilley (its ‘stars’) through their slow, mindful sequences—and went to a real-life class one evening a week.

I left Foundations of a Quiet Practice behind when we moved to Europe in 2013 as the Canadian DVD would be about as useful as a Frisbee in German DVD players. But I never left behind the practice of yin yoga. 

After unsuccessfully searching for a digital edition of Foundations of a Quiet Practice and contacting Pranamaya (the distributor) several times over the years begging for online access*, I had brilliant revelation. My husband’s Xbox, which includes a DVD/Blu Ray player, is from Canada and works in Europe! I’m slightly ashamed to admit how long it took me to realise that I could play North American-region DVDs in Europe by simply using the Xbox. 

This delight was short-lived, however, as I realised that I no longer had the DVD itself. 

My mum came to the rescue, digging through the media cabinet in my parents’ house and unearthing my original Yin Yoga: Foundations of a Quiet Practice, minus the case. And who needs the case!

She brought it along when my parents came to Europe this past April and I’ve been practicing alongside Suzee, with Paul guiding the practice, in our Zürich apartment since then. Hearing Paul’s straightforward cues, watching Suzee’s smooth flow, and getting back to the original handful of simple yin poses has taken me back to the roots of my yin yoga practice—and let me re-discover why I love it so much. 

As I shared in a post long ago about the ‘Why’ of yin yoga, the practice is more than physical; it’s really the psychological impact that keeps me coming back to yin yoga. The quietness of the poses helps me quiet my mind, while the introspective nature helps me be more patient in my life off the yoga mat.

Returning to my orig-yin-al yoga practice with Paul and Suzee feels a little like coming home—and it’s so nice to feel at home. 

Suzee and Paul Grilley (photo from paulgrilley.com)

*Of course, a couple of months after my mum brought the discs to Europe Pranamaya released Yin Yoga: Foundations of a Quiet Practice online. Ha!

Friday Evening Yoga Escape in Copenhagen

Person lying in effortless pose on the grass under leafy tree branches

While I’m starting to feel more settled in Zurich, Copenhagen remains my yoga home. And since I’ll be back for a quick visit in May, I’m squeezing in teaching a class!

If you’re in Copenhagen, you can join me for an extra-long, extra-relaxing class on Friday, 17 May from 19.00-21.00 at Østerbro Yogaforening.

It may seem like this is a ‘workshop,’ but I didn’t want to use the word work anywhere in the name of the session, as it’s the exact opposite of what I hope students will do. This extended class is an escape from the everyday and encourages deep relaxation with well-supported yin yoga poses and rejuvenating yoga nidra (guided relaxation). It’s perfect for both beginners to yin yoga or regular yoga practitioners and ideal for anyone feeling stressed or fatigued.

This extra-long class, and my almost hypnotically relaxing voice, will bring deep relaxation to the Great Prayer Day holiday – and let you play hooky from your everyday life!

The cost for this extra-long class is 145 DKK (non-member price: 195 DKK) . Space is limited and online registration is available through the Østerbro Yogaforening membership system.

Østerbro Yogaforening is a co-operative yoga studio and everyone is welcome to become a member.

The season of yin

Beige woolen socks with bokeh effect in the background
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The weather in Copenhagen has turned colder, greyer and windier. The leaves are changing and this morning was the first dog walk in a long time that I needed gloves. Likewise, I’ve put away my sandals and lightweight dresses and embraced wooly socks again.

With the sun setting noticeably earlier, there’s an invitation to be inside more, to get cozy, to hygge it up.

Bring on the yin yoga!

While I love yin yoga anytime, autumn and winter are natural seasons for this slow, restful, meditative practice. This autumn, I’m teaching yin yoga classes at Østerbro Yogaforening most Thursday evenings and a few Sunday afternoons.

I’m also really excited to see that there’s a restorative yoga class with Louise coming up on Sunday 7 October at Østerbro Yogaforening. I won’t be teaching that one, but I’m definitely going to be wearing my fuzziest socks and letting Louise guide me to perfectly propped, seriously deep relaxation!

Perhaps I’ll see you at a yin yoga class this autumn? Or practice alongside you for Louise’s restorative class?

Yoga classes for the long, dark, rainy winter

Rain drops with pavement and temporary tens
Photo by Ryan Wilson on Unsplash

Copenhagen’s winter nights are long, dark, and often rain-soaked, which makes this the perfect season for cozy yoga classes!

Join me for Tuesday evening restorative yoga classes and the incredibly hygge Ground Yoga + Økotea in Østerbro. Classes start at 19.00 and are 75 minutes of very supported, super relaxing poses like gentle twists, soft backbends and soothing forward folds. It’s normal to do only four or five poses in a 75 minute restorative yoga class because they’re are held for up to 25 luxurious minutes!

I’m also teaching a regular yin yoga class at Ground on Sundays at 10.00. Yin is not quite as slow as restorative yoga and it’s a wonderful complement to the rest of our yang (simply meaning active) lives. It’s also a great way to cope with a bit of a hangover!

Confirm that you’re coming to classes at Ground on the studio’s Facebook page.

I also teach periodic yin yoga and mindfulness meditation classes at Hot Yoga Østerbro on Nordre Frihavnsgade. Rest assured the classes are not sweaty, just warm! I generally teach on Thursday evenings or Saturday/Sunday afternoons.

Check out my schedule for up-to-the-minute details of when and where I’m teaching.

Better living through technology (aka better yoga through props)

Yoga props and Laura in easy poseI’m co-hosting a Restorative Yoga workshop next weekend (21 May) with my friend and fellow yoga teacher, Constanza. As part of my preparation, I’ve been re-reading Your Body, Your Yoga (yin yoga teacher Bernie Clark’s latest book) in which he talks a lot about physical differences in yoga students and how important it is to practice for your own body.

I love Bernie’s philosophy because he’s clear about the why behind doing yoga: “to use the pose to get into the body.”1

And he’s a huge advocate of using props to support the pose – as am I. Props can make all the difference in a pose and I encourage their use extensively in my yin yoga classes. They’re even more necessary in restorative yoga!

Restorative yoga is a practice of being, rather than doing. Opening and softening, rather than stretching. Deliberating resting, rather than sleeping. It’s all about comfort and it’s much easier to be comfortable when we’re supported and the body is at ease.

I know that there are many yogis who feel like props are cheating. For me, it’s just plain stupid not to use all of the tools available to make your yoga practice (or your life) the best it can be. It’s like eschewing technological advances in  because they make life too easy and too comfortable.

Just like technology creates the opportunity for better living, props create the opportunity for better yoga!

 

 

ps – I had no idea that ‘Better Living through Chemistry’ started as a DuPont advertising slogan. Always new things to learn!

1 The full quote from the January 2014 YinYoga.com newsletter is:

Yangsters hate props – are you a yangster? The use of a prop is unconsciously equated to cheating. The inner dialogues goes something like this, “I can do this pose! I don’t need no stinking prop!” But yinsters know something that yangsters haven’t quite grasped yet – the intention of their yoga practice is not to look any particular way; it is not to get into a pose: the intention is to feel a particular way; to use the pose to get into the body. Yinsters don’t care if a little extra help is needed to get sensation into the targeted area: if props can help – let’s use props!