By David J. Ramoy The Pineapple Contributing Writer
This next series of articles will be focusing on the different styles of Yoga, explained by some of the top Instructors in our area. The first sequence (so to speak) is about the more softer side of Yoga and how beneficial it can be to our intense everyday lives.
Being more of a Vinyassa, Power Yoga type of guy, I was introduced to the lighter side of Yoga last year and from the moment I first sat down to stretch, I knew I’ve been missing out on half the Asana practice. Rather than fast asanas and chatarangas, the average stretch can range between 3-5 minutes per posture. Even sitting in a simple pigeon or frog posture for a minute will awaken the ligaments, joints and even the bones that are not used to being stretched during your typical Hatha practice. I am of course referring to Vinayssa’s distant cousins, “Yin and Restorative Yoga”. Michelle Tamblin, a teacher’s teacher when it comes to Yin and Restorative was kind enough to be interviewed for this month’s Tales From the Mat:
Hi Michelle, tell us about yourself!
I was first introduced to yoga in college at the University of Redlands in California. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing and my professor/mentor was also a yoga teacher. I have always had an interest in alternative healing practices; I am a Reiki Master Teacher, Integrated Energy Therapy Practitioner and have completed the course in Becoming the Human Crystal through the Crystalis Institute. Originally from NH, I love the outdoors and also do nature photography.
I began a serious yoga practice 11 years ago and graduated from the Anuttara 200 hour yoga teacher training in July 2011 and continued to study at Anuttara completing 100 hours of Raja Yoga training in February 2012.
Please tell us about your experience with Yin yoga.
Anuttara Raja is a unique practice with some similarities to Yin. The poses are held for longer periods of time, typically 3-5 minutes, with the same goal of accessing the connective tissues. The practice is done in a heated room and has specific sequencing and different postures compared to Yin. I absolutely loved this class. It is a very meditative practice, and yet challenging for the body, (I am not naturally very flexible to begin with) and for the mind to become quiet and stay in stillness.
By holding the poses for longer periods of time, different emotions begin to surface, which can be very confrontational, but allows greater awareness of the Self. I began to see an increase in my flexibility and range of motion within a short period of consistent practice. I was offered a class teaching Yin at Simply Yoga and a class teaching Raja at Anuttara and began to focus on this style as my main teaching.
I had an opportunity to take Yin Yoga training with Joe Barnett who is a senior student of Paul Grilley and his primary teaching assistant. Here I gained a more in depth understanding of anatomy and how to modify each posture to accommodate different ranges of motion, depending on flexibility or injuries. Yin is a practice available to almost all levels of students. Even though most poses are done either seated or lying down, some are quite challenging. We tend to lose flexibility as we age and it is one of the best practices to do to improve mobility. I have continued to study an increase my knowledge, also completing training in Restorative Yoga with Judith Lasater.
What are the main differences between Restorative and Yin yoga?
Many people confuse Restorative with Yin, or try to blend them together, but the objective of the two practices is completely different. In Yin Yoga the goal is to stress the connective tissues, accessing large areas of fascia and dropping down into the ligaments and joints. In Restorative Yoga, the goal is deep rest and relaxation. The poses are held even longer than in Yin, and props are used to completely support the body so that comfort is established. Relaxation is achieved where there is no movement, no effort and the mind is quiet. This practice helps to release chronic stress which is the main contributing factor to all illnesses. In letting go of long held patterns of tension in the body, we are able to access our own healing capabilities. An environment is created where the student feels safe and supported to allow for a deep opening and letting go.
Restorative Yoga benefits the central nervous system, and organ systems, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure and aiding in digestion to name a few. Unlike Yin, which focuses mainly in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, Restorative focuses on the spine, moving it in all six directions and including one inverted pose. It balances the energy in the body, restoring what has been depleted. It is available to a wider range of students because of the support and props for each pose. The poses can be selected specifically for what the student needs and less poses are done in the practice. It is my own personal favorite practice.
What makes your teaching unique?
I believe in incorporating different modalities to heal the body, mind, and spirit and I am passionate about yoga and the benefits each person can gain from practicing. Yoga has been an integral part of my own healing journey. I like to add affirmations into my practices and my favorite affirmation is: Everything is in Divine and Perfect Order right now. I find this a great affirmation to assist in letting go and trusting the process. All will work out exactly as it’s meant to!
So where do you teach, and how can someone contact you?
I currently teach yoga classes at Anuttara Yoga Shala, Simply Yoga, and Say Fitness. I offer privates in Yoga, Reiki, IET and Crystal Healing as well as Angel card and Tarot readings. Please feel free to come check out a class or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Namaste