Q&A with Melanie McLaughlin: Essential questions on Yin Yoga
We caught up with our resident Yin Expert, Mel and asked a few heart burning curiosities!
InYoga: What is the thing you love most about Yin Yoga?
Mel: "The yin yoga poses and nurturing energy have the ability to reach down into each individual in a gentle yet powerful way. Yin allows whatever is there - tension/emotion/stress/scar tissue/trauma- to surface, all whilst making shapes primarily on the floor with no agenda and lots of space and time. The result (in the least!) is a more comfortable body suit to live in and a bit more insight into ourselves from a loving perspective."
InYoga: What led you to become so passionate about Yin Yoga?
Mel: "What it did for me; is the short answer. That was a potent place to share from. I was soooo passionate about people being able to release deep stress and anxiety and just really RELAX and feel safe in their own body/mind/emotional experience. That's where it started from and then it has evolved beautifully (just as I have, and as all of us do) into so much more! But even just being able to reduce stress - slow down - quiet down - stretch your fascia bag - exercise your joints - increase your Qi energy... that is amazing for ANYone and I wanted to share that with as many people as possible through this very 'accessible' modality of yin yoga."
InYoga: What lifestyle tips would you suggest for people trying to find a balance of yin and yang?
Mel: "Experiment and experience! No two people's needs are the same and just like the seasons we too have cycles in our year and our overall lifetime. If you have a very Yang lifestyle (work/ sport/ personality/ other flow style yoga) then inject more yin to balance that out. If you have a very sedentary lifestyle and more monk like personality (still do a little bit of yin to address those tissues and needs) but inject some yang and become more lively and get the fires stoked! The more of any yoga we do, the more intuitive, instinctual, and trusting we are of what we need. If we listen to that I feel we cant go too wrong!"
InYoga: Why is yin important in our daily lives?
Mel: "Whether you are a man or a woman you will feel energised and restored to balance both Yang and Yin energies in your tissues, in your organs, in your mind, in your energetic body. To not address the yin side of our nature is to experience only half of ourselves and half of life. As life is generally more yang, we must balance out the 'Yang-ness' of life. When we can meet yang: active, moving forward, doing, busy minds; with yin: purposely being more still, nourishing, calm, quieter, inquiry rather than demands, space and allowing we feel at ease in body and mind."
InYoga: Is it safe to practice yin if you are pregnant, or if you are recovering from an injury?
Mel: "It is safe to practice Yin if you are currently pregnant with your Dr's ok and it is really lovely to have time out for yourself in such a nurturing slow way on the floor. A big bonus in yin is that we learn how to handle discomfort, being a little pulled apart, with strong sensations... The feedback is that Yin can really help with the whole birthing process with a stronger body mind connection when the contractions set in! That said, we are very cautious with our pregnant goddesses as their bodies are changing at a tremendous rate and the relaxin is coursing through the connective tissues so there are things you cannot do in yin but it doesn't take away from the whole class experience as there are plenty of alternatives. You will need to wait 3-6months post natal to re-join yin for the body to re-stabilize skeletons and strengthen muscles and for the relaxin to leave the tissues that changed dramatically to birth the baby.
With injuries we treat them exactly as we would in any other yoga /fitness/ movement class and thats a no. Wait until you are healed and come back to it very slowly, methodically and consistently. Yin yoga is not the yoga to do when you can't do anything else! It can be fantastic rehab on the joints/ connective tissues/ scar tissue when the immediate injury is healed. All injuries are unique too as are the bodies they happen to so it's always good to talk to a trusted yin teacher and see what's best for the individual situation. For example, with a broken big toe you can do most things and it can be left out of the equation so always ask!
InYoga: Do you have a few key words for anyone new to yin on what to expect?
Mel: "If you think it's the soft easy yoga... get ready to be surprised at how effective and deep it can feel in the practice and how life changing on so many levels it can be in your everyday existence."
A little about Mel...
Mel has been practicing, teaching and experiencing all that yoga, meditation and pranayama have to offer since a lengthy sojourn in India 17 years ago. Deeply curious about the energetic and esoteric, she has trained with some of the world’s most respected teachers of yoga energetics and bodywork, including yin yoga with Paul Grilley and acupuncture with Dr Daniel Keown. Mel has a background in dance and bodywork, which lends itself naturally to the flow and movement of asana yoga and an understanding of body mechanics.