Q&A with Melanie McLaughlin

You’ve inspired thousands of students with your powerful vinyasa classes - what lit your passion for a slower yin practice?

At the time I discovered a yin practice, I was dealing with some issues from an old spinal injury caused by a car crash I’d had at 15. I had ordered ‘YIN’ dvd’s from Paul Grilley and was stuck in bad weather in a cabin in the Blue Mountains so I decided to give them a whirl. I did four practices over two days focusing on different body parts and by the time I left the cabin my pain had decreased almost 100% and I was moving around freely and felt great (what I discovered was Chi movement and fascia release much later) It was the beginning of my love affair with yin - i would do it quietly over the next 8 years, slip it into the end of power classes :) and requested to offer it at the studios I was working at the time. I eventually went to train with Paul Grilley 3 years ago. It literally changed my experience of yoga/connection/meditation and gave me another viewing point to only flow and power (the yang experience of yoga.)

What do you see as the benefits to a yin practice?  And of course, the challenges!

How long do we have to talk about the benefits ? :) It is absolutely necessary to exercise yin tissue (bone/fascia/ligament) in a yin way. You need to combine long relaxed holds, stretches and compressions AND exercise in a yang way with rhythm, repetition and cardiovascular. If you are a missing one way you are only telling half the story in your body. You will only feel half the amazingness that you can (me 10 years ago!) and eventually as you age these yin tissues that have been overlooked or unconsciously abandoned will shrink and tighten and restrict you and your energy! I’m not saying its easy to hold these poses for 5 minutes or longer (physically or mentally,) but the after effects far outweigh anything you go through in a class. In Yin we stretch the fascia, retain a fuller range of motion in joints and through stimulating the 12 major muscle meridians throughout the body effectively stimulate chi (life force) and bring health and balance to the related organs.

What changes have you seen in students when they pick up a yin class as part of their practice?

Everything else in their life improves! I’ve actually heard some really funny (and intimate) stories of how this practice has changed peoples quality of life but for now I’ll say that there is less ‘restriction’ and much healing, to the point some people have been able to give up some of their other therapies they were dependant on. Their sport improves as does sleep, work and relationships. (especially the one they are having with themselves) I can say Yin for me has been the missing side of the yoga coin and when we INCLUDE it in a lifestyle and other yang style activities including yang yoga we feel balanced.

Yin is becoming more popular in studios around Australia and the world as students and teachers recognise the benefits of a quieter practice- tell us about the teacher training module you’ll be offering as InYoga this year.

I’m SO excited to be offering for the third time, since creating a 100hr Yin Yoga Teacher Training programme,  this urban retreat at InYoga - because my initial thought was we should immerse in Yin and go away on retreat and whilst I’m still offering this and am a big fan - I also understand that’s not always possible for a lot of professionals and parents. I feel that the urban training will be an opportunity to feel yin integrated as part of regular life and the certification and training is exactly the same but we’ll take bite sized pieces of the yin chill pill instead over 4 weekends. We will cover asana - sequencing- alternate look at anatomy - chakras - fascia - chi - modern muscle meridian theory and more.

I’m passionate about ultimately living our best life in utmost health and happiness and so far, I feel that balance - the yin and yang - is a huge part of that, physically,  mentally and emotionally. I think we can achieve this in many many ways and I chose yoga to be that for me and I’m thrilled I get to offer this to students and we can grow together, be real and share this every day.

Wow – inspired yogis?  Click here to read more about Mel’s Yin Teacher Training