[EN] This is a selection of questions I am often asked. Other more detailed questions are dealt with in the Yin Yoga training courses.
Yin Yoga Teacher Training
The weekend concludes with a certificate of participation (for 25 hours for the basic training and for 18 hours for each of the development training courses.(Reading my book and working with my DVD are credited as non-contact hours). I am registered as a teacher with the Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500), and the hours can therefore be credited with them.
It is best to travel to the yoga studio in Lindlar by car. If you would like to travel by train, Overath and Engelskirchen are the nearest stations. Cologne-Bonn airport is around 30 km away.
Please let me know before taking part whether you have any health limitations, so that I may offer you the best possible alternatives for your practice.
At the Balance studio in Lindlar, the maximum group size is 24 participants. At external studios, more people may be able to take part, depending on the size of the studio.
A single weekend is not sufficient to be able to understand the wide spectrum of Yin Yoga. If you really want to come to grips with it, I recommend taking several modules in order to gain sufficient background knowledge of the topic. As the teaching of Yin Yoga is not legally protected, there are currently no rules regarding at what point one may teach. My teacher Paul Grilley has therefore consciously decided not to support the commerce of yoga, but he expects practitioners to have the relevant background knowledge to be able to teach Yin Yoga responsibly. It should be taken into account that when practicing you remain in a position for several minutes. The individual anatomy of a person therefore plays an important role. The teacher should understand the effects a position may have, so that the person practicing can remain free of injuries. These are the foundations that I pass on to participants in my modules. I plug into Paul’s thinking and therefore offer my modules on an optional basis, which means you are not obliged to cover all modules and you may choose freely which ones you wish to follow. However, completion of Yin Yoga training is not recognized by the health insurance companies.
The cost per training weekend is €319 (this applies to the dates in Lindlar). A portion of the training fees is donated to the child welfare organization “Plan” for their international projects. Partial payment is possible provided a deposit is made.
There is no examination in the classic sense. However, we do group work, which we discuss afterwards, so that I can check whether the content has been understood well. For example, this includes the meaningful creation of Yin Yoga sequences or working out alternative positions for participants with limitations.
The following applies for the courses in Lindlar:
For cancellations within the 30 days prior to the start, a refund is no longer possible. However, the participant may nominate a replacement to take part in the training in their place. In this case, the participant is responsible for the replacement. For cancellations prior to 30 days, 80% of the training fee is refundable. Should it be possible for someone to move up from the waiting list, the participant will be offered an alternative later date. Should the training need to be cancelled for any reason, the fee will be refunded in full, or an alternative date offered. There is also an option to take out special seminar insurance (this serves only as information, and I do not partake in any arrangement of premiums). Please read the General Terms of Conditions (GTCs) carefully.
There are restaurants and cafes right near the studio in Lindlar. Most participants like to go out to eat during the Saturday break and to bring a snack with them on Sunday to make the break shorter, so as to finish earlier in the evening. We will be pleased to agree to this with the group accordingly.
It is not absolutely essential to have completed yoga training, but you should practice yoga regularly if you would like to take part in the Yin Yoga courses. My book “Yin Yoga – The Gentle Way to Inner Balance” as well as the DVD of the same name provide a foundation for the basic training (alternatively also the new DVD “Yin Yoga – The Relaxed Way to Balance and Health”). This common background enables us to link directly to a basic knowledge and go into the content in more depth. The weekend workshops should be viewed as a supplement to a basic training for personal further development, and do not replace completion of a yoga training, which usually takes several years.
The following applies to the courses in Lindlar:
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m., 2-hour lunch break, Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to around 4.00 p.m., 1-hour lunch break.
The studio is open 20 minutes before the start. The ending times are approximate as I always take care to answer all questions. If the group agrees, we can shorten the break on the first day and finish earlier in the evening.
Yin Yoga in general
Yin Yoga is very gentle and passive to practice, but due to the long length of time the positions are held, the subsequent effect is very potent. I recommend holding a pose for 2-3 minutes to start with. If you do well at the exercises, you may also feel free to remain in them longer. If it is more demanding for you as a beginner, then simply reduce the time you hold them. As the exercises are held for several minutes there is no need to rush into the positions. Simply work with the help of gravity. As your body becomes softer and more supple due to the longer holding time, it may sink deeper into the position.
It is important that you feel good in your body at all times and that you do not develop ambitions to hold the individual positions. Instead, you need a great deal of mindfulness and respect for your body to be able to adapt all positions to your individual requirements. You will then learn to listen to your inner yoga teacher. This is the most important teacher you will meet when practicing.
Due to the passivity with which you go into the exercises, your back will round automatically. You may need to become accustomed to this to start with. In Yin Yoga, the point is that it is not the muscles but the surrounding and deeper layers of the body that are at the forefront, and these can be reached excellently in this way. It is very important never to tighten up in your passive position in the exercises. Give your body all the time it needs to open up, and pay attention to its relevant signals. You can use supports at any time if you feel that an exercise is too intensive or too challenging, so that you can always release muscular tension and remain as passive as possible in the position. Yoga blocks are ideal supports (alternatively, you can also use thick books), as are blankets, yoga rolls (or substitute with thick, rolled-up blankets), cushions or towels.
It is possible to start doing Yin Yoga without warming up in advance. The effect on the deeper layers can thereby be intensified. However, you must be cautious at all times in the exercises and respect your limits. To start with, only go as far into the exercise as allows you to have room to sink into it more over the time you are holding it. After coming out of the position, lie on your stomach or back for a while to feel the effect of the position and to bring the body back to neutral once again.
If you are not yet familiar with Yin Yoga, it is possible you will feel quite new physical sensations when releasing from the exercises. These perceptions show you that you have reached different layers than those you would reach in an active form of exercise. After releasing from the positions, the chi, your life energy, flows through your entire body. Be mindful of where you particularly feel this flow of energy and where you do not tend to feel it. Simply let your breath flow naturally at this time, unless you want to consciously direct it into a stretch.
Right after a Yin Yoga session you are often sensitive to outside stimuli. Allow yourself to rest for a while to feel the effect of the practice on your body and mind. Things you do afterwards might seem more intense than usual. After the session, drink plenty of water to support the detoxifying process that has been stimulated by the exercises.
Breathing can flow quite naturally during the exercises. The more relaxed you become in the passive exercises, the easier your breathing will be. If your breathing becomes very fast in the active Yang exercises and you have the feeling that you can no longer breathe deeply and evenly, then take time out for a little break, for example in child’s pose, until your breathing has calmed down. If the exercises are very new to you and you are having difficulty harmonizing your breathing with them, then first concentrate on carrying out the movements while continuing to breathe in a way that suits you. However, let your breathing flow with complete mindfulness. Be aware that you should not bring with you any thoughts of performance when practicing and that you should not measure yourself against anyone else in the session. I believe it is absolutely crucial to listen to the signals of your “inner yoga teacher” and to therefore respect the intelligence of your own body.
The topic of stretching has been under discussion for many years. I invite you to watch my YouTube channel where I express my own thoughts on it.
As I am currently very busy with my training modules and my activities as an author, my timetable unfortunately does not allow me to give individual lessons or regular weekly courses at present.
I regret that I am currently unable to offer individual nutrition consultations on site due to time constraints. However, I can conduct consultations via Skype. In my book Detox with Yin and Yang Yoga” there is a great deal of important information regarding healthy diet, tips for detoxing and a variety of recipes. You will also find information on the topic of diet on my YouTube channel.
In my book Health and Vitality with Fascia Massage I use “Yoga tune-up therapy balls.” I also find “harmony balls” super for fascia massage. There are many other fascia balls on the market in Germany; these are just the ones with which I personally have had the best experience.
In the book Detox with Yin and Yang Yoga I use a Blackroll, which is available for purchase online in a variety of firmness levels. I find the classic Pilates rolls just as good, however. These are often less expensive and also twice as long, so that they are better to lie on than the shorter Blackrolls. If you require several, they can be stacked better than the large Pilates rolls. It is really a personal decision as to what suits you best.
Yin Yoga, poses are usually held for 3-5 minutes when you have experience in order to feel the effect deeply. The effect is usually first felt after around 1.5 minutes. The positions can be held for longer if it feels good for you physically, or naturally you can also shorten the time you hold them. Once again, what is important here is to listen to the signals of your own body – the inner yoga teacher always has top priority! Please do not underestimate the effect of the exercises. It is true they are very gentle, but because of the length of time they are held, they are very effective.
Yin Yoga practice requires a great deal of self-responsibility and mindfulness. It is not possible to generalize when it comes to contraindications as every physique is unique. What may feel good to one person practicing it might feel painful for another. Consideration therefore has to be given to the individual anatomy. If you practice using the DVDs or books, it is very important to take responsibility for yourself by being aware of the signals from your own body and trusting them. Please do not hold the positions for too long to start with, and do them very gently. Pay attention to how it feels during the exercise. You will get to know your body better as you go on, and through mindfulness you will find out whether the exercises are suitable for you. If you are pregnant, please also read the points about pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure and/or intraocular pressure, please take care with the positions where your head is below your heart, as these are often not recommended. I barely ever teach the “snail” pose now, which among my publications is found only in the book “Yin Yoga – The Gentle Way to Inner Balance,” as people with poor posture or neck problems can experience too much pressure on the cervical spine. Please only practice the position with an experienced teacher, who can decide in advance, based on your personal anatomy, whether the exercise is suitable for you.
It can be difficult to begin practicing meditation as we often make too many demands of ourselves. I would invite you to take a look at my YouTube channel, where I have posted a video on this topic.
In the first two editions of the book there is conflicting information on the meridians. In the third edition, page 18 the text under the header “Yin meridians” should be replaced with “Meridians of the lower body,” and on page 24, the text under the header “Yang meridians” should be replaced with “Meridians of the upper body.” I apologize profusely for this. The text has been corrected in the fourth edition. What is fundamental to practicing yoga is the approach to the exercise. Whether the meridians are allocated to Yin or Yang, in Yin Yoga it is about stimulating all meridians according to Yin, i.e. gently, passively and by stretching.
Yin Yoga practice can usually be tolerated very well during pregnancy if a few basic rules are followed. For all pregnant women it is important to only stretch gently and not to involve the stomach area if possible. The increased use of supports is therefore highly recommended. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin ensures that the woman’s body is prepared for the upcoming birth making many women more flexible than usual during this time. However, there is a risk of injury if stretches are carried out too intensively. Care should also be taken with rotations, and they should only be carried out to the open side or in the thoracic spine. As with any yoga practice, it is particularly important for pregnant women to go inward and observe which positions feel good and which do not. The time spent holding them should also be tested out. It is usually sensible to maintain a shorter time of holding than before the pregnancy. When the stomach becomes too large and the weight too heavy with the advancement of the pregnancy, it is often no longer recommended for pregnant women to lie on their back. The back position can cause too much pressure on the vena cava, which is important in carrying the blood back to the heart. However, there are no generally valid rules for everyone. Give your full attention to the inner yoga teacher and above all trust what you do and respect the signals. If it feels good, then it is also doing your baby good.
After the pregnancy, contraction of the tissues and strengthening of the body are the priorities, so I would recommend practicing Yang to start with. Around 3 months after the birth you can begin Yin Yoga. If you already have experience with it, you may be able to start sooner, provided you do the positions gently and do not hold them for too long.
The aim of Yin exercises is to reach the deep layers of the body. If we want to bring the stretch to the fascia, we must remain very passive and refrain from tensing any muscles. The back should therefore be evenly flexed and rounded as much as possible in the exercises, and the pelvic floor should remain completely relaxed. The Yin exercises are very gentle yet very powerful in their effect. Thus it is important to remain mindful in the exercises so that you do not exaggerate them at the start.
The effect of Yin Yoga is greater the less the muscles are warmed up. It is therefore important to proceed very carefully and gently and not to actively tighten up in any way, so as to avoid injuries. You should never reach your limit from the outset, but only stretch as far as you feel you still have further scope to stretch and sink further into the exercises.
After releasing the positions it is wise to remain in a relaxed position for a few breaths, to feel the effect and allow the body to neutralize again. The chi, the life energy, flows intensively through the body after releasing the positions. With some practice and the necessary mindfulness, you will be able to clearly sense this feeling. This flow of energy may feel strange to you, as it is probably more apparent deep inside than during or after an active yoga sequence. However, do not let this unsettle you. As soon as your body has neutralized again, this feeling which may be reminiscent of fragility will ease. However, you can classify this perception as a positive signal as it indicates you that the effect of the exercises has reached the deep layers of your body. Nevertheless, if you are in pain after practicing, this is a clear sign that you have exercised too intensively or gone beyond your limit. Every time you practice yoga, whether it is active or passive, please be mindful and careful with yourself.
The Yang exercises place the focus on strengthening the muscles and energizing the body. The back muscles should be activated in the exercises to straighten the spine as much as possible. I also recommend working with the pelvic floor activated, as these muscles give stability and protect you from injuries.
It is important to differentiate between passive and active exercises, so that Yin exercises are carried out without using muscle strength and Yang ones using it. This is not a contradiction in itself but an ideal of complementation between the two, which has a positive and harmonizing effect on the entire body.
It is possible to mix Yin and Yang elements into one yoga unit. There is no perfect answer to which position is best placed in which part, as every option may bring with it a small limitation. We discuss these options in detail in the Yin Yoga basic training. In my Yin & Yang lessons, I usually prefer adding the Yin part to the Yang part. Indeed, in doing so, the effect on the fascia is lost somewhat, but it works very well energetically if you practice Yin Yoga before the meditation and final relaxation. However, there are a few things to note, such as the time of day or the energy in the group. For your own practice, you can simply decide intuitively, based on how you feel on a given day. Of course, it is also possible to practice Yin and Yang in two separate units, for example, on different days.
To finish the practice, it is recommended to turn to the left side of the body for a few breaths in order to activate the pingala or yang energy. But everybody can decide intuitively what feels best, of course.
According to Chinese medicine, the chi in the kidneys and spleen is responsible for hormone production, particularly progesterone and estrogen, and the liver also plays an important part. Therefore, during menopause, more Yin than Yang energy is usually required. Yin Yoga can also help strengthen the bones and it can mitigate hot flashes due to its cooling effect, so that it might be good to practice it daily during this time. In my book Be Healthy with Yin Yoga from the publisher Südwest Verlag, there is also a special sequence for menopause.
I have tried out many yoga bolsters. Based on my personal experience, the rolls from Bausinger and Lotuscrafts are very good. I prefer kapok or cotton as a filling, as I personally find that grain fillings make too much noise when moving the bolsters. I have found that kapok or cotton holds its shape over time better than grain. Kapok is more stable and firmer than cotton.
Please view my YouTube channel for numerous clips that are certain to answer other questions you might have.