Yin & Yang Yoga with Simon Low

Yin and yang yoga classes are appearing with increasing prominence in yoga studios in the west - and with good reason.


simon lowIn ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe the opposites - such as heaven and earth - that exist in the natural world.


Yin is traditionally passive and introspective, and the perfect counter-balance to upbeat, energetic yang.


So it is with yoga. A yin practice is slow, quiet, and practised entirely in sitting and lying postures. It aims to relax the body and soften the body's connective tissues.


By contrast, yang yoga is active and lively, creating energising, ashtanga-like heat in the body.


Simon Low, co-founder of Triyoga, is credited with bringing yin/yang to the UK, while American yogis Sarah Powers and Paul Grilley are two names immediately associated with its origins.


First impressions


I can't quite decide whether to be thankful for the pristine beaches and exotic locations favoured as the setting for many yoga DVDs.


There's no doubt that an idyllic back-drop helps to create suitably chilled-out yoga vibes, but it does create a slightly unreal, unattainable atmosphere.


One of the joys of yoga is that it can be practised anywhere - pristine beaches thankfully aren't a prerequisite for a good practice.


This is more of a general question than a quibble. Shot on an sweeping Los Angeles beach, the setting of this DVD does successfully transport me to a world far away from my spare room (and I can't help thinking this is a good thing).


Low and his two female assistants stand on large blocks that stare wistfully out to sea. A remarkably constant breeze fans the three yogis' hair, while an unobtrusive sound-track emits further suitably yogic vibes.


The practice


The emphasis is firmly on the yin practice - 60 minutes is devoted to the gentler yoga, compared to only 30 minutes spent on the yang.


Low has the perfect yoga voice - calming, authoritative - which aids the strong meditative focus to this practice.


Yin's restorative focus relies on viewers having a bolster to hand. Low does stress that cushions and other alternatives can be used, but access to a bolster is clearly a bonus for this DVD- and for yin practice in general.


We are talked through a series of gentle yin stretches - I could feel my body opening up and relaxing, and Low's instructions to come back to the breath add to the meditative feel.


Newcomers to yin may have to fully engage their yogic patience - the whole point of this practice is its slow pace, so don't expect to feel energised and worked out after the hour is up.


Your patience will be rewarded - a challenge of a more dynamic kind comes next, in the yang part of the DVD, where six sequences of continually flowing postures up the ante and raise the heart beat.


It pays to listen closely to the instructions - Low's sequences are lengthy, clearly put together and complicated. On several occasions I had to re-wind after becoming lost; but perhaps it's best to see this as part of the yogic experience of maintaining focus.


Although relatively short, there's no question your body will be strengthened, toned and energised by this yang practice.


Final thoughts


This is a slick, good-looking and rewarding DVD. I'm inclined to think it will be especially beneficial to the more experienced yoga practitioner who will not become frustrated with the naturally slow yin postures, and who can keep up with the dynamic second part.




Lucia Cockcroft is editor of yoga-abode.



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