As the world becomes increasingly fast-paced, more and more people are turning to Yin Yoga as a respite from the constant stimuli of daily life.
As well as promoting flexibility and range of motion, this gentle practice encourages practitioners to slow down, tune inward, and find peace even amidst uncomfortable postures and situations, making it a popular choice for those seeking balance and calm.
I found my yoga calling in yin, and I truly believe that whether you’re a yoga teacher seeking to expand your skillset or a student looking to deepen your practice, a Yin Yoga teacher training is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Based on my personal experience as a passionate Yin Yoga practitioner and certified Yin teacher, in this article, I’ll be sharing some insights on what you can expect from a Yin Yoga teacher training program and how it might benefit you.
We’ll be looking at:
- What is Yin Yoga?
- What to expect in a yoga teacher training yin
What is yin yoga?
In order to know what to expect from a Yin Yoga teacher training, it goes without saying that you first need to know a little about the practice.
Yin is a unique practice that draws from ancient traditions and principles to offer a modern, introspective approach to yoga. Its focus on holding postures for extended periods of time and applying moderate stress to connective tissues sets it apart from other yoga practices.
By holding postures for several minutes at a time, the practice is designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and target the soft tissues of the body, encouraging them to relax and open, promoting greater flexibility and mobility in specific areas.
As Paul Grilley, the pioneer of Yin Yoga, once said
Yin Yoga is like acupuncture without needles. Instead of needles, we use poses to stimulate the meridians.
This analogy perfectly encapsulates the essence of this practice – using prolonged, and moderate pressure to promote circulation and flexibility in the soft tissues of the body.Yin Yoga’s passive and introspective approach is the perfect complement to other yoga practices that are more dynamic and focus on strength and stamina, offering a well-rounded approach to physical and mental health.
4 things to Expect From A Yin Yoga Teacher Training
With so many options available, Yin Yoga teacher training courses can vary significantly between different schools, countries, and traditions, with each course offering its own unique style and approach.
However, there will be a general level of consistency between trainings that can guide what you should expect, especially if the course is endorsed by bodies such as Yoga Alliance, which ensure a minimum standard for yoga schools and yoga trainings.
Reflecting on some of the things that surprised me during my own training, I’ve come up with a list of 4 things you can expect to help prepare you for your own Yin training journey:
#1: A tight schedule:
A lot of people are under the impression that a yoga teacher training yin is a restful holiday, but this isn’t quite the case.
Yoga teacher trainings are designed to provide comprehensive and in-depth instruction to prepare individuals to become yoga teachers.
They typically have a tightly packed schedule with long hours of classes, lectures, practice sessions and examinations.
The tight schedule is demanding and requires more dedication and commitment than you might think, not to mention the ability to manage your time effectively to balance the demands of the program with (much-needed!) self-care and rest.
During my two-week Yin Yoga immersion, for example, we had a packed schedule with classes starting at 6:00 am and ending at 10 pm, with only one day off per week and just two hours of personal time each day.
Although two hours may sound like enough personal time, it goes by quickly once you’ve taken care of all those everyday things like showering, eating, cleaning, and napping (if you’re like me, the schedule will have you stealing a nap where ever possible!).
For intensive yoga training longer than a week, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and unable to handle more class time.
Luckily, many yoga schools understand and expect their students to feel this way from time to time. If you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to talk to your instructors or classmates for some support.
However, when you’re not feeling up to going to a yoga class, try to push yourself and attend anyway. In my experience, you may start to feel more energized and enjoy the class as it progresses!
#2: Emotional release:
Holding a pose in meditative stillness is a powerful experience, both physically and emotionally.
While all yoga practices can be emotional, yin poses particularly evoke emotional reactions, which is believed to be because of the meridians they target.
The field of somatics shows how suppressed emotions can impact our body’s tissues, resulting in physical sensations like tension, stiffness and pain.
For example, in “The Body Keeps the Score,” (a must read!) Bessel van der Kolk explains this in detail, showing how traumatic experiences can become stored in the body’s tissues and how this can cause physical and emotional symptoms.
As Yin involves holding postures for an extended period of time in meditative stillness, it stimulates the body’s deep connective tissues to relax and open up while encouraging us to reflect, helping to release stored trauma in the mind and the body simultaneously.
During your yin asana practice, try to observe and accept any feelings or memories that come up, knowing that they are impermanent and will pass.
However, if it becomes too overwhelming, it’s okay to take a break and return to practice later.
#3: Discomfort and equanimity
The former point leads us nicely on to the next:
Emotional release and discomfort are the perfect grounds to develop equanimity amidst uncomfortable situations – and you’ll have first-hand experience with this during your practice.
When new students come to a yin class, many of them mistakenly perceive it as a gentle, restorative practice. But in reality, Yin Yoga can be more like a bitter practice with a sweet result – where peacefulness is born out of acceptance of discomfort.
Speaking from my own experience, yin can be incredibly challenging both physically and mentally. On a physical level, yin can bring up sensations of mild to moderate discomfort that can be difficult to tolerate for extended periods of time without distractions.
The mental challenge is perhaps even more difficult.
As mentioned above, the stillness of each posture can provoke many memories, fears, desires and aversions to come to the surface and trigger us.
It can be hard to remain peaceful in the face of these thoughts, but it is this very challenge that provides the opportunity for developing greater equanimity.
One of the biggest takeaways from my yin training, in combination with my experience with Vipassana:
By tolerating our mental reactivity and developing an understanding around its impermanence and roots in ego, we can begin to cultivate greater wisdom and develop a different way of responding to the triggers that normally irritate us.
Over time, this can lead to a state of equanimity that extends beyond the practice and affects our daily lives.
So, if during your yin training you find yourself struggling with discomfort or persistent thoughts, really try to embrace the challenge as an opportunity to develop greater equanimity and wisdom – bit by bit, it will serve you well!
#4: To build a like-minded community:
Last but certainly not least, during a Yin Yoga teacher training you can expect to meet lots of amazing, like-minded people who will likely become lifelong friends.
During my Yin Yoga teacher training, I had the pleasure of meeting people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. We shared rooms, ate together, practiced together, revised, and explored together.
And as it turns out, people who are passionate about yin seem to share many other core worldviews and interests, forming the perfect foundation for instant bonds and long-term friendships.
However, spending long hours in intense learning, challenge, and growth with the same group of people, isn’t all roses and can be tricky too.
Everyone will experience some ups and downs during their yoga training, and in such close quarters, fluctuations in mood can often be taken out on or otherwise impact the people around.
Characters will clash and sometimes you’ll just feel a little socially exhausted.
However, the beauty of sharing such intense experiences with people is that there is no option but to drop your guard, and just be authentic and honest in your behaviors with the people around you, and for them to do the same back.
It’s an opportunity to really get to know someone in their good moments and their bad, to practice tolerance and forgiveness, and to recognize and love the humanity in all of us.
If you’ve enjoyed this article on what to expect from a Yin Yoga Teacher Training why not check out our other Yin guides below?