I was lucky enough to attend Josh Summers’ 50 hour Foundations of Yin Yoga Teacher Training a few weeks back. It was brought to us courtesy of Carol Murphy as part of the 2018 Green Lotus Yoga 300hr Teacher Training that’s currently running at the Yoga Shala in Gort, Co Galway.
My intention with this journal is to quickly record my thoughts and experiences after going to workshops, but I have realised after writing a few entries that it might be better to wait a while to mull things over. With Josh’s course I definitely felt the need to let things simmer for a little longer. It was an intense four days, packed full of new information, practice and experiences.
I won’t go into great detail about Yin Yoga as there is plenty of really good information available. For those who don’t know what it is you can check out Josh’s Everyday Sublime podcast or anything written by Bernie Clarke on the subject. See also Paul Grilley and/or Sarah Powers. In one sentence, Yin Yoga is a complementary type of yoga that focuses on stressing the joints and connective tissue. That is a super boiled down definition. Perhaps I should add that poses are held over a long time and the student is asked to ‘play their edge’ during this hold, to a degree of 3 to 4 in terms of stress (with 10 being the most stressed and 1 the least stressed).
Let me tell you about the course. First of all, it was really well organised. Even before we met Josh in person we had access to an online beginners’ Yin Yoga course, which was very clear and concise. We had to do a quiz at the end, which was a good way to see if you had retained the information given during the online course.
We then met Josh over four full days. He gave us the overview of what we would be doing. The days were roughly laid out the same, so we knew what to expect. I think this puts students at ease when there is given structure that is then followed through. Students are thus given the space to think about the course content, rather than worry about what might happen next or wondering when a break might be happening. We did a short meditation to begin to settle us in (and probably to quiet us down as a lot of us already knew each other and were chatting away). Following this, Josh talked about poses and we broke them down. We learned about the huge variations in the human body, particularly of the skeleton. Josh spoke about fascia and its functions and importance. The manual we received was well thought out and written very clearly. It will be a good resource to return to.
Before this course my experience of Yin Yoga had been to attend some classes with Charlotte Farragher at Tuam Yoga & Pilates Studio. I also did a bit of self practice, following the Bernie Clarke book. But the most interesting experience I had was when after being sore for two days following two very intense workshops (see my previous journal entry), I had to do the 90 minute online Yin Yoga class as part of the preparatory work for the course. I didn’t have time to recover from the super yang workshops as I was running out of time before Josh’s course. So I did the online yin class on a mat on my kitchen floor with no interruptions, no checking the phone, no pausing for a tea break. And I swear that after that 90 minute class of Yin Yoga, I was no longer sore. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself. I was dog tired and really sore beforehand – 90 minutes later, I was not sore and felt very clear headed. I had a similar experience after the Somatics workshop I did with Deirdre Mullins.
Since the course I have used what I learned in the classes I currently teach. The students seem to like it and I really do think it’s beneficial to work on the joints and not just the muscles. In addition, there is the reconnection of the mind to the body, which seems to be a big missing piece for a lot of people for a host of different reasons (not just physical). Somatic movement also speaks to this idea.
This was the first module in a proper course and not just a workshop, but I think I would be remiss if I didn’t make a note of it here in my yoga workshop journal. It was outstanding. Josh offers lots of options to study with him further in the Yin training, which I would love to do if ever feasible. You can check out all of his information at joshsummers.net.
Next up is Sara Cory and Kev O’Riordan’s day retreat, also held at the Yoga Shala in Gort.