Spotlight On… Denise Marlow
1. What are the origins of Yin yoga?
Yin yoga’s teaching in the Western world, beginning in the late 1970s, was founded by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin yoga is now being taught worldwide due in large part to the teaching activities of Yin yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.
2. How did you discover Yin & how long have you been teaching it for?
I have been practising yoga for over 20 years and even though yin yoga is quite a recent term, it has long been an approach in certain schools of yoga to practise extended holds in poses. However, I started delving deeper into yin yoga about 10 years ago now. I have always loved it as a practice and have been teaching it since I qualified as a yoga teacher 8 years ago.
3. What are the benefits of Yin?
Yin yoga helps improve flexibility. It encourages more space in the body and we learn to practice with patience, developing body awareness and meditation. Over time I have seen students gain greater range of movement in their bodies with an instinctive ability to switch on their relaxation response when they are on their mat.
4. What’s your favourite Yin pose?
Saddle pose (also known as Hero’s pose) – it is such an intense pose which we hold for 5 mins upwards – I love finding that balance between the intensity and where I can let go.
5. How does Yin complement other yoga practices?
Yin yoga is a fantastic complement to other yoga. It helps provide balance to a dynamic practice. It encourages us to tap into our energy, noticing the responses in our practice. It teaches us to treat our body with respect as we move deeper in our more physical practices. It teaches us to let go (within reason!)
6. What do you bring to your class that makes it unique?
Every yoga teacher brings their own influence, voice and inspiration into their teaching – at the moment in yin I am encouraging students to explore depth in yin yoga by being non-reactive to the challenges of their yin practice – to find depth with balance.
7. How often do you practice?
I have a daily yoga and meditation practice – that does not mean I am on my mat for two hours a day! I like to practice yin in the evenings, I will do a couple of poses but I love being taught. Nothing better than getting on your yoga mat and being taught.
8. What experience of yoga do students need in order to progress to Yin?
I welcome all levels of practice to class from complete beginners to advanced. While yin is accessible to beginners, a degree of body awareness is necessary to ensure students don’t over stretch on prolonged holds. As with any form of exercise, if the student has any injuries or health concerns they should discuss these with the teacher prior to joining the class so that any necessary modifications can be offered. The main thing, whether you are a beginner or a more experienced yogi new to yin yoga, is to come with an open mind and a relaxed attitude. Then you will reap the benefits of the practice. The challenge in yin is to accept our limitations, embrace them and move forwards with our practice.
9. Top tip for a mindful practice?
Breathe – connect with your conscious breath, then it becomes a neutral place, a place of centre to come back to in your practice, be it yin or any other form of yoga.
10. Tell me about the forthcoming Yin Teaching Immersion Course.
In April 2018 we will be running our second 5 day yin immersion. We provide students with an extensive teaching manual and cover all the poses in that manual, working through modifications, the use of props etc. We also delve deeper into the teaching methods of yin, explore the Chinese meridians (with a guest speaker) and yoga anatomy as it applies to the yin yoga body. Students will leave fully equipped to develop their own yin yoga practice/teaching.
Denise Marlow teaches Yin, Red Hot, Yin Candlelit & Hot Flow classes at RHY. Find her on the timetable here. In addition, Denise passes on her knowledge & experience via courses & workshops. Her next course is a Yin Teaching Immersion Course which takes place in spring 2018 – click here to read the course syllabus & reserve your place.