Tracy Glennon – The Science of Yin Yoga


Hello and welcome. I’m Erin Andersen, the
managing editor of the canfitpro magazine. thank you so much for tuning in
this morning as we discuss the science of restorative yoga with Tracy Glennon.
Welcome Tracy and thank you for joining us this morning. good morning thank you
for having me how are you doing this morning I’m good I’m good good
kidding that’s excited yes it’s a great way technology’s a wonderful thing so
thank you for being with us on the other end of the Internet here before we dive
in Tracy I’d like to ask you if you could please share with us a little bit
of your background and your role in the fitness industry. sure I’ve been involved
in the fitness industry for probably half my life now in some capacity I
spent many years in the senior operational leadership role at GoodLife Fitness and spent a good portion of that also teaching and being part of the
fitness community I present for canfitpro. I think I’ve been presenting for
almost 20 years in some capacity for canfitpro and I recently opened drop yoga
which is a community dance company in the hopes of bringing yoga to the
community bringing together instructors and teachers and participants and making
yoga more accessible to all that’s wonderful thank you you can also catch
Tracy presenting as a presenter with her own couple of sessions as well as a
panel member at our fit Montreal event from March 27th to the 29th so I bet
you’re looking forward to that I am I was there last year so I’m looking
forward to seeing some familiar and some new faces again great great
well we’ll dive right in so let’s start with the fact that there’s a lot of
different styles of yoga out there some of them a little bit more restorative
than others by nature too that are really common are yin yoga and
restorative yoga can you explain the difference between yin yoga and
restorative for us yeah I’m gonna say that for yin yoga you sort of follows
certain principles in the attempt to bring you out of your muscles and into
your joints so it really tries to open up space in your joints
and release some tension that might exist around the joints in terms of
tendons ligaments fashio etc it does so with minimal prop use there are some use
of props and it takes you to a point where you are comfortably uncomfortable
so there is no pain again but there’s certainly some work happening in you
restorative is a little more passive in restorative we try to take all muscular
tension out of the body and you’ll see people you know propped up with blankets
and bolsters and blocks and everything in the attempt to release all muscular
tension. In Yin, we’re sort of playing with a fine line between finding tension and
releasing tension at the same time and allowing our body to trust us as we
progress through a pose excellent great comparison there in a great description
when we hear the word Yin we often automatically think of the word yang
that kind of goes with the yin and yang so where does the yang fit into that.
mm-hmm so when we think of yang I think of yang is something that brings energy
to our muscles and when I think of yin I think is something where we are trying
to settle into our joints in our connective tissue and so if you think of
a yang pose I always think of a warrior pose you know something that you really
feel that your muscles are working you think of a Yin pose and you think of
something where you’re settling and relaxing more so it’s they really are
sort of the total opposite most classes are a combination of both they really
are you know you do strength and relaxation poses whereas in the end you
really try to get out of the muscles all together okay excellent what could
someone expect in a class if they were to come to a class from anything from
the music to the lighting to the flow what would that look like
yeah it’s funny when people come to Yin I feel like I’m inviting them on a first
date or something you know because they walk into my room and there’s candles
and it’s dark and the lighting is you know either minimal or none
the music is very low there’s usually not any words to the music as well and
so in when someone comes into a yin class what we need to do is settle into
stillness which is difficult for people so when people walk in I usually
recommend that they don’t go into a full posture right away because people are
used to going into their fullest expression of a pose and we need to
learn to take a step back and take baby steps into poses so in a in class
you might do six to ten poses maximum you really do spend time so one of the
biggest factors is that the length of time that were in poses in yin is
significantly longer than the standard yoga class so if I teach a regular yoga
class we might take five ten fifteen breaths in a pose me and you’ll be in a
pose from two to four minutes sometimes longer so the length of the poses
changes for sure and I think the quiet atmosphere is a difference as well so we
don’t just to look for space in our body but we look for some space in our mind
so there is usually less instruction so that there is some silence that we can
settle into within the in-class as well okay so in delving into that a little
bit further what is that science how does yin yoga work and why is it so
beneficial and effective for the mind and the body so this is interesting I
think what Yin teaches us the most is to trust ourselves and trust our body so we
are used to as a society in yoga classes pushing ourselves often to the point
that we feel our muscles start to respond by shaking and when our muscles
are shaking or contracting they’re actually doing the exact opposite of
what we want them to do unless we’re in a strength pose so really what they’re
telling us is I don’t feel really safe right now I’m gonna contract to protect
myself and in a Yin class what we’re trying to do is avoid that yet still be
able to increase or lengthen or allow for space in our joints so by taking
baby steps into things our body says I’m safe I’m propped up I’m in a comfortable
position and then we move a little deeper and it says I’m still
if I’m okay I’ll relax again and it allows our body to step-by-step relax
through things and so by doing that what it does is it it gets our body to
understand that not only can it relax but our mind can relax and then if our
mind relax and turn yet again our body says I think I’m safe to relax so it’s
not that the science of yin is that different from other yoga types it’s
that we seem to have taken other yoga types and really found the more athletic
side of them and we need to step back a little bit again so true stretching
should be you know the way the yin is where you don’t ever over stretch to the
point that your body feels that it’s unsafe and Yin takes us back to that
place I think okay very interesting what would be one common myth that you hear
about yin yoga that like you hear it often what’s that myth I think it’s
maybe that it’s boring and the reason is I feel that it’s the exact opposite I
think it’s that it’s challenging but it’s challenging for our minds
so people come into yoga and they’re like oh we only did six poses you know
in a Yin class because we’re so used to being busy and to step back and be able
to allow ourselves to spend time within ourselves is challenging at times so I
think that the you know the idea that Yin is boring is actually a cover for
the fact that maybe we’re not always ready to spend some time in our own mind
in our own space or in stillness and so it is challenging people’s minds keep
whirling even though their body’s not moving in a class and I think that it’s
a misperception I think what it really is is that it’s a challenge for us to be
in I think that’s probably the most common one I hear well it’s true right
one of the things that I’ve heard in terms of practicing as well is that one
of the most challenging poses poses is shavasana lying and being able to you
know just be and be with your thoughts and relax so slow down that she said
right yeah so we hear more about the benefits of slowing down and staying
present we’re in such this fast-paced technology
the advanced society where you know it’s instant results and rewards and we’ve
kind of come to expect that and it’s almost commonplace how do you encourage
those do think it’s boring or find it hard to stay still to add that this into
their practice to add this into their their lifestyle so what would you say to
those individuals are or what would you do to encourage those individuals to
actually continue on with it or start or try it so I find it very interesting
that when we think of an athlete an athlete would never be told go out and
run a marathon an athlete would be given a training plan and they might start by
running you know there’s a trend right now it’s run 1.6 kilometers a day or
something and they would take those baby steps and they would reflect upon them
what worked what didn’t work and slowly increase you know endurance or
resistance or whatever it is in any training plan yet when it comes to
meditation or yen we throw people in and they expect to sit down for 20 minutes
and meditate or go to a full 90-minute in class and they haven’t done that prep
work to allow themselves to get there so if someone is struggling settling into a
5 or 10-minute shavasana at the end of class how are they possibly going to go
to a 90-minute yin and spend time with themselves so my advice would be to take
the same baby steps and practice that an athlete would if they were working into
something that was a longer a bigger goal and do it in components so spent
time sitting by yourself spend time lying down just with your thought you
know go to the class and say to an instructor I’m new and the instructor is
more than likely to encourage you to do what you can sit by the door and leave
when you need to leave quietly at least I do because I think people need time to
to really start to grasp the fact that it’s ok to be in silence or to have
space in your mind and so I would encourage people to do it step by step
it’s like meditation you know an app will tell you meditate for 30 seconds
the next you know the next day a minute the next day 90 seconds so tricky and
yeah practice a pose or two at home and see
can I be in a pose in a comfortable position for two minutes on each side
and where does my mind go in that time and how do I bring it back you know if
you’re in a class the instructor will often bring you back to breath work and
your breath working yin is as important as any other power yoga class for
example where it’s not about the type of breathing that you do it’s that your
breathing doesn’t change that your breathing is consistent that your
breathing doesn’t feel hindered all of a sudden because your body is telling you
something if it does so if you can practice these small little steps at
home you might have a better opportunity to get into a class and settle and and
not feel as stressed about the length of the time and then maybe you get
comfortable spending time in your own mind very good yeah it’s true it is with
anything right it is a practice as they say it’s it’s yoga practice not yoga
perfect right our journey is always that practice and we’re never really ending
in any destination of any sort so those are some great some great advice there
so thank you very much for sharing that is there anything else before we wrap up
that you want to say about yin yoga or add on I think one of the things I’m
noticing a lot is I’m noticing a lot of athletes come too young and they’re
realizing that in traditional yoga classes I teach a lot of hot or a lot of
power a lot of vinyasa classes we spend a lot of time on strength a lot of time
on balance we don’t spend as much time you know maybe the second half or the
last 20 minutes of the class will be on actually stretching and so for people
who are looking to increase flexibility sometimes we go to a yoga class once a
week and we wonder why we still can’t bend down to tie our shoes yeah
and you might feel stronger bending down to tie your shoes for example or have
more balance when you do it but are you actually in a class that’s encouraging
you to lengthen muscle so if one of the things that you’re looking for is the
benefit of flexibility then I encourage people to try in it’s a different take
on it you spend more time as we’ve said proposed and therefore the benefits
within that muscle group around that joint can be greater as well
so for people looking to increase flexibility I highly recommend young I
think it would be a good addition to their other fitness regime perfect thank
you very much I guess we’ll wrap up I just want to say
thank you again for chatting with us and it’s been a pleasure and just for anyone
out there just listening in I’d like to give one last reminder that if you are
interested in learning and experiencing yin yoga to join Tracy at fit
Montreal from March 27th to the 29th she is presenting two sessions there as well
as being part of a panel so thank you again Tracy it was a pleasure speaking
with you thank you have a great day Erin you too thanks

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