This week, we caught up with the lovely Hannah Verghese ahead of her workshop this weekend, Yin for WInter.
Q: What is yin yoga?
A: Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice where asanas or postures are held for anywhere from 3-10 minutes to target the thicker layers of connective tissues around the joints, and the fascia that covers the body. Yin yoga can release physical tension, calm the mind and regulate energy in the body.
Q: Tell us about the 'Yin for WInter' workshop, what can people expect?
A: It is a 2 hour slow and calming practice intended to encourage a sense of harmony in the body and quiet of the mind. We’ll begin together with a group meditation then move into approx 90 minutes of yin asanas, before closing with a long and nourishing savasana. The nourishing yin sequence has been chosen to compliment the winter theme, intended to support the immune system and vitality in the body, which is often challenged in the winter months.
Q: What are the advantages of a yin practice during the winter period?
A: Yin is the dark, cool, quiet inward energy. Winter is the most yin-like of all the seasons and January in particular is a time for rest and self-reflection after the hectic holidays. Practicing yin yoga in winter invites us to tap into this energy in harmony with nature.
Q: What brought you to yin yoga?
A: Injury and exhaustion! A dynamic vinyasa flow and ashtanga practice alongside my martial arts training and busy schedule meant that I was pushing my body to do a lot. For me slowing down was the hardest part of the practice so I overlooked the more gentle styles of yoga for many years. A knee injury forced me to take some time out and I went to my first yin yoga class. I could only describe it as a feeling of coming home to my body; of acceptance. I hadn’t realised until then it was what had been missing for me in my practice. From that point everything changed and my practice became much more balanced and intuitive. Inevitably the many benefits of this continue to weave their way through my everyday life.
Q: What's your favourite yin pose?
A: Tough question! This varies depending on how I’m feeling, what time of day it is and what my intention is for practicing. I almost always include butterfly pose in my personal practice and classes because it is a great way to gently stretch out the hips and lower spine. They are definitely not my favourite but I am also a big fan of toe squats because they challenge me so much. It’s so easy to overlook the feet and it’s interesting to observe the reactions come up when the sensations start to intensify. There’s a nice Daoist saying “A person with open toes has an open mind!”
Q: What can people take away from the workshop?
A: What each person takes from this will be as entirely unique as they are. One of the most enjoyable things as a teacher is hearing about the many reasons people come to the practice and the benefits they take away, whether they be physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual. I believe there is something for everyone in this practice, it all depends on your intention. Overall I hope that people will leave the workshop with a sense of calm, grace and peace that comes from slowing down.
Q: Do I need to have practiced Yin Yoga before?
A: Attending a yin workshop offers an opportunity to delve deeper into the practice and more time and space to explore how it can serve you. There will be plenty of options and variations given which means it is suitable for all levels including beginners.