Long ago before Lululemon was the norm in class, there was a dude named Paulie Zink who taught Taoist Yoga. He was also a master of martial arts and used his yoga practice as the base/foundation for his training. He would start with supine poses which he held for 5-10 minutes. Two hours later, Paulie would begin the Yang portion of his training. At this point in time, Taoist Yoga is what we know as Yin yoga today. However, not in its entirety. Only the part dealing with Yin principles.
Taoist Yoga | Father of Yin Yoga
Paul Grilley is the most well-known teacher in the Yin style. He met Paulie Zink in 1989 and trained with him for one year. His interest was in Paulie’s Yin style of yoga although that name is not yet known. Paul dabbled in the active Yang styles, but it did not hold his interest like Yin did. When Paul Grilley started teaching Yin, the studio owners did not know what to call the class, so out of respect for Paulie Zink being his teacher, he too called it Taoist Yoga. This is the name that remained for next 10 years to follow.
Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama’s Discovery of Acupuncture
Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama is one established dude. His mom must be very proud! He was able to demonstrate not only the existence chakras but of meridians as well. I wonder if he ever did Ayahuasca! As an acupuncturist, my partner Sal works with meridians on a daily basis. As yogis, we too work with them but use the name “Nadis”. Among Dr. Motoyoma’s experiments, he was able to show that the meridian acupuncture points is a water-rich network located in our connective tissue and cover every part of our body. This discovery gives light to the whole system of yoga. It makes more sense how the system of postures was created to cleanse the body and help in a therapeutic manner as well.
Sarah Powers introduces Yin Yoga to the world
Sarah Powers started her practice and career in Ashtanga. She traveled and taught all over the world and attended some of Paul Grilley’s classes back in the 90’s. In 2000, Paul and his wife were teaching a workshop in Berkley called Taoist Yoga. When Sarah started traveling again, she started introducing Taoist Yoga into her workshops calling it and explaining it as the Yin part of the practice and referred to the Vinyasa portion as the Yang. She peeked people’s interest and when they asked how they can learn more about it, she referred them to Paul Grilley. What Paul was able to show Sarah, is that you can blend both Yin and Yang with the practice. It doesn’t just have to be the rigid Ashtanga or the slow-moving Yin. She went on to start Insight Yoga with her husband.
Studios started requesting Paul Grilley for Yin yoga workshops but the official name change from Taoist Yoga had yet to happen.
How Yin Yoga got its name
Paul Grilley was just finishing up his first manual and planned on naming it Taoist Yoga. However, he realized that it’s truly not Taoist Yoga as he is only talking about 1/2 of the system here. Nothing was mentioned about the Yang principles of Taoist Yoga. And this, ladies and gents, is how Yin Yoga got its name officially changed. The final name for the manuscript was Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice.
Some can argue that Hatha Yoga also included Yin but for me, the above is what I believe in. Now that you know the key players, do further research on the ones that intrigue you!
How Yin was practiced before it got its name
This style of stretching has been around for about 2000 years and taught in Taiwan and China under the system of Daoist Yoga. This branch was called Dao Yin. Taoist priests taught it to Kung Fu priests to help with their martial arts training and aid in making them mentally strong as well.
I hope you can understand and feel the power and benefits of this practice! Life never feels right when we are constantly running around always on the go. Always in a Yang state of mind. You eventually have to find a balance or the Universe will force you into one. That is the balance most of us struggle with and strive for. Same goes for the practice. It is incomplete unless you are practicing both Yin and Yang forms.
On my flight back from Norway, I watched Doctor Strange for the third time. Every time I watch this film, something new sticks out for me.
Mordo: “I wanted the power to defeat my enemies and you gave me the power to defeat my demons.”
The Ancient One: “We never lose our demons, Mordo. We only learn to live above them.”
(Doctor Strange. Dir. Scott Derrickson. Marvel Studios, 2016. Film.)
For those of you who don’t know my story, watch “Not So Namaste” on my site and you will get a glimpse into my upbringing. I have a lot of demons and I would be foolish to think they will simply go away, but I will be damned if I allow them to run my life. As I’ve started my journey with plant medicine, and combine that with my ongoing yoga practice, I feel like I have enough tools to battle them.
The biggest tool is awareness. Awareness gives me the ability to pause and reflect instead of going straight to reacting. It gives me the gift to live out of intent more and more, and not simply out of habit. I am able to notice when I’m anxious and in my head, and to choose my breath.
This gives me the power to choose, the power to trust my path instead of my fears, the power to choose me.
The longer we live, the more we realize life is not simply black and white. We collect a lot of baggage along the way but the power to choose yourself over your demons is always there.
Identify your demons. Get to know them. Give them a good kick in the ass and send them on their merry way.
Choose YOU instead. Over and over, rise up above your demons and choose you. Believe you’re worth it.