This month our theme is developing healthy relationships. Yoga is an ideal practice that enables us to re-connect with ourselves. The practice of being present helps us to develop, maintain and enhance our skills in understanding ourselves better. Yoga is something that we can practice on our own, with one other or in a group setting, each has its own benefits and learnings.
One of the world’s leading yoga practitioners and teachers is Sarah Powers. I was fortunate to study with Sarah back in 2015, on her Insight Yoga training course, on a beautiful Greek island. Taking time out of my daily schedule, in a beautiful setting, to follow an intense Yin and Yang programme, interspersed with meditation, was a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with myself and I left after a week feeling re-balanced and re-energised.
About Sarah Powers
Sarah Powers is a well-known yoga and meditation teacher, based in the United States of America, who travels around the world to teach.
She teaches a form of yoga, which she calls Insight Yoga. Sarah’s approach integrates yoga, meditation and psychology. She has a deep interest in the approach taken by Chinese medicine to health and wellbeing, in particular the meridians (read more below), which is also incorporated into her yoga style.
Personally, I love her approach to yoga – she talks about balance, which is one of the concepts we embody at La Crisalida Retreats. For example, in her teaching, books and DVDs, she explains how a Yin practice complements a Yang practice (like Vinyasa). Life is a balance of Yin and Yang: Yin being passive and Yang being dynamic. Both are needed, in varying amounts, which can change as our life evolves and changes.
Yin yoga is a quiet form of yoga, where asanas are held softly for up to five minutes. It focuses on activating the connective tissue in the body. (Read our article: what is yin yoga). Yang yoga is movement, more forceful, like a powerful vinyasa class, which activates the muscles. (Yin yoga is different to restorative yoga – in the latter, the body is well supported and the focus is deep relaxation).
You can find more information about Insight Yoga, including all Sarah’s training courses on her website: sarahpowers.com (external link). There are also some videos of her classes on YouTube that you can try (search for Sarah Powers Insight Yoga).
Insight Yoga book
“An innovative synthesis of traditional yoga, meditation, and Eastern approaches to healing and well-being”
Insight Yoga is a very practical yoga book, for practitioners of all levels. The asanas are well described and clearly illustrated with photos, including alternatives and supported options. Many of the images include lines to illustrate where the meridians flow. This practicality in approach is wonderfully balanced with educational aspects. There are clear explanations of how the meridians work, discussions about yoga philosophy and the origins and practice of mindfulness meditation.
Book chapters include: A look at what is yoga, Meridian theory, organ health in Yin yoga, and the anatomy of the mind in Yin yoga. There are nine chapters focusing on specific meridians, with clearly explained Yin sequences for you to follow, to find balance. In addition, there are two chapters on Yang yoga, with a great sequence to follow to balance a Yin practice. The final chapters cover pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) and meditation.
What are meridians?
According to Chinese medicine, meridians are a series of invisible channels or pathways that run throughout our body, carrying our energy, life force or chi. This life force, chi, is the foundation of our vitality. These pathways connect our organs and tissues, bones and joints, indeed the whole of our physical body. Healthy chi means the energy flows smoothly and is stable, which in turn means we are in good health. When chi is stagnant or blocked, we can experience ill-health. Acupuncturists have used this concept for many years to treat disease and maintain good health.
There are many meridians that are believed to exist, some are major and others are minor. An example of a major meridian is the liver meridian, which starts at the top of the big toe, runs up the inner leg, through the groin into the torso (through the liver and gallbladder, through the lungs) up the throat and moving into the eyes. Eastern approaches suggest that chi has physical, emotional and mental qualities. Using the example of liver chi, when it is out of balance, we might notice we have uneven emotions, e.g. outbursts of anger or feeling stuck. Migraine headaches are said to indicate an imbalance in liver chi. You can read more about yin yoga and liver in our earlier article: yin yoga for liver health and to soothe anger.
The book is organised into chapters containing sequences for balancing chi in the major meridians, with easy to follow instructions for home. Personally, I think it is a fantastic book.
Insight Yoga DVD
“A beautiful meeting of Yoga and Buddhism”.
Insight Yoga DVD is a great accompaniment for the book or can be watched stand alone. The DVD contains two one-hour Yin practices which are led by Sarah with other practitioners. Sarah’s teaching is clear, with good instructions on how to get into a position, stay in the position and safely come out. Some of the practitioners are at different levels, so you can see visually the alternative approaches if you have injury or tightness, or when the full asana is not comfy. These are two lovely sequences to follow. Sarah provides more information about a Yin practice in the DVD. You also have the option to switch off the fuller explanation, which is good after you have watched and practiced a couple of times, if you want to focus on the asanas, without the wider explanation.
The DVD also contains a 60-minute vinyasa sequence, a lovely guided relaxation and a guided meditation practice to finish. (Deep sigh of calmness).
The Yang yoga (vinyasa) sequence includes sun salutations, with slow, specific movement and focused breathing. The yang sequences support the yin practice, creating strength and mobility.
It does feel like you are in a class with Sarah and I really enjoyed practicing these Yin sequences in particular at home.
Read it for yourself
To order your own copies of the book and DVD, click on the following links for Insight Yoga (book) by Sarah Powers (external link to Amazon) and Insight Yoga DVD by Sarah Powers (external link to Amazon).
We hope you enjoy the book and DVD – let us know how you get on!
Note: La Crisalida Retreats are an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases.
Yoga retreats at La Crisalida
In the meantime, I hope this book and DVD helps you to re-connect, re-balance and re-energise from the comfort of your own home.