yoga teacher training

The Unusual Marriage of Ashtanga and Yin Yoga

Ashtanga and Yin Yoga are kind of like that unlikely couple that somehow matches perfectly…

Ashtanga, the bold and unrelenting practice that pushes every button, resembles the masculine force that pervades this universe like the blazing Sun. On the other hand, his opposite, Yin yoga, portraits the softness like blankets of pancakes on a lazy Sunday-oozing with sweetness, and from time to time- a guilty pleasure. How these two seemingly opposite styles of yoga like two lonesome puzzle pieces from a ten thousand piece puzzle find their way to each other is beyond me.

I found my way to Yin yoga about five years ago, when I was then a disciplined (and at times rigid) Ashtanga yogini. Back in those days, which seem like forever ago, I would get up at the crack of dawn, roll out my mat and begin the primary series. I found comfort in the rhythmic Ujjayi breath, which if unbeknown to you, is the notorious breathing that resembles almost too closely to the voice of Anakin Skywalker-aka Darth Vader. That soft, ocean-like breath gave me the beat and focus I desperately needed to complete my practice. And so it went, this dawn cracking, fire burning, and sweat dripping ritual carried on for about eight months before I stumbled upon Yin yoga.

My encounter with Yin yoga was very much like meeting that perfect man at a speed-dating event- I can’t remember how I got myself there, but surely I’m glad I did. From the outside, Yin yoga exudes this seductive softness that enwraps my tender hamstrings from doing too many forward folds (if you practice Ashtanga, you would nod sympathetically in agreement). As I yield myself into a gentle Caterpillar, I learn to let go of my limited beliefs, anger, anxiety, and muscular co-contraction. A complete opposite to any dynamic yoga styles, Yin Yoga
requires you to relax in a seated pose and allow gravity to release the body’s fascia and muscles. Like any worthy suitor, it is the charisma and depth of one’s character that takes the relationship to a whole different level. Albeit the ostensibly warm and benevolent Yin façade, let not be fooled by her alter ego which I’d dare say is like a Scorpion woman taking you into her mysterious world filled with complex thoughts and allures. At times, these long-held Yin poses are my haven to escape from worldly chaos; yet these very same poses could also make me agonize over everything from the class playlist to my childhood trauma. Oh! That alluring Scorpion Yin.

“Embrace contradictions for they make up all of life:
You will eternally be looking for yourself and seeking ways to lose yourself.”
― Kamand Kojouri

Every day when I practiced Ashtanga, I curated different ways to find myself again and again. Finding strength and courage in the most unusual places of the mind, I’d push through fatigue, laziness, weakness, and tears. Having developed a love-hate relationship with Ashtanga, even now I reminisce those moments of epiphany when I’d catch glimpses of my rawness during practice. Courage, ambitions, and strength, Ashtanga is my passage to willpower and empowerment.

But life is never a one-way street.

Yin yoga is the catnip and kryptonite to my Ashtanga Ego. How I would crave this mellow practice to soothe my bruised body, Yin had me crumbling in tears and trembling in the sea of vulnerability. Confronting my past hurts, remorse, sorrows, and guilt, I must find bravery in my dismal heart to stay in the pose or with my feelings. Stripped bare of longings, fears, and pretense, Yin yoga is my passage to humility.

So here we have it, this obscured couple serendipitously finding their way to each other. As I sit back and imagine the wedding of Ashtanga and Yin yoga, how they’d humbly exchange vows to promise to be each other’s lover, companion, and friend; comrades in adventures, allies in conflict; to be each other’s fans even in the toughest adversity, consolations in disappointment, and forever student and teacher of the other.

Somehow, somewhere, in this most outlandish imagination, I pronounce Ashtanga and Yin yoga married partners.

About Annie Au

E-RYT 500, Writer

Annie is the lead trainer of the Yin Yang Yoga Teacher Training at All Yoga. She is also the creator of the Soulful Yin Yoga Method, the only Yin Yoga teacher training that specializes in the emotional side of yin yoga and Chinese meridians. Annie embarked on her spiritual journey over 10 years ago. Struggled with anxiety most of her adult life, Annie was tired of living life in chronic fear & despair, she searched for ways to reclaim her happiness. In the last decade, Annie traveled around the world leading yoga teacher trainings while exploring her own spiritual path.

From studying Taoism and Chinese meridians, Anne recognizes the intrinsic connection between our body and emotions. If our physical health declines, it directly affects our mood and therefore affects how we make choices in life. This finding has propelled Annie to create a course that helps others to connect with their emotions so that they can cultivate balances in life.

Applying the decade of experiences and knowledge Annie has acquired, her signature Soulful Yin Yoga Method is designed to help others become a master of their own emotions so that they can be in tune with their truest selves.

Annie holds a Bachelor Degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. She is trained in Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) and specializes in yoga anatomy. Annie’s approachable teaching method helps students understand their body and practice more intelligently.

Currently, Annie lives in Sri Lanka with her husband and travels to Thailand several times per year leading 200hr Yin Yang Yoga Teacher Trainings.

For free yin yoga, Chinese meridians, and emotional healing tips, follow her on Instagram here.

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