The practice of Yin Yoga is based on the meridian theories of Chinese medicine, namely the understanding that energy pathways run throughout the body. These pathways are believed to reside within the connective tissue, including the fascial tissue, tendons and ligaments. It is the life force energy, or chi, also known as prana, that runs through these channels. When we are stressed these pathways can become blocked, but when we are internally balanced they can flow freely. This vital energy tends to collect at the joints, or to be found in high concentration in all joints, much a like a system of streams and rivers whose debris can easily become stuck at these junctures.

As mentioned above, there is a body-wide network of fascial tissue. Surrounding all organs, bones, joints, and muscles, it connects everything to everything else. At the cellular level, this interconnective web-like tissue is comprised of hyaluronic acid, a major component of synovial fluid (the fluid surrounding and lubricating all joints).

By holding a series of postures, for extended periods (up to five minutes each) the connective tissue is accessed, triggering an increase in production of hyaluronic acid, lubricating the joints. In these poses, the body becomes more supple as the connective tissue is temporarily overstressed and released to create this deep level of flexibility. Bones are gently pulled apart from each other, releasing compression and creating space, and spinal curves are reestablished.

A respected Japanese researcher, Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, who is both a yogi and doctor of Chinese medicine, has conducted extensive research using a western science model to understand the movement of chi through the body. Yin Yoga is based on his findings. Motoyama’s long time student, Paul Grilley, is the author of the scholastic writings based on Yin Yoga. The synthesis of his studies has made this branch of yoga available to westerners.

Susan has had the honor of studying Yin Yoga with Paul Grilley. In 1996, after learning a variety of yoga forms, she received her teaching certification and has since been devoted to passing along the tradition of this ancient movement system. Susan introduced Yin Yoga to Richmond in 2002, becoming the first instructor to offer these classes in the area. She also has extensive experience teaching Deep Release, Hatha and Vinyasa. In addition to Paul, her teaching has been influenced by the teachings of Cindi Lee, Sarah Powers and Shiva Rae.

She is also available for private instruction.

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