"Yin Yoga is a possible counterweight to the efforts of Yang, a tool in the endeavor to find equilibrium.” - Joe Barnett
Joe Barnett is a highly regarded yoga teacher known for his ability to relate to his students and for his knowledge and focus on anatomical principles in practice. He is the primary teaching assistant of Paul Grilley, the founder of Yin Yoga, and has been teaching Yin and Yang forms of yoga around the globe for 17 years. Joe will join us as a workshop and all-day intensive presenter at the 2017 Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival.
During the weekend, you can join Joe in Yin workshops focusing on deep spine work, deep hip work and chakra/meridian meditation. His Friday intensive will focus on foundational principles for instructors in “Teaching Yin Yoga: 7 Windows of Communication” (5 CEUs). These are what Joe views as the "fundamental steps that every Yin instructor should lead with in each pose."
Joe describes Yin Yoga as a very simple practice with foundational steps: know the target area, settle in to the pose, come out of the pose which was held for a length of time, observe the effects of that pose, and move Chi into the spaces that were opened. (You can view his video interview outlining these steps on his website here.) Yin practice allows us to slowly relax muscles to allow deeper, dryer tissues to be safely and therapeutically stretched, stimulated and strengthened.
The rules, he says, are also simple, but more importantly they are functional and organic: listen to the body and find the posture according to the unique and natural contours of spine, pelvis and hips. Simple enough, but this can present challenges especially for the Yin Yoga teacher guiding students with unique body structures, injuries, and physical histories using minimal verbal queueing. Joe’s “7 Windows of Communication” intensive workshop will expand on the foundational steps and help Yin Yoga instructors understand the functional objectives of the poses, and the simplest most effective language to help guide each student into their optimal variation of the posture.
Joe is quick to point out that he is ultimately offering the teachings of his long-time mentor Paul Grilley, who, with Paul’s colleague Sara Powers, named the practice “Yin Yoga” to recognize it as a complement to Yang exercise forms. They did so to restore what they saw as an imbalance toward the Yang side of Yoga, exercise and lifestyles in general.
"Joe Barnett has been our friend and assistant for many years. He has two qualities that make him an excellent presenter: he knows the anatomical principles and he relates to people in a sympathetic manner. His presentations are unhurried, hands on demonstrations, this is the easiest way to absorb these ideas." -Paul and Suzee Grilley
I asked Joe his thoughts on the need to practice Yin with such and emphasis on the more powerful aspects of a yoga workout: “Since its origins, Yin Yoga was and is still meant to be only one piece of a well-rounded practice and way of life. Within the physical body, Yin Yoga offers a way to manipulate deep into the spine, hips and shoulders. Within the emotional and mental bodies, Yin Yoga offers a way to find ease and contentment. The Yang side of life at its best offers muscular strength, strong hearts and circulation, as well as noble ambitions to change oneself and society for the betterment of all. But without the complementary efforts to traction the joints, relax the nervous system and enjoy oneself and the worked as it is, even the noblest efforts of mind and body deteriorate. Whether it’s the balance of strength/flexibility or ambition/contentment, how the balance will manifest and how it will feel is the responsibility of each practitioner to explore and decide. Yin Yoga is a possible counterweight to the efforts of Yang, a tool in the endeavor to find equilibrium.”
Since the festival has expanded its name to include “Oneness”, I asked Joe for his thoughts on the concept of “Oneness” in his personal philosophy and the Yin Yoga philosophy: “Oneness is the greatest of goals in Yoga as I understand the practice. The Seer and the Seen, Consciousness and Energy, Yin and Yang, united…or rather, Realized. To achieve this ultimate realization, the Yogi digs deep to bring up the hidden cycles of desires and memories buried in one’s unconscious and obstructing Realization.
Yin Yoga’s potential usefulness at its highest functions is this: After stimulating (with gentle stretches and pressures) certain target areas, while at the same time working to become more and more quiet, the unconscious hindrances hidden in the targeted tissues come to the surface. Tantric and Taoist theories postulate that these Astral aspects of the human being are compartmentalized with the physical body. If the Yogi can bring the Astral obstacles into view, they can be removed. When the simple and concentrated efforts of relaxation and stillness in Yin Yoga are executed skillfully, mental attachments and unhealthy impulses are revealed, making the required internal work clear. At times, that work will require powerful and complex meditation techniques, or even assistance from friends, family or professionals. But often these troubling manifestations can be released with a gentle sigh or a quiet cry at the end of which a moment of deep connection may arise. The deeply soothing impact of just a moment in that oneness can last days, years, and possibly a lifetime.”
Beautiful thoughts, beautiful practice…we hope you join us at the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival and attend Joe Barnett’s Friday intensive and weekend workshops. This is a unique and wonderful opportunity to learn more about Yin Yoga from one of the premiere teachers of this style.
For registration information click HERE. To learn more about Joe check out his full bio here, or visit his website at www.joebarnettyoga.com. To see the full festival schedule click here.
Karen Kramer is a yoga instructor and festival blogger.