BOOK REVIEW: Yin Yoga by Paul Grilley

Yin Yoga: Principles and PracticeYin Yoga: Principles and Practice by Paul Grilley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was first introduced to Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga's author, in his yoga anatomy videos available on his website or youTube. I enjoyed his method of teaching so I thought this might be a good way to learn about yin yoga - a style that has more or less eluded my 8-year practice thus far.

First off, I appreciate the yin and yang symbol, and though many may find it cliche, it sheds light for me on a number of wide ranging topics, and here Grilley uses it to describe a system of yoga. Yang type exercise is most common in the west. It is repetitive, active, rhythmic, and in the exerciser's mind, it is this movement, this work, when done repeatedly, that brings about the results one is seeking. Think walking, running, cycling, zumba, weight training, and vinyasa style yoga. Yin movement is different. Yin yoga is a designed to cultivate stillness and patience as the poses are to be held and their effects absorbed for 2-5 minutes. A practice such as this will not burn the calories or build lean muscle that yang style movements can, but it does have its own unique benefits. It is essential for safely stretching the fascia surrounding the muscle fibers and muscle groups and the tendons as the attach to the joint. Yes you can stretch your tendons, but only if done in a passive, attentive way. Jerky, unaware stretches, especially to tissues not yet warmed up, can result in injury.
Some of the names of Grilley's poses are different than what I'm accustomed to. For example, on page 80-81, he refers to Folded Pose, a pose that I've generally known as Energy Freeing Pose. I find this an improvement on the name. Many of the pose names are the same though, for example, Camel Pose on p. 76-77 and Child's Pose on p. 70-71.
He seems a bit dogmatic at times in his references to traditional yogic references. For example, on page xiv of the book's prologue, Grilley writes that Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama "has demonstrated objectively the existence of both chakras and meridians in experiments." This, of course, is a bold claim that both makes me question the credulity of the author, and want to give Dr. Motoyama a read. Fortunately, I was able to secure a copy of the Motoyama book Grilley most references from my local university library - Theories of the Chakras. I intend to give it a go soon, and see if Grilley has been accurate in his claim.
Overall, I enjoyed this book because I always find it a joy to dig through yoga books and separate the wheat from the chaff. It is a great mental exercise and helps me better discern truth from snake oil, but also suspend my judgements and try something new in an effort to grow in my practice and teachings. Grilley is a champion of slowing down and taking time in our postures and with our breathing. This we all could use more of.

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