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Going YinWard

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Going YinWard

Alana Kessler

Yin Yoga on a Mountain


It was 2010 and I was in Nicaragua with my friend Janine celebrating my 30th birthday. Being a yoga practitioner for over a decade, and relatively new Ashtangi of a little over a year, I was diligent about my early morning practice. The routine was this. We would get coffee delivered to the door, drink it leisurely on the balcony, watch the waves and then practice.

I remember watching with curiosity as I as I broke my drishti to steal a glance at Janine. While I was jumping back and jumping through, she was holding postures for minutes at a time in what appeared to be mini naps. I judged it. It was a challenge to wrap my mind around this being a practice that supports the seriousness and attention that I identified my practice with.

Cut to 5 years later, I found myself in San Francisco eyeball deep in a 10 day Yin Yoga Intensive and Buddhist psychology training with Sarah Powers and loving every second of it.  How did I end up here you ask? You see somewhere along the way the yang element of Ashtanga Yoga opened me up to a deeper layer of interest. I began to listen to meditation teachers’ dharma talks while I practiced mysore at home. I got quieter. I took notice of when I was pushing to hard. I felt into that. I asked myself if my motivations and actions  were aligned with my higher intentions. Did I even know what my higher intentions were?

What happened was magical. I refined my attention to attune to deep physical and emotional injuries and unmet needs that were asking for some tenderness. I knew I needed something complimentary to my current practice. Something slower, a practice where I could explore, engage and enliven  both the nature of my physical body but also my heart. 

Years of “doing” had left me somewhat spiritually and physically exhausted, and Yin Yoga was the perfect medicine to restore and renew my resources. The long held postures allowed a certain freedom to ask questions and wait for answers. They provided a composition through which I applied my breath and awareness in a new way and experienced the unfolding, untangling and uprooting of deeply held sufferings of the body and the spirit. I  began to heal them. I found a new world within the stillness that was so energizing it propelled me into new levels of creativity, courage and compassion. My Ashtanga practice got stronger and softer at the same time, as did my approach to life in general.

So here I am now, 8 years later, and I am deeply grateful to the circumstances that illuminated my path towards this practice.  To share it with  community is a privilege, and one that  I am honored and fulfilled at the opportunity.

I hope to see you in class.

With love,