Light on Yin

When I was asked to write a blog about Yin yoga, I wanted more than anything to shed some light on this lovely practice.  I could probably write several pages on the what, how, and why of Yin yoga, however writing a book is very different than writing a blog!  The intention for this blog is to share how Yin yoga balances our more active practices, and how it benefits other aspects of our lives.

I would like to take a moment to touch on Vinyasa yoga, which is probably what most of us have heard about or practice presently.  In a Vinyasa class students move through a flowing sequence of asanas, or postures, that connect the breath to movements, while building heat in the body.  This type of practice is loved by the muscles!  The muscles respond to the repetitive movements found in a Vinyasa class, which allows them to be stretched and strengthened.

Yin yoga beautifully complements our more active (Vinyasa) yoga practice and our active lifestyles because it is a more cooling practice.  When we have too much of one thing, we naturally become imbalanced.  One of the goals of yoga is to move towards balance, creating harmony in our bodies and system as a whole. Think of those days that are jam packed with things to do, full of running around and a ton of stimulation.  Those days can leave us feeling drained and depleted.  On the flip side, when we have those days where we are relaxing and sitting all day, we may feel the urge to do something, anything that moves us.  That is why balance in our yoga practice and our lives is so important in restoring our body, mind, and spirit.

Yin yoga is yoga for the joints and deeper connective tissues.   Postures are held anywhere from 1-5 minutes to allow time to reach these deeper areas, releasing tension and stress.  The postures in a yin class mostly target the hips, pelvis, and low back.  This practice is passive yet intense as we are opening deeper areas of the body to promote healing.

When our joints and deeper connective tissues are strengthened and nourished through a Yin practice, we receive greater range of motion in these areas, which also encourages these areas to stay healthy and happy.  As we hold certain postures for some time, areas even deep into the organ system are reached.  Whatever is in excess (tension), releases out, and whatever is lacking (weak), is nourished.  As we get older our bodies start drying up!  The thought of that is an interesting one; however, it is true…especially for our joints and our bones. Practicing Yin encourages these areas to stay healthy, which in the long run will increase their vitality.

The nature of the practice creates a strong inner focus, allowing us to become fully in tune with ourselves and our own rhythms. It empowers us to fully inhabit our bodies no matter how we may be feeling or what we may be dealing with.  This not only supports us on our mats, it also trickles out into our daily lives.

What’s next?  Come to class, roll out your mats, and see how this practice can be a delightful complement to your daily lives!  Class is held every Monday and Wednesday evening at 7:45 pm.

Warm Regards,



The Movie Avatar: Talking “Yoga”

Somewhere between Snowcapolypse and Round II, cabin fever got the best of me and I scooted over to the cinema to see the movie Avatar.  Rich with imagery as fantastic as anything I could imagine, what I found especially striking was the language.  They were talking yoga!  Intended or not, the language we hear in yoga class and in this movie were strikingly similar.

There were many times during the movie when references to the “network of energy that flows through all living things” was highlighted.  Ahhhhh, prana.  The energy or life force which emanates from all physical matter and moves through and around us at all times.  Sigourney Weavers’ character (Grace Augustine) was in awe of the trees on the planet Pandora, which possessed a dynamic and energetic root system that was both physically intertwined and provided a conduit for their universal communication between the environment and the Avatars.  She repeatedly remarked, “I gotta get a sample of these roots.”  Does the phrase, “I gotta get to yoga class!” resonate?

Avatars’ main characters Neytiri and Jake were embroiled in rigorous training on Jake’s behalf throughout the film.  At one point, Jake reflected on Neytiri’s advice to “Trust what your body already knows to do.”  She also told him that he “looks but doesn’t see” which is what happens to me when I loose my dristi or when I don’t practice mindfulness off the mat.  As Jake learned to connect with his body, his senses, with others and the environment, he effortlessly began to avoid multiple perils which both consumed and distracted him prior to his training.

Icing on the yoga language cake were repeated references to the bond frequently depicted between Avatars and their hunting companions called the Lavi (or birds) and other untamed creatures.  The union between beings was only solidified through the yoking of the breath and heartbeat once a physical connection was established.

At the end of the film, Jake learned to set intentions which enabled him to make clear and good decisions, which resulted in his ultimate self realization and of course saving Pandora from the Sky People.  In preparation for the ultimate battle to save the planet, Neytiri gazed at Jake and proclaimed, “I see you.”

In yoga class, we come to the mat to work through our sheaths or koshas in order that we may see ourselves and others as we really, truly are.  During that process, we begin to make mindful connections with ourselves, with others and the world in which we live.  The result is that we are able to proceed with conviction in our daily walk.

Nice job, Hollywood.




I Heart Yoga! How Yoga Benefits Your Heart

If you’ve been to a class at IPY, you’ve invariably heard the instruction, “lead with the heart, lift the heart, open the heart.” Why do we say these things so much? The answer is simple, the reasons are many. It’s just good for your heart to do so. When you practice yoga, a number of things occur within our five koshas (coverings of the true self which range from the outer Anna-maya kosha, which represents the physical layer, to the innermost Ananda-maya kosha, where the soul resides) when we expand through the chest.

Reasons why:

  1. Vinyasa flow consists of spine lengthening, side and back bending, inversions and rest (a favorite – Savasana!); all of which help to control and prevent heart disease. Spine lengthening asanas promote good posture and reduce compression on the heart and lungs. Side bending asanas open energy channels of the liver, gallbladder and heart to remove energetic blockages. Upper back bending asanas improve heart function and respiration. Inversions allow the heart to rest and improve blood circulation (note: contraindicated with un-medicated high blood pressure – check with your doctor). Savasana is deeply restorative and has been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
  2. Your capacity to breathe fully into the lungs increases as you practice Ujjayi pranayama (or breathing). Ujjayi breathing is conducted through the nostrils with the throat constricted; which emanates an ocean-like sound as you inhale and exhale. We teach this form of breathing in all of our classes.
  3. When you bring awareness to your breath, your the heart rate slows and becomes regulated. Your breath also influences the rhythm of the heart through inner connections in the central nervous system. This results in more oxygenated blood flow and feelings of calm and well-being.
  4. Asana (physical) and pranayama practice have been found to reduce stress hormones.

Energetically speaking, the heart chakra (the fourth of our seven chakras) represents compassion, selfless love and devotion. An unbalanced heart chakra results in despair, jealousy, abandonment, isolation and lack of empathy for us and others. When we work to bring this energy center into balance, we can let go of these feelings and enjoy emotional empowerment. We also feel the welcome embrace of prayer and cultivate more awareness towards the higher powers of the universe; which invite a sense of hope, more open connections with others and increased compassion.

As if the above are not reason enough to come to your mat, add meditation to the mix! Meditation is known for its ability to also calm the mind and limit stress by reducing heart-harmful emotions such as anxiety, hostility and hopelessness. Studies show that a daily meditation practice can also reduce the amount of fatty deposits in your arteries, as well as lower blood pressure.

So the next time you are asked to “lead with the heart, lift the heart, open the heart” know that all of these benefits and more await you!




February Studio News

Dear yogis and yoginis,

Do you remember the reason you first stepped onto your mat? Perhaps a friend dragged you to a studio, or you had some extra time after running on the treadmill and a yoga class was just starting in your gym. What did you think? If you are like most of us, you might have thought that the particular style taught at that random studio or in your neighborhood gym is the only way to practice yoga. You might have gotten hooked instantly or may have enjoyed the experience, but did not seek out other opportunities for a while.

There are many different yoga styles out there nowadays taught by teachers who bring their own uniqueness into the room, so we can all find what fits into our expectations of what yoga is or should be for us. At Inner Power Yoga, we teach and practice vinyasa yoga, where movement and breath are continuously linked together uniting body, mind and a higher consciousness. We get stronger and more flexible for sure, but also develop deeper presence and awareness. Vinyasa yoga is meditation in motion; we are constantly changing our forms, but try to remain fully present with the help of our breath as an anchor.

The original Vinyasa system is Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, where a set sequence is practiced; the First Series focuses on forward bends, while backbends highlight the Second Series. (The other four series are Advanced Sequences.) We are offering Ashtanga classes now at IPY on Saturdays and Sundays at 4 pm to introduce this wonderful practice to our students. Please come and check it out!

Thank you to all the little yogis and yoginis who braved the snow and came for our Kids Yoga Workshop! I am so glad the kids had such a great time! We are starting a 4 week Kids Yoga Series this Saturday at 2:30 pm. Our first 4 week session is sold out, but we will let everyone know when additional kids yoga classes are scheduled.

We are honored to be chosen as “Studio of the Month” by our favorite store, Lululemon Athletica. Our teachers will be leading a free class at 10 am every Sunday in February at the Tysons store! Please come, practice with us, and check out lulu’s new offerings!

Thank you all who came to Jess’s class and donated to Doctors without Borders; we raised $220 for this organization to help provide essential medical care to the people of Haiti! Every little bit counts!

We are hosting special guest teachers Keith and Tara for a Valentine’s Day Partner Yoga Workshop. This is a great opportunity for those of you wondering about yoga, but have not taken the plunge. This will be a fun thing to do on Valentine’s Day! For details please see the Events page on our website and send a note to to register.

On March 7, Tanya will be teaching Fundamentals of Vinyasa Yoga for new students and students who would like to brush up on the basics of the practice. For details on this workshop, please see the Events page on our website and send a note to to register.

Incorporating a regular yoga practice into your life can make a big difference long after you leave the studio. We would like to offer unlimited yoga for $95/month as our February Special to encourage you to come and practice often!

Wishing you happiness on your mat!