Norman Blair is a rare breed of yogi; he has a committed Iyengar practice, is a practicing Ashtangi and teacher, and in addition, teaches and practices Yin Yoga. Under an unassuming, modest and laid-back exterior, Norman is an avid reader of both poetry and psychology and has strong convictions he doesn’t mind sharing. All this lends itself well to 3-hour Yin Yoga workshop, that, with the wrong teacher could get a little boring. Not so with Norman.
Over the course of the three hour workshop at Indaba Yoga today we ‘made shapes’ with our bodies lying down on the back and stomach, and seated. We were encouraged to use props wherever it felt right, to challenge our urges either to fall asleep or stay too alert, and to relax the body working from the fascial tissue rather than muscle. No fighting the body.
Each pose was held for 5 minutes, during which time Norman spoke in a personable and relaxed way about subject matter relevant to the yin practice. Poems, anecdotes and jokes were all used to help the class into the ‘do less’ mindset and to pass the time.
While I’ve taken a couple of yin classes before, I was surprised this time around at how alert I felt throughout the workshop (traditionally I fall asleep in each posture, waking up to find the class has moved on to the next pose). I was also perplexed at how stiff I felt in certain areas, particularly in the ankles and feet. While it is conceivable for the ankles and feet to restrict movement into balasana and virasana, its strange to consider that the ankles and feet can also feel discomfort in forward bends. As Norman repeated throughout the class, what is happening in the body is interesting and yin yoga allows for the time to observe that.
Norman has a tremendously nurturing energy and seemed to be engaged with each student’s needs throughout the 3 hours. After the workshop he opened a large box of chocolates and encouraged everyone to indulge, a stark contrast to the multiple belts I had corsetting in my midriff in yesterday’s Iyengar class!
Norman teaches Yin at Indaba on thursday evenings, and Astanga on Friday mornings. He also teaches Yin at the Life Centre Notting Hill on Thursday afternoons. For more information about Norman and his full teaching schedule check out his website.
Coming soon, schedule for week 3 and learnings from week 2. Stay Tuned…