My Yin Yoga experience; A workshop with Tessa Custers
“Time and time again yoga crosses my path and teaches me to go back to my essence. To faith, patience, balance, silence and it shows me how to connect with myself again without judgement in a playful and exploring way.”
The words of Tessa Custers left me inspired. As I moved out of our meditation, after a 3 hour Yin Yoga Workshop, I felt more connected and passionate about this beautiful style of yoga. For those who have not experienced this softer approach to yoga, allow me to take you on a journey of my experience...
The essence of Yin Yoga lies in long holds, deep stretching, softening and surrendering. This practice focuses on the Yin/ Female energy instead of the Yang/ Masculine energy that a lot of us are exposed to in our regular yoga practice. In contrast to the stronger practices, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, Yin Yoga allows you to connect deeper and bring a sense of awareness to your body. The practice of Yin Yoga brings balance in the yang-oriented world most of us live in.
“In a world full of attractions and stimulation yoga for me is strongly connected to a meditative state of being, in movement or sitting still. Feeling. Awareness. Being in the present moment instead of dwelling in the unchangeable past and/or undetermined future.” says Tessa, explaining that Yin Yoga is about acceptance and to stay with what is.
Tessa has been teaching yoga since 2010, where she was first introduced to a yang style of yoga; Ashtanga. As she progressed through her practice, she felt that her body was no longer able to keep up with the powerful elements of a strong practice. Yin Yoga crossed her path and she was sold! Originally from Holland, Tessa moved to Cape Town and found that Yin Yoga was not as popular in South Africa as it was in her home country.
“I love to make Cape Tonians as enthusiast for this beautiful and deep yoga practices as the Dutchies” Says Tessa, as she strives to make yin yoga accessible through regular workshops and events.
Tessa is also a qualified Thai Yoga Massage therapist. She incorporates her healing touch with the yin yoga poses to bring her students into a comfortable and safe space in each posture. “Each body is different” says Tessa, going on to explain that, therefore, each yoga practice is unique.
After Tessa connected with me via email, I was looking forward to attending her workshop. Yin Yoga XL: Inner Joy was the name of the event; a long Sunday morning practice which a strong focus on the Chinese Element of Fire. As we are heading into the summer season; the element of fire is all about blooming and shining. Myself and others were welcomed into the beautiful studio of Sangha Spot in Muizenberg. With the mats placed in a circle facing inwards, there was immediately a sense of welcoming and connection.
Tessa’s warm approach to teaching allowed us all to move into a space where we could explore and draw inwards. We were guided through postures that brought awareness to the organs; heart and small intestine, and the emotion of joy. The aim of this workshop was to connect with our true heart and relax completely to hear what your heart has to say. I experienced exactly that as we were constantly reminded to bring ourselves back to love and non judgemental inner happiness
The benefits of yin yoga extend from physical, to spiritual, energetic, emotional and mental. A few benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, increasing circulation and flexibility as well as releasing fascia to improve joint mobility. There is also a strong focus on internal organs as the yin yoga postures improve the flow of prana (also known as life force)
Yin yoga postures are usually performed seated or lying down, in order to facilitate a surrendering while holding for longer periods of time (from 3 minutes upwards). “The emphasis in this practice is to let go of your muscle tension and you relax as much as possible in a posture” says Tessa. This results in the stretching of your connective tissue, cartilage and tendons. Blockages are therefore being removed so that life energy can flow freely through your body.
”Although you relax as much as you can, Yin yoga can be very intense, emotional and sometimes confrontational. It has a very meditative quality and teaches you to be in the moment, with everything there is. A perfect form to explore and work with your physical, mental and emotional boundaries.”
Tessa has found that yin yoga is the perfect practice to guide people in transforming towards their authentic Self; using embodiment and lightheartedness to heal and connect.
As a busy-body myself, I often find it challenging to find stillness. I am easily drawn to practices such as vinyasa, where I can completely melt into a moving meditation. Through one practice with Tessa, I was able to find a softening; body and mind. A sensation that is usually so challenging for me was made accessible and welcoming. As we moved into a seated meditation, we practiced loving kindness. Loving kindness for ourselves and others, bringing a sense of joy to my whole being. This workshops brought me an immense amount of mindfulness and relaxation that left me feeling grounded and prepared for the week ahead.
To those who are interested in practicing with Tessa, she will be hosting a Yin Yoga & Live Music in Muizenberg on Friday 23 November.
Connect with Tessa HERE