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Yin Tonic, the yoga of healing with Mel McLaughlin

Mel McLaughlin is a generous, inclusive and curious teacher of Yin Yoga who has been guiding people in the art of nurturing and self-nourishment for almost 20 years. With a calm presence, extensive knowledge of traditional Chinese meridian and chakra theory, and carefully cultivated personal practice, Mel opens a space for all to heal physically, mentally and spiritually. Join Mel from in May 2020 for a 50 Hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training in Byron Bay or for Yin Tonic, a series of monthly masterclasses that draw from a deep well of healing modalities to release the organs and clear the energetic channels.

How did you discover Yin Yoga?

I started practising yoga after sustaining a spinal injury in a car crash when I was 25. The accident ended my dancing career and led me to an ashram in India where I stayed for six months of study and exploration.

After 10 years of strong Yang asana practice, Phil Goodwin gave me Paul Grilley's book on Yin. I quietly bought his dvds online and studied with them for two years. What a ride! I healed my physical body but at the same time balanced myself emotionally and mentally.

You are leading a Yin Yoga Teacher Training in May at the new BodyMindLife Byron Bay studio. What inspired the training?

After long feeling the benefits of Yin, I wanted to share them. I formally trained with Paul Grilley, became one of the first teachers to offer scheduled yin classes in Sydney, and now share that wisdom in a 50 hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training that I am offering with BodyMindLife Byron Bay in May, and in Surry Hills in August.

How would you describe Yin Yoga as a practice?

Where the Yang side of the yoga practice requires muscular effort, the Yin practice is thoughtful and receiving. It gives us a chance to be still and sit quietly and compassionately with ourselves. Sometimes this is blissful and sometimes it is uncomfortable but we ride those feelings without judgement. On a physical level it exercises our connective tissue – the ligaments, joints, bones and fascia – in which we find the meridian channels and their corresponding organs.

What are some of the benefits of Yin?

Some of them are quite surprising, such as the effect Yin has on releasing PTSD and trauma, but I love the everyday effects. If you want to feel younger, move without pain, recover from injury, sleep better, improve your digestion, circulation, fertility, immunity, find peace, become more resilient...Yin is a great counter balance to stress, injury and the ageing process!

How do you approach Yin Yoga?

The more I know and understand the more simple my approach.

– Yin is non aesthetic (there is a safe way of doing things but no right or wrong way).

– Yin is introspective and autonomous practice of getting into shapes and staying a while to see what's there. You. Only you know what is enough and what you have the resilience for, so my students get lots of space to explore and experiment.

– Yin is long term. Practice with patience and respect and watch the slow transformation that occurs when you commit without expectation.

My teacher Paul Grilley and his wife Suzee inspired me to be a generous, inclusive and curious teacher, to share knowledge like a light to whoever is receptive. I don't hold back. I'm also inspired by non yoga teachers like Gil Hedley and Thomas Myer in the fascia world and Dr Dan keown and Ray Ford in the acupuncture world.

As well as your Yin Yoga Teacher Trainings, you are sharing a series of six Yin masterclasses called Yin Tonics at our Surry Hills studio. Can you tell us about them?

Oh yes! My latest creation. I named them TONICS because they give you a shot of the beautiful medicine of Qi Gong, Yin yoga, breathwork and bespoke meditations all blended together in a way that makes sense to your body, mind and spirit. You can take one, two or all of them month by month, and the benefits keep working long after class is over.

Who is Yin Yoga for?

Yin is for every level, every body type, everyone who is ready. Some people have issues or injuries that are better suited to strength work but because it is floor-based and slow it benefits a wide, deep, broad demographic. Don't mistake it for 'easy yoga' – there are plenty of challenges in there too.

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