Sarah Owen is Australia’s only accredited Insight Yoga teacher and a leading influencer in the fascinating field of Yin Yoga & Mindfulness.
We caught up with Sarah to discover just how she came to be personally mentored by the legendary Sarah Powers…and gain a few tips for starting a sustainable home practice.
What was your first introduction to Yin Yoga?
My first taste of Yin Yoga was during a short weekend workshop with Sarah Powers at my home studio in Sydney (Samadhi Yoga) in 2007. I knew in those couple of days that I had ‘met my teacher’ and that I would go on to study further with Sarah Powers over the following decade. In 2008, I started teaching yin yoga classes in Sydney after completing my first training overseas with Sarah. I began my mentorship with Sarah Powers around the same time and then went on to assist Sarah during all of her subsequent visits to Australia. She has been the biggest influence in my yoga practice and certainly my yin yoga teaching.
What drew you to study further in that style? Why do you feel Yin Yoga is so valuable?
Actually I found Yin Yoga quite challenging at first! I was fascinated that such a simple practice was far from being easy. It was one of the first styles I had practiced that I was really able to tune in the chi response within the body and I loved that the physical postures in yin yoga create such a great ‘holding space’ or ‘container’ to practice inner methods and mindfulness. Yin Yoga allowed me to practice being at ease with discomfort in a safe and supportive way. While I also continue to enjoy a stronger, yang style practice, I love that the yin practice develops and supports radical acceptance – acceptance of myself and my circumstances whilst still maintaining discernment.
Mindfulness is such a popular term now, people are even using mindfulness in corporate settings… what’s your take on mindfulness becoming so popular in recent times?
I think it’s great that people are looking for a way to slow down and smell the roses, so-to-speak. Mindfulness is the opposite to multi-tasking; in mindfulness we cultivate a particular kind of awareness that is both relaxed (at ease), and at the same time alert (sometimes this alertness is described as ‘kind vigilance’). Mindfulness has ancient roots, the teachings on mindfulness are many and they date back many thousands of years. It’s important not to confuse modern mindfulness fads with traditional teachings on mindfulness, which can take decades of committed practice to understand, though of course slowing down and paying closer attention in our lives will usually bring benefit and more happiness to our daily moments.
How do you find the time to attend class with a young family and your teaching commitments?
I feel very blessed to have been mentored by a small handful of great teachers that have assisted me in developing an individualised practice that works for my body type and my energetic constitution, and which allows me to practice mostly from home on a day-to-day basis. I travel regularly for further study with my teachers to deepen my understanding and practice of yoga and mindfulness, but I always bring the teachings home to my own practice – my own sadhana – as a way of integrating them into my being and having them become second nature.
Do you have any words of advice about how to establish a home practice?
Yin Yoga is a great way to start practising at home! Your home practice shouldn’t feel like a chore – instead it will feel like you are coming home to yourself in a kind way and with a mood of curiosity to explore the inner realms.
Here is the outline of a basic 10 minute practice that can be dropped in at any time during your day:
- Begin with 2 minutes of simple seated breath awareness (or a pranayama method of your choice)
- Follow with a yin yoga pose of your choosing for around 5 minutes
- Coming out of the yin yoga pose, practice seated meditation for 3 minutes
- Finish with Savasana (laying conscious relaxation) and gratitude.
If you have more time to continue practice and your body is yearning for more movement, then allow your intuition to guide you further through your practice.
To learn more about sequencing in Yin Yoga or how to make use of Yin Yoga according to the seasons, see details for my upcoming teacher training in September at Body Mind Life