Yin and Yang Yoga: Simon Low Interview

Tracey Kelley
Simon Low

Yin and Yang Yoga with Simon Low is the debut DVD from this revered instructor. Low, co-founder of Triyoga in London and a principal at The Yoga Academy, conducts classes, workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings around the world.

Yin and Yang Yoga: Simon Low Interview

In between travels, Low shared valuable insight with LoveToKnow Yoga.

Please tell us a little bit of your yoga journey.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to yoga by Dr. Larry Payne at Samata Yoga in Los Angeles, soon after I moved from New York to California, a move that corresponded with my leaving the music industry. I was embarking on a new journey of self-discovery and the study of various approaches to complementary medicine, personal and group therapy, movement arts and, most importantly, yoga.

After a few classes with Larry, I knew I had found the combined means of self-study, self-motivation and self-responsibility that hitherto had been lacking in my experience. I became a devotee of the ancient practice.

Living in Los Angeles, I was also lucky to have so many experienced and dynamic teachers nearby, with an ever growing number of new yoga studies. Within a couple of years, I realized I wanted to share the benefits and teachings that had so helped me through a very important and challenging period of re-evaluation, change, and personal development.

A Call to Teach

I never intended to be a teacher as such, as I always planned to eventually return to the music industry with new eyes and ears, and most importantly, a new attitude. I moved back to the U.K., my native country, after completing my teacher training; again with Larry Payne. I spent an additional two years in the music world, but success and financial reward proved elusive, and I chose to supplement my income through teaching.

I began to teach weekly classes from my home. Within a month, my two classes were full, and I doubled, then tripled, my schedule. At this time, yoga in the U.K. was beginning to become very press-worthy with the "celebrity" factor, and the resurgence of interest in yoga was very heartening and helpful.

I seemed to be being guided in the direction of yoga teaching more and more, especially when I was offered a teaching position at Anse Chastanet resort in St. Lucia. I happily welcomed the opportunity to study and hone my teaching skills and subject. I felt like I had come home, a similar feeling that I and others have felt when first discovering yoga practice with a suitable teacher.

"Teacher" had been a stated chosen profession throughout my time as a young man, along with racing driver, DJ, and chef! I achieved all except the racing driver...although some passengers in my car over the years might disagree!

So what is your status now?

I regard myself as a full-time teacher. Over the last 17 years, I have continued to teach group and private classes, while cultivating a very successful and enjoyable business hosting yoga residential weekends around the world.

In 2000, I co-founded Triyoga in Primrose Hill, London, and it is one of the most popular yoga studios in the U.K. In 2003, I set up The Yoga Academy, which is now one of Europe's leading yoga teacher training schools.

My inner yoga journey has been much more challenging, but also continues to be the ultimate reward.

Yin and Yang Yoga

Your core yoga style is "yin and yang". Please describe the intent of that style.

Although one might view Yin and Yang yoga as a style in itself, my primary intention is to help students of any chosen style or approach recognize the need for a more balanced yoga practice, while tailoring this attitude to their own personal body, lifestyle, and needs. This follows the teachings of my instructor, Dr. Payne, and his teachers, Krishnamacharya, Desikachar, and A.G. Mohan.

In Yin and Yang yoga, we embrace the principles of Chinese and Oriental medicine and movement practices, informing awareness of both the physical and subtle anatomies, as we weave these teachings into the fabric of traditional yoga theory and practice.

Ebb and Flow of True Balance

On the yoga mat, this balanced and accessible practice combines warming, dynamic, fluid sequences with restful, deep, rejuvenating postures. These two approaches to asana practice balance the solar and lunar, masculine and feminine, yang and yin energies, while each method offers specific, powerful physical and energetic benefits.

While embracing both traditional yoga teachings and those more commonly attributed to Chinese and other Eastern traditions of energy medicine, I offer both gross and subtle anatomical teachings, inspirational verse, philosophy, and guidance to bring this practice to our life on and off the mat.

Within the Yang practice, it is essential to balance the linear, alignment-based approach that we so commonly see in the practice of yoga, with the natural, circular and spiral movement patterns that exist in nature, so effectively represented within practices such as Tai Chi and Chi Kung.

Yin yoga is a combination of restorative asana and more challenging passive, earth-based postures inspired by Taoist Yoga. We hold these asanas for several minutes. This meditative yin practice is deeply nourishing as it stimulates the energy channels throughout the body, opens the joints, and stimulates, strengthens, and stretches our connective tissue. We build reservoirs of energy. Working particularly deeply with our breath, we can journey into the innermost realms of our being, as we explore and understand the deeper meditative qualities of yoga practice.

I believe the Yin and Yang yoga practices help students to more effectively cultivate and store chi and enhance the health benefits, while learning a broader base of knowledge and skills to stimulate their interest, learning, self-responsibility, and ongoing enjoyment.

The Yin and Yang Yoga DVD

What prompted the development of your new DVD?

I felt it was time to share my teachings with a wider audience, as well as answer requests from my students to provide a means by which they could continue with their self-practice and exploration after the workshops.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the U.S. media company Acacia to be their first U.K. signing. I had thought about and attempted to shoot a video for some time, but costs were prohibitive. Acacia made it possible to create a well-produced and practical session.

I also welcomed the opportunity to share my teachings in the U.S., where my yoga journey had begun 18 years earlier.

Do you intend to do more?

I would welcome the opportunity to do more videos. The medium offers a means for students to study and practice with the sound and vision aspects in combination and supporting each other. I believe this makes it safer for students to practice at home.

When one of my first teachers, Erich Schiffmann, brought out his DVD with Ali MacGraw, I often just watched it for the relaxing sounds and inspiring visuals. Videos have multiple benefits, especially when produced with varied sound and practice options.

Combining Travel and Yoga

Venue seems to play an integral role in your workshops and retreats. How do you structure location into the practice, and why is it important to you?

Travel inspires and educates almost everyone. I simply want to enjoy and share my love of nature, the often remote and always inspiring locations in my favorite countries, and the different cultures therein with my students. This usually results in the students having both a wonder-filled holiday and an even deeper yoga practice.

Additionally, for those who have never taken a residential yoga workshop or retreat, I cannot recommend this type of study-practice break more highly. It is the most effective method of deepening one's knowledge, experience, and practice of yoga, while significantly enhancing the holiday benefits of rest, recovery, and revitalization. You are with like-minded individuals, and enjoy nourishing food.

Not having to leave class and go back to work, city living, or other stress- inducing environments has enormous benefits. We find time to truly explore and re-evaluate "where we are" and where we may be going. Yoga is our ever present support on this life path.

Where do you host workshops and teachers' training?

I teach workshops and trainings in European and international cities such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Sydney, Amsterdam, Oslo, Helsinki, Manchester, and of course at Triyoga in London. I also host holidays in the U.K. and other countries such as Turkey, Spain, France, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India.

Follow Simon Low

~Tracey L. Kelley

Yin and Yang Yoga: Simon Low Interview