Katrin Elia: Yin Yoga, Menopause & Beyond

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Katrin Elia doing a yoga twist pose

Almost every Sunday morning I dress in my yoga pants & top, pack my yoga mat in my homemade tote, and head off to The Yoga Garden in Narberth, PA, about 10 minutes from where I live. I arrive early and set up my mat at the far edge of the carpeted room, near a wall. Per Katrin’s previous instructions, I take a pose of relaxation and wait for class to begin or sometimes chatting with my yoga buddies. The room fills up quickly, and Katrin does her best to accommodate everyone. She is a popular teacher.  At the end of the class, I feel renewed, refreshed, and ready to tackle my week.

Having taken yoga for 40 years, I have had many yoga teachers. But Katrin’s technique is my favorite. After interviewing her, I think I know why: she loves what she is doing because it not only helps her grow, but also helps her learn more about her own body as she teaches— the limitations, the challenges and the rewards of yoga.   Katrin has learned to do what she loves and share it warmly with others.

Katrin’s Rag Doll Pose

Yoga has not always been Katrin’s first choice. She trained for 30 years as a ballerina and has degrees in advertising and art history.  She came to America from her native Germany for love. Her husband Vincent is an American and she left her homeland to have a life with Vincent.  Yoga was something she had studied for many years, but not until a few years ago did she consider teaching yoga. Actually, she took yoga teacher training from Daniel Shankin of the former Mainline Yoga in Ardmore, PA. Shankin is her inspiration, because he challenged her in a way that way tough, but in the end, perfect for Katrin. He gave her the opportunity to teach her first class, for which she is grateful, because had never intended to teach. Katrin was just interested to learn more about yoga postures (asanas), but found that teaching yoga is her calling. (Lucky for me and her other students!)

Katrin is trained in Yin Yoga and Wall Yoga, in which ropes, pelvic slings and straps and other props are used to show exactly how a pose should feel. I take the Yin Yoga class, because even though I have participated in Hatha Yoga and Flow Yoga, I love Yin Yoga.  (See definitions at the end of the article.)

Last year Katrin enrolled in a special program called Hormone Yoga Therapy (HYT) created by Dinah Rodriguez from Brazil. Now that Katrin is certified in this yoga technique, involves yoga poses combined with an energetic breathing technique and meditation/ visualization for about 30 minutes every other day or at least ever other day to reactivate hormone production. She is planning the first teaching of HYT in October November at Stillpoint Yoga Studio in King of Prussia, PA.  Since it will involve only one weekend and one follow-up class for a total of about 10 hours, people from outside of Philadelphia can plan for it. Katrin is the first person on the East Coast to offer this exciting program for mid-life women. She is curious about life and loves to explore new avenues. Looking at her own menopause down the road a bit, this new technique is both a personal journey and a professional journey—a perfect combination for fully engaging in Life.

Katrin is doing one of my favorite poses: The Pigeon.

Please check out her website for more information. Katrin’s website address is: www.katrineliayoga.com


Yoga Definitions:

Hatha Yoga – The word “hatha” comes from the Sanskrit terms “ha” meaning “sun” and “tha” meaning “moon”. Thus, Hatha Yoga is known as the branch of Yoga that unites pairs of opposites referring to the positive (sun) and negative (moon) currents in the system. (Source: www.wikipedia.com)

Hormone Yoga Therapy (HYT) – A holistic form of yoga that offers a natural alternative approach. Its focus is to reactivate the hormone production through a designed sequence of yoga postures (asana), specific breathing exercises (pranayama), Tibetan energy technique, and yoga nidra (visualization during meditation). Hot flashes, insomnia, depression, headache, tiredness, hair loss, migraine, emotional instability, and many others are indicators that the hormone level in a woman’s body is low and needs to be increased. Results show as well that HYT also helps in preventing osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and assists in infertility, pre-menopausal symptoms, stress, and panic symptoms. (Definition from Katrin’s website.)

Flow Yoga – Vinyasa is a term that covers a broad range of yoga classes. The word Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement.” In other words, the teacher will instruct you to move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale. This technique is sometimes also called Vinyasa Flow, or just Flow because of the smooth way that the poses run together and become like a dance. (Source: www.about.com-Yoga)

Yin Yoga – Yin yoga, so named because of its correspondence to the Taoist concept of yin is a very distinct style of Chinese yoga similar to Hatha Yoga that stretches the connective tissues (joints, ligaments, bones). Experientially, the practice is characterized by passive poses (asanas) held for several minutes each. (In class and in Bernie Clark’s book, Insights, I learned that hatha yoga focuses more on muscular tissue, while yin yoga focuses on connective tissues.)

Yoga Wall – The Yoga Wall is a concisely designed system developed by B.K.S. Iyengar to aid in a practitioner’s alignment within a yoga practice. It consists of straps, pelvic slings, and a bar that are pushed and locked into hardware within the wall. One is able to balance, suspend, push, pull, and sit in yoga poses using the apparatus. (Definition from Katrin’s website.)