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Yin Yoga with Anatomist and Yogi Paul Grilley (EP#59)

Tahnee speaks with her beloved Yin Yoga teacher Paul Grilley on the pod today. Paul is the founder of the modern form of Yin Yoga. Today we explore the traditional foundations and teachings of yoga, what it has come to mean in our modern and westernised society.

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Tahnee speaks with her beloved Yin Yoga teacher Paul Grilley on the pod today. Paul is the founder of the modern form of Yin Yoga. Paul has a deep passion and interest in Anatomy and Chakra Meditation and has been teaching and practicing yoga for decades. Along with his wife Suzee, Paul has trained thousands of yoga students and teachers across the globe and is a specialist in his areas of interest. Today we explore the traditional foundations and teachings of yoga, what it has come to mean in our modern and westernised society. We delve into anatomy, Taoist philosophy, the concept of Qi and bust a few myths around the practice of asana. Whether you're an established yogi, a yoga beginner or just curious, today's chat will offer you a grounded and insightful view of the practice that is yoga.

Tahnee and Paul explore:


  • What yoga has become in the west.
  • Complementing Yang yoga with Yin.
  • Qi, the intelligent and creational force.
  • Yin Yoga as a platform for introspection.
  • Paul's path to yoga, how he got to where he is today.
  • The underbelly of the yoga industry; power, influence and hierarchy.
  •  Whether there is enough education in modern 200hr teacher training courses.
  • The rise of Yin Yoga; why it has become so popular in western society today.
  • The power of the hold; stillness as a transformational element in the practice of Yin Yoga.
  • Anatomy and range of motion; the impact a persons skeletal structure has on their ability to achieve certain poses in asana practice.


Who is Paul Grilley?

Paul Grilley has been teaching Yoga since 1980 and his special interest is the teaching of Anatomy and Chakra Meditation. He is the founder of Yin Yoga in its modern form and has trained thousands of yoga students and teachers with his wife Suzee Grilley. Paul and Suzee practice yoga postures in the style of Paulie Zink and pattern their philosophy on the writings and researches of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama - a yogi and scientist from Tokyo, Japan. This philosophy integrates the Taoist meridian and acupuncture theories of China with the yogic and tantric theories of India. Paul and Suzee live in Ashland, Oregon.



Paul's Website 

Paul's Chakra DVD

Paul's Anatomy DVD 

Paul's Yin Yoga DVD

Paul's Chakra Book 

Paul's Yin Yoga Book 

Paul's Online Anatomy Course



Check Out The Transcript Below:

Tahnee:   (00:00)

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the SuperFeast Podcast. Today, I have Paul Grilley with me. Paul is the leading Yin Yoga innovator, and one of the top Yin Yoga teachers in the world. He and his wife, Suzee, trained 1,000 of students around the world, and he's also the author of two books, The Yin Yoga Principals and Practice Book, and a Yogi's Guide To Chakra Meditation, which was just published this year. He also has a whole bunch of educational videos, and an online course available, which we will put next to the show notes. I know many of you out there are yogi's, I'm really lucky to call Paul my teacher so I am really greatful to have him here today. Paul thank you for joining us on the SuperFeast podcast.


Paul Grilley:     (00:44)

I am happy to be here. Thanks for having me.


Tahnee:   (00:47)

I was curious if you could go back to the start, I know your a boy from Montana, and always interested as to how people find yoga. Would you mind sharing that with us, today?


Paul Grilley:     (01:01)

I found yoga reading the book, Autobiography of a Yogi. That was the summer of 1978, I believe I got that right. Yeah. No, maybe '79, '78? '78. Anyway, a long time ago, and that book completely blew my mind. I had no idea that this kind of stuff, what really looked spiritual traditions were, I sort of grew up a Christmas time, Christianity family, meaning that's the only time we ever really thought about it.


Paul Grilley:   (01:38)

I was not indoctrinated in any type of religious or spiritual teaching, and I got interested in sort of the human potential. I was 20 at the time, 19, 20, and I was reading things about what people could do under hypnosis, or I can't remember some of the other things I was into. I asked a guy in my town who I thought might know about such things, and said, "I'm really interested in the yoga mind over body thing," and he says, "Well, here's a book you should read and he gave me a list of two or three books, actually, and the Autobiography was the one book that was readily available to me, and I read that, and I was just completely shocked, sort of like how can you get through life and not be exposed to these ideas? They seem incredibly important.


Tahnee:   (02:24)

[crosstalk 00:02:24].


Paul Grilley:   (02:25)

It was reading the Autobiography of a Yogi is what got me into yoga.


Tahnee:   (02:29)

From there, in the late '70s in the states, I know it from my historical studies that yoga wasn't exactly super popular, most of the exposure people had was kind of probably more that traditional... Almost the sannyasin kind of a thing where it was a community of people practicing together. How did you even get to be a yoga teacher then if you're reading a book in Montana.


Paul Grilley:   (02:57)

That was actually an accident. What happened I was, I enrolled at the community college near me, and I was taking an anatomy courses, and I was trying to study anything Indian, and I got a couple Hatha Yoga books, some very simple Hatha Yoga books of the time, and I thought I'd study anatomy to sort of bolster my understanding of what I was doing. That was, again, right soon after that same summer, and I was talking about yoga to friends of mine, and trying to get them interested in doing it, and working out with me.


Paul Grilley:   (03:33)

I essentially was like the gym rat, it's like, "Do you want to work out with me?" You know? We were talking about it, and a woman there, Sandy, I can't remember her last name, she says, "Oh, I've done a little bit of yoga before, but I've got this book at home, it's kind of like a comic book, it's maybe not as serious as maybe what you study, but I could bring it in," and I'm like, "Look bring it in, I don't know that much about yoga, I'm just getting started." It turns out it was Bikram Choudhury's Introduction, or Beginning Yoga Class, and it is a big picture book, but at the very front of that book is a picture of Bikram's guru, and Bikram's older brother was Paramahansa Yogananda, so I thought, oh, my God this is it, this is the Hatha Yoga lineage that must be very closely related to what Yogananda was teaching, because look it's his brother who did this.


Paul Grilley:   (04:27)

Like a lot of people do, you sort of spin this fantasy story God's talking to me, oh, my God, first he led me to Yogananda, and now he's led me to Yogananda's lineage of Hatha Yoga, I spun this story instantly, and I wondered my way down to LA to see what Bikram Yoga was about. Bikram at the time was teaching in Beverly Hills, and he was one of, and I'm not a sociologist, so I could be off about this a little bit, but there might have been four studios in the greater LA area of 10 million people, there might have been four, there could have been others, but those were the only ones I was aware of, so even in the hot bed of counterculture LA yoga was not a popular thing, and so it was surprising to me to go to a studio where he was teaching four classes a day, sometimes five classes a day in a studio setting.


Paul Grilley:   (05:26)

That was totally new to me. In fact, I don't think aerobics had spread to Montana. Aerobics existed in California, but where I was from, I didn't know what an exercise class was, "What do you mean exercise class," that made no sense to me. I get going to the gym, lift weights. I get, go play football with your friends. What is an exercise class? It was a double whammy for me to see, one, wow, a lot of people are doing yoga, and two, and they're doing it in this exercise class format, and so I just sort of drank that in about, wow, you can actually earn a living doing this, and so I sort of fell into teaching Hatha Yoga like that.


Tahnee:   (06:12)

You were teaching Bikram when you were there or....


Paul Grilley:   (06:15)

Yeah. I taught, at first I taught, well, I wasn't there very long, I was there about, I'm a little hazy on the dates, but maybe I was there 18 months, or something, and we had a huge falling out, and I stopped teaching his system after we had this huge falling out. I don't really know why, I just was sort of like, all right, I'm not going to teach that anymore, I don't like him, so I'm not going to teach that system.


Tahnee:   (06:41)

I can imagine at that time there would have been a lot of, I don't know his ego was substantial. Yeah. It would have been a lot of stuff going on and brewing, because I mean...


Paul Grilley:   (06:59)

It doesn't surprise me, well, it does surprise me a little bit how bad that scandal has become, it's kind of shocking, but looking back the seeds of his behavior were readily apparent, it's just that sometimes you get shocked about how far it goes. Now, that you're reading about, you know this was 40 years ago, so now 40 years later you see how far it goes, you go like, "Oh, my God," it's like, what was a sprout of not very good behavior patterns has evidently, if you can believe people, and I do become an impenetrable force of unbelievable bad behavior.


Tahnee:   (07:35)

This is a small segway, but I think that's something I've noticed in yoga is that what you're already quite strong at can be cultivated if you don't have a lot of discernment, and even a good teacher who can kind of keep you in check, so if you naturally have the tendency toward perhaps power, and charisma, and control, those things can become very strong. Is that something you sort of seen, or would agree?


Paul Grilley:   (08:02)

I think so, absolutely. I see it, I see the parallel in the martial arts, as well. I think, I'm trying to not speak in cliches, but they've been thrown around so much, it's the dynamic, it's the social dynamic of the one person in charge has all the answers, or he comes from the tradition that has all the answers, and there aren't many options. It's kind of like, well, you better stick with this teacher, or you're not going to get a chance to learn this, whether it's yoga, or Aikido, or Jujitsu, it's sort of like they kind of have a lock on the market, and I think that leads to detrimental human relationships.


Paul Grilley:   (08:44)

I think, I've seen many sort of arcs of started with good intentions, and then it went bad. I've seen that repeated several times. If I'm honest, and I introspect on my own behavior I can see where, if I hadn't been married, and had someone constantly checking my behavior you can sort of see where little tick here and there, and that pattern of speech, or behavior, or mannerism would have grown into something not very spiritually productive, let's say.


Tahnee:   (09:18)

So that makes me think if people are in these careers, and industries where they can be merging spirituality and work, and they're also making money out of these ideas and concepts, and I lot of the time isolating themselves at the top, or surrounding themselves with people that are kind of yes man for want of a better word, I mean I feel like it's such a tricky thing to navigate as a beginning student or even someone who kind of, like you were saying, in the middle of their career going well this is the path, how do I, how do I navigate it? I Think there's so few voices of reason in yoga, and to me when I first met you and Suzee, which was in 2013 I thought... I was like, wow these guys are actually living yoga right, you were the first people I've known in the yoga community with maybe one exception, that I thought was truly embodying what I thought yogic principles were, and actually kind of keeping themselves humble and in check, and trying to really look at the function and purpose of why we would practice.


Tahnee:   (10:28)

I think when you start yoga your kind of thinking, I'm going to get more flexible, and I'm going to get healthier, and all of these various things, and then there's almost like this cult of yoga once you get into it. I kept watching teachers abuse students physically, and even emotionally and energetically, it was this really toxic culture. I wonder, you were in LA in kind of I guess the hot bed of this, because I knew you worked at Yoga Works, which is really the foundation of modern yoga in a lot of ways, I thought they created, the foundation to teacher trainings all around the world. Did you see that kind of stuff brewing like you did with Bikram, or was it not that obvious at the beginning? How did we end up where we are? Is my question to you.


Paul Grilley:   (11:18)

You know, I think that's been part of human nature, and human relationships forever. I think that's when I look back, and I read books, and read between the lines of what is, or is not said about cultures from a long, long time ago, all the way up into a 100 years ago, to 50 years ago, to today, I think that is, I think that's human nature, I think that there are forces in the human group psychology that I think create hierarchy and I think that can be good, or it can be bad.


Paul Grilley:   (11:53)

I think what it gives me an appreciation for, this might be overstretching it a bit, but it makes me appreciate what people had to go through 400 or 500 years ago to break the grip of the church. Then, to break the grip of divine right of kings. It makes me really think about that humanist movement, and what they were probably rebelling against. They probably weren't rebelling against the teachings of the church, they were rebelling against the behavior of the monks. That's my understanding of it.


Paul Grilley:   (12:28)

Yeah, there was intellectual debate about I don't believe this, or believe that anymore, but I don't think that starts wars or revolutions. I think what starts wars and revolutions, political, and religious is people get fed up with the behavior of the people who run things. To me, it's cliché, the idealistic communist, socialist gorilla over throws the dictator, and becomes a dictator. How does that happen, over and over and over again? Idealistic guy throws over that dictator and he becomes a dictator.


Tahnee:   (13:06)



Paul Grilley:   (13:06)

I just think you go, okay, it's written large across history, and I think if it's written large across history it's got to be something innate in human nature, and these are not isolated historical events, politically, and religiously, they are the pattern, and so I think anything that repeats itself over and over, east, west, north, south, whatever it's got to be something rooted in human nature, and something rooted in we just fall into these hierarchical positions.


Paul Grilley:   (13:34)

I've wandered a long way from your question, but if you ask me, did I see then at Yoga Works, seeds like this, it's hard for me to point to my colleagues. A lot of whom I respect, and didn't go that way and say, "Oh, yeah, it was all there," I just think I could answer that question by more honestly that I think those seeds are in all of us, and I think that you have to be conscious in your effort, and repetitive in your effort not to fall into this unhealthy hierarchical relationship, because I have seen it, and it's been projected onto me, the students themselves start to assume this hierarchical relationship, and pretty soon you're going, "How did we get here, I didn't start out with this idea." I'm not trying to point the finger at anyone at Yoga Works, those were very dedicated yoga people.


Paul Grilley:   (14:36)

I think it's a human problem. I think that's why it's a good thing, it's not my thing, but I think it's a good thing that when you go to business school they teach you the psychology and sociology of organisations. I was never exposed to that in school. I was not interested in large things I thought that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do in my life, I'm just a simple guy, I just want to exercise and do yoga, but it's not true, you can't interact with human beings without being in some type of sociological bond, some type of sociological group expectation, and even though I led a pretty simple life, it's not a corporate life, it's not a large thing that we've tried to create, and we haven't tried to create an empire. I'm allergic to that kind of thing.


Paul Grilley:   (15:25)

Nonetheless, in our dealings with students, and others it's like there's got to be some type of formation. There's got to be some type of usually not consciously expressed hierarchical this is how we do things. I think it's inevitable. I think that you need a leader. I think that you need people who are charismatic, and good speakers to lead classes, but I think somehow they themselves must submit to holding themselves in check to others. I think that it's always been like this, and I think it'll always be like this.


Paul Grilley:   (16:03)

I think if there are yoga teachers out there listening I would just put the bug in your ear that whether you have egomaniacal desires, or not, whether you want to form an empire or not, these pressures exist around you, and within you, and it might be a petty little kingdom that you develop, or it might be a big thing, but either way it's just be aware that there are, it seems to me, it is my honest opinion that there are forces in human nature, and in human society that are constantly trying to push us towards these dysfunctional hierarchical organisations.


Tahnee:   (16:43)

Is that not the purpose of yoga though to become aware of that?.


Paul Grilley:   (16:48)

I think so. I mean, to me, the purpose of yoga is trying to uncover all kinds of unconscious things within you, that to me is what yoga is. Is you're trying to become aware of what are called the vrittis in your chitta, and some of them are very obvious, and some of them are very, very deep. Yeah. I think that you're trying to become aware of these things. It's just that you don't read about these issues in the ancient books. If you're trying to get help in keeping yoga a healthy male, female, teacher, student, group class paradigm, you're not going to get any help from Patanjali. You know? You're not going to get any help from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.


Paul Grilley:   (17:33)

None of that is discussed in those textbooks. It's like, you need to sort of look around, and take advantage of the human struggle, and the modern scientific objective study of human organisations, and take it in. I think it's something that needs to be added to the modern yoga curriculum, and it's inevitable, the whole me too thing, as it filters into the yoga world, look, you don't read anything about me too in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. None of this stuff is discussed. Those are just manuals of practice of introspection, but in the modern era when you got essentially we're recasting yoga as a group activity, with groups comes these issues, and there was no discussion of how to form a group in the ancient yoga books.


Tahnee:   (18:32)

Was yoga practiced in groups, do you think, or more individually?


Paul Grilley:   (18:37)

I think that yoga's always had a huge varied background. I think you could answer yes, and you could answer no to anything that you throw up. I don't think there's evidence from what I'm aware of. I don't think there's evidence that it's like it is today, that everybody come one, come all, young, old, male, female, suited for it, not suited for it, let's just all get together, and sweat in a room together. I do not think that's how it used to be done.


Tahnee:   (19:13)

Sort of unchartered territories in a lot of ways.


Paul Grilley:   (19:17)

That's kind of the heart of this rant, is that just we need to, all of us need to be aware of that there are pressures to form hierarchy, there's an authoritarian streak in human beings, and I think it's a good thing, because that's how things get done. I think people who create new things, they tell people what to do, so there's a voice guiding things, but like everything in life, that's a good thing, and that can become an abusive antiquated out worn structure in relationship.


Tahnee:   (19:54)

Wow. Your someone who has created a new thing, and I know that it's also an old thing, I'm speaking to Yin Yoga, and I started teaching in 2012, and I would have one class a week on the schedule of about 40 classes, and it would have maybe 10 to 20 people in it on average. I see now that there was studios dedicated to Yin Yoga, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world attending classes every day, it was a very short period of time, it's had exponential growth, what drove you to first of all create it and then can you try to explain for us why you think it's become so popular.


Paul Grilley:   (20:45)

I created it, that's a hard word, created-


Tahnee:   (20:49)

I know. Sorry.


Paul Grilley:   (20:53)

I was still pursuing as late as 1998, '99, 2000, no, that's not true, I'm 10 years off, I was still pursuing trying to be a flexible superstar yogi in the late '80s, and I came across Paulie Zink, and his work, I saw him do an interview show on a local access television thing, just a very low budget curtain against the wall interview, and he was being interviewed as a martial arts champion, and Paulie I think was two or three times world champion in martial arts, I can't member exactly what setting, and he was being interviewed as a martial arts champion, but he was constantly deflecting the interviewer into well it's my yoga that prepares me to do this, it's my yoga that keeps me flexible.


Paul Grilley:   (21:46)

He would take these softball questions about martial arts, and doing things, and he would take them and turn them into yoga, and I go, well, this is interesting, here's this martial arts guy talking about yoga, and then he demonstrated his yoga, and I thought, wow, he's incredibly facile, he's incredibly flexible, and I would say right now he has great skill and ability. I didn't have those conceptions back then. I go, wow, not only is he a pretty cool guy the way he talks, but he's incredibly facile, and then he described his yoga, which was Yin Yoga, it was minutes at a time, postures on the floor, and I thought, oh, I've been doing yoga for about 11, 12 years now, or I guess maybe it is nine or 10 years, anyway, but every form of yoga that I had done I would see now as, oh, that's a form of Yang Yoga, it's weightlifting, but it's a different routine, and this is weightlifting, but that's a different thing, here's something that's not even weightlifting, here's something that's stretching.


Paul Grilley:   (22:46)

That was the comparison in my mind, I thought, oh, this is why even 10 years into my practice there are things that I can't do, and so I thought maybe this is the magic thing, this is the magic thing I've been missing is do it slow, do it relaxed, do it for minutes at a time. That's what got me started was just the simple pursuit of range of motion. After a year or two things start to get a little hazy as you look back, I started to realise, no, this was not going to make me a superstar, either. I was not going to be able to put my butt on my head, balanced on my elbows, this is not going to happen, but the practice itself felt so good that I was okay, I was disappointed, I thought this was my last hurrah, I've been at it since I'm 20, now I'm almost 30, and it's like I ain't going to be a poster boy for this practice.


Paul Grilley:   (23:45)

There was disappointment that what my fantasy was of what a yogi, a dedicated yogi could achieve was a fantasy, but the satisfaction was I discovered a practice that really made me feel good, so I slowly, begrudgingly let go of my ambitions to be a star, but I kept and held onto a practice that I really enjoyed doing. That's how I came to it. I came to it with one ambition to become flexible, then actually just really enjoyed the practice and said, this feels great.


Tahnee:   (24:25)

Sometimes it does feel great, so do you think that alone is why it's become so big around the world, or do you think it's more to do with... I always kind of call it the opposite side of the practice, so that counter to all of the activity of in our daily lives, is that more, do you think the core of why it's become so popular?


Paul Grilley:   (24:48)

You've said two things, and I agree with them both. I think that it feels good to do the practice. That's it. It feels good to do the practice. I don't think its intellectual arguments, or theoretical arguments or anything have won the day, I spent 15 years doing that. I don't think it won the day, I think what won the day is people did it, and they liked it, and it fel good, and they kept doing it.


Paul Grilley:   (25:13)

I think the other part of your question is do you think it's just because it's the Yin to the Yang practice, and I think that's true, too, because I believe, I can't prove this, but I believe that if we didn't have such a strong exercise culture today, that it wasn't culturally acceptable all over the world to spend time exercising, very vigorously, it wasn't like that a 100 years ago, if that wasn't such a big thing in our culture, I don't think Yin Yoga would be as popular today.


Paul Grilley:   (25:46)

I just think that Yang is going to be the popular form of yoga for the foreseeable future, and I think because we live in cities, and urban environments that's probably the way it should be, and that's why it's that way now. But, that culture is so big, and as that culture ages, that Yin Yoga is just going to come up. I think it'll always be maybe numerically the weak sister to Yang, but I think at some point they're going to get closer in popularity, and I just think it is natural that if you have a strong vigorous healthy practice that you need to purify your body, and to calm your mind, if you have a strong Yang practice, then you're going to want to compliment it with a Yin practice.


Paul Grilley:   (26:32)

I think it makes sense that the Yang sort of came first and led the way in the western world, modern incarnation of yoga, I think it makes sense that Yang came up that way, because we're in a stressed out sedentary urban culture, and you need Yang Yoga to counteract the stresses and demands of that culture. But, now that's becoming established, I think that Yin Yoga now is going to be more popular, and that's why it gains popularity so quickly.


Paul Grilley:   (27:05)

To round this up, I think for both reasons, there's a lot of Yang, it's very well established, you can get it anywhere, you can get it in many forms, not just yoga, but in all forms of exercise, and now because that is well established doing Yin really makes you feel good, and there's a big contrast between the two, so I think that in and of itself is a great practice, and as a counter balance to Yang it's value is even seen more immediately effective for people.


Tahnee:   (27:33)

I think that's something that maybe is misunderstood in the general population around, it's kind of this idea of Yin or Yang over the time that I hear people talk about and I don't think people appreciate how much you and Suzee emphasize that yes you do still need to do the Yang practice and you still need a form of activity, and even your teacher Doctor Motoyama who was like a Shinto priest was like you've got look after your physical body right, is that something you guys have always been myth busting with people?


Paul Grilley:   (28:07)

Say that again?


Tahnee:   (28:08)

Do you feel like that's kind of a myth that you guys have to bust around it's not Yin or Yang?


Paul Grilley:   (28:15)

No. I was unaware that was an issue, because that's why we chose the word Yin Yoga, because to us it's like Yin Yoga, that's only half the equation. What do you mean Yin? Where's the Yang part? I mean, that's one of the reasons why we chose that as a name for this style was it's half of the equation people. That's why we didn't call it Taoist Yoga. In the very, very early years I called it Taoist Yoga, because that's what Paulie Zink called his yoga, but Paulie Zink has whole Yang side to his yoga, and so when I went out there just doing Yin Yoga, which was my specialty, I thought it's really not accurate to call it Taoist because it doesn't have both elements in it.


Paul Grilley:   (29:00)

Yeah. I'm a little surprised that people would think it would be one or the other, I mean, the very name of it implies its Yin, it's half, it's a part of the equation of mental and physical health, where is the Yang. Yeah, I'm a little surprised that people might think it's one or the other. What I would say to those people is different people have different needs of how much Yin to how much Yang and it maybe that you're a type I want to have dominantly Yin in my life, and a little bit of Yang, but someone else is going to tilt that scale exactly the opposite way, they need to dominate Yang exercise regime, whether that's yoga or something else, and a modest amount of Yin, and I think that changes by personality, and I think it also changes as you age over time. Yeah, I'm a little surprised that anybody would argue that it's Yin or Yang, I think that's just kind of weird to me.


Tahnee:   (29:56)

We hear some interesting things in yoga. That brings me to this idea of function, which I think is obviously a foundation or principle of your and Suzee's teachings, it's something that I think we really, again, I guess talking really broadly as humans, but we're often looking for that one size fits all approach, that thing like you're saying that's going to turn you into that yoga superstar, or we have herb business, you know that herb that's going to make me healthiest person in the world, or enlighten me, or whatever people's reasons are for coming to certain things, and I certainly have in my practice have realised that it's so different from day to day, and moment to moment, and what I need, and there's this kind of introspection and cultivation of awareness that is required, and we call it sovereignty, the ability to kind of self govern, and I feel like Yin is quite unique, it was certainly for me it was one of the portals into which I was able to cultivate some of that awareness, I suppose. Are you able to.. I don't know if you agree with that statement, and I'm curious as to whether you have any rationale, I have some ideas as to what I think it might be, but I'm curious to hear your take on why Yin would be so uniquely geared towards cultivating states of awareness?


Paul Grilley:   (31:22)

Because I think it's so slow, and so ecstatic, and so sedentary. I think essentially you're doing a postured meditation five minutes at a time. Get in this pose, stay for five minutes, get in that pose, stay for five minutes, and I think that a lot of things pass through your mind, a lot of sensations come and go in five minutes time. I think it's tailor made for introspection. Again, that doesn't mean it's superior to Yang Yoga, but Yang Yoga you've got a lot of stuff going on, man, you're breathing, you're moving, you're counting your breaths, you're doing a vinyasa in between, you hit it, you hold, you're onto the next thing.


Paul Grilley:   (32:00)

That sort of practice is let's build up to a big savasana at the end. But, Yin is let's feel what we're feeling right now, for five minutes, don't look away. Don't look away. It's right here, right now. I think that's why Yin develops that, because you literally have the time, you literally can notice change, I think that's the biggest thing. One of the techniques I'm sure Tahnee you've been through it, you know we've been together several times is one of the biggest things you can do to a naïve person is have them do a spinal twist lying on the ground, have them do a simple spinal twist, I don't care what it is, one leg, two legs, do a spinal twist for 30 seconds, each side.


Paul Grilley:   (32:42)

Now, how do you feel? Now, do a spinal twist for five minutes, each side. It's a world of difference, and you can feel your bod likey let go, and then 90 seconds later, let go again, and then maybe go through three of those cycles, and then when you've held that spinal twist for five minutes, and I'm repeating this for your listeners that you might try this, coming out of a five minute spinal twist no matter how simple it's actually mildly distressing. It's like, oh, my god, I think I hurt myself.


Paul Grilley:   (33:17)

Then, you unwind on your back, and you have this, am I hurt? Did I just hurt myself? And it's like, no, I'm okay, and then you sort of have these layers of progression of coming back to normal. Then, you go, okay, I think I'm all right, I think I can do the other side now without injuring the disc in my back. I think that Yin Yoga is tailor made for introspection, because you're still enough, you're not efforting, you're still enough, you're still long enough, that's put it that way, you're still long enough to feel these progressive changes.


Paul Grilley:   (33:53)

I think once you get that, once you get this like, wow, that just changed, it's totally different than how it was two minutes ago, I think that's what hooks you. I think that's, at least that's what hooked me, and my feedback with people over the years that's what gets you, it's like, I feel the change, not just a little bit of change, but maybe several plateaus of change, and it just naturally draws you in. What is changing? Is it muscle relaxation that I was hanging on to? No, I think I'm muscular relaxed. Was it as we know now, it could be fascial or that kind of thing, but I think that three to five minute hold of even a simple posture takes you through progressive change.


Paul Grilley:   (34:35)

I think that sort of draws you in, and all of a sudden your yoga doesn't become a rote,gokay do this, now do this, it becomes like, oh, wow, that's really tight today, oh, God, yesterday was so easy, what's going on? Now, I feel it up in my upper back, and yesterday it was my lower back, and all these things just come up and all of a sudden you're introspecting, because every day is different, and every five minute pose is different. I think it's without much needed guidance from the teacher, you sort of just get drawn into what's going on. I think that's the great strength of Yin Yoga is that it's sort of a built in doorway to physical and then mental emotional introspection.


Tahnee:   (35:24)

I call it the gateway drug to meditation.


Paul Grilley:   (35:28)

I agree. I think it's true, because I've seen it. I already had a meditation practice before I started Yin Yoga, but I've seen it over and over again people who didn't have much of an interest in meditation, or it was, "Yeah, I do it because you're supposed to." Then, over time the Yin Yoga leads them into an interest in pranayama, and other subtle practices.


Tahnee:   (35:55)

What about Qi then? I know that you've moved away from this idea of Taoist, but you're still heavily influenced, in my opinion, anyway, by a lot of the Chinese Medicine kind of Taoist ideas, even to the point where instead of saying prana you guys use the word Qi in your teachings. Where is this idea of Qi? What is Qi? If I am a yogi and and I'm starting to practice Yang or Yin Yoga, what am I feeling when I've got all these sort of changes that are beyond the physiology, can explain that for us.


Paul Grilley:   (36:32)

That's a hard one, but I think it's a key element. I think it divides the personal beliefs of the practitioner, and the limits of modern science, and I think you're at the bleeding edge there of is Qi just a superstition? Because there is not a physicist on the planet who's trained to believe that there's Qi. I don't think doctors, my understanding of it is they're trained to believe in Qi. That's a futuristic superstition.


Paul Grilley:   (37:08)

It's like when you start talking about Qi you have to ask yourself, are you flying in the face of all your modern university education? Is it something you believe? Have you adopted that language simply because you're parroting what came out of the tradition that you learn from? I think it's an important thing to sort of introspect about, and I'm sure that's why you formed the question. I believe that there is forces, we can call it one force, you can call it Qi, but there are several forms of it. I believe it is a force unrecognized by modern medicine, and modern physics, and I believe it's an intelligent force that creates human form, and maintains it.


Paul Grilley:   (37:47)

It's too deep a philosophical thing to go too much into it other than to say, mechanical forces cannot account for form, they cannot account for arms, and eyes, and teeth, and legs, it can't have account for zebras, giraffes, and hummingbirds, and it cannot account for the human form. There's an intelligent guiding force, or forces, or energies in the body that western medicine does not yet recognise. Now, I think independent medical practitioners, independent human beings who outside of their medical education have come to believe there is such a thing as a healing life force in the body.


Paul Grilley:   (38:27)

I'm not denying that there are healers, genuine physicians, and nurses, and people who believe in a healing force, but they don't get it at medical school. What they get at medical school is biochemical theory, which is not a healing theory, it's a mechanical structural theory. I don't want to slander the healers, and the health givers out there by saying they don't believe in Qi, because it wasn't in their medical curriculum, I'm just saying it's not an accepted force, it's like, it's not electricity, it's not magnetism, it's not the strong, or the weak nuclear force, and it's not gravity.


Paul Grilley:   (39:08)

What is it? I believe that Qi, you can feel it in your body, you can feel it move, and that the argument that what you're feeling is blood move, or nerve change, I believe is inadequate to the description that I'm not an expert in physiology, but I know enough that some of what, oh, that's the blood you're feeling traveling from your head to your back, or that's a nerve thing, and I go, "No, I know the pathways, I know what a nerve feels like, and the speed of propagation, and the sensation are not a nervous pathway, so not at nervous speeds of conduction, and the travel, they don't just have a sharp impulse or shock," so I there are things that I think would be boring, and technical to get into, but to my satisfaction the electrical nervous impulse, or blood, quote on quote, movement does not adequately describe the full movement of Qi. There are experiments, for example that Doctor Motoyama, my teacher did that stretches this much, much further.


Paul Grilley:   (40:18)

You can edit this out, if this goes too deep into what your interest is, but I put this to your students to consider. Doctor Motoyama found a way to measure the electrical potential of the meridians, objective measurement, repeatable measurements of how much energy, capacity is in your meridians, or how it conducts electricity. He found a way to measure that. Now, electricity is not Qi, but what he found was that the ability of a meridian to hold electrical energy, or the direction of electrical energy, or the speed of propagation of that electrical energy was changing all the time. He wondered why, but one of the things he did, after he's now established an ability to monitor the meridian energy let's say in your body, then what he did is he took a subject like you, and he put you in what's called a Faraday cage, which is concrete, copper and lead, it's a room in which no electric magnetic forces can enter, which it's called a shielded room.


Paul Grilley:   (41:26)

So Tahnee, you'd be in there, and we'd be taking you through wires through your fingers and toes, we're taking measurements of your meridians, the electrical potential of your meridians, then we have a Qigong master outside of this shielded room, and not a queue from us, you don't know it, but a queue from us, the experimenter, he starts quote on quote, sending you his Qi. Now, if it's electrical, or it's magnetic it can't penetrate the room, and yet you can make a mark on the tape, tapes an old fashioned term now for scientific instruments, but in the old days when you had tape we could make a mark on the tape of when did the Qigong master start projecting his Qi at Tahnee in the room, and you don't know that he's projecting the Qi, there's a silent hand signal, he starts projecting his Qi, and we can monitor how your meridian energy changes and builds up as he projects his Qi.


Paul Grilley:   (42:26)

One, we're proving that he can transmit Qi to you, and two it cannot be electrical or magnetic, because it wouldn't penetrate into the room that your sitting in, so that's incredibly important experiment. It's incredibly important to think, and it's worth repeating over and over, you're sitting in a room and we're measuring your bodies reaction to an energy that's being projected to you, and it cannot be electrical, and it cannot be magnetic. What is this energy? That to me is Qi, and Doctor Motoyama did several things to sort of discriminate. He wrote booklets, and published several studies about how whatever Qi is, it's not electrical or magnetic, but it influences the electricity and the magnetism in your body.


Tahnee:   (43:28)

You say the purpose of yoga asana, also is to harmonise the flow of Qi in the body. Right?


Paul Grilley:   (43:38)



Tahnee:   (43:39)

Irrespective of Yin or Yang... I guess we are speaking more to Yin in this interview, how is this happening, and again I know the answer to this question, but I'm curious to hear you explain it to our audience, where especially in yoga focusing in on these areas, so if you accept this idea of Qi that it stagnates, sort of what's happening in our practice that helps to liberate this Qi, and what.. What does harmonizing the Qi actually do for us?


Paul Grilley:   (44:11)

The second part of your question is the easiest part, what does it do for you? The theory of acupuncture, and Ayurveda, and yoga is that it keeps you healthy, it's the difference between a cell that you're growing in your kidney, replacing a kidney cell, and that cell becoming a cancer cell. That's happening a billion cells, I think, every second in your body. Why not, we just get riddled with cancer? Why don't we grow eyeballs in our liver? How do cells know and do what they do? How do they integrate? All of that stuff that maintains form without disfunction is Qi, so that's the result of harmonising your Qi.


Paul Grilley:   (44:47)

The first part of the question is what are we doing that's harmonising the flow of Qi? Well, this is highly speculative. I'll throw it out there to you. Qi in the body is stored and transmitted through the structure of the fluid in your body. The idea that the fluid in your body is like fluid in a glass of water is wrong, the fluid in your body is held in a structured shape, and it's more like a gel in your body. I believe the life process that these gel like threads or channels that penetrate all the tissues of your body, they get thicker, and denser, or they thin out, and become watery, depending on whether they're holding Qi, or releasing Qi.


Paul Grilley:   (45:43)

The example I would use to you is that we wake up in the morning, just say you're healthy, you wake up in the morning, and you feel that you're rested, you feel that you are refreshed, we say that you're jelled up, you're more jelly, the Qi is now sort of organized, the fluid in your body, and you've got a lot of potential in you, but it's a little hard to move. First thing in the morning you feel rested and everything, but it's like, oh, God, I got to go out and run now? It's like, how about another cup of coffee.


Paul Grilley:   (46:15)

It's kind of like the idea of getting started on whatever your exercise regime is, is slightly daunting, even though you're well rested it's like, well, because you feel what we would call jelled up, your kind of all potential, it's kind of like I'm like a candle, I'm all wax, and I don't have any liquid wax, or I don't have very much liquid wax, and for a candle to burn enough of it has to be liquid to be burned up off the wick, so you're up, you're jelled up, you're mostly candle solid wax, and you don't have very much liquid wax. Then, you go out and you start running, and what we're saying is the Qi now is slowly starting to relax and be released by the gel, the gel was holding that energy form.


Paul Grilley:   (47:02)

When it releases that energy, it loses its form, it takes energy to hold that form, so you start that whole candle now that was stiff and hard in the beginning, that's all spread through your body, it's starting to loosen up, it's starting to become warm, and now about 20, 30, 40 minutes into our exercise routine you feel great. You're not exhausted yet, and your past the I'm so stiff, I'm so heavy, you're right in the sweet zone, much like I'm still rested, I'm not exhausted, and that goes on depending on whether you're 20, or 50, and what kind of shape that you're in, that goes on for a magic period of time, 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes, whatever it is.


Paul Grilley:   (47:44)

Then, you start to get to the other end of the spectrum where it's like I'm getting worn out now, and you get to the end of your routine or the end of your day, your face is swollen, your hands are swollen, your feet are swollen, you're like, why? Because once that gel, and all the other parts, and tissues in areas of your body now goes to fluid, because it's releasing this energy, but as it releases it, it's melting, it's going into fluid, well, it's going to follow the laws of gravity, and it's going to go out to your fingers, and out to your toes, and sort of fall out of your organs, kind of thing.


Paul Grilley:   (48:22)

That's why at the end of the day when you're exhausted your feet are heavy, your legs are heavy, your hands are swollen, your tired, and you have no energy. You've gone from I'm stiff, I'm sort of full of potential, I'm stiff, and all gelled up like a waxy candle, [crosstalk 00:48:41] balance of the wax is melting, but I have the reserve, and as it's melting its giving me energy, but then you reach to the point where most of it now has gone from wax to solution. There's no energy left in that. It's spent its energy to get to that soluble state.


Paul Grilley:   (49:00)

Now, your sort of like, maybe you're really bendy, you're all hot and sweaty, maybe if we massaged you, you'd bend all over, but you don't got any Qi, it's like, oh, God, then you go through that cycle again. The next cycle is I rest, I eat, and some magic happens where I get gelled up again, and the Chinese tradition would say, you're building your Qi. You get all gelled up again, and you're ready for the next day, and that life is getting gelled up, holding energy, using that energy to think, and work, and breath, and walk, and talk. Now, you don't have any energy. Getting gelled up, and blah, blah, blah. That's the long introduction to how does Yin Yoga help harmonise the flow of Qi in your body? I believe that when you do sustained stresses on the fascia of your body, you're making it much, much more easy for your body to re-gel again, so think of, it's hard to have an exact analogy, but think of a wet paper straw, and think of it all kind of pinched and crushed down on itself, because it was stiff in the morning, but now it's all soggy, and wet, and collapsed.


Tahnee:   (50:23)

You've met my toddler...


Paul Grilley:   (50:23)

Now, you want to reinflate this straw, and stiffen it again. If you just lay down the Qi can do that, if you just lie down, we assume you're eating well, we assume you're getting good rest, the Qi will do that. The Qi will literally push that straw back open, stiffen it up a little bit, and now you're ready for the next day. I believe pretty literally there's more to it than this, but I think what Yin Yoga does is that it pulls the straws apart, they want to collapse, and pinch down on themselves, it pulls them apart to make it much, much easier for the Qi in your body to reinflate, refill, and get those straws back up to speed, so you're relieving the Qi of having to physically unfold, and un-pinch the straw, you're doing it.


Paul Grilley:   (51:29)

By you using some cleaver mechanical vectors you're speeding along a process that might be as efficient, particularly if you're injured, or you're unbalanced in your physical activity, which most of us are. I believe that's literally what Yin Yoga is doing. That it is speeding up, it is making it easier for your tissues to reinflate and become gel like again, and hold the Qi.


Tahnee:   (52:01)

Is Yang Yoga doing that to any degree in your opinion is it purely spending Qi?


Paul Grilley:   (52:11)

But, you don't do Yang Yoga all day, and when you're done you can recover, and I think what Yang Yoga might do better than Yin Yoga is you need to squeeze, and twist the straw, and you need that because toxins, and free radicals, and ions, and waste products they kind of get stuck into the straw, and what Yang Yoga does very well is lets rhythmically contract and pull, and contract and pull, and force blood, and fluid with the rhythm of your heart through this tissue that it literally cleanses and purifies those tissues, which may be Yin Yoga by itself wouldn't do. We don't have subtle enough experiments yet to decide that, but my subjective experience of that is that Yang Yoga sort of rinses you out, it's kind of like you need to, the wash rag, I notice that not every culture has wash rags, but-


Paul Grilley:   (53:11)

If you had a wash rag, every once in a while you have to completely soap it up and rinse it out two or three times, that's called cleaning the rag, and I think that's what Yang Yoga does very, very well. Is that it may be in a way better than Yin Yoga. At least for certain tissues of the body. It's like you need to flood under pressure these tissues, and pulse, and alternate to literally shake free and pull out of you the inevitable build up of toxins, and waste products that are the result of living. I think that you need that rhythmicity, I think you need that effort, I think if you don't raise your blood pressure on a regular basis, you're just asking for your arteries to deteriorate.


Paul Grilley:   (53:55)

I think by raising the blood pressure, and relaxing the blood pressure, and rhythmic cycles throughout the weeks and the months, but it keeps your vascular system incredibly healthy. I think, again, its complimentary thing. I think that Yang Yoga is better at moving fluid into and out of the tissues, get new nutrients in, get waste products out. I think Yang Yoga is better at that than Yin Yoga. But, I think Yin Yoga is better at relaxing, and reinflating, and allowing this build up of necessary energy that manifests itself biochemically, electromagnetically later, so it's the inhale, it's the exhale.


Paul Grilley:   (54:38)

Yin to me is mentally it's sort of like the exhale, but I think physically I think Yin is the inhale. Mentally, it's the relax, but physically it's just rejuvenate, let's not kill ourselves anymore, let's just massage ourselves back into shape. I think Yang Yoga is the opposite. I think mentally Yang Yoga is this inhale, and driving, but physically it is the let's wash these tissues clean. I think there's a great balance there in the Yin and Yang effects on the fluid in your body.


Tahnee:   (55:15)

I think that's a beautiful analogy for me, because that's exactly how I experience it subjetively as well. I'm curious though because we haven't really ever touched on what your really famous for, which is your bones, and your sort of thoughts of the human anatomy, which is kind of, I mean, I think slowly sort of penetrating, I still hear some interesting things in yoga classes. We haven't really, I think a lot of people come to yoga with this idea that they're going to improve their range of motion, they're going to get fit, and flexible, and all of these things, which kind of sound like really good ideas from the outside, but my experience in my own practice and working with many people, students, now, is that actually extreme range of motion is not really that beneficial for many people, like Cirque du Soleil performers, perhaps with the exception.


Tahnee:   (56:13)

That most of us aren't actually designed to do extreme poses, but what we see in a lot of the kind of more modern yoga texts is not enstirely accurately representing what yoga asana's have been designed to do, which is along the lines of what we discussed already, harmonizing the Qi, for the practices of meditation, and all these things, so I think when we're looking at what people can expect from yoga, and from learning with Paul Grilley, we're seeing it's a lot to do with learning our own personal boundaries, but it comes to this understanding of this almost intellectual experience, I suppose of understanding mentally what's going on, why I can achieve certain poses, I think that relaxes the mind in a certain way, and allows Qi to really harmonise. Certainly that was my experience. So you've taught in LA, you've taught in Yoga Works, you've met Paulie Zink, at what point did anatomy come in? You said you studied anatomy really early, which I didn't realise, at community college you were saying. So how did you come to realise that our bones are different? and first of all it seems bleedingly obvious when you say it out loud, but why is this idea not more readily accepted yoga in your opinion, Paul Grilley?


Paul Grilley:   (57:45)

So are you asking me when I came to it?


Tahnee:   (57:48)

I had like three questions in that. I'm curious as to you, how you came to recognise that we all have different bones, what that meant for you as a practitioner, and then what that means for us as practitioners, how you kind of feel that it's relevant to a yoga practice, now? Why? I'm super curious as to why it's not part of the marketing of yoga, I guess. It's like yoga is really sold on this idea of, hey, look on Instagram, look how great everything is, come and learn to stick your leg over your head. It's almost like lure them in and then tell them actually that;s not going to happen.


Paul Grilley:   (58:39)

To me, the anatomical interpretation of yoga was with me from the beginning, because that was my study, and that was my interest. The bones, particular, I didn't come across that until about 1996, or something like that, '97. Somewhere in there, somewhere in 1996, '97, so I've been at it 18 years. Maybe? The story is I was at a laboratory, that was a dissection laboratory, there really wasn't a lot of dissection was done there, it was a nursing program at the college in Ashland.


Paul Grilley:   (59:22)

I was actually there with a friend who was helping the professor clean his office, the professor of anatomy, who ran the nursing anatomy, biology section of the college there was retiring, and my friend was helping him in his office, and so I just sort of tagged along, there wasn't much for me to do as they were emptying textbooks, and putting them in boxes, and stuff, so I'm sort of wandering through this college laboratory, and I see some boxes, because all the shelves and cupboards were open to see what was the professors, and what was the schools, well, one of these boxes had three femur bones in it. I go, "Wow, this is really cool," so I take these three femur bones out, and I put them on the table.


Paul Grilley:   (01:00:04)

You got to remember I'm already 40, 38, and I've got a strong anatomical background, and training, and reading, and I see these three femur bones on the table, and they're all completely different, they couldn't be more different, they're even different color, for one reason one of the bones was black, I don't know what was in this guy's diet, but I just remember like, wow, that's weird, but anyway three femur bones, and they were completely different in language I know now, tortion, and things like that, I go, whaaaaaat? Why didn't no one ever tell me about this?


Paul Grilley:   (01:00:46)

I literally went home thinking, well, maybe they were in that box, because there three very special femurs, and they were displayed as, look how weird some people are, so I literally got on the internet, which was pretty new in 1996, '97, '98, I found a store that was in the Berkeley, California area right in the bay area of San Francisco that sold human bones. It was a nature store, mostly they sold snakes, and agates, and bird skeletons, but they had a stock of human skeleton, old bones.


Paul Grilley:   (01:01:24)

I went down there, and I asked the guy, "Can I see your box of femur bones," because I had seen femur bones before, and he had like two boxes, and they're just a collection of bones. There must have been I don't know 40 at least femur bones, or at least 20 specimens all together, but they were not associated with what femur bone went with what femur bones, just a box of femur bones, and I just laid them out in his store, I had them all over the table, because I wasn't really sure what I was looking for, but then I just stared, and stared, and I go, oh, wait a minute, and I started to see the differences in the bones, and I think I bought, I still have them, six, maybe eight femur bones.


Paul Grilley:   (01:02:03)

I took them back home, and took pictures of them, and I said, "What is the deal with these bones? What does this mean?" It became clear to me by manipulating a skeleton, I had plastic skeletons, too, I thought, oh, the bones hit, and if the bones hit, and that's what limits the range of motion, then different shape bones will have different ranges of motion. That was an epiphany for me. They're like, different shape bones will have different ranges of motion. Different shaped bones will have different ranges of motion, because every reasonable range of motion eventually the bone hits the bone it's pivoting against.


Paul Grilley:   (01:02:41)

That was the ah-ha, so now I have this box of femur bones, six of them, took pictures of them, and I started to lecture two of them, like look how different these bones are. Then, eventually over time I grew that collection, and I got some scapula bones, and some humorous bones, it was the femur bone that was the big breakthrough. It was the femur bone that was like sort of my guiding star. It was a lucky break to do that, because so much of yoga is trying to move your femur in a certain way, to do the splits, or to do the lotus posture. Then, later I extrapolated that to the other bones of the body, but the femur bone was the thing that's sort of my golden key that pulled me in, and it was because I saw that box of bones by accident in that laboratory.


Tahnee:   (01:03:31)

Amazing. It's not just even the extreme shapes though, it's basic beginner poses, like warriors and vīrabhadrāsana shapes, lunges. I had a woman write to me the other day saying, "I can't keep my hips square in downward facing dog, and when they ask me to lift my leg to the sky," and I thought oh well you know you probably can't extend that far so you hit external rotation and... and she's like "oh no, no, no what's happening, I'm just not flexible enough" I think a lot of us studying Yin with you, but this idea is not unique to Yin Yoga, it extends out to all kinds of styles of asana and to other movement practices, whether you're at the gym trying to do a squat. I remember my first training with you, you said to me, "you should not do deep squats young lady, under load because you've got long femur bones," and I remember going, what? Because my knees always hurt. when I did that. Leverage right?


Tahnee:   (01:04:37)

It kind of sometimes frustrates me that this is only taught in a Yin capacity, and even when I've taught on 200 hundred hours trainings I sort of teach it, and then I see the students still not really getting it across the board, because I'm usually just teaching the Yin componant. Yeah. I'm just curious to, I guess in your practice if you're not being exposed to anatomy, and even a lot of yoga teachers are not studying anatomy, do you think yoga teachers the need to study anatomy to be effective Hatha Yoga teachers, or do you feel like we can kind of skip around that, and trust that students aren't going to injure themselves, because I see a lot of injuries, repetitive stain injuries from people trying to push themselves into the shapes they can't do? I'm just curious as to your thoughts...


Paul Grilley:   (01:05:24)

I think that you can be a very good yoga teacher, and really not know anatomy very much, but as soon as you the yoga teacher or the students are pursuing extraordinary ranges of motion, then there's going to be a tragedy. I know a lot of people, colleagues, and friends of mine, they don't know very much anatomy, but they don't push people. How they teach is they let people find their way, and then when you look at the other side of the spectrum where there are teachers like they've been trained to tell you exactly how wide your feet should be, or the angle of your back foot, in vīrabhadrāsanayour and for them, they're totally mistaken, that student is never going to do the thing that you're asking them to do, but fortunately the postures they're teaching is that students probably aren't going to get hurt, either.


Paul Grilley:   (01:06:22)

A student might get frustrated not being able to keep their hips square raising their leg in downward dog, but they're not going to get hurt. A student might get frustrated because I can't turn my pelvis over my front leg, and keep my back foot on the ground. They might get frustrated doing that, but they're not going to get hurt. You need to have a volatile situation of the teacher doesn't know anatomy and the limitations of the skeleton, and either they're teaching a style, or they have a student, students, who are trying to do these extraordinary ranges of motion.


Paul Grilley:   (01:07:04)

I think that's why you're going to have repetitive and injuries, and overstrain is in those circumstances where the student has a real ambition to get better, and so I think a teacher, if a teacher teaches a course where I'm not pushing you to do the splits, maybe you'll never do the splits, I have many friends, and many colleagues who are marvelous inspiring, charismatic yoga teachers, and they're not killing people in their classes, and they don't know much anatomy. But, either by luck or by training, or whatever, they also understand that you can't push everyone into all these different poses.


Paul Grilley:   (01:07:48)

Some people can do them, some people can't. They don't know why, they just know that the experience has taught me it doesn't work. Yeah. I'd like to say that everyone should take my anatomy course, but I think the reality is that's not feasible, and the reality is that you can be a very good yoga teacher, and as long as you are the student that's not trying to pursue aggressively an extraordinary range of motion, you're not going to get hurt. You might get frustrated, but it ain't the worst thing in the world.


Tahnee:   (01:08:23)

I guess that's the kind of Yin and Yang of experience, because a lot of us when we begin teaching yoga we teach from our own experience, expecting everyone else to have this unique experience, which obviously doesn't work, and then as we get older we start to, even if you don't have a concept on why, we start to realise well a lot of these things actually don't work in my body but my student can do it from the first day they come to class. So maybe I'm just going to hang out in the middle here, I think I see that happen a lot as people mature in the practice.


Tahnee:   (01:09:02)

I was going to ask you, it's such an interesting time, this is kind of my last question, with the way yoga's being taught now, it's this 200 hour go and get it... I guess this came up from a question I was asked recently with someone, "I've done my 200 hour like I don't think I need to do any further training," and I was kind of like triggered and was like, "what are you talking about?" But, there's this idea that we receive everything we need to know in a 200 hour yoga practice, and my opinion is that that's not true, you I assume did not learn yoga through 200 hour teacher training, because it didn't really exist your day. What are your thoughts on this kind of modern yogic training situation?


Paul Grilley:   (01:09:52)

Yeah. I think it's fine. I think it's better than the old days where there was no training, it was all about patronage, and lineage, and the teacher felt that you were ready to teach. There was no test of comprehension, or why, so I think that's fine. There's no cure for someone who's not intellectually curious. There's no cure for someone whose content with what they learned in their 200 hour program, and think there's nothing more to learn. There's no cure for that. The world is full of people like that.


Paul Grilley:   (01:10:28)

I don't think it's the 200 hour teacher programs fault, but there are people out there who only want or desire a superficial understanding of the yoga practice, so they can go out and teach it. There's no cure for that, and I don't think someone's evil for not insisting that you do 500 hours or something with them, because I'm old now, it isn't just yoga that I'm experienced in, but I've seen that in every profession on the planet. I've seen where you can take someone and give them the best education, you can educate them in hundreds of hours as a lawyer, as a doctor, as an accountant, as a masseuse, and they are terrible.


Paul Grilley:   (01:11:14)

They got plaques all over their wall about the workshops that they've taken, and myofascial this and stress relief that, and I wouldn't let them massage my dog, and there are people with no training, probably the words that come out of their mouth I actually wince a little bit about their descriptions of what they think they're doing, but they're gifted with their hands, and they're gifted with their touch, and I just think that's true in every field of human endeavors, like this idea that education would end that, that we should have higher standards, I'm against that.


Paul Grilley:   (01:11:52)

I'm actually not a fan of this idea of standards, I know that's my opinion, and it's not going to change anything. It's not going to change the momentum this has, but I believe that you have certain skills, and you don't, and you can refine them, and get better at them only if you have a desire to do so. If you don't, if you don't have it in you to want to continue to learn, to want to continue to grow, me talking to you, or you taking or reading this book isn't really going to change you very much. I think there's only so much we can put on the system, it's the systems fault, they shouldn't be offering this, and it's like, I'm just not of that camp, I just think that it's better now that we actually have these egalitarian democratic ways to learn, but you don't have to go grovel in front of somebody, please, please let me teach.


Paul Grilley:   (01:12:45)

I think if I had to choose between the idea of learning a lineage tradition or doing 200 hour programs, there's no comparison. I think the lineage tradition is a bad tradition. Let me say that again, I think the lineage tradition is a bad tradition. I think it's competence above all things. I think that we should be training yoga teachers the way we train physicists. It isn't like, who did Newton say could be the next great physicist, oh, I hope it's me. That's just childish. It's like Newton was not empowered to anoint the next generation of physicists, he published, anyone can read it, anyone can study it, and if you've got competence push ahead.


Paul Grilley:   (01:13:35)

That to me is the model for everything. I think, yeah, there are drawbacks to churning out 200 hour certificates, but the answer to that is we also have the opportunity for you to study online and in person with people from all over the world, and get better and better as you go. If it's that, or go bow to the guru, and then maybe after he sleeps with your girlfriend he'll give you dicture, it's like we need to move away from that. How many scandals, how many blow up of organisations are we going to have to suffer through before someone goes, "You know, the democratic egalitarian, anyone has access to this information, that's a good way to go."


Tahnee:   (01:14:26)

God bless you Paul Grilley. I see you and Suzee really embody that. As a younger teacher it's nice to feel like there's guiding lights in that regard, and that you don't have go to cults to practice yoga. I'm a girl from the country too and I remember feeling, you know, having a lot of insecurities about announcing that I wanted to be a yoga teacher and thinking people are going to think going to don robes...Those kinds of things. Yeah, I don't want to appropriate a culture, I feel like we have a scientific and replicable model handed down to us from the yoga culture, and the Taoist culture, and we get to really test, and explore these ideas as a community, and to me that's best we can do. I wanted to say thank you so much for your time, and for all the wisdom that you shared all of us. Thank you.


Paul Grilley:   (01:15:35)

You're more than welcome. Happy to do it.


Tahnee:   (01:15:36)

For those of you who are interested in checking out Paul's work, I will put the link to all of his various websites, the bone photo's, his DVD's, and books, you can check all that stuff out, especially if you are a yoga teacher anatomy is awesome, just to help you conceptualise some of these ideas we talked about. [crosstalk 01:15:58].


Paul Grilley:   (01:15:58)

Tahnee, I would promote one thing specifically for people who really want to invest more money, and it's a CEU online streaming project that just released about a year ago.


Tahnee:   (01:16:12)

Yes, [crosstalk 01:16:12].


Paul Grilley:   (01:16:13)

If you get a little sample of the cheaper programs and you really want to explore it further, we're pretty proud of that particular program.


Tahnee:   (01:16:25)

Okay. Good. I'll put the link to that first, that's the course.. It is the foundations? Is that what it's called?


Paul Grilley:   (01:16:33)

It's Yin Yoga, The Functional Approach.


Tahnee:   (01:16:34)

Functional Approach. Okay. Great.


Paul Grilley:   (01:16:39)



Tahnee:   (01:16:40)

We'll put the link to that. Yeah. I'll be seeing you in October, Paul. Have a great day.


Paul Grilley:   (01:16:44)

Thank you.


Tahnee:   (01:16:45)

Thank you so much. [crosstalk 01:16:47].


Paul Grilley:   (01:16:46)

My pleasure.

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