Opening our Hips and Hearts with Bernie Clark

bernieclarkOver the past 10 years, I’ve always enjoyed Bernie’s classroom antics and then for no apparent reason, I decided to take his yin teacher training. Out of 50 students, I was one of only 10 Vancouverites in the class. At that moment, I realized I’d been very lucky all these years to have easy accessibility to such a great teacher.

Like all good teachers, Bernie is original and quirky and, he’s studied with some of the great yoga teachers (such as Sarah Powers). He’s been at it long enough to become a legend himself. Bernie’s created the asana called ”Bananasana”. Just let your imaginations run wild here and voila you’re starting to get a picture of the inside of Bernie’s mind.

Without a glint in his eye, he offers you a radical statement and then proceeds to demonstrate how common sense it is. His poker face doesn’t help you prepare for when his humour kicks in. And then you get a lecture in Taoist philosophy and you really start to think he’s a monk posing as your average Joe. (No offense to Joe).

One of the nice things about Bernie’s no nonsense style is that he answers a variety of left- and right-minded questions and stays on topic. There were moments of realization when you felt grief and joy at the same time. (That might have something to do with the unquestioned theories you lose during the training or that last 10 seconds in hip-opening dragon pose!)

I’ve had to radically change some basic “yoga cueing” that I’d been doing as a teacher because of the anatomy section.  And I’ve got a big, new, juicy reading list to keep me busy learning for a while.

There are so many plot twists in this training that I think it should be re-named:

a. Yoga myths revealed

b. Why yin yoga is essential for your health or

c. Yoga is mind flexibility

One of my favorite quotes of the Bern-ster’s is: “If you’re feeling it you’re doing it!” A simple yet profound statement redirecting the practice to the essential source: Yoga is a personal relationship with yourself and how YOU feel in your practice.

Everyone in the training felt that we had been apart of something special and transforming. Besides a lot of laughter, we also went through the stages of emotion that go with opening our hips and hearts. We became close without knowing some basic things about each other like, last names. We faced fears together and opened to our own vulnerabilities in front of each other.

Diana is the ultimate co-teacher who held the space for all of us to open and find our footing. She’s the yin in the yin/yang balance. And asking her questions always yielded treasures of wisdom when you thought Bernie had covered it all. She offers a foundation of support in the learning environment that allows you a soft landing once you’ve deconstructed your old (yogic) reality. Her devotion and harmony with the teachings is inspiring.

So this is all to say that besides getting anatomy training, Taoist philosophy and some good poker faces, you also learn all about the benefits of Yin Yoga.

If you’re ready for a paradigm shift in your yoga practice, I encourage you to take this training because this dynamic duo is one of the treasures in Vancouver’s yoga community.

I’m sure there’s plenty I missed, so “yin-sters” please add your comments and share the love with those who have yet to experience the magic of becoming a “yin-ster”!


For more information or to register for an upcoming Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Bernie Clark, please click here.


lucy-bio-1Oct2013Yoga teacher Lucy St. John offers the ancient teachings of Vedanta weaved with story for the contemporary yogi. The Holistic Integrated Health courses teach fun and practical tools to facilitate living the life that you desire. Combine asana practice with ancient knowledge and watch your practice expand and strengthen. Integrate yoga off the mat and find out what the yogi is laughing about. Lucy is almost finished developing a 40-Day Challenge in which you receive 40 different, two minute videos that show you how to simply give to yourself in the moment each day. For more information, go to