“There’s nothing mystical about Yin yoga. Zink does the same yoga poses everyone else does.” ~
“After a few months, I’d seen the whole repertoire.”
Article Talking Shop with Paul Grilley, Yoga Journal, June 2003
Paul Grilley went on to say, in reference to Paulie Zink’s style of yoga: “It isn’t as though there’s another secret coming down the line five years from now”- insinuating that he possesses the sum of Paulie Zink’s yoga knowledge and ability. At the time this article was published Paulie was teaching primarily only in the Los Angeles area, so much of the yoga community had not been exposed to Master Zink. It may be true that Grilley never experienced the mystical dimensions of Master Zink’s art of Yin yoga, but it is false to say that there is nothing mystical about it. Grilley only learned a beginner level of Paulie’s art of Yin yoga. And he had far from seen Paulie’s “whole repertoire.”
I conducted the following interview with Craig Balcom of Camarillo, CA, in September 2014. Craig is one of Master Zink’s two most senior yoga and kung fu students. (Paulie has several other students who faithfully attended his intensive classes once or twice a week for 3-6 years.) Craig was studying with Paulie for the entire duration that Grilley was attending classes.
When did you begin to study with Paulie Zink?
I Began studying with Master Zink early in 1987.
How regularly did you study with Paulie Zink?
We met once a week, sometime twice, without fail.
For how many hours per class did you typically study with Paulie Zink?
Classes generally started at 8 PM and ended well after midnight; sometimes into the dawn.
For how many years did you study with Paulie Zink?
I trained with Paulie for over 11 years.
Were you studying with Paulie Zink during the same period that Paul Grilley was attending Paulie Zink’s yoga classes?
I was attending Paulie’s class [at his home] in Burbank, CA, when Paul Grilley joined.
Did you attend any of the same classes of Paulie Zink’s that Paul Grilley attended?
I was often in the same class with Paul Grilley.
Paul Came once a week.
Do you remember how many hours Grilley attended these classes that you also attended?
Paul usually left the class with the other beginners at about 10 or 11PM.
Do you remember approximately the total length of months or years that Paul Grilley attended Paulie Zink’s classes altogether?
Paul was there less than one year; 6 months as a regular then several months on and off.
Did you ever witness Paulie Zink demonstrating his entire repertoire of yoga postures and yoga movements to Paul Grilley?
At no time did Master Zink ever demonstrate more than beginner techniques to Mr. Grilley.
Did you ever hear Paulie Zink claim that he had demonstrated his entire repertoire of yoga postures and yoga movements to Paul Grilley?
Paulie was always quite forthright that most students were only going to learn the basics for many years and only then if they demonstrated proper accomplishment and understanding of what they had been taught would they receive more advanced training. So, no.
Did Paulie Zink ever demonstrate his entire repertoire of yoga postures and movements to you?
Even after 11 years with Paulie there was much he had not shown me.
Did you ever observe Paul Grilley demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in the yoga practice he was learning from Paulie Zink?
Paul never progressed beyond the beginner.
Did you ever observe Paul Grilley demonstrate Paulie Zink’s entire repertoire of yoga postures and yoga movements?
At no time did Mr. Grilley demonstrate anything more than the basic postures.
How would you evaluate your level of knowledge of the yoga and kung fu you learned from Paulie Zink compared to what you witnessed Paulie Zink teaching Paul Grilley?
Paul Grilley only scratched the surface of Paulie’s system. I was taught advanced Kung Fu forms and techniques and esoteric principles and practices of yoga that were never shared with Paul Grilley.
What is your opinion of media sources and Yin yoga teachers claiming that Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers are the founders or developers of the style of yoga that is now referred to as Yin yoga that Paul Grilley learned from Paulie Zink?
In my opinion, Paul Grilley seems to teach an elementary and pedantic version of what Paulie Zink taught him, a version that is hindered by poor understanding of basic concepts, not a simplified version but a simplistic version. And Paul Grilley’s limited yoga skills are testament that he misunderstood and misapplied many fundamental concepts.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
It is often exasperating for me as a teacher of Paulie’s system to have to correct and undo students’ misconceptions of what Yin yoga is. And it is exasperating to see Paul Grilley take credit for something he did not create and diminish Master Zink’s contribution to modern yoga.
Diane Silva, a licensed Acupuncturist and former dance teacher, is one of Paulie’s most senior and dedicated students. She regularly attended Paulie’s semi-private classes at his home twice a week. She developed an advanced level of skill in Yin yoga, along with a deep understanding of the principles of his art. She once told me that after 6 years of training with Paulie she still felt “like a beginner.”