Yin Yoga Students
Paulie with some of his Yin Yoga students (and statue) at Yo San University, California, 2003
Master Zink’s versatile expertise enables him to engage a broad spectrum of students who have diverse interests and needs. Master Zink’s principle mission in teaching is to promote health and healing. With his relaxed and playful demeanor students find him to be a very approachable and enjoyable teacher. He brings to his teaching over 30 years experience and a profound knowledge he conveys with a simple clarity that comes from true understanding.
David Lee Roth
Master Zink privately instructed rock star David Lee Roth for extended periods of time over the course of twenty years and choreographed routines for David’s performances with Van Halen and in music videos.
Master Zink privately instructed musician Michael Hedges nomadland for six years. Master Zink performed live with Michael Hedges on several occasions, including at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California opening for Crosby, Stills and Nash.
With my background being a former athlete and now neurosurgeon, I found my first Yin Yoga class with Master Paulie Zink to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Paulie has the ability to break things down for all levels of flexibility, strength, endurance, and desire. Should Paulie ever decide Montana is not for him, I will assist in setting up a studio in Chicago, a studio for him, me, and my patients.
Daniel Laich, D.O.
My experience of attending Paulie’s workshop was truly an enlightening occasion for me. I perceived Paulie’s teaching to be a physical-spiritual unification through breathing, movement, and complete attention to doing the practice. The most striking element was the focus on awakening, balancing, and flowing of life force (or chi) for the goal of spiritual, physical, and psychological well being and for becoming more aware that we indeed are not separate from the world around us. What was most relevant to me was that all of Paulie’s “teaching” was directly experienced by each of us in the workshop and not learned by hearing someone elses “truths”.
Joe Lanzarolla, M.D.
Paulie Zink is an amazing human being! His self-effacing good nature and obvious enjoyment of Yin Yoga make him a great teacher. I found that while my other workouts left me feeling exhausted and dragging home, practicing yoga with Paulie leaves me feeling better than I have in years.
Simon Wall, M.D.
Thank you so much for your brilliant contribution to our series on spirituality with Jerry Hall. You are such an amazing person- you give new meaning to the word ‘flexible’! Jerry so enjoyed meeting you- and we’re sure you will be one of the highlights of the series.
Lauren Maynard and Anastasia Mouzas
Tiger Aspect Productions
Model Jerry Hall traveled to three continents with a film crew and interviewed prominent teachers of various spiritual traditions for the BBC series documentary “Jerry Hall’s Gurus” produced by Tiger Aspect, UK.
I had done various forms of yoga for about 12 years before meeting Master Paulie Zink. I studied with him for six years until I moved away. Paulie’s Yin Yoga is the most powerful healing modality I have encountered. His flexibility training and low to the ground moving postures were very instrumental in healing my knee injuries. I learned a lot about directing chi through the legs and hands, releasing both physical and emotional blockages. Paulies’ kindness and concern are unparalleled in my experience. And watching him practice yoga opens up new vistas of possibilities. I have never seen anyone else who can demonstrate his range of fluidity and movement.
Licensed Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist, Dance Teacher, Four Seasons Herbs
Santa Rosa, California
Scoliosis has always been a condition that has plagued my family; and upon reaching adolescence I had a malformed spine that caused my shoulders to be extremely uneven. This not only caused me discomfort and diminished flexibility, but also wreaked havoc upon my self-esteem (you can only imagine the thoughts and fears of being something of a “hunch-back” at the age of 13). It was not long after my scoliosis had reached its peak that I received volume one of your video series from Panther Productions – and contained in it were your many Yin Yoga postures.
Determined not to undergo surgery or be forced to wear a back brace for years, I at once took up your stretching regime…and I have to thank you – for it has made all the difference in the world. Soon after I began your stretching course, I noticed astounding improvements in my condition. I am now 27, finishing law school, and have a perfectly straight back as well as a broad range of flexibility. I am convinced that your video helped me to overcome this condition, and I wish to express my sincerest thanks to you.
Master Paulie Zink is that one teacher you learn from your whole life. He teaches on the level where a student finds his or her own internal practice. Paulie is the embodiment of yogic energy that people make claim to but generally fall short of.
Licensed Acupuncturist, Oriental Bodywork Practitioner, Herbalist, Owner fourseasonsherbs
As a kinesiologist and physical therapist, I can say with confidence that Paulie Zink is one of the most profoundly structurally open beings I have had the good fortune to observe. There is no doubt that his presence can strongly inspire many to free their bodies from excessive holding and tension. Paulie is an exceptionally rare being, a messenger of inherent and intuitive truth.
Yoga Instructor, Bike Racing Coach, Fitness consultant
I was lucky enough to find that Master Zink was teaching classes in Los Angeles. I religiously drove down to L.A. every Sunday to study with Paulie. Unlike most yoga classes where people go to the nearest school available, for Paulie’s Yin Yoga classes students drove an hour or more to attend. I have never seen anyone move with such fluidity and with the capacity to transform his energy from one element to another as Paulie does. Paulie’s teaching is less about the perfect pose and more about the awareness of energy in the body and opening channels so that energy will flow through the meridians”
Certified Yoga Therapist and Owner SacredSpaceStudio
As a natural healer and professionally trained contortionist, I was quite attracted to Paulie because of his extraordinary flexibility and energetic mastery. Although my art required me to maintain a high level of flexibility and balance, I hadn’t taken any yoga classes prior to attending Paulie’s classes and seminars. The fluidity of Paulie’s Yin Yoga made more sense to me than other yoga styles I had investigated. They tended to be very rigid and hard. I’m also a Certified Lymphologist. The Yin style of yoga, and its focus on the flow of chi, works very synergistically with my healing practice. The combination of Master Zink’s teachings with the healing modalities I study have heightened my energetic and physical health, endurance, strength, and balance and has even increased my flexibility to greater levels. I’m grateful for the opportunity to study with such a master of his art.
What a privilege it has been to be in your class over the past eight weeks! Your care for each of us was a real blessing. I have seen so much improvement in my ability to move and breathe freely- thank you! What you do truly does make a difference in people’s lives.
Cancer patient Chi Kung student
I have just seen you doing your Monkey staff on youtube and I had tell you that it was fantastic. It is rare to see anyone with such speed, precision & character in their form. It was a definite landmark in Kung Fu. Amazing. I have come across a lot of people on my travels who have presented themselves as Master, but have little substance. How nice it is to see footage of a true Master. You must put more stuff out so people can see how it should be done.
It’s wonderful to see someone who has embodied the art so well and has such a committed enthusiasm for it and yet maintain the tradition, which in this day and age can be unfashionable. I was taught very traditionally by a very hard teacher who encouraged me to be open minded as well as maintain the roots of the traditional art while keeping it functional. It’s great to see such character in Paulie’s expression, yet such speed & power.
All the best
After moving to Montana I began to perceive a need for my patients to work on anxiety and acceptance issues in a more physical manner than just psychotherapy and medications. I recommended yoga. I had also resumed my solo practice of yoga and managed to injure myself pretty regularly. My friend, Jim Merkel, started talking about his teacher Paulie Zink and how “this is different yoga.” I had begun to go to a local gym yoga class. But, I really didn’t feel like I fit in very well. Jim kept talking about how much better he felt. So I went to Paulie’s Yin Yoga class and have been attending regularly ever since. I like the relaxed playful, respectful atmosphere at The Yoga Center. I never went back to the other yoga classes. I found a place where I fit in. And I found that while my other workouts left me exhausted and dragging home, yoga with Paulie left me feeling better than I did when I started the session. I am more flexible than I have been in years. My sciatica pain has gone from a daily impediment to a rare event. My posture is better. I’m losing weight. And my body looks more toned. I just feel better all the way around.
Paulie is an amazing human being. He is capable of moving and bending in ways that my textbooks say can’t be done. His self-effacing good nature and obvious enjoyment of Yin Yoga make him a great teacher. Paulie makes you feel relaxed and eager to try new things, without being pushy or aggressive. It’s just fun to watch him teach. I began referring patients to Paulie because his Yin Yoga is accessible to people at any level of fitness. I have referred patients who were out of shape and pretty anti-yoga (based on the popular concept). Many, if not all of them, have subsequently told me they felt better, even after the first class with Paulie, than they had in a long time. They also said that even though they were worried about going the first time, there was no competitiveness, only acceptance and encouragement.
Simon Wall, M.D.
Philosophers gaze at the moon?
Cow assisted posture
An interview with Laverne Coons
Cancer patient Chi Kung student
Master Zink taught medical Chi Kung to cancer patients through the Hope for Tomorrow program sponsored by Deaconess Hospital. Laverne participated in several six week sessions.
How have you benefited from the Chi Kung classes with Paulie?
LAVERNE: For me it was, in particular, learning a new way, the proper way of breathing. I think that has helped me more than anything. And then, of course, all the stretching and movement. When I was going through chemo it definitely made a difference in my ability to tolerate the treatment. I felt real good doing the Chi Kung. It increased my energy and comfort. It helped relieve pain. And, in particularly, my breathing improved tremendously.
And that stayed with you then after class was over, in your daily life?
LAVERNE: Right. And I do it at home, but it’s never the same as doing it in class.
Why do you think that is?
LAVERNE: I just think it’s having a master instructor in front of you. I think I receive so much energy from Paulie. And then being in a class with everyone doing the same thing. It was just fun. It felt like a whole unit, everyone together as a unit.
What do you enjoy about Paulie as a teacher?
LAVERNE: Oh gosh, so many things. The fact that he was clear in his explanation of why we were doing things and what we were doing. And he would personally concentrate on each of us individually at one point in the evening and tell you if you were doing a good job, or if you needed to improve a little bit here or there. So, it was a real personal touch. And then the fact that he didn’t push us at all. He realizes that we each have our own levels that we can work at. I never felt under pressure. And I don’t think anybody did. And ,of course, his positivity and the way he conveyed the importance of this, of our bodies in this life process.
So, he helped you to bring more attention and appreciation into your body?
LAVERNE: Yes, I think so. And then if you had any questions he definitely would answer them. He shows a genuine concern for everyone.
You’re a Christian, right?
LAVERNE: Yes, I am.
So, you draw upon your faith in dealing with cancer?
LAVERNE: Yes, very, very, very much.
Did you ever have any conflict with the Chinese system that Paulie teaches?
LAVERNE: No, absolutely not. No, because I feel that what he teaches is very spiritual. And, to me, all kinds of spirituality are good. So I have no problem with that at all. I think as long as you look at the truth- there it is.
An interview with Yin Yoga student Jim Markel
Former Marine, Special Forces, Co-owner RedOxx,
a travel bags manufacturer
Tell me about your backgroud.
JIM: I was born in Italy. I’ve lived all over the world. My father was in the military. I went to eighteen or nineteen different schools. Billings is the longest I’ve lived anywhere. I’ve been here since 1991.
I joined the Marine Corp when I was 17. I volunteered to jump out of airplanes and do the whole Marine Recon thing, the Special Forces. The basic elite unit is the Marine Recon. I was in that first. Then the next tier is Force Recon, which is a really small unit of about 150 men. I got into that. I passed some pretty extreme physical tests. Maintaining that level of fitness is like a three hour a day job. So, consequently, I was in stupendous shape in my early twenties. I could run twenty miles and bench press 300 pounds. I was Superman. Well, that kind of behavior is really hard on your joints. So, I was still working out and lifting weights, I’m 38 now. But it just started hurting; I couldn’t do it anymore. My joints would hurt for three days afterwards. And I’m thinking, “What’s going on? I’m falling apart.” But, I have good stamina and good drive. Your mind can take you places that your body doesn’t realize it can go.
I was looking for a way to maintain my fitness. So I started yoga with videos. Then I wanted a yoga mat so I went down to The Yoga Center and Paulie was there. And he says, “Why don’t you just come to class?”. I thought, “Well, this is hocus pocus stuff”. I’ve never been religious. But I started doing the classes with Paulie. There’s a lot of stuff that I find in his yoga that transfers into the rest of life. Paulie said once, “The harder you try the less you achieve”. The more you push and strain, you’re not going to grow. And for the longest time in my business I have been pushing and kicking and screaming. You have to have that “Hello, I’m here” kind of mentality to get your business off the ground. I did the same thing when I first started the yoga. I’ve kind of chilled out on that a bit. I go two days a week and I do it at home, too. But, it’s real casual. And I’m kind of taking that philosophy in the business now. I’m kind of just letting things happen.
Yoga is something you just incorporate into your life. You can’t let any one thing over-balance your life, unless it is your life. I mean, for Paulie, it’s his life. He’s an amazing human being. I would love to do what he does. But, I just can’t do that with what I’m doing. With the martial arts thing, initially when I was working out with him I could see why if you wanted to learn any martial arts from Paulie, you’re going to spend five years in his yoga class before you are even capable of learning anything that he could show you. I understand that. I’ve noticed that through the yoga and the little bit of Chi Kung and Aura Palm I did, it brought up some of the other training that I had before and it all started to make sense, when you have the flexibility to lift your foot this way or that, or your arm to reach, or your balance, how you connect your feet to the ground.
It’s weird. It’s like you feel this energy, this connection, this balance and it’s really cool! And on the mental level it’s calming. It’s kind of funny, some of the thoughts that roll through your head when you’re doing yoga. And sometimes you have nothing, you can empty your mind. That’s a great benefit, to find some inner calmness. It just comes. It’s really strange. But, it’s not all the time. You can’t just call it up. Paulie probably can, obviously, he’s been doing it most of his life. Occasionally you touch on that moment of clarity. It’s really neat. So, I’m really into it. But, I’m not strict on my diet. I eat ice-cream sandwiches before coming to class.
Paulie has a lot of men students in his class. Why do you think he appeals to men?
JIM: I think the thing is that he isn’t pushing any kind of doctrine. He’s not saying you need to believe in this or that. There’s no chanting. For men, they just want it simple. Paulie keeps it simple. A lot of the men, like myself, I hate to say it, are type A personalities. It’s funny that they’ve all kind of gravitated to Paulie. That’s the thing, Paulie just simplifies. We’re all strong personalities. But when you get a group to work together as a team almost, we don’t really have that in civilian life. And that’s why the classes are great. They’re kind of a team mentality. It’s a group and we work together like that. It’s kind of weird. And it’s physical enough. I’ve done enough hard physical things. But you can make this as hard as you want. You can push yourself in the class to any level you want while the person next to you is working at their level. I think that really appeals to people who are type A, they can work at their own level. Paulie lets people make their own way with some instruction on how to do it. I think that’s why you’re getting so many men. He lets them make their own way. He just shows them how to do different postures with a little bit of philosophy thrown in here and there. But he doesn’t overdo it. The classes are fun.
What qualities of Paulie’s personality do you think make him a good teacher?
JIM: He’s just out there. He’s like Mr. Rogers, Mr. Rogers of the yoga world. I think if you don’t know Paulie, you could really underestimate him. The deceptiveness, that he could stand on your feet and kick you in the back of the head. I think there’s something about that that probably appeals to men too. He’s a bad-ass but he doesn’t act like it. He’s this nice unassuming little yoga teacher who could kick your teeth down your throat. He’s not your stereotypical yoga teacher. There’s something about him that is very calming. The fact that he’s not up on the latest and greatest this, that and the other thing. He’s just very well grounded. There’s a lot of philosophy I’m sure Paulie could share if it was asked for. He doesn’t really venture too much into it unless it’s asked for. Then he kind of lets loose. He doesn’t force things. He just lets them happen. Smart. Paulie is an interesting character, that’s for sure. I like that about him. I like that he’s real deep that way. He’s got it down. He knows what he needs to know. He knows what’s important. A lot of that stuff, if you learn to listen to it, learn to listen to what’s going on in your life, you can apply everything you are learning from his yoga to the rest of your life. I really appreciate the fact that Paulie is like, “If you can balance on one foot, that’s fine. If not, don’t worry about it.” It’s something that I don’t have to kill myself to do. I have a lot of responsibility with my business. I don’t want that kind of pressure with my yoga.
There’s nothing to prove.
JIM: Ya, really. I want to learn a lot from Paulie. Paulie has the goods. He definitely has the goods. The last confrontation I had I chose not to hurt the person. I just threw him around. He kept coming at me and I kept throwing him on the ground until he was huffing and puffing. It was actually quite funny. The level that Paulie is at he could easily do something like that. He could teach that restraint. So, there is this confidence that you get from being able to handle your body. I’ve noticed a lot of things about his art. Like how from any position you can move and get back on your feet. I really like that.
It’s really hard to make him fall over.
JIM: Exactly. And even when you’re over you can twist a little ways and all of a sudden you’re back on your feet.
Like a cat.
JIM: Exactly, or a monkey. And it’s really fun to discover these things as they happen. Paulie has never made the statement: “From any position you should be able to get back on your feet”. Basically, he’s showing us these things.
Paulie has many students, both new to yoga and long time practitioners, who progress rapidly under his instruction. Why do you think that is?
JIM: It’s probably because he doesn’t push them. He allows them to grow. Again, if you look at his credentials, that’s what initially attracted me. I went to his website and thought, holy cow, man, he’s the real deal!