Have you ever noticed that sometimes a person will say a phrase and, for what ever reason and no matter how mundane it is, it lodges in your brain.
Consequently, we yoga teachers should take particular care about what we say to our students when they are in a relaxed, suggestible frame of mind. Once that phrase or expression goes in, it might be indelibly printed.
You know what I mean. You’ve heard your instructor say something like, “Unhunch your shoulders”, a word not in any language, I’m sure. Or, “Scootch your buttocks forward,” as a verbal direction when you’re sitting on the floor. Pretty soon, you’re understanding these non-words, and perhaps even repeating them.
My teacher used to exhort us to “lift the inside chips of our knees!” I’ve heard other Iyengar teachers say, “Lift the mouth of the anus,” when you’re in uttanasana, conveniently head down.
My armpits have never gotten over their chagrin since a yoga teacher told us that this region of the body is where we keep secrets.
Somewhere along my yoga travels, I heard an expression that I like: ” the sides of our bodies are the lonely parts”. I get that. If you think of all the ways a body can move – bending forward, backward, rotating – then, sideways bends are most unfamiliar movements. I think that trikonasana is such a popular feature of classes because we get to exercise our lateral bending.
Try this. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and together. Bend forward into paschimottanasana and hold wherever you can…hands on shins or holding your feet. After stretching up and out, bring your extension into the sides of your waist and ribs. Then, take the stretch into the outside of your shoulder blades, upper arms and elbows. See how much your side body helps increase your forward momentum. It feels good, like an itch that has been scratched….And maybe even not so lonely anymore.