Anatomy

Sequences for "Intensive" Week: Day 2

Sequences for "Intensive" Week: Day 2

The word inversions when applied to yoga asanas strikes fear into many a heart. Formerly polite and obedient students will openly rebel against doing them. Previously undisclosed injuries and anatomical asymmetries will be used as excuses for not participating. And, women who stopped menstruating years ago will claim having their period as reason for abstaining.

A Dog Pose a Day Keeps the Chiro at Bay

A Dog Pose a Day Keeps the Chiro at Bay

Tonight I really wanted to write about one of the most important poses in the asana lexicon, Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-facing Dog Pose. But I also wanted to acknowledge the excitement in the air with the near passing of 2011.
So, I think I can combine the two with a little story of a New Year’s Eve dinner I had with an old beau years ago in the Sydney Opera House district. We were dining early, dressed in party gear, enjoying the ambience of an elegant restaurant. […]

Head to Heels Stretch – Paschimottanasana

Head to Heels Stretch – Paschimottanasana

Forward bends can be the bane of some yogis lives, especially if you are in a class and you see supple-bodied people seemingly fall into these sorts of poses with the utmost ease.
In my book,  Teach Yourself Yoga, I talk about how my difficulties with forward bends eventually helped me understand what yoga is about:
When I started yoga, I experienced great waves of frustration and sadness, whenever I performed a sequence of the seated forward bends. Sometimes I would finish a session crying. No one had explained to me that emotional discomfort could arise while doing yoga. […]

Stomaching the Holidays with Supta Virasana

Stomaching the Holidays with Supta Virasana

Supta Virasana is a terrific stomach stretcher. Just what I needed today after experiencing the Big Xmas Day Indulgence, followed by the Big Boxing Day Seafood Extravaganza. My stomach was a tight as a drum head in this morning’s practice, and I didn’t even know it until I did the pose.

Stomachs are special organs and  need to be well-catered for.  Think of all the great expressions that relate to this organ: butterflies in the stomach, gut feelings, armies marching on their stomachs. We who are health-oriented know that stomachs need to be well-exercised, too. […]

Anatasana

Anatasana

In typically colourful Hindu lore, Anata is one of the names of Vishnu and, as well, his serpent. Vishnu sleeps on the ocean floor on his couch, the thousand headed serpent. While Anata is asleep, a lotus grows from his navel and that is where Brahma is born. Brahma then creates the world.
In the photo above taken in Myanmar in 2007, you see the reclining Buddha arranged in Anatasana pose. […]

Ardha Chandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana

A friend and colleague of mine said that the standing pose Ardha Chandrasana went from being a nasty pose to a nice pose for him when he finally mastered it. As postures go, it will test your balance and equanimity to the hilt. However, once you meet the challenge, it’s going to be a lifelong friend.
When I was struggling with hip arthritis, Ardha Chandrasana was the pose that could realign my femur in its socket when it went out of position. […]

Image Conscious

Image Conscious

Part of what comes with being human is that we are born beautiful and  innocent, connected to our divinity, and then we undergo years of forgetting this happy state.
Maybe this is because we live in a culture that says it’s conceited to think well of ourselves. […]

The Lonely Part of the Body

The Lonely Part of the Body

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. […]

Is Women's Yoga Sexist?

Is Women's Yoga Sexist?

When I was first learning yoga in the 70’s, it was the time of women’s lib and the sexual revolution. Many women wanted equality in every way with men, especially in terms of job opportunities and income. In the way I was originally taught yoga, there was no real distinction between the asanas a man and a woman might do in class. I was shocked the first time I attended the Iyengar Institute in Poona in 1984 that some of the classes were men-only and women-only. It seemed like such a backwards approach to this westernised girl. […]

Limping Along

Limping Along

Have you ever torn a hamstring or suffered an inflamed tendon? Then you would know the feeling of limping along, having to do just half-speed yoga poses.
I feel like that today after having had a little mishap with my computer keyboard. A portion of my morning coffee, so much anticipated after my yoga practice, spilled over the board. […]

A Dog Pose A Day Keeps the Chiropractor At Bay

A Dog Pose A Day Keeps the Chiropractor At Bay

Well, I can’t say for sure that the above statement is true, but around our house, where we all do yoga, no one has seen a chiro for a very long time. Or osteopath, or even a masseuse.
However, tomorrow morning I have an appointment with a physiotherapist – the first time since  early last year when I was rehabilitating from hip surgery.
I’ve been waking up in the morning with a very sore area around my right scapula (maybe a nerve impingement?). […]

Healthy Hugs

Healthy Hugs

I’ve been doing some research for the workshop I’m leading on the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks entitled “Pelvic Freedom: Yoga Poses and Practices for Women’s Well-Being”. The day-long program is pretty rich, I think, and encompasses information on anatomy, pelvic problems, and asanas and practices for various stages of a woman’s life. I thought I’d pass on something I read today (isn’t Google wonderful?) about the importance of keeping the pelvic floor muscles healthy – something we all know we should be doing, but perhaps need to be reminded of occasionally. […]

Great Kidney Poses

Great Kidney Poses

Two very important organs of your body nestle under the back ribs and serve as a vital filtration system for wastes. The kidney organs work to pass urine through the ureters to your bladder for storage and elimination.
If you get extremely run down, you may develop an ache in your lower back that is not muscular and arises when the adrenal glands, situated near the kidneys get overstimulated.
Traditionally, the family of poses that are meant to soothe the adrenals and tone the kidneys are forward stretches. […]

Our Incredible Shrinking Beach

Our Incredible Shrinking Beach

On my return from holidays, I was quite shocked to hear that our closest beach had lost about a half kilometer of it’s length as a result of recent flooding and storms. That’s a big chunk.
The area concerned is at the mouth of the Manning River, but the dunes all along in a southerly direction to Old Bar Beach are seriously eroded too.
A sad part of our loss is the potential encroachment of the sea on the little tern breeding ground. […]

Healing the Body/Mind

Healing the Body/Mind

I’ve just been deliberating about what to entitle this post so that it would accurately describe the yoga class I did with Berkeley, California teacher, Donald Moyer, and maybe capture some of what I got out of it.
What I experienced was more than doing asanas under the instruction of a skilled, gracious teacher. […]

Tummy Rumbles…

…also called “gastric ructions”, caused by peristalsis, are the bane of some yoga relaxations.
There’s something diverting about getting to the quiet time at the end of a yoga class when the teacher has soothed and cajoled the group into a semi-somnolent state, when suddenly the low- pitched rumbling from some quarter starts up. […]

"Excellence is not a skill: it is an attitude."*

"Excellence is not a skill: it is an attitude."*

This morning when I was doing backbends in my yoga practice, I was reminded of how important attitude is in doing yoga. Working the body too hard makes it feel brittle, especially on a cold winter’s morning. Being slack feels like not showing up for the event. I thought of a few attitudinal things that I could communicate when I taught my class this evening.
1. Yoga works to unite the body and the mind through involving the whole person: we are meant to focus our mind meditatively on each movement. […]

Songlines

Songlines

It’s a very beautiful thing to be present in yoga practice – to do our postures connecting the mind to each part of the physical body. It’s the most subtle kind of touching, the intelligence awakening internal and external anatomy.
Since it’s impossible to simultaneously quicken all of one’s body, the best that we can do is rouse the parts sequentially, a miniscule hammer vibrating piano strings.
I like the image of indigenous songlines, unseen paths that cross land or sky, like invisible Chinese meridians or the Indian nadis of our bodies. […]

Unwanted Fat

Unwanted Fat

Six years ago I lost five kilos. I don’t know where they went. Like yours perhaps, they were the niggley five that I had wanted to shed for years, so I didn’t miss them. Of course we never lose weight from exactly where we want. I’m sure my derriere and thighs are pretty much the same size as ever. One of the many annoying things that happens with ageing is gaunt. You happily lose weight but unexpected hollows appear, or extra skin. Gravity, too, over the years may have deleterious effects on parts of your anatomy. […]

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