The Yoga Suits Her Blog
I’ve been blogging for 15 years now. At first, I was quite nervous about publishing my thoughts. Because I was shy about writing, my old posts were almost exclusively photos of the view from our bedroom in our Tambourine Bay house.
Remarkably, my original Ville Blog still exists. Does anything on the internet ever go away? It ran from November 05, 2006 to January 12, 2010 and it’s still just where I left it. If you’d like to have a look, the address is http://thevilleblog.blogspot.com.au/.
These days, because there are way too many YSH posts to browse through-over 1200-I’ve put some major themes together in The Vault. I hope this makes it easier to find exactly what you want.
The beauty of personal writing is that it can function to enhance our experience of living. To be able to write, we have to pay attention. The more this is cultivated, the more our ability to be present grows. Over time, if we keep writing authentically from our life experience, we see patterns emerge. These are the important threads that give meaning and purpose to our lives.
What are we yogis supposed to do in this time of discomfort and perhaps difficult adjustments? Probably just what we have been doing. Keeping up yogic practices: asanas, pranayama, meditation, relaxation.
And, particularly in the summer heat, let’s do quiet, cooling and calming yoga practice. Save the jumping around and through. Spare yourself sweating the long timings in poses. Keep the goal-seeking, perfection part of your personality in check. And chill.
Why I have I skipped the festival circuit? Because I’ve felt it’s easier to teach to my age demographic, in my own style and to do so locally.
I knew the Lost Paradise festival would be attended mainly by young people between 24-30 years of age. I thought it likely that these young yogis would be used to practising a more dynamic style of yoga than mine. And, a December end-of-year festival was going to be uncomfortably hot and humid.
Also, I didn’t know ahead of time how large the festival was going to be…
I may be an elder but that does not always make me wise. One of my goals in doing regular meditation is to develop the quality of resilience. To be able to get myself out of a heavy mood in a reasonable timeframe. To get up off the floor when I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck. The Japanese have a saying, “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”
I always felt that Gita lived the life of a nun. She dressed in white and was steeped in the wisdom of spiritual texts. Gita devoted herself utterly and completely to the needs of her father and brother after her mother’s death. She worked tirelessly to ‘reveal’ yoga to the world, travelling and teaching, even as her health was failing.
It’s being said loudly and often by teachers of my generation that modern yoga has become too superficial. In an article in the American Yoga Journal, Ann Cushman makes the case for the importance of asana practice. But then, she then goes on to say that when students become more serious about practicing, they need to take on some of the other instruments in the yogic toolkit.
Thank goodness yoga is for all ages: the baby in utero, her mother and her grandmother, as well as kids in school and older kids in grad school. Sportsmen, mechanics, and musicians do yoga along with retirees and renunciates.
At every age and stage, we know yoga to be a stretchy system that bends to your needs. Not only that, it helps foster well-being, sweetens your nature and confers long life. Perhaps it will give enough detachment so that as you advance in age, you will be merely amused by any belittlers.
In almost every class I teach, I make a point to give thanks for this community we create when we come together. Whether your particular class happens in a gym or in a school hall, you are likely to connect with like-minded people. These may ultimately become fast friends. Lasting friendships are promoted by yoga teachers who make a point of providing time and space to socialise. Having a cup of tea after class, or in our household, one of Daniel’s coffees, we get to talk about more than yoga postures.
By attending classes regularly, there’s the potential for deepening friendships with classmates. Yoga teachers and students get the chance to bond, too.
I told an eighty year old friend that I visited the BreastScreen van every two years. She said, ‘Why do that? After age 70, you don’t have to worry about breast cancer anymore.’ Not true.
This is the true story from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which is a fantastic on-line resource.
Cancer rates begin to increase after age 40 and are highest in women over age 70. (The median age of diagnosis of breast cancer for women in the U.S. is 62.)
The reasons that knee problems develop are varied. There are three main knee bugbears that have to do with body imbalances. One is hyper-flexibility which leads to overextending the knee. Another is related to the feet, where one’s arches are overly high or collapsed. Either of these create problems that run from the ground up to the knees and can create uneven wear and tear. For instance, the arch imbalance causes the cartilage on one side of the kneecap to wear out, leading to osteoarthritis. Tight or weak muscles will also create knee pain or injury.
You may have noticed that there's been a lot of unkind behaviour in the Australian political arena recently. Okay, this may not be at all unusual. It seems that bad manners become badder when there's an important seat up for election. Read the 'blue ribbon' the seat...
I hoard yoga sequences. When I write out a plan for teaching, I will use it for my own practice and for my classes over the week. But I seldom throw these programs out. I save my designs, and I keep other teachers’, too. If I do a class in San Francisco or Byron Bay or even with local teachers, I will ask for that teacher’s written plan.
After almost four decades of yoga practice and teaching, I have filled seven lever arch files. Each of these holds 500 A4 pages. In addition, I have a box of programs still to be filed which I haven’t been able to face as yet. There’s just one more area of hoarding. These are the folders from my retreat and workshop plans I’ve kept for years.
Every now then I think, yikes!, I’m going to be 74 in a couple of months. I better do something quick as I seem to be losing the battle with ageing.
What’s been happening is that I’m not as strong as I once was. I’m stiffer and achey in some of my joints. I have a bit less muscle and more flesh around my middle. And I get fatigued more easily than before.
Uh-oh. I forgot to mention the occasional bouts of sciatica.
Obviously, I need to join the gym, become more flexible, lose the middle chubbies and have power naps.
Very few people seem completely content with the way their hips work, a sad thing to say about such a pivotal part of one’s anatomy. For some of us, our hips are too tight and for others too flexible.
Here’s a sequence that will give your legs, groins and hips a good workout. For you supple yogis out there, focus on keeping firm to centre, holding the muscles around upper thighs and hips close to the bones. […]
Tough times I have the old Bob Dylan rain song running in my head at the moment, A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall. Patti Smith famously sang this song at the Nobel Awards ceremony, as she represented the absent poet/songwriter/performer. Dylan's hard rain is a metaphor for...
I’ve taught many different aspects of yoga, but I do have my favourite subjects. I was able to teach one of these yesterday–yoga adjustments–at Forster Yoga Studio. I presented theory and practice on the hands-on, physical way of instructing students in postures.
In an article in “Yoga Suits Her, I described three main styles of learning. One of them is kinaesthetic. I’m someone who learns this way–hands-on, experientially. I’ve discovered through my teaching over thirty-five years that a disproportionate number of yoga teachers learn kinaesthetically. […]
My housemate and friend, Michael Hollingworth, has a tried-and-true way to help when you’re feeing down. The practices described here are so valuable that I’ve asked Michael to share them with you. I recommend ‘gifting’ as a beautiful generosity practice that you might want to store in your meditation ‘tool box’ to bring out as needed.
When I started teaching, my first classes were not altogether successful in terms of bums-on-mats. It took tremendous staying power in the beginning to keep coming back week after week to small classes when I wasn’t making a living. One has to continuously calm the negative mind and recreate motivation for practising and teaching. Who knows if or when one is going to make a go of it? How long will it take to be a good teacher? How long will it take to ‘be yoga’?
The compulsion to write My friend and colleague, Rachel Zinman, came to visit us and deliver a workshop on Yoga Mudras this last weekend. She and I had time to practice together and we chatted away, as you do. One topic that came up related to writing,...
Back when I was just a just a youngster in my Iyengar yoga training, I attended six weeks of classes at the Yoga Institute in Poona, India. People seldom go to study with the Iyengars without the experience being life-changing; there’s so much to learn.
On one occasion, Mr. Iyengar’s son, Prashant, taught us in a general class. We warmed up for about an hour with standing poses, with special attention paid to tadasana (mountain pose). […]