Families of Poses


Befriending Backbends

Befriending Backbends

A number of years ago, I ran a series of workshops by the above title. So many people have a love-hate relationship with backbends that I thought it good to teach some anatomy, practice simple backbends first and then work up to more advanced back arches over several sessions.
Ironically, while developing the workshop and doing lots of backbends prior to it, I made my back sore. […]

Happy Hips

Happy Hips

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. […]

Good For What Ails 'Ya

Good For What Ails 'Ya

I first came across this pose (above) at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, where it was used extensively for students in the “medical classes” (read therapy).
So, it seemed like a good one to pull out of the rabbit hat in the weeks after my hips were operated on nearly a year ago. I was reminded of it yesterday, visiting with Maarit who is a couple of months post-hip surgery.
The Institute’s medical classes are like a multi-ring circus. […]

Pain in the Neck

Pain in the Neck

I don’t know how it is for you, but I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. My reliance on, fascination with, and attachment to my Mac has led to many lost hours. Most times, I am productive, but other times, I admit to disappearing into scrabble playing or reading email humour.
My body suffers. No matter how ergonomically smart I am, computer time is just going to end up being one of those out-of-body experiences, like gardening or housecleaning. […]

Paschimottanasana

Sometimes yoga poses need to be flirted with for quite some time before coming anywhere near forming a relationship with them. Not that you are being frivolous but you just don’t want to get in too deeply at first; an oblique approach works well, rather than a full frontal attack.
This is a particularly useful philosophy for paschimottanasana, the double-legged forward stretch, especially when you are in the getting-to-know-you phase. And, this beginner-ish period could go on for some months or years depending on your anatomy or various tightnesses. […]

Yoga "Abs"

Yoga "Abs"

A question was raised recently about cultivating “core strength” (perhaps stimulated by wanting to lose those pesky kilos which inadvertently crept on over the holdays?).
I don’t think yogis used the term “core” very much until Pilates came along and made it such a focal point. Then, as there got to be more mention of the bandhas in yoga classes, it was natural to associate them with core strength. […]

Janu Sirsasana

Janu Sirsasana

Janu Sirsasana is sometimes called – perhaps somewhat optimistically –  “head-to-knee” pose. It is a posture that I think of having a split personality, like the ancient Roman deity Janus, with two faces. Part forward bend and part lateral twist, these two movements don’t always want to go together harmoniously and can actually end up competing.
For instance, you really want to go forward over your extended leg, and so you turn slightly to go there,  but one shoulder raises, the other drops, and you find yourself in twisted tension. […]

Enough

Enough

“Enough is enough.” That is contentment. – Ram Dass
Doing forward stretches in your yoga practice is a great way to test your ability to balance effort and repose. If you are pushy, your mind will be agitated. If you are slack, you will be left feeling dull. […]

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

At this time of a brand new year, we are disposed to thinking of moving forward into 2011, into our lives, maybe into a healthier, happier lifestyle. On Dec. 31st we leave behind the old year and wake up into a fresh Jan. 1st.
Let’s take the family of yoga postures, forward bends, as a metaphor for going forward in a peaceful, simple way.
To be honest, forward bends can stir up a range of emotions from love to hate. […]

Happiness is a Headstand

Happiness is a Headstand

I know I’ve referred to Sirsasana (headstand) as a happy pose before. It is an individual thing, I realise. But I’m one of those individuals who loves being upside-down on my cranium. If you observed me in Sirsasana, you would hear me sighing profusely as the floor massages my scalp and the underlying plates of my skull. Such an overload of sunny sensations! Oh my!
I’ve heard that the eminent yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar doesn’t approve of sensual impressions being the goal of yoga, but sometimes they just come to you unbidden. A gift. […]