Yoga Suits Her
I’ve been teaching yoga since 1980. A lot of my identity is tied up with being a yoga teacher. What does that mean? What should that mean? On this site I explore my personal journey and provide commentary on the state of yoga in the twenty-first century. I invite you to have a look and see what may be here for you.
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar
I’m an old yogi. It’s been forty-six years since I started down this path. The innovations in yoga practice and teaching over this span of time have been phenomenal. One of the biggest changes is the proliferation of YouTube yoga.
If anyone had told me that I would one day be doing yoga with an on-line yoga teacher, well, you can imagine my incredulity. Personal computers weren’t even invented!
Mandy, my friend and old yoga student, introduced me to Adriene on the weekend. Adriene Mishler is the doyenne of yoga videos with an audience of millions. Mandy and I had fun following a ‘deep stretch’ routine as it streamed onto her living room television screen.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like doing my home yoga practice. I started when I was 27 and haven’t ever really stopped. I feel that there’s so much to learn in solo practice.
One of the boosts I received for my practice was when I attended six weeks of classes at the Yoga Institute in Poona, India.
It was in a general class that I did with Mr. Iyengar’s son, Prashant. We warmed up for about an hour with standing poses, with special attention paid to tadasana (mountain pose). Later when we’d moved on to inverted poses, he reminded us that sirsasana (headstand) was the practice of tadasana turned upside-down.
Prashant displayed a good sense of humour when he pointed out to us something important about sirsasana. In the same way that in tadasana our faces should be beautifully serene, in sirsasana our feet should show the same quality. This was because he had to look at them. Who wants to look at unhappy feet?
Most importantly, Prashant was describing a correspondence between two poses. For mature yoga practitioners, the correspondences among poses is more obvious. Donna Farhi in her book Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit, calls these ‘motif movements’. By understanding the simple poses thoroughly, we move on step-by-step to more complex poses.
This is how it works.
- Tadasana is the basis of the poses that help anchor the mind and ground the body, for instance, in all standing poses and most inversions.
- Dandasana (staff pose) reveals the way you need to work in seated poses, forward bends and twists.
- Salabhasana (locust pose) teaches us about prone movements – the ones where you are face down – and all the backbends.
- Savasana (corpse pose) relates to the supine poses – lying face up – and all the restorative poses.
- Then there are miscellaneous poses, i.e., lateral or side stretch movements, arm balances and abdominals.
What Prashant wanted us to understand, and what Donna Farhi underscored, is that if you want to learn a new posture, you need to address the structural components that make up the ‘motif pose’.
I’m not sure YouTube videos can relay this sort of information. It would be good if they do. But I do know that personal yoga practice teaches us these correspondences if we dedicate ourselves to practice overtime. To my way of thinking, this gives personal practice its richness and satisfaction.
Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga. Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.
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The Previous 3 Posts
To Prop or Not To PropCarrying the crown of Yoga Props Queen was heavy work when I began teaching in the 1980’s. There were various styles of yoga around but unless you were an Iyengar-trained teacher, you were likely to do your poses unpropped.Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga stood out as one of the styles which only required a willing body/mind and a non-skid mat. As this style became more popular and spin-offs were spawned, there was a period of time when yoga instructors looked down their noses at the use of props. […]
The Eyes Have It!
A couple of years ago my optometrist discovered that cataracts were forming in both of my eyes. He predicted I would need cataract surgery someday. I was not looking forward to this ambiguous ‘someday’. […]
Like most people, I wear many hats. Hats relating to being a home manager, wife, yoga teacher, community volunteer, and so forth. Just today I became aware of a hat that I put on almost every day but have been overlooking. It’s time to lay claim to the title of yoga curator. You might well ask what I do as a yoga curator. Well, I spend part of my morning reading the news, perusing blog posts, googling yoga information, listening to podcasts, and communicating through Facebook. […]
I know, I know. Yoga teachers all want to teach remotely. I’ve been no exception. Here are some video and audio productions that I’ve made. Not many – it’s something that I alway mean to get around to.
No, I’m not selling yoga mats or clothing. I don’t even have a t-shirt… yet. But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want. Have a look, I’m never sure what you’ll find.