A yoga teacher trainee whom I was working with asked a smart question: What should I practice when?
If you do the same sequence of poses every single day, as in Astanga Vinyasa Yoga, it’s not a problem. However, what do you do if your practices are more flexible?
Well, it depends on quite a lot of factors – season, age, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause (male or female), time of day, day of the week, etc.
To help my trainee, I sat down and worked out the attached scheme. […]
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. […]
Salamba Sarvangasana takes tenacity
The translated meaning of Salamba Sarvangasana is “whole body pose”. It is often prefaced by Salamba, meaning supported. Your hands support your spine. Your upper arms and shoulders form the bedrock of the pose.
For many years I couldn’t grasp how to get my whole body involved in shoulderstand. The ideal shape of the pose appeared like a shimmering but distant mirage to me. I would struggle to get upright. The effort exhausted me. My kidneys would start to ache. […]
Symmetry in action, Urdhva Dhanurasana is a challenging pose for most yogis. If we could only get the backbend arc to be even from the top of the spine to the tip, then the experience would be pleasurable and gratifying. Anything less, we feel heavy, pinched and sometimes defeated. Like many adults, by the time I came to do yoga, it had been many years since I’d done backbends. The first ones I attempted in a yoga class made me feel exhilarated. My teacher was a hard task master. We students did 25 Urdhva Dhanurasanas, followed by 10 “easies”. […]
I remember hearing a well-known yoga teacher say, “If you can do forward bends easily, you probably can’t do backbends; if you can do backbends easily, you probably can’t do forward bends; and, if you can do both easily, you probably will have difficulty with pranayama.”
Well, usually we do have our strong suit. Forward bends were never mine, but over the years I guess I’ve surrendered myself to them more. […]
The asanas can be grouped into families: standing poses, seated poses, abdominals, forward & backward bends, inversions, restorative poses. And, finer tuning might include: lateral forward bends, standing forward bends, passive backbends, prepatory poses, and so on. It’s certainly handy to have a coat hanger to help organise the huge miscellany of yoga postures. The style of yoga called Iyengar, is often taught in a monthly schedule where week one emphases standing poses, week two, forward bends, week three backbends, week four inversions/pranayama/restorative. Standing poses are a stand-out group among the clans of asanas because of their all-round utility. […]
A yoga teacher who is a reader of “Yoga Suits Her” asked a very good question regarding progressing beginner-ish student through their postures when they are challenged by injuries or other restrictions.
Say, for instance, the pose you ultimately wanted to teach to students or learn yourself is the backbend Urdhva Dhanurasana (pictured above), you would start by understanding what sort of flexibility or strength is required of you. […]
This week I came up with a sequence I enjoy doing and teaching. The theme is all about stretching the sides of your body, particularly hips, waist, rib cage, shoulder blades and arms.
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. […]
This week, I have set as a loose theme for my classes, forward bend poses. I say ‘loose’ because I wouldn’t want to leave out important elements like: standing poses, inversions, backbends, twists, pranayama and meditation. […]
Upside down is such an interesting way of looking at the world. Beginners in yoga can get quite excited by turning upside down, and that can be good or bad. Too much excitement can take you out of your body; but just the right amount can make you feel elated. However, too much excitement might just give you the practice you need in calming yourself down.
Amazing things happen to your body’s systems and organs when you are inverted. It’s like the tide of a mighty river or ocean suddenly reversing. […]
Standing poses give fairly immediate feedback about how a student is travelling at any given time. Is the sense of balance shaky? Are the legs dull? Is the mind overactive? Because the poses make one feel more open and free in the body straightaway, the student is more likely to want to persevere in practising yoga.
Stretching the sides of your body, particularly hips, waist, rib cage, shoulder blades and arms, has benefits for your inner and outer body. In almost any yoga workout, you’ll find simple poses like triangle pose (trikonasana) or side flank stretch (parsvakonasana) enjoyable just because they open up the sides of your body so well.
I’ve heard the notion that the sides of our bodies are lonely parts. I get that. […]
I’ve recently heard of a few people who have suffered falls related to various medical conditions: vision impairment, alzheimer’s, faints, and cancer.
While younger people might pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on, falling can lead to more serious problems in the aged population. Some will suffer bone fractures and breaks but also the gradual diminution of confidence. This may lead to loss of independence and perhaps the eventual need to move into an aged care facility.
Yoga is often touted as beneficial for improving the sense of balance. […]
Stretches your shoulders and improves the flexibility of your upper back.
Calms the brain and nervous system
Improves digestion ans massages and stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Flushes mucous from your lungs.
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause.
Here’s a youtube video to help you find your way into the pose (easier than you think):
Sirsasana is known to be a beneficial posture for dozens of reasons. One of them is that it’s a mood enhancer for many people: it can make you feel happy and uplifted. But not everyone can do it with ease.
A few years ago a student who attended one-to-one sessions learned to do the above version of headstand. Until he found a supported way of doing the pose, he couldn’t do it at all because of his excessive weight. […]
The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Since being on an extended overseas holiday, I’ve been contradicting Emerson’s opinion of the civilized person. Rather, I’ve been experiencing what author and philosophy professor Frederic Gros calls ‘a life scrubbed bare’ and an affirmation of the simple life: walking.
Certain cities of the world are made for walking. I’ve just spent three days in one of them, Old Quebec. […]
Headstand: Weddings, Anniversaries, Birthdays… Anything
The above drawing was done by Soo Balbi on the occasion of our wedding in 1994. I like the message that the card proclaims: this is a non-conformist marriage. It also says that yoga is an important part of Daniel and Eve’s lives, and it can also be done anywhere.
A few years ago I created the YogaAnywhere practice cards. My mission was to encourage people to do yoga wherever and whenever they wanted. ‘The more personal practice the better’, I thought. […]