I’ll be the first to admit that, hard as I try, my memory often fails me while teaching classes. There is a lot to think about and my mind tends toward entropy. Here are a few questions that frequently pop into my head while teaching:
What is the next posture in this sequence?
Did I cue the correct side?
Last, but not least…Who did I adjust on the first side of this posture?
This post addresses #3. When I was first teaching, I used to wander around the room, assisting the people I deemed most in need of an adjustment. This resulted in me zig-zagging randomly around the room. When the time came to adjust the posture on the second side, I couldn’t remember who I had adjusted on the first side.
Here is a quick tip for remembering to adjust the same person on both sides. Break the room into sections (front right, back left, etc.) and stay in one section for a particular asana sequence. Within that section, move from person to person. Place yourself in that section for the second side and you’ll be surprised at how being in the right place at the right time will trigger your memory. Hope that helps bring more consistency to your adjusting.
I just posted a new class sequence focusing on stimulating the 2 lower chakras, muladhara and svadisthana. Learn how to stimulate these vital energy centers here.
There are so many other poses I could have included…bhujangasana (cobra), garudasana, upavishta konasana, … What poses would you include?
Have you ever practiced yoga in the dark? I’m not aiming for a clever metaphor here. I literally mean in a dark room. Pitch black; where there is a period of time as you transition from light to dark when your vision is temporarily useless. Real darkness.
At the start of each class, I ask students if there is a pose or body part that they would like to work on. One of the most frequent requests is for hip openers. It’s in the top 10 along with neck and shoulders. Hmmm…all places we commonly carry stress.
The anatomy of the hip is complicated to say the least and there is a spectrum of physical reasons our hips tighten. The desk jockey’s inactivity and the runner’s repetitive muscle contractions are just a couple.
There are also emotional reasons that cause the hips to feel closed off. In yoga, the pelvis is often referred to as the body’s ‘junk drawer’. It’s the perfect analogy. In it, we stuff experiences and emotions that we don’t know what else to do with. From an energetic anatomy perspective, the pelvis contains our first and second chakras, energy centers. The first chakra, muladhara, is located at the perineum and is associated with our root survival needs for nourishment and security. The second, svadhisthana, is just a couple of inches above muladhara and is associated with our sexuality and how we communicate with others. You can probably think of your own ‘junk’ related to these chakras that you have stashed in here.
What would you think if I called you a poser? Isn’t everyone who practices yoga a poser? Or are we? I guess that depends on how you define poser. I’m thinking of it in 2 ways:
a person who aligns their body into yoga poses
a person who acts like something they aren’t
From my perspective, we all start out being both. Now you might be saying, wait just one minute missy, I love yoga. I’m no poser! Let me explain.
Can you remember when you first stepped on a yoga mat? For me, it was at Innerlight yoga studio in Newport, RI. It was 1996. This was a traumatically whirlwind year for me. I started a new job as a software engineer with IBM. I had recently moved to Rhode Island, having renovated a small cottage on the Sakonnet River with my husband. It was to be our dream home. It was also the year my husband died of leukemia. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through that challenging year.
Anxiety is a normal element of life. At its root, protective. Sometimes there is an identifiable source, sometimes there is a generalized feeling of unrest. Either way, the presence of anxiety is a message, a bit of information, that something unsavory is building up in you.
I’d love it if we could develop an immunity or get an anti-anxiety vaccine. That would be simple and neat, but a greater wisdom tells me this desire is a bit off the mark.
Sans vaccine, maybe we can just ignore anxiety and hope it goes away? As I write this, I’m hearing my mother say: “Just ignore your brothers and they’ll stop bothering you.” My brothers can attest that this strategy had a low success rate. Ditto for ignoring anxiety. Sure, you might bury it for a time, but I’ve had enough psychotherapy to know that anything repeatedly pushed away will eventually gush out in surprising ways. Have you ever struggled to neatly open a bag of chips only to have the bag rip apart causing a chipocalypse? It’s like that – unexpected and messy.
You never know where inspiration for a blog entry will come from. Yesterday, I took a great yoga class with 4 variations of eagle. This morning, I got an e-mail from my brother with with some amazing photos of eagles. Now, I’m not one to ignore cosmic forces and write this off as coincidence – so here goes my thoughts on eagle pose and how one of my favorite teachers morphed it 4 ways.
Precede garudasana with warm up poses that open your upper back, shoulders (cat/cow, adho mukha svanasana, plank, …) and hips (trikonasana, parivritta trikonasana, virasana, gomukhasana, …). Follow up with poses that are energetically opening, such as backbends, to balance the compact energy of garudasana.
Yoga can be really boring. Yes, there…I’ve said it. Phew! Well, it can. As a teacher, I’m not sure it’s ok to admit such things about a practice I love, but I’m not fond of ignoring my reality and it feels good to get this off my chest. I’m sure you’ve been in that class where there are one too many sun salutations in a row and you start wondering if the teacher is actually trying to get you to build internal heat or just filling time. I know, as ‘good’ yogis or yoginis we are supposed to be able to shut out all such distracting thoughts and focus on the breath, but that can be a challenge.