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.
Sequencing a yoga class is akin to choreographing a dance. Like a dance, a yoga class should have a sense of flow and feel coherent. At the same time, it should target a variety of postures to open energy channels throughout the body.
There are hundreds of basic yoga poses. Add to to those, the myriad variations of these postures and teachers have thousands of postures to choose from. Sorting through these variations to create a fluid and safe class sequence can be a real challenge. This challenge, luckily, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with a basic framework and add variety from there. Continue reading →
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.
As a yoga student, before I started teaching, I would often think about the how poses were sequenced in terms of how my body felt going through the sequence. I would notice whether I felt warmed up enough for a pose or if it felt too cooling or heat building in the moment. There wasn’t a lot of consideration beyond acknowledging whether or not it felt good and if I thought it was fun. As a teacher, I am amazed at the creative sequences I see other teachers put together and have a vast appreciation for a well-sequenced class.