Posts Tagged ‘yoga’
Counteraction is the key to stabilizing our joints.
The movements of the shoulder blade play an integral role in the stability of your core, but many of us have very stuck shoulder blades. Cat/Cow is a great way to mobilize AND strengthen this system to become a better foundation for all of the poses which bare weight in your hands. Read on for the breakdown, so you can build up your Cat/Cow. Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a clunky metaphor, to be sure. Don’t think I’m not aware of it. But it is a picture I recently drew for a student caught up in the type-A push and pull of yoga practice: how to be patient and remain present in the process when all you want is the freedom of a quiet mind.
Imagine you encounter a dog. A big dog. Let’s say a VERY big dog. This dog is not tethered, is not leashed to any stake. You like the look of this dog, your heart is joyous and full at the prospect of petting and loving and squishing this beautiful dog. And the dog knows it.
The dog gets VERY excited and begins leaping up onto you; paws in your face, tongue in your nose, your ears, your mouth. You try to push it down but it leaps at you again. You try to make it sit, stay, lay down, but it insists on climbing all over you. In it’s desire to please you and love you and be your companion, it actually pushes you away. You leave, quickly, and it takes a long while for you to approach another friendly dog.
But what if this same dog had discipline? What if all of that eager Love were channeled inward and tethered the dog to it’s seat? If you encounter this dog, his tail wagging wildly, bobbing gently from side to side, you may be drawn forward. As you approach this dog it lays down and offers it’s belly to be scratched, so ready to accept your Love instead of imposing it’s Love upon you. You bend down to him, rub his belly, scratch his ears, curl up with him on the ground and cuddle and play. You find that you and the dog have engaged yourselves, together in the moment. One has not overpowered the other, there is no control to gain. When you both are exhausted, you can walk away and the dog curls up in his place and naps.
Now I invite you to roll this around in your head. What if you were the dog and the person was your practice, your quiet moment, your mindless freedom. Which dog do you want to BE?
As yoga teachers, we feel responsible for so much: safety, ego, emotional health, students getting what they think they need, getting students in the door…and that’s just IN the studio. My own personal view: Start Small and Keep It Simple.
A colleague of mine recently emailed regarding a message I offered in one of my last trainings: Stop teaching rhetorically and think critically about what you are offering your students. I am posting her inquiry here and my response; I invite your take on this and an open discussion. Just remember to be nice
I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said about the “rhetoric” that plagues yoga instruction…
I’m really challenging myself and my colleagues to more clearly define what we are doing and why—and for our cues to reflect that.
Specifically, I’m struggling with the cue “open.” I say it so much but I want to get away from that—I want to be able to explain what I mean by “open” to a beginning student.
So I wonder how you would define this idea of “opening” an area of the body, or a tight, specific muscle.
Does that make sense? Please let me know what you think when you have a chance.
I am thrilled to hear you talk about this. The words we use are important, and clearly communicating our intention is a big part of being a successful teacher. You are correct, a word like “open” can be ambiguous at best. I prefer to describe the particulars of the tissue, structure or joint I am referring to…because your description of “opening” may be vastly different for each area.
My own style of teaching has evolved to limit descriptors as much as possible so I can communicate more information in less time. Ex: “right hand reaches to windows” instead of reach your right hand to the window wall”. At first, it may sound robotic, but over time, your voice, your cadence, your tone all bring meaning to these details without using extra words. You can be more direct when describing simple or basic movements. That way, when you begin to describe something more specific, the hip joint for example, the mere fact that you use more detail, or full sentences, draws attention to it’s importance.
I might describe the joint itself:
“there is a fibrous ligament that spirals around the head and neck of the femur bone, holding it into it’s socket. When we sit all day, the fibers of this ligament can get stuck together like velcro, and proper movement here can help pull those fibers apart and soften the tissue. We want to unwind the stickiness that extends through the connective tissue of the muscle and joint for more freedom. If we rush into a deep stretch or bully our way through these sticky spots, our tissue will fight us and even bite back…slow, movement, blood flow…that will serve us.”
I’ve taken a few extra seconds to draw them a mental picture of what their action can accomplish, what they are truly working on. I often refer back to “finding the middle ground”, “explore the edge but don’t push past it…it will move outward on its own”, “balance between length and strength”, “unwind”, “soften”, “melt”; instead of “open”.
I like to teach my students something about the body they’re in. You gotta start small, one little piece at a time. But those little pieces will begin to meet up in their minds to build a bigger view of what they are doing and why. Any time we are offered a meaning for the actions we take, we are more likely to take care in those actions.
I hope that helps! ~R
New Events In Austin, Tx; Seattle & Whidbey Island, WA
I’m pleased to announce the dates for my latest bookings: SAVE THESE DATES!
April 28th, Body of Knowledge: Length and Strength for a Healthy Chaturanga 2-7 pm; Sutra Yoga SEATTLE registration details here
May 19th, Austin Yoga Expo: Heavenly Hips 4:30-5:45 pm; Palmer Events Center, AUSTIN details here
You can look forward to my newsletter outlining these AND more local events. If you are not on the mailing list yet, use this link to join.
My deep thanks to all of you who can and do support my teaching around the country. I appreciate you sharing these dates with anyone you know who may be interested in exploring this practice with us.
Immerse yourself in the details of the spinal tissues and functions, strengths and weaknesses, relationship to our energetic body and nervous system, and how our Asana practice impacts this magnificent feat of engineering.
Sunday, January 29th, 2012; 10 am-2 pm $65 @ Lionheart Yoga Training–3102 30th Ave S., Seattle
Through a combination of Lecture and Asana Practice we will uncover the deeper workings of the spine in our practice to bolster the quality of our teaching. We will outline and discuss the tissues that build the spine, hold it together, and allow for such an amazing range of motion. We’ll cover the common ailments of the spinal tissues and how to best avoid them.
Using 2- and 3-dimensional visual models we will examine the musculature that supports this boney frame and creates the dynamic movements we take for granted each day. Identify the most vulnerable points in the spinal column and learn in detail how to fire the correct muscles to support these places.
Take control of your practice by inviting in a more detailed view of your internal terrain. Observe your own limitations and hypermobilities to improve the quality of your personal practice, and learn to look for them in your students.
While this course is designed for yoga teachers, it is open and appropriate for yoga students eager to gain deeper knowledge of their Asana practice.
Space is extremely limited, Pre-Registration is mandatory! Use this Body Of Knowledge Registration Page to save your space. Only registrants who are paid in full will be guaranteed a slot.
You may submit registration and payment via check payable to Unity Therapeutic, c/o Lionheart Yoga Training, 3102 30th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144
In my last workshop we looked at the anatomy of the hip and discussed some of the risks involved in over-opening this joint. It is rare to think of the hips as having hypermobility, but in the case of advanced practitioners who work diligently at excessive extension and extreme external rotation in this joint, laxity is a common result.
Too much length in the ligaments that hold the joint together, coupled with a lack of direct strengthening of stabilizer muscles may result in degeneration of cartilage tissues and eventually bone. In the most extreme cases, hip replacement will be necessary. The video I have inserted below illustrates the procedure in beautiful detail, showing exactly what a patient will experience in the case of an Anterior Hip Replacement.
While this is done in computer illustration, it is still a powerful representation and may be too graphic for some viewers. I recommend caution in viewing for yourself. I do believe, however, that a more accurate understanding of the potential consequences of our actions in practice, may guide us toward a slower, more observant practice on our mat.
I would love your feedback on this post, as I plan to use more material of this sort in my quest to open up the world of anatomy and physiology to my community of heartfelt asana practitioners.
Taking my Yoga to the next level means…
I am so excited to announce the opening of my new yoga studio, UniverseCity Yoga. For those of you not on my Facebook Fan-list, or not receiving my newsletter….this may be news to you. For everyone else….please bear with me one more time.
I have taken my work as a healer and teacher very seriously for the past ten years, but have always felt something was missing. Recently, I was forced to recognize that my work in this world is not limited to my one on one interactions with people…I held within me the makings of something more expansive.
Admittedly, for a long while I had faced the difficult decision of how and when to return to the yoga teaching I love. After all, I have a full-time massage practice, teach periodic Anatomy trainings….then there is that whole jewelry bit. When was I thinking I would add those yoga classes? Well, leave it to me….
Instead of just adding hours to my weekly schedule, I went for the whole shebang. I knew that there were so many studios that just didn’t align well with my own ideals of a teacher/studio relationship. I knew I had to do something different. I came up with a revolutionary model (if I do say so myself) and started pitching it to teachers. I really wanted for someone else to take the reigns…I didn’t want to be an administrator. But in the end, it was me and only me who would pull the trigger. I was prodded by some loving friends and some interesting professional circumstances….and so was born UniverseCity Yoga. I wanted to build a space that honored the teacher, the student and the practice; a place that could help build community, build careers, build the practice in the most cooperative way possible. I honestly think we can achieve that here.
Internally, I had said “no” to this endeavor for a long time. But now that the wheels have turned and the steps are being taken, it feels so natural. This space is one that I have imagined in my mind’s eye for a very long time. We made a mad dash to get the doors open and now it feels like this tree is just starting to grow tiny buds. I know that it won’t be long before the flowers bloom and the leaves unfurl into a lush and abundant fruit-bearer.
I look forward to welcoming you in person. Until then, Namaste.
Many new yogis find the practice daunting and even unnerving as they venture off the street and onto the mat. If you haven’t studied up on the practice and it’s potential components, and you just don’t know what to expect, you may feel intimidated by the things you don’t know: sanskrit names for postures, what that breathing thing is all about, and maybe most of all, the chants and words stated or sung at the beginning and end of class. Here is a primer on a basic class and the meaning behind “namaste”. Read the rest of this entry »