Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All about balance...

My yoga class in Florida is in an "over 55" community.  Some members of the class are in the lower age range and some are not.  All of them, though, have expressed some interest in maintaining their "balance".  I always have a balance pose or two towards the end of the class.  They're fully warmed up at this point - and by the time the balance sequence is finished, they are more than ready for relaxation.

Yesterday, though, I decided to have a "balance workshop" where we focused on how there is balance in all our poses.  Using a strap for arm stretches, we brought our awareness to both sides of the body - noticing the difference between the arms/shoulders, etc., after spending time on the right - and prior to moving to the left.  We then moved to practicing several standing balance poses.  Although there is the tendency to worry about being able to stand on one foot, I like to suggest that instead they focus on what part of the pose they "can" do.  Can you reach your arms up in a sun salute?  Can you bring your right foot back just a little keeping your toes on the ground?  Do you feel steady?  Are you able to gently move forward?  Can you lean on the back of the chair?  Breaking down poses step by step seems to be less intimidating and promotes encouragement. 

The class as a whole looked beautiful in their balance poses.  But, I did suggest a little homework for "practice" and, of course, this brought gales of laughter.  "When you're brushing your teeth tonight, try placing your other hand on the vanity and see if you can stand on one foot." 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

N.Y. Times article - How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

First off, let me say that I think the title of this article was purely intended for "shock" value - and probably for a little self-promotion.  The writer has a book coming out next month on the science of yoga - risks and rewards. 

To be sure, there are some yoga classes that are truly not suitable for every body.  And, yes, there are some teachers who may be encouraging/urging students to go beyond their current capabilities.  With that in mind, the student must be diligent about her own safety.  Many poses pose danger for someone not in the best condition - or someone with an injury or other limitation.   In my yoga classes, safety is paramount to any posture we do.  I talk "safety" throughout the class.  "No pain".  "Only go as far as comfortable for you today."  "Listen to your body."  Unfortunately, we, as a society, put so much emphasis on comparing ourselves to the next guy, winning at all costs, pushing the envelope, etc., that we potentially set ourselves up for failure...or in the case of yoga, a physical injury. 

Ultimately, in my view, it is the student's responsibility to tune in to her body - recognize where you are, become aware of what you can do, pay attention and notice what's happening.  And, then begin the search for the teacher who recognizes that in you and works with you in that honoring process.

Here's a link to the article in question: