A couple of articles here on the changing approaches to yoga. First, the brilliant Matthew Remski writing about ‘extreme practice and injury in asana’ and also touching on the online trend of posting pictures of extreme yoga poses which, for most of us, are completely inaccessible.
‘Pattabhi Jois was fond of the adage, “With enough heat, even iron will bend”. But this new rationalist yoga discourse imposes clearer limits upon the aspirational body, insisting that muscles do not get “longer”, and pain is not an “opening” – except in a pathological sense. The primal dream of bodily transformation through “being worked into a noodle”, as Jois student Annie Pace described it, is being eclipsed by the simpler goal of enhancing a natural range of motion for functional movement.’ See more here.
On a similar note, Jenni Rawlings discusses how our different body proportions affect our practice, stressing the importance of moving away from the ‘one-pose fits all’ approach in yoga, which can force the body into shapes that could cause injury by focusing on the aesthetics of the pose:
‘In the yoga world, we often conceive of asanas as having one final form that we are all striving to “achieve” or “finish.” But when we learn to appreciate the role that our unique body proportions play in what our specific yoga poses look like (or how hard we might be working in our shapes), we can start to broaden our notion of what it means to “progress” in yoga practice. Ultimately, our top priority in any asana should be for the shape to serve the individual body performing it; how the pose looks will then be a natural byproduct of that goal.’ For the full article see here
I will be starting two new yoga classes on Tuesdays at St Thomas’s House in Salisbury. Classes will be 6-7pm and 7.15-8.15pm with the first classes on 14th July 2015. Further details can be found on my ‘timetable’ page.
Please contact me if you would like to reserve a spot.
Image from here
Think about the different ways you sit throughout the day- there are so many options (see below), but how many do you actually use? Katy Bowman (again!) has written loads on varying your movements and posted this image on postural habits around the world in this article.
‘When a man is narrating a story, he sits on his crossed legs … During a meal he kneels on his left knee and sits on his left heel … while inspecting anything or testing a weapon, he kneels on both knees and sits on his heels, … when he washes his hands, he squats … When it is hot, he lies down on his stomach … when he takes a nap … he turns over on his back …’
Bedouin sitting and reclining habits as described by Alois Musil (1928) in this interesting article.
‘Mudras are a way to experience yoga in our hands, most often as seals that direct or retain energy in the body. Different mudras cultivate different energies, and for me, they bridge the gap between one’s physical and meditative practices. If you’re more apt to practice stillness, mudras are a great way to add more physicality to your practice. If you’re an asana junkie, they can bring a meditative aspect to your practice. They are absolutely universal and can be practiced almost anywhere! The lotus mudra is particularly lovely.’ Text and image from here
This week we’re considering the hands and wrists. We’re thinking about keeping our wrists and fingers mobile and healthy through variation in movement, and also how best to use the hands to support us in poses to avoid injury or strain. Here’s a handy guide on where to place the weight in downward dog:
We tend to push a lot with our hands in yoga, supporting weight through our hands in many poses, but never actually ‘pulling’ with our hands. It’s important to keep the joints healthy and not trapped in the same movement patterns by using the hands, wrists, and shoulders in other ways, for example hanging:
Katy Bowman has a great article here on preparing for hanging and swinging, with variety being the key:
‘Vary your hand positions and vary the surfaces you hang from. Vary the bars and sometimes head for the trees. Size and texture are variables. So are scapula and hand positions. The more you mix it up, the more of “you” you invite to the party.’
‘So do flux and reflux- the rhythm of change-alternate and persist in everything under the sky.’ Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
reaching the centre
in yoga practice
you try to reach that centre inside your body
from which it is possible to expand…
in yoga, with listening, with attention
with the clarity that comes from the practice
slowly slowly slowly
you touch the spot from which you can expand
into the ground and into space
Challenge your centre
‘To stabilise your body around neutral, and in particular your core, limits movement in the spine whilst also limiting…full movement potential.
How can we know where centre is if we don’t know where the boundary or limits to our centre are?’ Gary Ward, What the Foot?
Handstand images from Natural Handstands.