Friday, June 25, 2010

Yoga and Summer Activities / Summer discount for private lessons

It's summer, and the weather is gorgeous!    We've been out to a local lake a couple times to swim and kayak, I've been walking more, and of course doing more yard work (mowing the grass, weeding).

Because of my yoga practice, these summer activities don't leave me feeling overly sore or tired, because my body is already mostly "in shape" for what I want to do.

Of course I do feel a little sore after doing  these activities for the first time since last summer, but not nearly as much as if I didn't have my yoga practice!

And from learning to use the body efficiently in yoga, I know how to figure out how to use the body more efficiently in my other activities.


Maybe you've also experienced that your practice of yoga asanas (postures) has resulted in more ease and less pain in your other activities.

Often people's schedules change somewhat during the summer.  Some yoga students have time to take more yoga classes, and some have less time because of travel and other activities.   I suggest that you not giving up yoga entirely during the summer (you knew I'd say that, right?), because of the benefits that extend into your other activities.

You may also be interested in taking Individual or Small Group lessons where you chose the theme of the lesson.   Maybe you'd like help figuring out how yoga can benefit your other summer activities.

Or maybe you'd like assistance in figuring out how yoga can help you with minor health issues.   Or to work on problem poses, or just to ask questions about your practice.

For the rest of this summer, through August 31, 2010, I'm offering a discount for Individual/Small group lessons.
1 hour for $60 (rather than $70)

This works best if you've already taken a few regular classes with me, just so I can get to know how your body works in various poses.

This discount isn't currently listed on the Harmony Yoga of Ann Arbor website.   You can contact me for more information, or talk to me before or after your class.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Story of the Yoga Warrior Poses

The Yoga Warrior Poses are beautiful but vigorous poses that require strength, stamina, and awareness to hold with integrity for any length of time.   The arms and legs need to be able to fully extend, the hips, shoulders, and spine require flexibility, and the back and spinal muscles need to be strong to keep the trunk lengthening and to keep the low back and belly from sagging forward.

Much practice is needed to be able to do these poses well!

The Sanskrit name for the Yoga Warrior Poses, Virabhadrasana, comes from the great hero warrior, Virabhadra, from Hindu mythology.   Virabhadra was created by one of the Hindu gods, Shiva, to avenge the death of Shiva's beloved wife, Sati. 

Yoga students sometimes ask why we practice Warrior poses, since isn't the practice of yoga supposed to help us become more peaceful.

We can look at the practice of these poses as a metaphor for battling our own ignorance and ego.   We can think of our own "spiritual warrior" nature as developing the courage and awareness to deal with our life's challenging moments.

To learn more about the Warrior Poses, and about the story of Virabhadra, read The Story of the Yoga Warrior Poses (the newest of my Squidoo yoga lenses).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Going Deeper Into the Poses

When we are beginning yoga students and just starting to learn the basic yoga poses, our understanding is understandably superficial for some time. We learn where to put our body parts -- our arms, legs, head and trunk. We learn the basic techniques of straightening and stretching our arms and legs, and of lifting and opening the chest. We learn basic key elements of movement and alignment. We paint the "picture" of our beginning poses with broad strokes.

As we practice these basic poses over time, we become stronger, more flexible and stable, and more aware of how our body works, which readies us for more difficult poses.

When we become more experienced, we add refinement to the poses. We're given extra detail in the instructions to fine-tune our alignment and to strengthen our level of concentration. We learn to pay attention to the finer details while still maintaining the whole of the pose with integrity. This brings our minds to a state of inner steadiness.

It makes no sense to add these "refinements" too early in our practice and learning.

Compare the videos below --

Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, John Schumacher gives good, clear instructions and demonstration for Utthita trikonasana -- Extended triangle pose. This set of basic instructions is good for beginners and for more seasoned students. (Note that he is "mirroring" the instructions. So if you are following his instructions, he is your mirror, i.e. while he tells you to turn your right leg out, he is turning his left leg out.)

John Schumacher has a series of these YouTube videos for a number of the basic yoga poses, and they're all clearly presented. Anyone who is a serious yoga student or yoga teacher would benefit from watching these videos.

Contrast the previous video with the following video of Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, Lois Steinberg, teaching Utthita trikonasana to a group of experienced students (in Poland). These students have proficiency in the basics and are being taught some rather intriguing details that would not be helpful or appropriate for beginners. For seasoned students, though, this type of work deepens their understanding of the pose.

Any pose becomes endlessly fascinating as we learn to work more deeply in the pose.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Matthew Sanford - Paraplegic Iyengar Yoga Teacher

Matthew Sanford is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher from the Minneapolis metropolitan area....but he is paralyzed from the chest down.

Some of you may have heard The Body's Grace: Matthew Sanford's Story on NPR's Speaking of Faith this past week (May 27 and May 30), which is a re-broadcast from 2006.  (Thanks, Julie, for telling me about it!)

Matthew Sanford was 13 when his was in a devastating car accident that killed his father and sister and left him paralyzed from the chest down.

When he was 25, he was introduced to the practice of yoga by Iyengar Yoga teacher Jo Zukovich.   He eventually became a yoga teacher himself, and teaches to both dis-abled and able-bodied students.   He is the founder of the non-profit Mind Body Solutions, wrote the book "Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Trancendence", and travels around the country teaching yoga and giving talks about the mind body connection.

His story is a fascinating and inspiring one!   For more information, check out:

Matthew Sanford - Paraplegic Yoga Teacher 
This is my article.

The Body's Grace: Matthew Sanford's Story
From NPR's Speaking of Faith.   It includes links to a transcript, podcast and video

Matthew Sanford's website 
Waking mind and body.

Mind Body Solutions
Transform trauma, loss and disability into hope and potential by awakening the connection between mind and body.