Friday, May 1, 2009

The Authentic Sub

One of the characteristics of a yoga teacher's life is that we often have to find subs for our classes. I have been on all 3 sides of this equation: the student's side, the permanent teacher's side and the substitute teacher's side. When I come in to teach someone else's class, I try to respect what the students have been learning, if possible. (Sometimes I get no information about their class, so I just go in and teach what I am called to teach.) Most times, I'll have a clue as to what the students expect, and I try to honor that. In the past 5 years of teaching, I've noticed that trying to please everyone ends up pleasing no one. So now, I walk a line between honoring the permanent teacher and staying true to what I am called to teach. That may mean that my upcoming stint as a power yoga sub does not include all the planks and chaturangas (yogic push ups) that the students are used to... but it will feel more energetically sound than if I were to try for something that doesn't fit me. Who knows, maybe they will appreciate a difference? One of my very favorite teachers is Marti Foster. I experienced Marti as a student when she came to sub a class I was taking. Her style is unique, and certainly contrasted the permanent teacher's, and I loved it! Yoga resonates differently for everyone, but I know I have to stay within my frequency, even as a sub.

What we are practicing now...
Vasisthasana (side plank) is a heat-building pose that requires healthy wrists and shoulders and a strong core. If you are not quite there yet, please see the modifications below.

To come in to the pose, take plank pose (the top part of a push-up). Feel a slight round through your upper back as you support your shoulders, and do not arch your lower back. Bring your right hand directly under your face, spreading your fingers wide. Roll onto the outside edge of your right foot (keep your legs straight), and stack your ankles. Lift your hips slightly and draw your inner thighs together and up. Extend your left arm up and feel your wrists stacking. Breathe here, then release back to plank for the other side. Rest your wrists when you have completed both sides.

For more challenge, take Vasisthasana as described above. Begin to lift the top, unanchored leg off the other leg. Go slowly as you would any balancing pose. If it feels good, begin to bend that leg (like a tree pose), possibly taking hold of the big toe with the up-stretched hand and extending both into the air. Breathe here and come out with control. Repeat on the other side.

Modifications for this pose depend on the area of weakness. If the core is not yet strong enough, come into half circle pose (see reverse gate pose on this asana page) and work on lifting that back leg a little. If the wrists are compromised, try the plank and side plank on the forearms instead.

Schedule updates...
Lorien will be teaching the following special classes in May:

  • Thursday, May 7 12:00-1:00pm: Power Yoga at Decathlon Club in Santa Clara
  • Saturday, May 9 10:00-11:30am: Yoga Soup at Willow Glen Yoga in San Jose
  • Tuesday, May 26 10:00-11:15am: Yin Yoga at Courtside Club in Los Gatos; this is a new permanent class for the schedule!