Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yoga Poison, Yoga Nectar... You Decide

I recently had a conversation with another teacher as we were leaving a class we were both students in, and it made me think. I mentioned to him that I had trained and was teaching Therapeutic yoga, and he commented that all yoga is therapeutic. I agreed with him... to a point. There is a saying that one man's nectar can be another's poison. Those of you who have been in my classes know that not all poses are appropriate for all students, and the same is true for classes, teachers and entire schools of yoga. It is challenging to know which one is right for you, which is why I always recommend people try a class on and see if it "fits".

It's important to remember that subtle changes are happening during our practice. Sometimes, we need to be still and quiet in order to sense these subtleties, and sometimes we just need rest. For example, I can perform some of the more challenging postures that make me look like a member of Cirque du Soliel, but my personal practice leans more towards the yin or restorative to balance the rest of my life. The balance is how we make yoga a therapeutic
application, along with slowing down and listening.

So is all yoga therapeutic? Yes, no, and it depends is my answer... today's poison may be tomorrow's nectar.

What we are practicing now...
Resting Half Moon pose is a restorative pose that brings about some subtle changes to the spine's supporting muscles. It stretches the intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) and the serratus posterior inferior and frees the diaphragm, benefiting respiration; lengthens the quadratus lumborum, freeing adhesions in this often tight muscle; creates a squeeze and soak for many internal organs, such as the stomach, liver, and kidneys. You will need one bolster and one or more blankets. To come into the pose:

  • Place your bolster with one or more blankets stacked on top to your right. Position the support perpendicular to the spine. Sitting on your right hip, use the left hand to ensure the right rib cage lengthens as you extend the torso up and over the support (if it feels too intense on the shoulder, check that your waist is on the bolster, not armpit). As you come deeper into the pose, slide the right hand out and along the floor straight above the head. Your head may rest on your right arm or a folded blanket.
  • Slide the left leg forward and the right leg back behind you to create a scissor shape. Or, just extend both legs straight, one resting on top of the other. Stretch your left arm over your head and bring the palms together, or clasp the left wrist with the right hand to deepen the stretch through the left side. Be here for 2-5 minutes.
  • To come out of the pose, place the left hand on top of the bolster. Bring the legs together with the knees bent. Using the strength of your arms slowly press up to a seated position. Change sides.
Schedule updates and events...
  • Saturday, October 17th, 1:00-3:15pm: Seva Workshop with Lorien & Debora Cohen at Willow Glen Yoga in San Jose. Join us for a vinyasa and yin yoga class, followed by guided meditation. All donations go towards Tina Tran's Seva challenge for humanitarian efforts in Uganda; please click here for more information. If you are not available for the workshop, but wish to donate towards her efforts, please go to Groundspring and select "Seva Challenge" and "Tina Tran". Thank you!
  • Saturday, October 4th, 3:00-4:30pm: Qi Gong with Larry Wong in Campbell. This is where I learn all those fun energy moving techniques. Come learn from my teacher. See the GGBC website for more information. Hope to see you there!