Trouble Getting Started? Make It Doable

In May, walking past a Little Free Library in Kitsilano, a book title caught my eye: 3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life. That very day, I was finalizing a blog post on chronic pain. What a coincidence. The book was “like new” and I couldn’t resist taking it. Written by Joseph Weisberg, a physical therapist,…… Continue reading Trouble Getting Started? Make It Doable

10-Minute Tree Pose: Adventures in Long Holds

The first one-legged balance pose that I learned was Vrksasana (Tree pose). It was doable, although somewhat unpredictable and nerve-wracking. There’s no mistaking if you’re standing—or not. Over the years, I made friends with Tree pose, so aptly named. I now practice and teach it regularly. During the pandemic, Vrksasana made it into my heavy…… Continue reading 10-Minute Tree Pose: Adventures in Long Holds

Why Are You Doing What You Do?

For several years, “Sam” regularly attended my yoga classes with his wife. One day, she arrived alone and said, somewhat apologetically, “He needs it, for sure, but he just didn’t see enough change.” Sam was lean and fit at middle age. He enjoyed running and had tight hamstrings, a troublesome shoulder, and occasional back pain.…… Continue reading Why Are You Doing What You Do?

Being adaptable

When I first met her, my yoga student “Dana” was into endurance sports. Each summer she’d take a break from yoga to train for a triathlon. She loved the outdoors and spent her weekends in Vancouver’s surrounding mountains, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, whatever the season dictated. A couple of years ago, Dana faced major health issues,…… Continue reading Being adaptable

Are you in touch with your breath?

In January I somehow pulled a muscle in my back while teaching. Exactly when and how I did it, I don’t know. Perhaps I twisted too deeply demonstrating Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose). I was teaching “cold,” from not warming up beforehand and from the freezing winter temperature outside. Toward the end of class…… Continue reading Are you in touch with your breath?

My winter of Supta Virasana

This winter I’m teaching Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) every week in my two-hour classes. Every week. Will simple repetition boost progress in this surprisingly demanding restorative pose? If taught only occasionally, students never familiarize themselves with it. Most require elaborate prop set-ups to accommodate tight quadriceps and iliopsoas, knee and ankle issues, and so forth. If unfamiliar with the pose, they can’t remember how to…… Continue reading My winter of Supta Virasana

Should you go upside-down if you have glaucoma?

Inverted poses are important in Iyengar yoga. Senior practitioners often cite an inversion as their most essential pose. (Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) seems to be a favorite.) Can anyone do inversions? General contraindications include spinal disorders, hypertension, and glaucoma. Recently, however, I’ve met yoga students with glaucoma who do brief inversions with the approval of their ophthalmologists. Hmm… Around the same time, I…… Continue reading Should you go upside-down if you have glaucoma?

Yoga and mirrors: do they mix?

At my sister’s home in Santa Cruz, I do a brief yoga practice before breakfast with my niece. In my bedroom, there are large mirrored closet doors. I typically face away from the mirrors. During my last trip, however, I ended up doing Sirsasana (headstand) facing the mirror. A sofa blocked my line of sight, so all I…… Continue reading Yoga and mirrors: do they mix?

Case study: hamstring strain (or something)

In early 2014, I strained a left hamstring muscle near the origin. Or an external rotator in the left hip. Or something.  It snuck up on me. There was no acute injury. I simply noticed less range of motion (ROM) in straight-legged, forward-bending poses, marked by a pulling sensation on the lateral side of the sitting bone. Initially I was sure that whatever…… Continue reading Case study: hamstring strain (or something)