During a Vancouver workshop with John Schumacher last year, I was surprised to hear his instructions on exiting Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand). “Lie down,” he said, “keep your shoulders on the blankets, head on the floor.” What? My typical shoulderstand … Continue reading Give me one reason
In San Francisco last summer, Lois Steinberg analyzed Virabhadrasana II for a long time. Most students attending the five-day workshop were teachers or experienced students. But Warrior II was nevertheless a worthy challenge. Using an adept student as a demo model, … Continue reading Look closely, see deeply
Why are your feet apart? You’re only halfway. Bend your knees more! Lift your chest! Lift! I received these corrections (and more) from Chris Saudek during her recent workshop in Victoria. I wasn’t surprised. I’d met this master Iyengar yoga … Continue reading A critical teacher
I don’t play golf, but I recently read W Timothy Gallwey‘s The Inner Game of Golf (1981). A few years ago, I read his classic The Inner Game of Tennis (1974), a favorite among top coaches including Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll. … Continue reading The Inner Game of Yoga
Once, I offended a yoga student by adjusting her leg with my foot. I was teaching Supta Padangusthasana 1: While adjusting her raised leg, I noticed her supine leg flopping outward. Since I was standing, I used my foot to … Continue reading No offense!
Say a yoga teacher walks into class wearing a Bernie Sanders T-shirt. She is making a statement. Is this appropriate for a yoga teacher? On one hand, making a political or any personal statement is not fundamentally wrong. Her quality as a teacher is not based on her political stance. … Continue reading Should a yoga teacher “make a statement”?
In my everyday life in Vancouver, yoga plays a major role in my identity. People know me as yoga classmate, colleague, teacher, and blogger. People whom I’ve never met know me as YogaSpy; my blog is our connection. In contrast, my closest family … Continue reading Back to yoga teaching and blogging
Visiting San Francisco last summer, I took a few classes at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, within walking distance from my friend’s house. “Have you done Iyengar yoga before?” a front-desk staffer asked me when I arrived. “Yes,” I nodded and smiled, but said … Continue reading Going “undercover” as a yoga student
For four weeks last spring, I taught Iyengar yoga to 40 teenagers. All were academically gifted students enrolled in an early-admission university program. While a couple had done yoga in elementary school or with Wii Fit, most had never attended a single yoga class. Thank goodness they were split into two groups of 20. Teens, no matter how advanced academically, behave nothing like adults in class! While I taught a particular subset of teenagers, here are my observation on teaching teens versus adults: Teens can’t stop talking I mistakenly assumed that because these kids were stellar students, they would immediately shut their traps and listen silently (as do adult students). No way! They … Continue reading On teaching teens
“I couldn’t stop crying in Savasana,” my friend Elaine once told me. She was struggling through a bad time and finally, in yoga class, she felt at ease. It was such a relief that she broke down. Yoga can catalyze emotions in people. I’ve witnessed spontaneous crying, during or after asana, most likely at all-day workshops. The hours and hours of yoga, the divergence from routine, somehow trigger emotional release. I myself can’t recall ever crying in class. For me, yoga has the opposite benefit. Asana (even a strenuous session) calms my mood swings. If I’m on the verge of losing it, yoga steers me to a … Continue reading Have you ever cried in yoga class?
The other day, teaching at a community centre, I did an elevated Chatushpadasana (Bridge pose), feet on chair. Props are minimal, but include thick mats, foam blocks, and straps. I resorted to supporting my shoulders with a folded-up mat. During my demo, I immediately realized that one mat was inadequate, but nevertheless worked the pose. After exiting, I directed students to use more height. That afternoon, my upper trapezius was aching. Did I hyperflex my cervical spine?! I regretting holding my demo at the expense of my body. My fault, I know. Ironically, I escaped whiplash when rear-ended at a stoplight … Continue reading Making money from yoga teaching
“Do you still take classes?” a student asked, upon hearing that I’d be attending a weekend workshop. For a moment I was speechless. I can’t imagine ever not taking classes. I explained that most Iyengar yoga teachers continue taking classes and workshops (and, if possible, trips to RIMYI in India)–for life. That weekend workshop was taught by Mahyar Raz, a Junior Advanced II level teacher based in Toronto and Tehran. Attendees ranged from decades-long practitioners to keen novices. Many, including myself, were unfamiliar with Mahyar, who delved deeply, with drama and with humor, into the fundamentals. Click here for a few … Continue reading The humility to learn