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, she emphasized how the bent knee must rotate outward to elongate the groins and adductors.…… Continue reading Look closely, see deeply
Writing a memoir is much trickier than it seems. It can come across as indulgent, fake, or just plain boring. If the theme is obviously philosophical or spiritual, there’s even greater risk of grating on the reader. So I kept my expectations in check when Ray Brooks approached me about copyediting his second memoir—now published as The…… Continue reading Seeing versus seeking
A few weeks ago, a friend forwarded me a photo of yoga students seated in Sukhasana, eyes closed. “Got this in an email. I see you!” he wrote. I immediately recognized the setting: September 2016. Firooza Razvi workshop. Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco (IYISF). I attended that workshop and, sure enough, there I was.…… Continue reading Yoga is not a photo-op
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
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 teacher at three prior workshops, and I expected sharp feedback. She doesn’t miss a thing,…… Continue reading A critical teacher
In Berkeley in the late 1990s, I learned to balance in Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand) step by step. At first I didn’t even try to balance, but just kicked up to a wall, one leg at a time. Once up, I’d try moving my feet away from the wall. Wobbly at first, I eventually could…… Continue reading Fear of falling
I was curious about a newish “tea bar” on Main Street in Vancouver. Owned by a young couple, the indie shop sells high-grade, primarily Chinese, green teas. On one hand, it sounded a bit precious. On the other hand, green tea—typically Japanese sencha or gyokuro—is my morning drink of choice and I’m picky about quality.…… Continue reading The kombucha incident
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. I don’t play tennis either, but I’m interested in Gallwey’s theories on learning and peak…… 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 inwardly rotate and ground her thigh, while I simultaneously reminded all students to perform these…… Continue reading No offense!
One winter afternoon in Vancouver, I sat at a cafe, drinking tea and writing in my notebook. Occasionally I’d open the novel I was reading, check my iPhone, or gaze out the window. After a while, my friend arrived. Amid our conversation, I noticed a grey-haired man seated nearby with an espresso and an almond croissant. He was neither reading, nor staring…… Continue reading How to eat an almond croissant
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?
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