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
A critical teacher
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
Fear of falling
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
The kombucha incident
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
The Inner Game of Yoga
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!
How to eat an almond croissant
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
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?
Nine signs that I’m in Hilo, my hometown
1. A Hilo downpour There’s nothing like falling asleep to the loud drumbeat of a Hilo rainstorm. In a downpour, you’d be soaked in a minute. When I moved to Vancouver, I was a bit disappointed with the misty drizzle, blowing into my face and frizzing my hair, lacking the satisfaction of palpable pounding raindrops.…… Continue reading Nine signs that I’m in Hilo, my hometown
Yoga with Abhijata and a thousand classmates
I try to avoid formal gatherings, red-eye flights, checked baggage, and yoga classes too large to allow eye contact with the teacher. But I was curious about the 2016 Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States convention in Boca Raton. I wanted to experience the teaching of Geeta Iyengar, who didn’t teach during my August 2014 trip to Pune. When she had…… Continue reading Yoga with Abhijata and a thousand classmates