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?

The yoga “demonstration”

In my first class for teens, I taught an active, but basic, sequence, with lots of jumpings and standing poses. Most were absolute beginners; even the basics were demanding. After class, however, the teens’ teacher, an Iyengar yoga student herself, made a request. “Next week show them some of the fancy poses,” she said. “Fire them up. They don’t know anything about…… Continue reading The yoga “demonstration”

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 I’d…… Continue reading Case study: hamstring strain (or something)

Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

Before a pranayama class at RIMYI in Pune last August, we students were sprawled on our mats. Some sitting, some chatting; others, like me, lying down leg stretches. When the teacher, Rajlaxmi, entered the room and settled herself on a bolster, I swung up, sit-up style. “Lie back down!” she yelled. What? In a flash, we…… Continue reading Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

Unsupported shoulderstand?

A friend pointed me to a blog post, “Please, NO Lifts in Shoulderstand,” by Sandra Sammartino, a yoga teacher based in White Rock, BC. My initial response? No way. In Salamba Sarvangasana the overwhelming majority of people need shoulder support, such as folded blankets. Then I stopped and caught myself. In my prior post, “Learning on your…… Continue reading Unsupported shoulderstand?

No false praise in Iyengar yoga

Skimming through an issue of Common Ground, a Bay Area “consciousness” magazine, I spotted a photo of a slim young woman in Dhanurasana. Her pose was all wrong, painfully so, with a collapsed chest, convex thoracic spine, and widely splayed knees. The image accompanied a woman’s essay on surviving depression and addiction with the help of yoga. Incredibly, the image must have…… Continue reading No false praise in Iyengar yoga

Tadasana feet: what is parallel?

Recently a physiotherapist asked me to stand, feet apart, facing a mirror. When I did, she said, “Your feet are slightly turned inward.” In the mirror I saw my feet aligned in Tadasana. I then repositioned them to show my natural alignment, a bit more outwardly turned (yet still more or less parallel). That made me reconsider my Tadasana feet: To avoid excess turnout…… Continue reading Tadasana feet: what is parallel?

Yoga “demonstrations” in the YouTube age

http://youtu.be/VAaxoSMX3kU Last month, I stumbled upon a yoga presentation by Patricia Walden on her 60th birthday. Wow. Her backbends are awesome and need no comment. But it got me thinking about yoga videos, performances, and “demonstrations.” Bear in mind, I’m talking not about instructional videos. I’m focusing on displays done silently or, more likely, accompanied by music. Some are professionally shot, such as the Briohny Smyth…… Continue reading Yoga “demonstrations” in the YouTube age

Take it to the next level

Last summer, I resumed freestyle lap swimming after a hiatus. I’m purely a rec swimmer and will never be super fast, but I still want to cut my 1000-meter time, 25 minutes. “What’s a ‘decent’ 1000-meter swim time?” I asked my yoga student who does triathlons. Here’s her paraphrased answer: It depends. A fast swimmer will…… Continue reading Take it to the next level