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)
Describing a yoga workshop is daunting. Do I stick to objective reportage or do I share my subjective gut feelings? I won’t even try to describe Mahyar Raz’s workshop, but I’ll let her words (and she is not shy about sweeping pronouncements) speak for themselves: “You must feel the pose, in your muscles, in your body. Before,…… Continue reading A few quotes by Mahyar Raz
Here are my favorite home remedies for routine tweaks and twinges–and a word on the psychosomatic factor. RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) Rest. The best and simplest remedy is hardest for me to comply with. When I notice a twinge or tweak, what do I do? I might ratchet down, but short of full R&R. When I…… Continue reading Aches and pains: My favorite home remedies (Part II)
Last month, eight colleagues and I faced our Intro II assessment for certification as Iyengar yoga teachers. Before commencing, the assessors asked us about injuries or health issues: “Do you have anything new to report?” When my turn came, I said, “Nothing new to report.” I entered the exam “healthy.” Secretly, however, I knew my…… Continue reading Aches and pains: Are you “injury prone”? (Part I)
I recently read two articles on that apparently rare specimen: the male yoga student. In an undated Yoga Journal article, “Where Are All the Men?” Andrew Tilin, considers why men aren’t naturally inclined toward yoga. In a December 22, 2012, New York Times article, “Wounded Warrior Pose,” William Broad investigates whether men risk injury doing asana. The takeaway from both articles…… Continue reading Are men really less flexible than women?
One of my yoga students, “Sara,” does endurance sports. Before her annual summer triathlon, she stops attending yoga classes as she ramps up her training. Time is limited and she believes that “loose” muscles are diminished in strength. Another student, “Chris,” will celebrate her birthday next year by running a marathon. Swimming was her original…… Continue reading Mixing yoga and sports
Savasana versus nap Have you ever fallen asleep in Savasana? I rarely do, but one of my colleagues seems to doze off regularly. Although we don’t attend the same weekly class, we attend workshops together. If I’m in his vicinity during Savasana, I’ve heard him softly snoring each time. Me, I’m just the opposite. I…… Continue reading Yoga, sleep, Savasana, insomnia… and the curious case of Paschimottanasana
I need not introduce How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, the New York Times article that’s gone viral. My first response upon reading it: These anecdotes are outliers! Who sits in Vajrasana for hours daily, tears Achilles tendons in Downward Dog, or pops ribs in a spinal twist?! My second response: No Iyengar yoga teacher would intentionally push…… Continue reading Tell me about pain, yours, and I will tell you mine
Recently at the gym, I spied on a yoga-type class (it turned out to be “lyrical jazz”) in the adjacent dance studio. The teacher was doing what resembled Upavistha Konasana, facing a wall-to-wall mirror. Behind her, a lineup of students tried to copy. With her elbows grounded on the floor, the teacher lengthened her spine forward.…… Continue reading Is a bad yoga class still pretty good?
During my Lonely Planet trip to Hawaii last winter, I taught a few yoga poses to my parents, especially my dad. He’s healthy and fit, but his posture needs an overhaul. His lumbar arch is too flat, while his thoracic spine too curved. Kyphosis. I admit that I was a pain, prodding my unassuming father to…… Continue reading Yogaphobic and yogaphilic people
Last summer I got into the annual weeklong intensive taught by Donald Moyer and Mary Lou Weprin of The Yoga Room in Berkeley. One day, Donald explored backbends, including Eka Pada Rajakapotasana I, with a strap looped around the rear foot. As I ventured deeper into the pose, he looked at me and commented that I…… Continue reading Remembering a teacher’s teachings
For the past five or so years, I’ve wanted my dad to do asanas for his tight shoulders, chest, and upper back. While he’s fit and lean (and suntanned from gardening, golfing, and simply being an outdoorsman in Hawaii his whole life), he’s got “slouch” (that’s hyper-kyphosis to the Iyengar contingent) written in his genes.…… Continue reading Yoga Rx for my dad