Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ACBG PRACTICE 1


Yesterday I did what my family has been asking me to do for some time.  I practiced yoga with my son.  Now 15, he ha been in physical, occupational and speech therapies since he was young.  Even though he only remains in speech therapy and does well in school there are physical challenges that remain.  

In middle school he ran track and cross country.  This helped a lot with the physical challenges.   His high school, as much as we like it, doesn't offer the same caliber of athletic training.

In going through a simple yoga sequence with him I learned a lot about his body.  Man, there are so many incongruities and nothing that some regular, simple practice can't address.  The kid is 15.  He's been in his body a much shorter time than I've been in mine.  It is now my job to make sure that this body serves him well.

Even simple things need practice sometimes; pedaling a bicycle, reaching for something on a high shelf.  Which muscle actions are useful and which I ones are unnecessary.  He needs to learn this.  It doesn't help that he's grown about 5” this year.  It's like he's always getting used to a new body.

I will continue to find the time to practice with him because it's important that he have the physical stamina, coordination and mental focus to face what lies ahead.  I may not be a physical therapist but I know I can help.


Gusty and Sister Princess now

Monday, August 7, 2017

Age Is Just a Number


Age Is Just a Number

My dwindling budget aside, I have really been enjoying the free yoga offered every Thursday in Prospect Park.  These classes are being offered all summer long and the last one is on August 31.  Take advantage if you can.

One of the things I like best is that every week the class is taught by a different instructor.  Having belonged to one yoga studio for the better part of two years I found a routine that worked for my schedule and went to the same classes with the same teachers weekly.  Sure, I loved these teachers and their approaches but also found joy when there was a sub.

While many, if they know a sub is scheduled decide instead not to practice, I always welcome the opportunity to experience a different approach.  I discovered several talented teachers this way as I have with #Prospectparkyoga2017.

Last week’s teacher was a boisterous, big, black woman with a studio in Crown Heights.  Her voice was her own as she took us through the sequence challenging our expectations, bodies and breath.  As the class progressed it became clear that this was going to be a challenging yet basic class well intended to motivate beginners and seasoned yogis alike.

As you might imagine, I was surrounded by yogis 20 or more years my junior.  It didn't take long for them to begin groaning as the sequence became harder and their breath became unsteady.  I was resolute, maintaining even inhalations and exhalations and finishing the class as I should, feeling strong, grounded and refreshed.

So, to all those 20 and 30 somethings practicing in the grass with me I say, keep it up and you too could be strong like this middle aged lady.

As the class came to a close it began to rain.  Savasana in the rain is an interesting experience, as this video will attest.

See you in the park next week.


video

Raindrops Keep Fallilng in my Eyes

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Musings on Ardha Chandrasana


Musings on Ardha Chandrasana


In considering the principals of alignment based yoga I am reminded of my recent experiences with Ardha Chandrasana,

Ardha Chandrasana is a posture I had been executing with relative success until 18 months ago.  During my 200 hour YTT I was asked to maintain the outward rotation of the standing leg, plug the femur bone in to the hip socket and maintain Trikonasana alignment in that leg.  18 months later and my foot and leg still want to turn inward.  18 months later and I am still more likely to fall rather than balance in the posture.  18 months later and I am finally able to extend my arm towards the sky for a few breaths (sometimes).

Externally rotating the femur bone and maintaining that alignment of the standing leg leg has completely changed this pose for me.  Sure, one way it has changed is that is much harder for me to maintain my balance.  But why?  The adjustment is seemingly minor.  It seems simple.  It isn't.  I've had to look at why my foot turns in and why the balance is so much easier when it does.  Is it just habit?  Is it easier to cling to my Samskara rather than evolve?  Does that inward turn make my base more stable?  I doubt it.

Those are the the challenges of the change.  What are the positives?

Other ways the asana has changed for me is that it is much stronger.  As my distribution of weight has changed so has the strength I can gather in my standing leg.  As my bones align the muscles are able to engage more fully.  That strength more readily transfers from the foot to the leg, into the hips and out to the extended leg and heel. I can feel this energy course up my spine, into my skull and into my outstretched arms and fingers.  Binding it all together is the breath.  As soon as that stops the whole thing falls apart.

For now I will continue to refine this and all the other asanas that are integrated into my practices.  I will bring my awareness to what works and where the stability is and break habits to find new insight.  I will use that insight to push past fear and learn new postures well in order to preserve my joints and those of my students. Taking the time to get it "right", while potentially difficult, will elevate my practice and the practices of those I teach.