The classical (historical) definition of MB, as I understand it, goes something like this: The practice of Mula Bandha directly causes the awakening of the 3 1/2 coils of the serpent Kundalini, initially dormant at the Muladhara Chakra, which unravels its knots (3 and 1/2 coils representing the three Granthi and one last twist representing sublimation that lies beyond the three representations of the Guna), piercing the tailbone, up the golden thread of the Sushumna Nadi to the Manipura Chakra. If this occurs during an Asana class then I am surprised!
Pregnancy is an exciting time for a woman, and also a time that must be approached with care and love. Maintaining a yoga practice while pregnant provides an expectant mother with an opportunity for deep connection with her unborn child. There are many important things to consider in the approach to practice to ensure a healthy mom and baby.
I recently returned from my first three month trip to practice with Sharath Jois in Mysore. I am not a newcomer to the Ashtanga system – I completed the 4th series with my previous teacher Rolf Naujokat earlier in 2014, and have maintained a daily Ashtanga practice for nearly 12 years. I knew that when I went to Mysore for the first time, none of this would matter.
In this article I describe my history with Ashtanga Yoga, how my approach changed over the decades, some of the problems that I encountered, their solution and how this has influenced my teaching. Initially I was only interested in the meditation and philosophy aspects of yoga and practiced and studied those for many years. I came to asana only once I realized that the vitality of my body had peaked.
You see, around 75% of the adult population has experienced lower back pain – and I’m not talking about those who practice yoga. It’s a “thing” and not a yoga “thing.” It comes up in yoga a lot, though. Mostly around backbends though honestly, the way we forward bend can often be more to blame. But lets just stick with backbends for now. Because that’s usually where we get scared our body either completely seizes up or totally collapses.
Luckily, there doesn’t have to be an either/or. We have lots of gray to research and learn. But before we get started, lets get something clear: We are NOT going all the way. Now that THAT silly business is out of the way.
I don’t often publicly express opinions or viewpoints until I have fully digested and integrated the experiences that lead to their formation. I realize that this has become increasingly rare in today’s world of social media where we can impulsively broadcast all of our experiences and opinions instantly. It is not uncommon for photos, quotations and reactions from a certain experience to be uploaded to thousands of people on Facebook, before the experience itself is even finished.
It seems as though I have seen hundreds of variations on how students raise their arms over their head to begin a sun salutation. Although it’s a seemingly simple act, it’s not really. I don’t want to get really nerdy and say how amazing the coordination is at the neuromuscular level, but that is the case. We take for granted that if we are not consciously choosing to create the neuromuscular patterns, the body just does whatever it needs to, to reach the intended goal. As many of you who are teachers have seen, the body isn’t always so good at choosing the best neuromuscular pattern for the long-term.
There is nothing that seems to cross all boundaries of yoga styles as clearly as sun salutations. Of course there are variations on the theme, but it seems that all styles do them. Sun Salutations put movement through all of the joints of the body and moves it in many directions. Perhaps we have a little difficulty in finding say, a twist, but many movements are represented.
About six months ago, the studio where I teach put out an all-call for teachers to submit their own chaturanga “selfies.”Yeah, not one of us responded.Seriously, who wants that posture picked apart on Facebook by a bunch of arm chair anatomy experts in a slew of unending cues as comments … which will inevitably snowball into a debate about shoulders, pain and injury… until next thing you know, some yoga-asana expat will write a scathing blog about it (and Ashtanga) with your picture as the star witness.
In yoga classes we are often learning how to go deeper into poses, learning ways to open the body and how to improve our practice. At the same time we are being told that ‘it’s not about the asana’ and ‘it doesn’t matter how far into a pose you go – be content with where you are now’. How can both of these ideas be right?