Asana

Sun Salutations Part 1

Suryatanjore

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.

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Backbends in Focus

Back Bend

Backbends require the front of the body to be in several key areas. In this video I show you the areas that students often experience restriction and provide some exercises to help facilitate a more comfortable and rewarding backbend journey.

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Chaturanga

Chaturanga dandasana

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.

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Getting Better?

Lotus

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?

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Growing Up In Backbends

Backbending

I remember as a kid, helping my slightly OCD mom ready our bedsheets to be folded. We would each grab two corners and pull our ends taut, in our efforts to eliminate all the wrinkles and crinkles we could before we began. I kind of think of backbends a little like this lately … as I reach in opposite directions, smoothing out my own bumps and bends, creating the clean length and lines my OCD mom could be proud of. But sometimes it’s confusing. After all, most of us learned to drop back and stand up in a backbend by bending our knees forward to counter our weight as we go back.

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Head Up!

Head up

The arm balances of third series really take all I have in terms of upper body strength – and all I have is often, still not enough. Jen René asked her teacher, Tim Miller, for advice last week.”Use your head,” he told her. When she relayed his message, I giggled at the irony of a teacher finally telling me to use my head instead of get out of it!

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No Magic to Protect You in “Wild Thing”, And No Magical Way in Which Yoga Changes the World

Shoulder art

The claim that Wild Thing can be done safely might involve the same wishful/magical thinking as the claim that yoga and meditation will automatically “shift consciousness”, whether individually, communally, or “vibrationally”. Both claims seem to depend upon overlooking concrete material conditions in favour of nurturing faith in vague metaphysical principles. Concrete material conditions demand specific learning objectives.

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What Are We Actually Doing In Yoga Asana “Wild Thing” Pose: Impossible, Injurious, Poignant

Sunset

I’m closing in on fifty interviews for this project, and it’s getting richer every week. I’ve spoken to a trauma survivor who has been repeatedly triggered in asana classes by both invasive touch and psychological insensitivity. I’ve spoken to a medical doctor (as well as 30-year practitioner and teacher) who remembers the moment when he actively suppressed his critical thinking medical-mind so that he could overlook the unfounded medical claims that a leading instructor was making about postures.

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Attached to your mat? Why the yoga mat is undermining your practice

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Much could be written about the psychological significance of rolling out your mat, with its implications of marking out your territory, creating your own space and perhaps saying something about your personality by the size and thickness of your mat. We will leave this for another article and focus on the anatomical error of mat-dependence.

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