615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

No Stability, No Space. Closed Chain Yoga with Hilary Lindsay

Closed chain describes exercise where the limbs are steadied by a constant surface. It keeps the energy in the distal and proximal length of the limbs at once and crosses several joints at once. It bounces us back to the spine. A modern yoga teacher often uses the word “open”. Without a sense of center or place to open from, this description can be confusing in a physical yoga practice. Here the postures demand movement from the core. The core surrounds and supports the spine and brain. The sensation of opening in this case is the stretch of muscle bone and fiber once activated and rooted. This is stability. Once stable the nervous system calms and has space to pay attention, to direct attention. No stability~no space. Ignite what supports the spine and brain. Bring physical energy to the core in order to ground the student. Without grounding, opening is not only confusing but dangerous. Furthermore it makes for a whole lot of yoga absurdity. Who hasn’t been in a group of open hearted yogis who are more posture than substance? I know I have. I have fled the yoga studio scene because of that lack of sincerity. Using unstable bands, bands that stretch, encourages the nerves to find center in an unstable world. It adds an element of reality to the practice of yoga with props. I am introducing yoga using therapy bands. For instruction contact me at activeyoga@comcast.net. My studio comes with me. Here is the first video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7NRrtDpP3g The cues for action and awareness will be...

Yoga, Hammer and Nail and Threads of Thought

  I’m covering an Iyengar class. As a longtime student of the Iyengar system I am aware of a couple of pitfalls so I take the opportunity as the visiting teacher to offer thoughts and a technique useful in my personal practice.   Tension is not a negative word. Tension creates integrity. Tension is a negative when it is extraneous.   Think of your practice as a carpenter hammering a nail into wood. Once nailed, there is no reason to keep hammering. Step back and appreciate what you’ve created. Consider it.   Give up 20 percent of the effort and notice you are still in the pose. Perhaps you can keep letting go of effort to 50 percent and hold the pose. Think of the form resembling a suspension bridge.   Physical yoga is the application of desire mixed with effort, and then the reflection of that effort’s effect finished with the facility to know when to surrender to what you can and cannot comfortably do. And know that your experience today will likely change the next time. Patience in yoga is not just a virtue but essential....

Are Your Relationships Working? The Body of One is the Body of All.

  Hatha yoga, is the physical experience of relationship.  It is the relationship of bone to bone, bone to breath, breath to muscle, muscle to muscle, fiber to fiber and cell to cell. Stretching doesn’t make muscles longer as much as it makes relationships between fibers and cells become efficient. Stretching wakes us up.   When posture is pleasurable it’s likely we’ve found the right path. It is an indirect path. The map is provided by a teacher but not all vehicles are suited to drive the same way on the same path. We learn by trial and error. Some of it is obvious and some more subtle. The more refined the mind, the more refined the yoga practice which results in greater awareness of the unseen. One thing is for sure. If there is pain, sorrow or anger, the relationship is off. And that bad relationship takes its toll on parts that had no part in creating the problem.   When there is discomfort in a relationship it’s helpful to look at the forces individually. Work unilaterally in the pose as you would look at your own part in an argument. Maybe look and feel how one group as one side is different than the other.  Then take measures to make the best “deal” for each side.   Perhaps you guessed that I’ve got the contentious governing body on my mind. The incoming is trying to make the best deal for one group. Healthcare and tax reform are big topics. The filter of my yoga mind sees we the people and the people of the world as one...

Asana Happens Behind the Scenes: Inquiry and Experience #10

Note: This is for intermediate students   What draws the viewer’s eye to a yoga pose is the surface. The viewer does not observe the work beneath the surface but if the pose is executed with grace it is because the work beneath the surface is done with integrity.   This is balance through opposition. This is bridging the places in between. This is the bandhas. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) is an excellent posture to demonstrate this lesson. Assume the posture with your back to the wall and the right foot leading. You will use the wall for support for the back body, including your head. The right foot is a few inches from the wall to accommodate the pelvis. Bend the right knee until it’s over the ankle and then lift the right knee to lift the right hip. Allow the left leg, the back leg, to rise and stop when you feel resistance. Pulse the back leg and up and down a few inches. Stop and observe. With the left leg stuck at the point of resistance, lift up vigorously with the right ankle bone to ignite the lift of the knee and then the hip. The buttocks muscles will respond and begin the rotation of the pelvis. The muscles will move to the bones and pull the skeleton to the mid-line. That is the impetus and support that now allows you to raise the back leg higher. Raise the left leg firmly and note the relation between the two legs. Assume the posture Supta Padangusthasana,(Reclining Hand to Foot Pose) with your back on the floor.  Place...

My Back Door to Yoga Therapist

Yoga was a gift from a friend.  Later I sought meditation to get me through college final exams. I was a rebellious teen becoming sensitized though I didn’t mean to.   Running from a life of certainty I became staff at a Macrobiotic restaurant. The staff was given classes in Macrobiotics by the head chef. You are what you eat. You are who you eat. You are how you eat. Doors of the mind opened. This was the seventies.   Base is everything. As the Macros say, “little yin attracts big yin” which meant that a taste of something is enough to suck you into something bigger. It was not a good thing with yin food (talking sugar etc. here) but it was a great thing with movement.   I danced.  Ballet, Modern and Haitian lead me to the worn wooden floors of dozens of somatic studios. This is how I move, how I look, how I feel. Aerobics, Pilates, Barre, Power Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Breema; the avenues were endless if you were inclined to find them even at the edge of the fitness revolution.   From the weird to the woo- woo, to the sublime, to the scientific I dove in to things that seemed to jump out to find me. In California I embraced color healing, sound healing and acupuncture. I tried colonics, dream therapy, re-birthing and then there was Dora Lee the chiropractor who told me to make a list of all my unresolved relationships. She pressed my spine; asked me who number 10 was as the room filled with the smell of cigarette smoke;...

Empty Footprints and the Bandhas: Inquiry and Experience #9

  Stand in Mountain Pose, Tadasana Feet root to the ground, tail roots to the heels, head rises from the tail, chest rises and arms draw down   Shift to one leg and raise the other foot in the air, knee bent Where does your tongue go? Is it at the roof of the mouth? Is there hardness to the breath? Can you feel the pinch of the pelvic floor and the tightening of the diaphragm? This is the drawing in of the sphincter muscles that correspond to the bandhas Are you gripping?   Stand down   Step forward purposefully as if over your own arch and raise the other foot, knee bent Is the tongue in a different place? Is it at the bottom of the mouth? Is there softness to the breath? Can you feel the light lift of the pelvic floor and the soft expanse of the diaphragm? Is this easier?   When there is too much effort, the trunk clamps down on itself and confines you. When you try to gain space in a posture done with wrong effort, that space may not be good space but compressed space. There will be a lack of prana or grace. When you include space when creating your pose, that space will be good. There will be a sense of prana or good flowing energy and grace. Asana is interpreted as good space. The bandha tone comes naturally when the muscles are directed correctly. This is a combination of sthira and sukkha which is effort and ease. Good space during effort is described by the bandhas. The bandhas...