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Naked Yoga

  Students of yoga benefit from a teacher’s eyes upon them. Teachers don’t usually see their students naked (just skate over that statement please) and seasoned teachers don’t need to but you can learn volumes observing your naked body in front of a mirror.   Before I knew I my hip had become arthritic and before I had herniated a disc doing a backbend with a secretly too stuck hip and before I had torn the rotator cuff opposite the stuck hip pulling vines, I watched my body shift and ignored it. I wasn’t in pain. My image was just less symmetrical. When did that happen? I chose to ignore it as I am a steadfast practitioner of denial.   A massage therapist noted my ribs shifted right and hips shifted left. A chiropractor’s x-ray revealed a compromised sacrum but it didn’t feel like much until I just misused myself up. Pain forced me to take action.   Naked in front of the mirror I stood in Tadasana. My front line veered right. The inseam of my right inner thigh rose several inches longer than the left. My right hip was higher, my right waist shorter. My right foot turned out and dropped in the interior arch. My right collar bone was shorter.   Tree pose, Extended Angle, Warrior I and II shined light. I added a rearview mirror to see my lumbar spine snake right before it disappeared in Ardha Uttanasana. (Half forward fold.) I was turned and twisted.   I stood at ease to view the habits of my form and reintegrated my structure from the ground...

So You’re Worried About Yoga Injuries? Here’s Some Excellent Advice.

      Inquiry and Experience #6 and #7   There’s a surge of disclosure on yoga injuries due to the quickly growing number of students and their use of social media. Don’t panic. Although you will likely be injured at one time or another doing yoga (including muscle strain as injury), it’s unlikely to have a lasting effect for the majority of you.   On the other hand you might get yourself in trouble if you have a condition that will be ill served by the yoga practice you’ve engaged in. Not every body should do every thing. You may have a health or skeletal, soft tissue or muscular issue that warrants caution. Even those of sound body can be at risk engaging in the wrong practice or becoming overzealous. Innocent people have suffered at the hands of unskilled or thoughtless teachers as well.   Here’s my sincere advice for new and old students:   Stay in Your Own Lane ~ move at your own pace and do the best you can without overreaching. You might research range of motion often referred to as R.O.M. Everyone’s is different but there are normal ranges. Are you practicing for a circus career? Can you be content not putting your foot behind your head like the guy next to you? Take a good look. Do you really want to look like that? No. It’s damn unattractive and you don’t.   Pay Attention ~ this is the fruit of staying interested and the two are co-dependent. Don’t space out or move by rote. Notice everything about sensation. Take your time. Notice everything...

Memory:If the System Goes Down Will Your Data Be Saved? Inquiry and Experience #5

  In the last inquiry post I wrote that the body and mind collaborate through an unspoken language. It is a system of organization by automatic pilot that moves you in the right direction if all the signals are clear.   But what happens if the signals are not clear and your organization goes offline so to speak? Will you be able to willfully remember and retrieve data so that you can manage yourself manually?   Most of us have had the experience of changing computers or programs and losing automatic access to a site that had “remembered” our password for us. If we’ve forgotten or lost our password we’re now locked out. It’s important to keep the muscle memory of our secret keys.   I was a dancer. My muscle memory allowed me to move with grace. It was automatic. Now I have a damaged hip and a fused lumbar spine. I cannot automatically move according to the data that worked for a healthy system. I must input unique passwords to retrieve healthy movement. Otherwise what follows the first flawed motion will take me down a bad path.   It’s called compensation and it’s a useful way for the body to organize in emergencies but it’s just for emergencies. When it is used as a permanent fix, things can go badly.   They went badly for me. I was intense and too impatient to heed injuries so by the time I noticed them I was already in the weeds. I’ve had to retrain muscles that would not fire. I am trying to encourage opportunity for damaged nerves to...

Pull Your Socks Up

  Sharon’s mother is British. If life is making her daughter gloomy she says;” pull your socks up!” I have an image of England as a country which doesn’t approve of depression. Citizens should keep their sunny sides up by doing something pro-active rather than despairing; an attitude one cannot argue with even if it is only my imagining.   This morning I needed to pull my socks up though I didn’t notice until I was standing on my head in front of a mirror in my folk’s house.  It’s not usual to watch ourselves as we practice but the sight of yourself with your own eyes is a good idea now and again. I like to look, adjust, close my eyes to feel and then look back again. That’s how I noticed what it felt like to pull my socks up. That’s how I noticed how good it felt to keep my sunny side up.   I’ve been standing on my head for a few decades but it doesn’t mean I always know where I am because I have the common combination of flexibility and injuries that can pull the veil of illusion over any yoga pose   Headstand is one of the kindest postures on hip joints as they are unloaded. And it is liberation for the belly. When doable, one should learn to stand on legs no matter where they are in space to notice the support born from rising which is different than the support of leaning or collapsing. It is the support of oneself. It is independence.   I’m surprised to note that I’m...

Correct Might Not Be Right When It Comes To Asana

  Injuries surfaced a dozen years ago; injuries that told me my career as a teacher was over but that’s not me. I kept going, changing my focus, my message, my style, my mission. Screw defeat.   Vacillating between discipline of form and giving it up altogether to find my own circuitous path in a bi-polar vortex of pain and pissed, I’ve learned a couple of things. I’ve come all the way back and been completely broken again. I could not get up off the yoga room floor the day I was sure all my injuries were gone. Superman met kryptonite that day as I came down confidently from the impossible height forced by a block under my sacrum and could not even move a finger. Shithead. You are paralyzed. You forgot your fragility in the ecstasy of a whole strong spirited body again. But you are not that. Now you know.   Back I crawled into my Feldenkrais womb of acceptance for all that is true about this body on this day, this age: Crawl crookedly as I am and find myself in my circuitous path born of instinct and survival. Bring it back to the yoga floor and try again.   But if I stay a crooked path with a crooked body, won’t I get more crooked? I feel sure that is true and work to strike the balance again. On days uninspired by a willing body I strike out with alignment from my Iyengar toolbox as a weapon against a blank page that refuses to be written. ABC is familiar and safe. Except when the letters...