Wednesday 21 June 2017

How to Avoid Yoga Plateaus

Before we start let's run through some terms...

-- A repetition: Doing a pose or transition once.

-- A sequence: Doing different poses one after another.

-- A session: Begins when you first step onto the mat. Finishes at Savasana. Onward!...

Some yogis attain a certain level of ability...then stay there. So.

How do you keep it moving along? Try this...

For new poses that you are not yet proficient at, literally practice repetitions.

Say you want to go from boat (Navasana) back to plank (or better still up to handstand, then to plank). This is sometimes called a jump-back.

Each yoga session, you might practice this 5 or 10 times. Do this until you can more or less do this successfully each rep.

Once you are practicing the move successfully, move it into your sequence (which is a series of poses that are the upper end of your ability).

If the new move is say a twist, then you can maybe look at taking out of your sequence an old twist and replacing it with the new twist that you are now nailing.

So, you can see how you are cycling into your yoga session new poses that you can't yet do (as reps), and you are replacing poses of the same type .e.g a back bend for a back bend in your sequence.

You're also moving out old stuff you can do pretty well.

You can specialize with the new stuff, but your sequence should have at least one of everything .i.e. a side stretch, forward fold, back bend, twist, hip opener, balance etc.

New stuff that doesn't lead itself to reps .e.g. the splits, can just be practiced in the sequence.

CU in class with your new moves, J

Friday 12 May 2017

The Best You, You Can Be, For You

What's the best you, you can be, for you? An unusual question. Like an onion...there's layers.

Each time you have an answer, wait 5, then come back to it.

...see, told you!

Yoga's a solitary practice. We turn inward.

So, asking yourself what's the best you you can be, for you...well, that's about as internally focussed as you can get.

See you being you, J

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Yoga With Curvature Of The Spine

While our spines naturally curve from front to back (thoracic, or upper back) and from back to front (lumbar, or lower back), it doesn't (or shouldn't) curve from left to right.

If it does (left to right) then this is scoliosis, and it can be, well ...a pain in the back.

No need to rush out and get x-rays and stuff yet. You'll know about it well enough when you start working asymmetrical back bends in earnest. You know... bound dancer's pose (Badha Natarajasana).

...or a bound low lunge (Badha Anjaneyasana), or some other asymmetrical backbend pretzel concoction.

You see how the guy and girl in the pics are working the backbend more down the bound side?

If you have scoliosis and you work these types of poses, chances are you are going to feel pain. And not the good sort.

I'd like to be all yoga messianic and tell you the answer to this conundrum, but unfortunately, I'm not there yet. Good news tho'... can still do symmetrical back bends (that's bending front to back) to the point of doing drop-backs and other funky moves.

The point of this post though, is to alert you to pain on one side of your back when you start down the asymmetrical path. 

If you do get pain once you start working these poses in earnest, then it's off to get xrays to confirm the condition. Then it's laying off them 'till it's all straightened out (yep, another pun).

See you in class doing asymmetrical backbends (unless they hurt),


Friday 6 January 2017

How to Keep Yoga Interesting

You gotta love teachers who keep it interesting.

Keeping yoga interesting, keeps you coming back. Win-win.

Trouble is...that isn't really yoga. Lemme explain...

What're you concerned about when you're practicing yoga? Where's your focus?

Breath. Bingo!

If you're focussed on your breath, what changes from session to session? Nothing. Yup...

It literally takes years to open your body. It'd be more interesting sitting watching an orchid bloom.

Only we aren't sitting watching. Our mind is laser focussed on the breath.

Yoga is neither boring nor interesting. It just is.

CU in class, just being, J.

When Is a Yogi a Yogi?

When do you know you're a yogi?

Three classes per week? Four? Five years practice? Ten?

It's not really the number of classes, or length of time practicing - although that will eventually affect you. It's attitudinal.

But it's not your attitude to yoga. It's how yoga changes your attitude or approach to other things.

When you find yourself at work saying "Whatever will happen will happen"...and previously you were this ultra-OCD person, then unfortunately, yeah, you're a yogi.

It'll get you eventually, if you keep coming back, J.

Saturday 8 October 2016

What You Really Learn Doing Yoga

A really important thing to know about yoga, is that it's a solitary endeavor. I know, I know.

You're thinking that there's another dozen or so people in class. How can yoga be solitary?

Well,  assuming you've managed to close down your senses, and you're totally focussed. Then, there really isn't anyone else. It's just you and your breath.

So, there is only one answer, to what you could possibly be learning in yoga. Because there's only one thing that there is, to actually learn about ...YOU.

You see, yoga's not about poses or breath, it's about knowing about yourself. Your body. Your mind. Your senses.

Yoga is an exploration of you. That's it!

CU in class, learning about yourself, J.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

What You Should Be Doing In Warrior 1 and 2

The stuff you hear in a yoga class.

This in warrior 1 and 2...

"Push out through your legs."

"Push the mat apart."

Say what!?!

Let's keep it simple and basic.

The outside of your rear foot is what you should be focusing on.

You need to be pressing the outside edge of the back foot into the mat...THEN...and this is the important bit...

...make the action of dragging the back foot towards the front foot. 

The result is that the pose goes from an outward spilling of energy, to an inward and upward, gathering of energy. is weak ...the other is strong know a warrior.

Peace out, J.

How To Make Yogic Decisions

If you're unsure about a decision you need to make. Here's some messianic advice...

Ask yourself if you're making the decision based on fear or values.

Fear might give you short term relief (vanity, ego). But in the longer term it may bring pain (grief, resentment, anger, regret).

A values based decision might bring short term pain (sorrow), but should stand you well in the longer term (compassion, joy, happiness).

CU in class, makin' good decisions, J.

Yoga Myth Bustin' - The Meditation Replacing Asana Myth

You'll sometimes hear a yoga teacher talk about how they used to do heap of asana. All the tough stuff.

But now they just do a couple of sun sals and some meditation.

Look, there's nothing wrong with what they're saying, unless they make out like they've progressed onto the sun sals and meditation.

Like advanced asana is a phase, on the way to a seated meditation practice.

Playing one part of yoga off against another, is not the yogic way.

Yoga's not a zero sum game, where you can decrease this bit, but because you increased this other bit, all's well.

This is a western way of looking at yoga and is not yoga.

Peace out, J.

P.S. Yes, I know asana means seat.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Yoga And Technology

Bet you're thinking this post is about how to use technology in yoga. Or if technology is compatible with yoga. That's main stream kid's stuff peeps.

You're here to read about yoga and technology.

How technology...

...cures diseases that kill humans.

...heals the sick.

...lifts nations out of poverty.

...brings water and food to desert tribal regions.

It's not that technology can be good or bad from a yogic standpoint.

Technology is being used for both good and bad.

It's just as yogis, we are grateful for the blessings it brings, and saddened by the destruction it causes.

I know! A weird trippy post, but I've been inspired lately. J.