Students who attend classes here may notice in email responses I will close correspondence with the sentiment lovejustlove.
In the Thanksgiving Day blog this year I mentioned that my Sister Nikki is, in so many ways, the inspiration for what I do. As a graduate from the University of Toronto in the BPHE program and Varsity Athlete in two sports, the obvious inspiration comes from our shared interest in her chosen field of studies. Less obvious, unless you knew our Mom, is how she is her Mother’s Daughter, and constantly giving of her time and effort.
A while back I started to use a new slogan that I felt was required for certain overachievers in yoga class… “expect less!” I know the catchphrase will not win any Canadian Marketing Awards. What the slogan can do is provide an invitation to enable the natural process of adaptation take place when practicing yoga.
First off, I’m trying to get over my potty mouth from having written the title of this week’s blog. Yikes, sorry about that, not very yoga-like! However, the truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as an all levels all good class. One only has to think of the many different ages, body types, and medical challenges that individuals come to yoga class with.
This year at Thanksgiving I would like to offer my gratitude for all the support for our studio that you have expressed over the years.
There are moments when I mention to students that pain is not the enemy, but rather a friend; the friend that elbows you in the ribs and says, “Stop hurting yourself, I love you!” If you are suffering you may be rolling your eyes right now, but I would implore you to consider the statement above just a moment longer. Physical, emotional, and mental pain represent the opportunity for change.
he ability to discern between what will improve our quality of life versus what is a detriment to us is not as easy as it appears. In the book of yoga philosophy called the ‘Yoga Sutras,’ written two millennia ago by the sage Patanjali, the idea of ‘correct discernment,’ known as Viveka in Sanskrit language, is a skill to be practiced. Through Viveka many of life’s lessons can be learned painlessly.
Mental afflictions are a byproduct of living. We all carry them from time to time. It is part of life. The challenge in overcoming mental afflictions becomes the training ground for spiritual enlightenment.
At the end of yoga class my students are invited to participate in Savasana, which means ‘corpse pose.’ This initially seems quite morbid so an explanation is required here. The idea behind meditation while in Savasana, where you lie in supine motionless, is to experience a sort of sensory deprivation and then an awakening with renewed perspective.
An essential concept in yoga philosophy is the idea that there is a veil of illusion that conceals reality, known in ancient Indian Sanskrit language as Maya. Although this is a bit of an abstract theme I will attempt to place this concept among recent past scientific findings.
The phrase made famous by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” has become synonymous with the concept of synergy. Collectively the muscles work in chronological sequences to provide movement, which are called muscle firing patterns.
Recently there has been a trend online toward opinion pieces that are without nuance. It would seem the bolder opinion and the more controversial subject overrides the complexities of reality. This unfortunate circumstance has led to a lot of confusion for the fitness participant and yoga practitioner.
The shift in the yoga world over the last 30 years has been toward drop-in classes, which are run in a follow-the-leader approach. This is not the way yoga was practiced historically, but instead is a reflection of an increasing desire for everything to be instant.
At home I am affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) known as ‘Captain Safety.’
Looking back at the opportunities I have been so blessed to have often leaves me saying, “Pinch me, I must be dreaming!” The past couple of months have been no exception. Recently I received the prestigious honor of being granted Certified Yoga Therapist status with the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
As Canada Day approaches I’ve been thinking about how Canadians are collectively known as peaceful, nice people, who have adopted a cultural mosaic as a model for the country.
As a follow up to last week’s blog ‘Earn the Heat!’ I thought I might offer some more insight on what temperature is appropriate to practice intense forms of yoga.
A lot of students have asked me about why studios offer yoga practiced in intense heat, and I feel that I can offer some clarity on this subject. Yoga practiced in a heated room was the invention of Bikram Choudhury who popularized it in California in the 1960’s. Hollywood’s stars such as Shirley MacLaine started to become devoted students of Bikram Choudhury.
There is a increasingly popular trend in the yoga world called chair yoga… but I would have to say that for many years I have been teaching something I believe to be even more effective I call, ‘out of the chair yoga.’ It might be surprising for some to hear that initially all the beginner students at Breathe Into Motion Yoga Studios start their first class sitting in a chair while I sort out who has injuries, and start to formulate individualized exercise prescriptions through yoga posture modifications and variations.
I have been known to offer what I call lecturettes in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics when teaching yoga classes. My feeling is informing students about the biology of yoga practice will give them the power to heal themselves. As students learn about customizing the postures for their particular health needs an exercise prescription can be formulated.
I have been telling students for years now, “The most important thing about practicing yoga at Breathe Into Motion is to leave the studio feeling better than when you arrived. It doesn’t matter that you performed some yoga contortion, but the important issue is to practice yoga in a way that will emphasize health.”
Lowering the risk of injury when performing yoga postures requires that practitioners have an open mind and some common sense. I must admit when I was beginning my practice years ago I had very little common sense or an open mind. The deep seeded need to achieve the next posture led to many injuries and left me thinking, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that,’ and ‘I just wanted to try.’
We have all had that awful feeling that we just made a mistake. I can remember plenty of times when I first started practicing yoga, enduring an injury and then thinking afterwards, “I really wish I hadn’t done that!” I would like to think that now, as a seasoned yoga practitioner and teacher, I have put those days behind me (although truth be told, from time to time I still fall into the trap).
Many inquiries have come into the studio on how our yoga works to help in recovery from injury, and that we have an excellent reputation for this at Breathe Into Motion Yoga Studios. Certainly there is a unique approach in how our classes are designed, and this accounts for our success in helping students to overcome injury.
It seems the ancient sages who practiced yoga thought of everything, even where you look when practicing yoga poses.