This week I am in Barcelona, Spain competing in Life Fitness' Global Personal Trainers to Watch competition.
Since I am in the learning phase of my yoga training, yoga is always on my brain. Being in Spain made no difference. Thus, in the wee hours of the morning, jet-legged and all, I was up writing a yoga sequence that I could do on the Life Fitness Synrgy BlueSky.
Here is what I came up with!
Monkey Bar (Long)
Dip/Leg Raise Station
Traverse Bar (Long)
Cargo Net (Long)
Having a chance to "play" on a new piece of equipment is always fun for me. This event was an experience of a lifetime and my yoga teacher in training came along for the ride too!
Sleep or yoga?
It has been a busy couple weeks. I feel a cold coming on and want to make sure it doesn’t progress.
I ask myself how is the best way to take care of myself right now.
The best compromise was to do a restorative yoga practice. Truly, it was the best choice!
As the first session with Michelle, I was delighted to have her take me through some amazing postures with the bolster. I purchased one about a year and a half ago and have done some basic things with it. This practice was exactly what I needed for rest but also for some education!
Poses that I’ve never done on a bolster included:
Supported Hip Opener
Supported Child's Pose
Supported Legs Up the Wall into Supported Plow Pose
Supported Back Bend
By far the supported back bend was the most vigourous and rewarding. The release through my hips was amazing!
So the answer for me this week was - YOGA! I wonder if that will ever change?!
With lots to learn, my journey to become a yoga teacher has pushed me to explore many topics and ideas that have never crossed my path before. Particularly, historical learnings.
As a youth, history was one of my favorite classes in high school. Grade 11 history was an option and I rejoiced when I found out I had a seat. I don't love it in the way of facts, figures and dates but more so for the stories. Yoga history is not presented in your run of the mill high school curriculum, so it is a new story to learn.
Stories frame an experience.
A little unknown fact about me is that I have a large non-fiction collection of Holocaust survivorship books. It has been a topic I've read about since early teenage hood. Now, granted, you may be thinking, what the heck are you doing reading such horrific stories?! The only way I can describe it is that these real life stories bring perspective to mine. And that these people who perished were just that, people too. It is the least I can do now to honour those who perished.
With Canadian Remembrance Day coming in a month or so, it too reinforces how stories and history have shaped my world.
Now to yoga history.
Big topic here, yet I received a snap shot this week from Leslie...
Leslie Kaminoff pops into my email most weeks and when I saw the offer to watch one of his videos, I took the time to view it.
What I didn’t expect was to get a lesson on yoga history.
Being trained by T.K.V. Desikachar, Leslie reflects on the lineage he teaches from. T.K.V. Desikachar is the son of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya or simply Krishnamacharya, who could be considered the modern grandfather of yoga. As I can’t say I know much about Krishnamacharya, what I did learn was that he was the primary teacher of yoga during the early 1900’s and he taught many of the other known leaders of yoga such as Pattabhi Jois (established Astanga yoga) and B.K.S. Iyengar and of course his son, T.K.V. Desikachar.
I’ve have always wondered about yoga lineage and how it all works together. It seems like Krishnamacharya made yoga something accessible and more common place during the previous century. I look forward to learning more about the most recent history of yoga as I just got my fingertips on T.K.V. Desikachar’s book. The Heart of Yoga.
I’ve got some interesting reading and research ahead.
Coming off a weekend of presenting at a conference and running around to get things done, I was ready for a practice that rejuvenated.
I quickly picked a recent video from Adriene and got on my mat.
I saw the word “detoxify” and “balance the liver energy meridian" in the description and that intrigued me. Maybe this was the practice for me?!
As I began, I was led in to a brief discussion on the liver. As someone who works in primary healthcare, I am always intrigued to learn how yoga influences the body.
My educated guess to how yoga would make its' mark was to focus on twists.
Correct I was!
Yet, beyond that - there was a great gift in store.
But let me back up for now...let's talk liver first.
In the past six months, the idea of detox has been floating around in my world. Working to help people live healthier lives, this comes up fairly often. They say things like “I’m on X detox” or I did “this detox” which gave me [name the benefit here] for my overall health. Now, to be honest, I am fairly critical of detoxes. I’ve read Timothy Caulfield’s book, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness, and respect his vigour for analysis and critical thinking. So when I read his chapter on detox and learned that there is NO significant health benefit to detoxes, I was on board.
Now - in comes yoga - and the various recommendations of poses to help with the liver. I’m no expert but I’m a bit leery believing yoga’s role in detoxifying the liver. And many others are too.
But, is my headspace the result of Western medicine? Probably. Can I corner yoga into that perspective? Probably not. This is where ayurvedic medicine plays its card. I humbling admit, I know very little about this type of medicine. So, as with all things, I’m ready to learn more about ayurvedic medicine and the various ways it intertwines with yoga…but for another post.
Logic does tell me though, that it is quite possible that yoga poses could help the liver by releasing the associated muscles and fascia surrounding the liver and thus, help with its function. Just sayin’.
Okay - Now, back to my gift.
Practice was just about to the end and I landed in a prone face down position. I wondered what was next that involved a twist. But how will I twist in this position?
Low and behold, Adriene delivered the best twist of the day! From the prone position, I came up into cobra. Stretching one arm out to the side, palm down, I shifted my chest away from the mat whereby lifting the top leg over to open up the body out to face the side. With my searching this week, I couldn’t find a reference or name to this pose but that doesn’t matter as it was glorious! Not only as a twist but also an awesome hip and chest opener like no other.
And of course, I sought the connection to my weekend. I was presenting on overactive and shortened muscles to a group of AFLCA leaders. THIS stretch was the ultimate in connecting to those overactive muscles.
In the end, my sunny east window glowed and I was rejuvenated in my savasana. Liver detox or not.
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.