Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yoga & Addiction

Addiction is a part of everyone's life, whether we realize it or not.  We sometimes jokingly say "I'm addicted to _____", but in reality, we all know a true addict or two.  Many times, the person is just going through life, trying to hide their ever-growing dependence on whatever it is.  But for some, they've crossed over into recovery, and that's a beautiful thing.  At the studio, we have several recovering addicts that I know of.  Not everyone is comfortable speaking about it, so I'm guessing we have more.  And yoga helps.  The breathing, the being-in-the-moment.  It's all life-changing to an addict.
Recovering addicts inspire me.  They are courageous, dedicated, and wonderful individuals who fight with something greater than themselves.  And I realize that if they can use yoga to recover from an addiction, I can use yoga to recover from selfishness, or greed, or hate, or envy, or any of the other negative things we humans do.
I found this article on Kripalu's blog, and thought I'd share.  In the meantime, if you know an addict, please take the time to listen, to love them, and to help them breathe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Friend

Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending all day studying under a couple of amazing yoga instructors.  One was our very own Joe Taft, who did a workshop with us at Mountain Yoga a couple of weeks ago.  The other was the legendary founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend.

I loved both sessions, and always learn so much from Joe.  But John introduced a concept or two that might just change my body for good.  For most of my life, I was told that I had excessive lumbar lordosis (too much curve in my low back) and that I needed to strengthen my abs, to ease my back pain.  As John said, “you did a good job!”  He actually encouraged me to bring that curve back. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve had a nagging pain in my left hip.  At times, this has affected my practice, and my teaching.  During John’s class yesterday, he encouraged a strong use of the gluteal muscles, and creating space in the pelvic floor…a concept I knew, but rarely employed, because of my lordosis.  But by sivasana, I knew I had done too much.  Before he rang the bell, I had to bend my knees to take the spasm out of my low back.  After class, I approached him in pain.

John looked at my normal standing posture, and had me shift the tops of my femurs back, essentially sticking my butt out, and sitting down into my legs a little more.  Ahhh….sudden relief…  But is it just temporary?  John says no; that changing my stance back to what my body WANTS to do naturally will heal my hip in short order.

Needless to say, after all these years, I’m a little skeptical. But I’m willing to try.  So, if you see me with my pelvis tucked under, give me a gentle reminder.

One more lesson from John Friend.  He has been practicing and teaching yoga for many, many years.  He developed a world-renowned yogic system, which has helped to heal thousands of bodies and minds.  But in humility, he brought a different concept to us yesterday.  Because he watched and learned from his students, he is able to change and adapt his teaching.  It’s all about learning, growing and healing.  And that may be my biggest take-away from practicing yoga with the famous John Friend.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Child's pose

Ahhh....child's pose...
When all else fails, this beautiful, restorative pose can help heal the soul.  When the world is just too much to bear, kneel, sit back on your heels, and place your forehead on the floor.  Grounding.  Settling.  Letting the chaos swirl around you, but not in you.
This pose is a beautiful stretch for the low back, the quadriceps, the ankles, and even the shoulders, if you stretch your arms out like the woman in the photo.  But to me, its real benefits are emotional.
This winter come inside your self, inside your body, and breathe in child's pose.