If you scroll through instagram looking for yoga photos, you’ll see only a handful of yogis posing in Warrior 1. It’s not a particularly flashy pose, or one that people like to show off on a beach or a mountaintop. But it is a foundational pose that can be fairly complex when you break it down into its component parts.
In many flow classes, it’s common to hear the instruction to ‘roll up to standing’ from a standing forward fold. This isn’t something that’s found in traditional yoga practices. In ashtanga yoga, you always rise from a forward fold with a flat back. I also haven’t encountered it in my (admittedly limited) experience with Iyengar yoga. It seems to be an instruction that has made its way into yoga classes via dance. Although it might seem like a harmless alternative, it is something I never teach anymore, and I teach my students in teacher trainings not to teach it either.
I stopped playing music during the yoga classes that I teach many years ago. Music is a distraction to me as a teacher and it is a distraction to students. Yoga is more than an exercise class. It is movement, breath work, meditation, and self-discovery. I view each asana class as a mindfulness practice above all else. And I believe that playing music during asana class can have unintended consequences for students.
Here are five reasons to stop playing music and embrace the silence as a yoga teacher:
There are many good reasons to practice back bends, but improvement in cardiovascular health may be one of the most important, and one of the most overlooked. There are several ways that a regular practice of back bends can impact your heart and lung function. The back bends don’t even have to be deep. Moderate poses such as bridge pose or locust pose would work well.
As yoga teachers, it is our job to assist people in moving their body in mindful ways that will bring overall physical and mental well-being. A big part of this responsibility entails preventing injury whenever possible. To this aim, yoga teachers use a myriad of alignment cues designed to protect the body from injury. Some of these cues are good advice. Others seem to make little sense. For example, why should one flex the ankle to protect the knee in a hip opening pose? In order to understand whether this is a useful alignment cue, we must explore the effect that hip opening poses have on the knee, and how movement at the ankle may or may not mediate this effect.
I herniated a disc in the lumbar region of my spine practicing yoga. It was excruciating. I cried, not from the pain, but from the frustration and helplessness I felt. I have an active yoga practice and movement is important to me. To be injured so acutely that I could barely move was a physical, mental and emotional shock. I also felt betrayed by the practice that I had invested so much time and energy in. I eventually came to realize that it was not yoga, but my own misuse of the practice that was to blame.
On September 7, 2014, I herniated a disc in my lumbar region while practicing yoga. As a yoga student and teacher, it has been hard to come to terms with that fact. I believe that yoga heals all kinds of ills - physical, mental and emotional. I believe that yoga is safe. I believe that yoga can be practiced by anyone. This injury was a shock and a heartbreak. My physical practice is important to me. Movement is important to me. And this injury temporarily took movement and my physical practice away from me.
Yoga teachers often caution their pregnant students not to lie on their back or on their right side, believing that it may be harmful to both mom and baby. Is this kind of fear warranted? We’ll break down the science and anatomy behind this advice so that you can have the knowledge to empower your students. And hopefully this will help change the culture of fear around pregnancy, especially around pregnancy and yoga. Yoga should give pregnant women the tools to manage their stress, not create additional anxiety.