Do you trikonasana?
This posture is taught in a hundred different ways. I think we need to explore it to find the one which works for us. For example, if you have larger (or tighter) hips like me, that good ole fashioned cue 'imagine your body is between two panes of glass' is just not going to work. In fact, that cue is not going to work for so many bodies, and could potentially hurt my knees, my lower back or hip joint.
For me, allowing my back hip to come forward slightly, allows my front knee to track over my foot properly, and my hips to feel good in the pose, instead of awkward. Doing it this way has made me actually enjoy the pose, when years ago it just confused me cos I thought "in what world would my body ever be in that shape the teacher is suggesting?"
Thank you wise self for tuning in. Because of this, you fell in love with yoga again.
Om Tat Sat.
On hands on adjusting. What I've learnt from your responses in my post below, and also from private messages from people (mostly trauma survivors) who chose to not join the discussion.
I don't think it's an all or nothing situation. As yoga is non-regulated, and there are so many approaches, it's hard for me to make any bold opinions like 'yoga teachers should or should not be hands on'. I do think however, that there needs to be more education involved and we need to be more open minded to insights and opinions which aren't ours. There are professionals out there, who know about this stuff. I'm not one of them. Ask me about yoga history / philosophy and I'm all over it. That's my thing. Ask me about trauma informed teaching, i'm a beginner. I think more senior yoga teachers need to admit this and be okay with it.
I consider myself so very blessed to be part of such an awesome community. Love youssssssss.
Due to the rise of trauma informed yoga, hands on adjusting is happening less and less in a yoga class. What do you think? Do you want to be hands on assisted by your yoga teacher? Would you prefer they ask permission? Do you feel you can get the same awareness without a hands on adjustment? Do you expect a hands on adjustment when you go to yoga, or would it potentially stop you from ever returning?
Personally, I don't mind a hands on adjustment, but I want to have a relationship with my teacher first, i want them to know me physically and emotionally, and understand my limitations. I also want them to ask me permission, because sometimes I just don't want to be touched. I do also have to admit, I enjoy them less these days. I'm not really sure why.
As a teacher, I completely and wholeheartedly respect that many of our students don't want to be hands on assisted. Some teachers ask at the start of the class, some teachers ask when they are about to make the adjustment. I wonder, are we making people feel uncomfortable by asking them on the spot? Are there some students who say yes, when they actually mean no?
This is something I think about a lot as a yoga teacher trainer and course developer. I think there needs to be fresh and new education around this area in a yoga teacher training. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Ambika x
Just wanted to share.
I'm taking progesterone medication (fibroids - another story). It's doing it's job, apart from giving me random headaches. The way I deal with these headaches, depends really on what time of the day it is and where I am. If I'm home, I'll walk down into my studio and do some yoga postures, If i'm out and about to teach, I'll take something.
Last night, or should I say this morning, I woke with a headache. I was so tired I couldn't will myself to get up, so I imagined I was getting a massage. I seriously imagined someone's thumbs pressing into my shoulders over and over. I felt their hands massaging my neck, I felt the pressure and the heat. My pain went away. I shit you not, my headache went.
This got me thinking about pain. About different types of pain. I'm not saying to those of you who experience pain "get over it, it's all in your head", because it's real. PAIN IS REAL. But could it be that there are pains which do need medical treatment (either natural or pharmaceuticals, i would never judge you), and pain which simply needs that inner healer in all of us?
In yoga, we try to teach our students how to identify different pains. How to discriminate between pains. There are pains where we've clearly taken a posture too far and we could injure ourselves, and there are pains which are taking us to our edge, which we can breathe through. It's about developing the wisdom to know the difference.
Could we then take this off our mat, into our lives? Last night I didn't need a pain killer. I killed the pain. I literally imagined my pain away! So freaking cool!
Something to think about.
Will I now substitute my massage therapist with an imaginary one? Hells no!
(again, this post is in no way judging anyone who takes medication daily for pain management. I respect you and would never judge you).
I remember seeing a male yoga gang (type thing) and underneath their name it read 'The Uncelebrated Minority' and I laughed and thought, clearly they don't know anything about yoga history.
Women weren't allowed to practice yoga, and then when they were finally welcome in the shala, they weren't welcome to teach. It's only been the last 50 years that women have been recognised as yoga teachers, and more recently as 'worthy' teachers. Still today if you walk into many studios, there's framed pictures of male gurus, including male teachers who have been accused of sexual abuse.
Yes there may be more women who frequent yoga classes these days, but its men who are still worshipped as the gurus.
Let's write the next chapter. Today, and moving forward, I aim to celebrate the women who paved the way for female yogis like Indra Devi, Swami Radha and Geeta Iyengar and also the women who are doing some kick arse things in yoga land today like Sally Kempton, Ana forrest, Tara Judelle, Sarah Powers ... too many to mention.
I now leave this to you, please comment with the women who have inspired you in yoga :)
Happy International Women's Day :)
So you found your perfect yoga home that ticks all the boxes: challenging (but relaxing) classes, nice hipster studio, awesome teachers, cool events, retreats to Bali, herbal tea at reception. Now what? Is this what yoga is?
Did you know that yoga is a way of life? In fact, the asanas (the postures) we practice in a studio are just a small part of yoga. Who we are as a person, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, how we keep our home, how we contribute to the world and how we impact nature is all part of being a yogi.
The second sutra in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras reads, 'Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha' which translates roughly to 'Yoga is to slow down (or to stop) the fluctuations of the mind'. This is the goal of yoga. If we achieve this, we achieve self realisation. When the mind becomes calm, and free from thoughts, we can then realise that THERE IS NO SEPERATE SELF.
Which means, WE ARE ONE.
In a nutshell :)
If we are truly living a yoga life we could consider that every single thought, feeling, word and action has a direct impact on the balance of EVERYTHING. We are matter, we are energy and each and every thing is connected. FULL ON!
Volunteering, serving, helping others, being mindful of where our food is from, being mindful of where our clothes are made, acknowledging others, caring for nature, and simply being kind without expecting something in return are all practices of yoga. I reckon this is where the hard work is for many of us, not the handstand.
Yoga is a work in progress. It's a practice. A lifelong practice.
So, now you have realised that you are connected to the stranger over the other side of the world, the fish in the sea, the possum in the tree, the person next door, the flower in your front yard, the chair you are sitting on ...
How do you choose to live?
How will you practice yoga off the mat?
There you have it. Happy Hormones, Focus, Mobility, Youth and Community. Five reasons (of about 500) to start yoga. There are so many levels and styles of yoga these days, it's not hard to find a class to suit you. My advice is, don't search instagram to find your yoga inspiration. Just go to a local class. Go somewhere easy for you to get to first, so it will be easier to commit. If you find the class isn't for you, don't give up on yoga, approach the teacher and ask their advise on a class which is slower, faster, cooler (temperature), more gentle, less spiritual, more traditional etc. A good teacher will happily recommend someone else.
Happy OMing (yes ... I know that's extremely daggy!)
It takes a long time (sometimes years) to understand that the 'movement and stretches' which we know as asana in a yoga class are simply tools. And yoga provides us with many tools, including asana, mantra, meditation, kriya and pranayama which help us reach the goal of yoga, self awareness.
Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, and is the link between the physical and mental disciplines of yoga. Asana will help develop your body, and pranayama will help develop your mind.
Unfortunately pranayama isn't practiced much these days in yoga classes in the west. I think this is due to the following:
These reasons, in my opinion, are such a shame. Pranayama can offer us so much. The majority of us breathe incorrectly, which has a direct link to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here are some reasons why we should all be taking 5 minutes a day to practice pranayama.
There are so many more benefits of pranayama. Honestly, if you go to a class which doesn't include pranayama, well that's a bummer if you ask me, but check out some techniques on youtube. I strongly advise you to practice Nadi Shodana or Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) for learning to control the breath, and calming the mind, Kapalabhati (shining skull breath) for energy and vitality and also simple Sama Vritti or Vishama Vritti (even or uneven breathing) for a quick 5 minute destress.
Happy breathing :)
(image insert is my teacher training trainees studying pranayama in Colllingwood, Victoria 2017).
This is a question we are asked all the time, which surprises me as I had never even considered yoga as exercise. But of course it is. It's in every gym, and loads of people practice it purely for the physical benefits. And that's okay with me :)
What many yoga students in the west don't understand is, yoga is actually a school of thought, with its main goal being self awareness. The practitioner can achieve this goal through many paths of yoga, including asana (the physical postures), meditation, chanting, prayer. Not all yogis downward dog.
So I suppose when it comes to weight-loss, it depends on what path of yoga you are practicing. I believe that If you are usually inactive, and you begin practicing asana (the physical postures), then simply because you are moving you may lose weight, but generally, yoga is not considered a 'fat burning' form of exercise.
For cardiovascular training or fat burning, you would need your heart rate to be up at a moderate to high intensity for the majority of the class, so you could potentially lose weight if you practice asana 4-5 times per week at a high intensity (Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa etc) together with mindful eating.
Also, when we practice asana, and other paths of yoga like meditation and breathing exercises, we are decreasing our stress levels, and when we commit to a yoga practice, we tend to make better choices in our diet and our lifestyle. So yoga can indirectly help.
So my answer to this question is, educate yourself as to what weight loss actually is physiologically, then decide whether you want yoga to be that path. Personally, I want yoga to be my path of self study. My practice of non-attachment to ego, and everything I identify with. I respect the ancient art of yoga and the fact that it's an internal practice. Yoga is my personal journey of self awareness. Yoga is surrendering. Yoga is my state of mind.
For cardiovascular exercise, I box and jog :)
If you are like me, you may be getting a little frustrated over seeing products with words like ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘botanic’ or even ‘no chemicals’ written on them, only to find when you look at the ingredients on the back, there’s still a whole lot of stuff which should maybe stay in the lab instead of applied to the body, face or hair.
What’s worse, as I get older, it’s becoming much harder for me to even read the back of these products. Intentional? Possibly.
I’m over it.
I’m on a journey to find some homemade recipes and remedies so I know exactly what’s in everything I use. Hopefully it will help me save some cash too. Very exciting!
Let’s start with something I’ve been trying (half arsed) for about 25 years, chemical free deodorant or antiperspirant.
So why swap your supermarket bought deodorant to a chemical free deodorant? Most of the store bought products contain heaps of carcinogens, hormone disruptors and toxins including: Silica (bad for skin and could cause cancer), Parabens (linked to breast cancer), Aluminium (blocks sweat ducts which prevents sweating … which isn’t a good thing because the body sweats for a reason … AND linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s), Triclosan (skin irritant - actually a pesticide!), Propylene Glycol (linked to kidney and liver damage) … and seriously the list goes on!
I have many questions. Why haven’t these products been banned? Are we ignoring this research due to the fear of having body odour? Why have I waited so long to do this? To be honest, I’ve never tried making it myself but just tried randoms from the health shop, which didn’t work because I probably didn’t give them a chance. This time though, I’m committed.
Who better to turn to for advice than Melbourne based yoga teacher, holistic health coach (and friend), Sasha Layton. This lady is a pro at all things natural. She makes heaps of her own products and swears on this deodorant.
Sasha's homemade Deodorant.
½ cup organic Extra Virgin coconut oil
(ideally room temperature so it’s soft)
¼ cup (or less if sensitive to it) of aluminium free Bicarb Soda
3 Tablespoons arrowroot flour
3 Tablespoons Cornflour
5 drops of pure therapy grade essential oil, like Young Living or Doterra (I use 2 3 drops Lavender and 2 drops Lemon)
**Make sure coconut oil is soft or slightly melted, mix in a bowl with dry ingredients, add essential oil/s at the end & mix well. Transfer into a mason style jar. If the mixture is runny, you may want to stick the jar in the fridge for 20mins or so. To use just take about a 5 cent piece amount on your fingers & rub into your armpits!!
I’ve made a batch, I’ve starting wearing it, so far so good. I’m sweating (it’s Adelaide summer), and I just sniffed my pits and surprisingly they don’t smell at all.
The good news about this also is now you've bought the products, they last for ages. This recipe requires just a few drops of the oil, and you can use them for many of our recipes to come. So although you feel like this isn't going to save you money at the start, it will certainly save you heaps of cash in the long run.
Sasha is a Melbourne based holistic health coach and you can find her on her website here: http://sashayogalife.com.au and facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SashaYogaLife/
I must also mention the amazing family owned store, The Honey Shop, in Adelaide’s Central Market. This is where I have purchased my therapy grade essential oils and where I choose to purchase whatever I can. http://www.thehoneyshoppe.com.au/index.php and facebook:
Give it a go, and feel free to comment with your own suggestions or results.
The Yoga Social Team