Taking care of our feet with yoga

As a yoga teacher I teach and practice the same sequence for a week (as many of my yoga teachers do).

The sequence I teach my students is the sequence I practice at home over the same week.

And I usually like to have a theme each week, whether it is an anatomical focus or types of poses, such as twists, low back, balancing poses, feet …

This week my focus is feet. Feet are the roots of our body.

As one of my yoga teachers says, you have to go down to go up. To me that means we have to feel strong and grounded in our feet and legs to grow in our standing poses, such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

We treat our feet so badly. We shove them into shoes that are too small, too narrow, too high, too flat, too pointy … We stand on them too long and not properly. We wear the wrong shoes while exercising. We wear shoes that don’t give us enough support or the right support.

About 77% of Americans have experienced some sort of foot pain, according to a survey done by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

In a Continue reading

Mirroring yoga students

I learned a lot of great things in my yoga teacher training.

Mirroring your students as a yoga teacher was highly advised.

I get why that is a good idea. It makes it easier for your students to follow you in something, especially if the pose or action is complex and/or has a lot of moving parts and language just isn’t enough.

But for the teacher it can be quite challenging.

I already have issues with right and left. Yes, I know they are basic and we all learned that in kindergarten.

The first time I tried mirroring with a student was a home yoga practice with my mom a little more than a year ago when I was still in school.

It was a complete disaster. But it was just the two of us and at least we got a good laugh at it.

When teaching (especially a twist, which is the ultimate challenge) I look at … say my right arm and tell myself it is the right so I should say left. I tell them to bring their left arm and hug the right knee for a seated twist while I bring my right arm to hug my … Continue reading

Using strap for Chatarunga Dhandasana

One of the things I learned while in my yoga teacher training was to learn to “steal good.” And I do this pretty regularly.

As a teacher myself I take things my teachers do and make them my own. It’s a great way to learn to teach and to share awesome things I learn along the way with my students.

Near the end of my teaching stint at Alameda Athletic Club I asked my students and GFG! readers what their favorite and least favorite yoga poses were.

With that information I created a sequence for my second to last week teaching favorite poses and my last week of teaching least favorite poses.

One of my students told me that Chatarunga Dhandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) was one of her least favorite poses.

This is a pose where many people hurt themselves. It’s a difficult pose and many people don’t and can’t do it correctly, myself included.

From an article on the Yoga Journal website,  the writer mentioned being at a meeting with other yoga teachers and “almost all of us had a Chaturanga injury to relate: elbow tendonitis or strained muscles in the upper arm, shoulder, or chest. … Since then, … Continue reading

Help me with yoga poses

We haven’t had a Comment Contest Tuesday in some time.

I need your help.

I am nearing the end of my teaching stint at Alameda Athletic Club.

I have decided for my last two weeks of classes I am going to ask for student (and GFG! reader) input.

It’s pretty easy.

Tell me your favorite yoga pose.

Tell me your least favorite yoga pose.

You can definitely have more than one of each.

If you’ve never practiced yoga or are new and don’t know a lot of the poses and/or the names you can still participate. Check out the yoga for beginners on the Yoga Journal website for some ideas.

When I write a sequence I try to have a well-rounded yoga practice of standing poses, seated poses, balance, challenging and easier poses, twists, etc.

I also make sure there are poses I truly enjoy and others I would really rather not do. The sequence I teach for the week is the sequence I practice at home for the week.

I am starting to ask my students what are their favorite poses and what are their least favorite poses to give me ideas for my last few classes at the … Continue reading

I sweated a lot in a Bikram yoga class

Let me say that I realize this post may cause dislike, disagreement, possibly anger … But this is my opinion and my feelings on hot yoga. And you are allowed to disagree.

I don’t believe Bikram yoga (hot yoga) is real yoga.

After experiencing it I will say it is some form of exercise? … yoga poses where you are in a super hot room and sweat like crazy.

If you like doing it I am not saying you shouldn’t do it. I’m just saying … it ain’t real yoga.

Over the past year or so I believe I have become a self-proclaimed yoga snob. In terms of the type of yoga classes I take, the teachers I study under and even the way I am trying to develop my skills as a teacher.

When I first started taking yoga in 2007 it was solely for exercise. And there is nothing wrong with that.

About four years ago I started taking yoga at a yoga studio. I found different styles of yoga and different teachers I enjoyed studying under. And I found styles of yoga and teachers I didn’t enjoy.

My normal practice consisted of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga.

Once I … Continue reading

Curbing sadness with yoga practice

This was originally posted on Nov. 10. I thought it would be nice to repost. This is a great sequence to do any time, not just when you are sad or have low energy.

Someone I care about has been sad lately. I want to help him. And anyone else who could benefit from this post.

So I did some research on yoga poses to help with sadness and mild depression.

In yoga teacher training on Thursday night we focused on forward bends. Forward bends bring your energetic level to calm and take your attention inward. The mind is quieted while in forward bends.

There are some forward bends in my Curbing Sadness practice.

And, of note, you don’t have to sad to do this practice.

Yoga poses have contraindications. So if you have health issues, please inquire before practicing.

And remember if something hurts or just feels wrong, don’t do it. Sensation is different than pain.

I did this practice myself. And I have to say it was very calming and relaxing. I felt well-rested after practicing.

From doing a little research, here is a practice I have written up to curb sadness/mild depression, which can be done … Continue reading

Triangle transformation follow-up

 

Recently I wrote about my Triangle transformation.

Over a year I watched as my Utthita Trikonasana dramatically changed and became healthier for my body.

I talked about how I hyperextend in my knees and I have learned how to stop that in this pose.

Knee hyperextension, which means too much opening at the back of the knee, creates misalignment and bad movement habits that can pave the way for arthritis and more serious knee injuries, according to Yoga Journal

Also according to Yoga Journal, a joint with such laxity is said to be hypermobile, and the knee is particularly vulnerable to this problem.

Being super flexible isn’t always a good thing for the body. When we are overly flexible in our bodies we need to recognize that and work to not go too deep into a pose and hurt ourselves.

I hyperextend in both my knees and elbows. I am also super flexible in my lower back, which means I have to be extra careful with my backbends and make sure they are coming out of my upper thoracic spine and not my lumbar.

When I wrote the post about my Triangle transformation, one of … Continue reading

Women’s Issues & Yoga

I am coming around the corner and I can see the end … I graduate from Piedmont’s Deep Yoga teacher training program at the end of this month!

Last night in yoga teacher training we went over two topics: Women’s Issues and Being a Yoga Teacher.

I’ve been looking forward to the women’s issues topic as it is very important to us as teachers.

According to  a study done by Yoga Journal in 2012, 82.2 percent of yoga practitioners are women.

The women’s issues we discussed were the three transitions women can face in life: menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

We did a yoga practice as if we were pregnant. Ann, who was teaching us last night, had us strap on “pregnant bellies,” which was a wool blanket and a yoga strap to keep it on.

It was a fascinating experiment, especially since I have never been pregnant. It was a great way to show us some of the physical limitations that can occur with a pregnant belly.

We talked about challenges each transition can face and the various yoga tips to help women take on the transitions safely for themselves.

My posting has been pretty sparse lately. But school is winding … Continue reading

Be flexible with your inflexibility

Over my winter break from work I was able to “teach” yoga to three friends to work on my teaching skills and give them a “free” class.

Every practice was different and in different locations (gym, my house and a hotel room). Thanks again to my friends for giving me the opportunity to work on my teaching skills. Hope the “class” was beneficial for all of you as well.

When I worked with my three friends the main thing I heard was, I am not flexible.

I told my dear friends that your body is your body and it does what it can. I also told them that flexibility is not always a good thing. Being flexible or overly flexible can be a liability in yoga or any type of exercise or activity.

I also reminded them that it is safer for your body to be less flexible than more flexible. There is a smaller chance you will hurt yourself as your body just can’t over do it.

When you know you have an injury, an issue, are over flexible or under flexible, etc. you make modifications, adjustments or utilize props to help you get into the best yoga pose for … Continue reading

Regular Restorative practice helps keep me balanced

The December Monthly Challenge was nicknamed 5 for 5.

A challenge I made for myself was to attend the Sunday night Restorative Yoga class at my yoga studio every Sunday in December (as long as I was in town). (I won’t be attending this coming Sunday as I will be out of town.)

The first four Sundays in December I attended the class. And actually I attended the last Sunday in November and the Sunday before that I attended a 2-hour Restorative workshop.

This past week I have been off work with little planned. I have incorporated more and longer Restorative poses in my home practice. At the end of every home practice I have a Savasana.

Vickie reminds her students as we are getting into a Restorative pose that we should be warm, comfortable and even (body should be symmetrical). And it should be dark and quiet.

There are times when I don’t feel like doing an active home practice. Those days I do an all Restorative practice with just a couple of poses. I am now well-equipped with props, such as bolsters and blankets, which really support me in particular poses.

I feel like having a … Continue reading