Why do we do certain poses?

Why do we do certain poses?

Here is a moment too good not to share… I subbed a yoga core class this morning – lots of challenging core strengthening moves and wonderful, if intense, concentration from my group of yogis.   Everyone was working hard and doing a great job, but I wasn’t seeing much in the way of smiles. We finished our salabhasana (locust pose) sequence and moved on to dhanurasana (bow pose).  After our initial go around with the traditional pose, I asked the students to try it again and then, this time, roll onto their sides into side bow.  As I expected, a little chaos ensued.  There is really no graceful way to get from bow to side bow – you sort of have to give yourself a good heave in the direction you want to go and hope for the best.  It’s definitely a pose transition you can’t overthink too much, or it won’t happen. The mood lightened, and I saw those smiles I was missing and heard laughter from more than one person.  After we were through and everyone had gotten in and out of the pose successfully, one of the students asked, “why do we do that pose? what are the benefits?” I replied, “You’re laughing, aren’t you?” She looked at me, a little perplexed.  “That’s the benefit.” I said. Will side bow lead you to enlightenment? Will it help you discover muscles you never thought you had? Probably not.  But I bet it will make you laugh.  Try...
Happenings in the new year

Happenings in the new year

I know, I’ve been fairly blog silent lately.  I don’t really have an excuse other than a general feeling of needing a break.  I think enthusiasm for a practice, much like a long term relationship, ebbs and flows a bit.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok – I’d tell you, if you asked me, that it was was ok to take a break, so I’m trying to practice (heh) what I preach! I’m off on a very exciting trip across the pond in a few days so I won’t be able to update much until after New Year’s, but I wanted to let you know about some exciting stuff happening in January. Starting on January, 6th, I’m back on the schedule at Blue Heron Wellness!  I’ll be teaching the Yoga I class on Sundays at 10:30am.  Though it’s not a plus size/large yogi/supportive yoga class per se, I really want to encourage you to take it if you are in the area.  Yoga I is great level to teach because I can tailor it to who shows up.  I know walking into a class where you might be the only larger person can be a tremendous undertaking, but I’ll be there!  I think it’s so important not only for those of us in larger bodies not only to practice yoga, but to practice yoga visibly.  We belong in yoga classes.  Our money buys us the same mat space as anyone else.  The more of us who attend classes, the better the classes will become for us, as teachers see what yoga looks like in different bodies...
Tips for yoga teachers working with students of size

Tips for yoga teachers working with students of size

Since I am wrapping up my last plus size series today, I thought it was worth posting some tips and ideas for the yoga teachers who are hopefully inheriting my students for the time being. Here’s the thing – you don’t need to be a larger yoga teacher to teacher larger-bodied students.  None of my yoga teachers have been anything but thin (which is a whole ‘nother issue but not one for this post) and yet here I am, a large-bodied devoted yoga student of 10 years and a yoga teacher. I find the idea that you can only teach people who’ve had the same experience as you perplexing.  I have no trouble teaching smaller students.  And yet, when I signed on to teach the plus size series, I was told (conspiratorially, I might add) that the last teacher was…shhhhh…skinny.  That’s why, they explained, the class failed. I think it’s more than clear that while the teacher’s thinness might have been an issue, it couldn’t have been the sole reason for the non-success of the class.  I do think that having experience with the issues the your students are facing is helpful, but not necessary, to being a good teacher.  In the end it comes down to understanding and respect.  My yoga teachers successfully taught me because while they didn’t necessarily relate to my experience, they respected it.  They trusted me enough to know when I said I wasn’t going to do something, there was a reason.  They knew when to gently push me to re-evaluate my perceptions, but didn’t insult my intelligence in the process. I do think some teachers...
Bummer

Bummer

If you saw or check out my post What’s in a name? you know that enrollment in my “plus size” yoga class series is down…The yoga director and I came up with some ideas to try to market the class but, unfortunately, the owners of the studio didn’t go for it.  Sadly that means that the studio is replacing my class with a Yin Yoga class. While I have nothing against Yin Yoga – I think it’s a great practice, though not one I do or teach – it’s nothing like what I was offering.   I think it’s a real shame that there is one less studio and one less class offering a class for those who don’t feel comfortable in general classes, but still want an active practice. In the wise words of my students: bummer.  Yeah… Honestly, I’m not so upset to lose a class – I know there will be other opportunities for me, but I do feel as though I’ve failed my students and the demographic the class served.  Though I understand the studio needs to make money, I’m sad that they gave up on the class so easily, without trying to market it more aggressively.  And most of all, I’m wondering what the barriers are to getting students in these classes and how to break them down. *I’m not discounting my own culpability here – my teaching might just suck.  Or maybe I didn’t offer what students wanted.  But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that I was a decent teacher and that students liked the class (I have no reason...
What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

I’ve always struggled with labels, especially in yoga.  When asked what style I teach, I don’t have a one word answer.  Even the name of this blog went through about 100 iterations in my head before I settled on “Supportive Yoga”. When I signed on to teach “Plus Size Yoga” at Blue Heron over a year ago, I was excited that such a class was being offered and that I was going to get to teach it.  But, I have to admit that I cringed a bit at the name.  I know what the studio was trying to do – find a way to describe the class in non-judgmental terms that would be easily understood. Here are my issues with “Plus Size” as a way to describe yoga, and the class I teach: 1. It’s a largely arbitrary term taken from, of all places, the fashion industry.  I don’t want to impose a term that has been imposed on me by an industry that is extremely unfriendly to the majority of women. 2. It’s exclusive in that most men don’t think of themselves as “plus size” even though they might benefit from the practice offered in the class. 3. The kind of supportive practice I teach can be useful to a much broader array of students than just those who identify with the term “plus size”.  Anyone who is struggling in their body or looking to make yoga work for them would benefit. Why not name the class Supportive Yoga?  Well – short answer is I tried that and they didn’t bite.  Long answer – I can see why they didn’t go...
The Impromptu Private

The Impromptu Private

Hello from Chicago!  The boyfriend and I have been running around like crazy, so I haven’t had too much chance to blog.  You’ll be happy to know that I plucked up the courage to go to a yoga class at the studio across from the hotel the other day and had a good experience (nothing mind blowing, but nothing negative either).  I decided that since it was right here and I’m more likely to attend classes, I’d already paid for, I would go for the 3 class new student deal for $25 (drop-ins were $18 so even if I only went once more it’d be a good deal.) Note to all traveling yogis – most studios have a bargain like this, so make sure to ask! Today, I decided to take my 2nd class and headed over this morning.  I got to the studio about 10 minutes early so I could talk to the teacher about my various injuries/issues and the huge yoga room was empty.  I set myself up with my multitude of props, did a little supta padangustasana to release my back and hips and waited for the other students to arrive. 10:00am came and went and no one else came into the room.  Hmmm… At 10:02, the teacher came in and closed the door.  I was the only person there.  Helllooooo impromptu private yoga class! First thought: PANIC! Second thought: SCORE! I’ve taught a few of these, so I know how intimidating it can be to have the teacher’s entire focus and attention.  It’s a wonderful opportunity though, especially since private yoga classes can range anywhere...