Completing a Full 10 Days of Yoga Part 1

 Completing a Full 10 Days of Yoga Part 1

Completing a Full 10 Days of Yoga.So I get that there is no set yoga sequence in Anusara Yoga. Although they seem to favor the upper body balancers and rotating thighs – somehow – still not clear about which direction we’re spiraling.

The yoga teacher is then responsible for choosing the order of the yoga postures and deciding how long students hold the pose and when to allow rest breaks. So if the teacher has something on his mind, you will be the recipient of it.

Completing a Full 10 Days of Yoga Part 1
Completing a Full 10 Days of Yoga Part 1

What to do but keep stretching your hamstrings while he begins class by chatting about his week. Nothing like unloading his burden by “sharing” it with the class: computer break-ins, sick relative, business is slow, time pressures. Ah well, glad the teacher felt better after that little intro!Today’s yoga instructor was actually very good with the verbal instructions. Clear, simple language while he demonstrated the yoga pose showing hand and foot placement and how to go deeper into the pose. For visual learners, there is nothing like watching a muscle press down to get it into our body. He was confident in his hands-on adjustments which were supportive and instructional.

Then we came to a what looked like a great upper body balancer (without the trauma of a handstand!); Dolphin arms with legs walking up the wall. He showed how it’s done with arms close to wall – and let me describe him physically as a short compact fellow – and we went off to climb our own walls. Now my body is very different from his (in more ways than one!) – my arms and legs are almost freakishly long – so I adjusted the distance accordingly, knowing I need more room for my long-legged climb up the wall.

Picture this: if we were both going into the pose side by side -his arm placement would have to be closer to the wall than mine cause his legs were considerably shorter, right? But he kept telling me to come in closer, where his placement had been, and I kept trying to walk but of course did not have room to straighten my legs fully.

He didn’t get it. I’ve experienced this with other teachers: a blind spot in considering body types and proportions of limbs to torso. It’s geometry as far as I’m concerned but any time we are convinced that the arm placement should be here and not there, we’re not really looking at the student’s body and what they need.

Day 1: A Close Look at Anusara Yoga  

 Yoga has to be experienced to really understand what it is and what it does. So, convinced that a fun and educational way to begin to understand all the different yoga approaches is to immerse myself in these 10 day mini-training yoga sessions, I headed to a new yoga studio in the Los Angeles area whose teachers are Anusara schooled.

I was slightly familiar with Anusara Yoga having sampled it at a workshop with the founder John Friend many years ago. And although he seemed a nice enough guy, I didn’t get into the language-specific metaphors that everyone seemed to be grooving on like “spiraling thighs.” Actually I found it very confusing and I suspect that was also true for the Anusara groupies cause I remember that during that class I was adjusted by three different Anusara assistants, each undoing the other’s alignment!

I was surprised to read John Friend’s web site description of the Anusara approach as combining “heart- oriented Tantric principles” with “Universal Principles of Alignment” (with a little trademark symbol after it!). It’s the Tantric claim that had me scratching my head.

Sure enough, Day 1 teacher begins the class with a lecture on this being Tantric because it’s non-dualistic. Oh, I get it they are defining Tantric as Advaita Vedanta. OK, whatever but the class isn’t exactly a free-form joy and bliss session. The warm-up is a vigorous form of your “classical yoga” sun salute. And then we went right into handstands. That’s right, it all came back to me. What I didn’t get in upper body workout in Bikram, I was gonna get in Anusara.

Handstand is not one of my favorites. And I have yet to find a teacher who safely takes you through the steps. Sure enough, in this class, two students collapsed while attempting handstands with what looked like a potentially dangerous landings on the side of their necks. They laughed, the teacher laughed and wondered what went wrong. Gee, maybe students aren’t warmed up, or prepped or spotted enough? Instead we work with class partners (see my rant about working with someone who doesn’t have a clue how to spot you)!

Overall, the teacher provided a good variety but you’d think with all the high falutin- heart- talking metaphors, the directions wouldn’t be so confusing. So while “melting the heart” may be a cool poetic metaphor, it doesn’t help when you’re upside and your wrists are caving in on you.

That night while massaging my achy wrists, I almost became nostalgic for my days with Bikram!
Yoga Hindi Me 

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