Archive for August, 2014

I have always been intrigued by Iyengar and was the same with Jois. I had always hoped that I could go to their shalas and see them while they were still living. That didn’t happen. But I study and practice their methods and work with their students who teach. I am enjoying the Iyengar quotes today. There is a lot to live by there.

I just started practicing Iyengar lately and have spoken about the misconceptions I had going in. I thought it would be boring and easy. It isn’t. It is one of the hardest practices. I am proven wrong time and time again.


Iyengar gave many gifts. He was true to his guru but independent too. His body of research is extensive. He wrote a lot and wrote succinctly. When yoga students ask me what one book they should buy, I always say “Light on Yoga”. It has everything.


My favorite thing about Iyengar practice is that it is flexible, yet uncompromising. In a lot of modern practices, students are taught to just do what they want and to watch how they feel. The teachers job is to see what their students are doing and teach them how asana should feel. It is a craft and a study and an art.

There are many good stories of Iyengar from his students. He was not always kind (wishywashy) in the Western sense. He was demanding. He drove some students away. Some of those students moved on to develop their own methods but the heart of Iyengar is always there.

The real method of yoga involves discipline. We Westerners kind of suck at submitting to someone. We want it our way.

We mourn the passing but we also need to celebrate the life he lead, what he taught us, and allow him his deserved rest.

And all you mo fos do trikonasana wrong. Just saying. You do.

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I am feeling you Brett Favre.


Prepare for a few knee rants.

After a weekend of intense knee pain, I have seen a ortho and doc and start PT next week, but no one will commit to anything. Will I need surgery? Knee replacment?

Thank goodness for the Web. I have found way more out there than in a doc office.

The other big question. Can I work on external hip rotation if I do find alleviation from pain and swelling post PT, orthoscopic, knee replacement.

I actually found NO answer on that so have emailed some well known Ashtanga/anatomy experts.

I just want someone to tell me SOMETHING!

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So today I am day four of Light on Yoga challenge. There has been nothing too earthshaking. But I looked ahead. In a few days I am hitting a sequence that begins with variations of Salamba Sarvangasana.

The sequence starts with:


There are variations of that (eka pada etc) and it ends with:


So in the Light On Yoga world we are only months into practice and you are on to a pretty advanced variation of sarvangasana. SS is standard to any Iyengar class. I have not been to an Iyengar class as of yet that did not include SS and Sirsana. Iyengar loves his inversions. In Ashtanga you do SS, halasana, and karnipidasana daily and the breath count is longer than the normal five breath hold in the other Ashtanga poses. Iyengar recommends going up to five minutes in one before going to the next.

When I came back to Ashtanga last year, those poses were hard for me because we weren’t holding them long in other classes and there was no emphasis on safety or alignment. So it took a long time to work up to 10 or 8 breaths in the Ashtanga series. Also there are no props. In Iyengar you use a minimum of three blanket or one of those nice cushions the girl above has.

My opinion is that you need these supports to hold the poses up to five minutes. Below is a nice little picture of what shoulder stand looks like on a wedge or blanket:


A lot of students resist the support. It seems like a crutch to them, but if you look at this drawing the cervical curve is already quite flattened. It is flattened even more if you are flat on the floor.

The goal of the pose is not to flatten out the cervical curve, but to create a strong support in the shoulder and upper back. These parts of our body are not used to supporting weight beyond our heads. To get to the pose with the arms upwards along side the body in the second picture necessitates strength in the shoulders, not compressing the cervical spine in support of the pose, and understanding of upward energy in inversions.

Due to my knee issue, which will probably an issue in forthcoming months, I am going to focus back on inversions and arm supports over binding hip and external rotation poses, for NOW.

Today I moved a big plant of mine off the wall in my home practice space. It is a perfect support for working into this type of practice. A very nice person today said they were sorry for the knee issue I am going through. You mourn the loss and move on. There is always more work.

Use a blanket or two under your shoulders in SS. Okay?

This is Arky, Dakota, and mom:


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About ten years ago I damaged my right medial meniscus on an f—ing treadmill with elevation. I was told at the time, I would have to have the whole thing removed. By the time surgery rolled around, the swelling and pain were totally gone, so the doc said let’s wait. But you will be back within two years to take that baby out.

Fast forward to about a month ago. After the first episode I committed to a Bikram yoga practice and started gaining back strength and mobility. Through my last year of practicing Ashtanga, I gained back the ability to close the knee almost totally.

I attributed this miracle to yoga. I felt like a walking (literally) testimony.

Then the truck accident. (Bear with me) I was driving into the parking lot at work and hit – something – not a person – and the whole underside of the Escalade got tore up. It was probably a hunk of pulled up road that fell of a truck, because I did not see it.

Two days later, I pulled a muscle in my left calf. My left inner knee started hurting and then the right SHARPLY. The left leg got better but the right, all of a sudden is a mess. Swelling is back. Pain is BACK. Mobility – is GONE.

Refer to post on Richard’s statement on how Ashtanga practice is like a glass mountain. It is beautiful and lucid going up, the fall down is quick, but inevitable and somewhat of a good thing.

So after various x-rays and examinations, I am off to the PT. I can still do yoga and BIKE. But I am not sure if that range of motion will return. Sad to see it go. I am going to still practice some first series, but mostly will be this for my practice:

The long standing poses feel so good and working on my back for the hips and knee. Long slow holds. I can not go fast.

Unless I get a LOT of resolution from PT. There is arthritis and this ugly spur and I got to see the ten year change in my knees from my xrays.

Very illuminating. This age thing is. The Escalade is fine. I did not get HURT in this accident. The knee is symbolic of messing up your foundation. It all fell apart at once. As far as the truck, you know, you have insurance and good mechanics.

The news these days is DISTURBING and it always makes me wonder how some people can be so ambivalent and unaware of the travesty going on in our country and other countries, ESPECIALLY YOGIS, that should develop a deep awareness and empathy for pain. It is compassionate to do so. There are enough people out there that show no compassion for the other guy.

Why are people killing children? Who thinks this is justifiable? I don’t see any justification for shooting someone walking in the road instead of the sidewalk. I do it all the time. It is how I roll.

Okay that is it for politics.

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I went to a Max Strom workshop at our studio on breath a few weeks ago. He did five workshops but I was so burned out from the Maty Ezraty week and then moving right into summer intensive for teacher training, I could just do the one. Plus, he is coming back for a four day teacher intensive in March for our Advanced Program and I will go to all of that. The workshop on breath was just a taste. The workshops were geared for the general public and I would rather focus my time on material more relevant to teaching.

I was introduced to Max when he arrived at our studio. My first impression of him is that he is very direct, very present, and doesn’t waste words. He speaks very evenly and firmly and when he delivered his workshop it was the same. As a gifted writer he understands the power of words and the necessity to not waste them. He is the same in class as he is in conversation. The words and direct, clear, and there is no filler. I did my homework beforehand and I love to research the background of the yoga teacher. I did find out that he did Maty Ezraty’s very first teacher training and Sean Corne was in the class. He indicated his main teacher earlier on was Dena Kingsberg. Wow. Very old school.

We just finished the month long teacher training intensive and I am experiencing some burn out.

However, I am back on track with Iyengar. I am starting an Iyengar challenge today.

Appendix 1 has a list of courses and suggestions for a time frame for practice. For example the first sequence is for 1st and 2nd week of practice.

I am going to start with that course and do one every day, even on practice days when I go to practice at the coop or practice primary at home. When I stall on a series, I will stop until I accomplish the poses.

Today is:
Utthita Trikonasana
Utthita Parsvakonasana
Virabhadrasana I & II
Salamba Sarvangasana I

It will be interesting to see the point when I hit the wall.

On to day one challenge!

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