Intellectual Discoveries Mean Nothing on the Mat

teacherwheelassist

Every so often a student will approach me claiming that they went to a handstand workshop or had a famous yoga teacher workshop their backbend and as a result have magically acquired the ability to execute a perfect handstand or effortlessly drop back into wheel pose after months or years of struggle and frustration. They’re so excited that this person shared this one little tidbit of information that completely changed their yoga practice. All it took was one simple statement and drastic improvement was made! Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. Ninety-nine percent of the time when the time comes to prove their newly acquired skills, they’re stuck in the exact same place as before. On a similar note, a student will sometimes approach me wanting to discuss a posture or transition that they have been struggling with in their practice. While most people just have a legitimate question about something they’re not clear on, sometimes people will fall into the trap of obsessively asking questions regarding a pose their body finds difficult to execute. They’re convinced that if I just explain to them the perfect moment to engage their shoulders or which muscles to fire then they will surely be able to do a perfect handstand. Or if I simply explain to them exactly how to move their arms or the precise angle their feet should be at then they will surely be able to stand up out of wheel pose. Surely I possess a… [Continue Reading]

Transformation, Adaptation, and the Rise of the New Yoga

teacherstudent

It took me a long time to come to terms with the simple fact that yoga is most definitely not about transformation. It took me even longer to change the way I spoke in terms of transformation regarding my personal yoga practice and the practice of my students. I still don’t know that I always get it right. But truth be told, Yoga isn’t and never has been about changing anything. It’s about discovering the source beneath the change that is changeless. It’s not about making you into the best version of yourself but revealing that as you are, you are already whole, complete and perfect. Beneath the surface turmoil of your tense muscles and your shallow breathing, there is a blissful core that is your true self and it’s waiting to emerge. No, it’s not you that needs transformation. Believe it or not, it’s yoga that needs to change. The way I see it modern yoga is sorely in need of an upgrade, and it’s time for a new model to rise. Yoga has always adapted itself to the needs of individuals at different times in human history. Although the tradition itself is perhaps thousands of years old, it has changed many times over the centuries, and the modern variation of yoga is hardly the perfect fit. I’m not knocking the physicality of the modern practice as so many critics love to do, I think the body is the perfect vehicle for self-discovery. It’s the manner in which we… [Continue Reading]

The Will to Work Harder

melissaharris

For some time now I’ve believed that my journey with handstand is all about courage and trust. While I know this is true, it’s beginning to occur to me that there may be more to it. It is also about a willingness to fight through. There is this point, anyone working toward handstand will recognize it, when I “almost” get my hips high enough and there is a moment, a kind of a brief pause, where I either give up and take my feet back to the mat, or I fight a little harder to press my hips back in order to raise my feet in the air. More and more often recently, I push through and press my hips back to complete the pose, but I’m still not consistent. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will be. I believe there is a correlation with this to how I’ve approached life for a long time now. I’ve given up, all too often, when things have become even just a little bit difficult. I’ve had great ideas, and made big plans, only to decide that maybe it’s not that important to me and not worth the effort to follow through. I have allowed this to be a reason why something isn’t right for me, or told myself the hesitation or resistance is a sign that I didn’t really want to pursue it like I had thought. It’s also allowed me to do things half-assed. I’ve registered, trained for, and completed half-marathons… [Continue Reading]

A Pain in My …

kateb

As a former collegiate athlete, working out every day was just something I always did.  Three years ago I settled into a daily routine of walking or jogging a 5-mile circuit around my community alongside my 80-lb American bulldog.  I had come to enjoy this less ambitious approach to fitness, compared to the years I spent in high-intensity training with weights, plyometrics, and sprinting. Meanwhile my husband’s job requirements of tough physical labor began taking a toll on his body.  Hunched over for hours at a time and lifting heaving equipment up and down a ladder landed Matt in one of three places: at work on good days, in bed with debilitating backaches on bad days, and in the chiropractor’s office on so-so days. He had become depressed over his physical state and I did my best to come to his rescue with all kinds of fix-its.  I encouraged Matt to begin an exercise routine to better condition his body (and mind), but that didn’t seem to stick.  He had zero interest in walking unless it was on a golf course and running more than the length of the basketball court was out of question. “So, how about giving yoga another try?”  I asked. A couple years prior, we somehow landed in a local yoga class and I will never forget the look on Matt’s face as we entered into Happy Baby pose – the “I have to fart, this is miserable, please tell me it’s almost over face.” No,… [Continue Reading]

Short on Time? Here’s How to Practice…

sleptlate

Every so often there comes a day when you’re short on time and you don’t have the full forty-five minutes or an hour to devote to your Adamantine® Yoga practice. Maybe you forget to set your alarm, or you hit the snooze button a few too many times, or something really important suddenly requires your immediate attention. If you have been practicing Adamantine® Yoga for some time you know that regardless of circumstance your day is going to go better if you start it out with your practice. With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can modify the practice to meet your time constraints. 1. Hold the Standing Sequence postures for just one breath. Since the Standing Sequence is primarily designed as a warm-up for the deeper postures that follow, some practitioners can shorten the fixation in these poses to just one breath without experiencing any major losses. However, during the Sun Salutations that divide the Standing poses, continue to hold Downward Facing Dog for the full five breaths as you would during your normal practice. This will allow for you to receive the benefits of the temporary inversion (head below your heart) buried in this posture and will foster an overall pace that still feels relaxing. 2. Hold Downward Facing Dog for just one breath during the Seated Sequence and beyond. Since you have already hit Downward Facing Dog several times at this point in the Adamantine® Yoga sequence, this posture can also be shortened… [Continue Reading]