Thursday, August 23, 2007

“I’ve Been in the Final Pose"

“I’ve been in the final pose. There is nothing there. There is no hurry.” My very favorite quote by Ramanand Patel. If you have ever had an opportunity to study with him you know about his dry humor. It comes at you when you least expect it and when you need it most. My class received this quote when we were all struggling, and I mean struggling, into a hard pose. As I recall, it was a pose that made us wonder if Ramanand had any ligaments when he demonstrated it for us. In his dry, light-hearted humor, Ramanand came out with this quote to lighten us all up. It worked and I have used it numerous times since.

Our students (and ourselves!) need to be reminded, sometimes frequently, that the goal of their yoga practice is not the final variation of the pose. (To be honest, there is never a final variation. There is always some way to modify the pose and move more deeply energetically if not physically as well.) Yoga is about challenging our bodies, not about harming them or being violent. So forcing ourselves into the pose is contrary to the goal of yoga. I’ve have been in many of those “final poses” over the years and have been amazed to find that there isn’t a dramatic difference between them and the preparatory poses I did for years to get me into that pose. (And, just so you know, there is no fanfare and no parade – although sometimes you wish there was!) And, being in the pose before you are truly ready will only serve to eliminate any benefits of the pose anyway. “I’ve been in the final pose. There is nothing there. There is no hurry.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Aligning pelvis in Savasana:

Here is a quickie adjustment you can make in Savasana to help some of your students find a more comfortable position and a more relaxing Savasana. Have you noticed that when you lie down flat to move into Savasana your pelvis wants to tip anteriorly, creating a stronger lower back arch? In Savasana you need to consciously tuck the tail a bit to be in the neutral position the lower back needs to release fully.

For about 20% of your students (my guess based on my experience), their psoas, the deep hip flexor muscle, is too tight to be able get a good enough tuck to release the back. When you watch, they can keep their pelvis neutral/level with the floor until their legs are almost fully straight. As they take their legs that last little bit, the pelvis tips and the lower back pops up. (I am in that 20% of people). With the lower back over-arched, tension creeps in, whether or not they are aware of it. I still don’t feel tension – which is why I never noticed for the first decade of my practice. What I do feel now is that the energy flow isn’t there when my back is arched.

All you need to do to help them is to place a folded blanket under their thighs. Ahhh…heaven.