Yoga Yoga-Diary

Standing my Ground – Diary 02

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Third teacher training

Last weekend I had my third teacher-training weekend and it was awesome. A whole new experience with some enlightening aha-moments.

Our group got plunged into the cold water – we started teaching each other! Besides from guiding a few friends and family through some little flows before, it was my first ‘real’ time of teaching a yoga course. We haven’t done that before in the group either and it was truly inspiring and eye-opeing about the things I still need to learn when it comes to guiding others through a series of asanas. It was lots of fun and harder than I expected it to be at first: to have all the asanas in mind, the sanskrit names, the order, the anatomical terms, the flow. And then you have to guide the breath, look after your students and try not to forget anything and offer varieties for different levels of experience. Phew! A lot to think about.
The first round was horrible, for most of us. But for me, the second time went more smoothly and I was pretty calm and able to shut out anything else and then there were just my ‘students’ and me guiding. A truly tingling experience! Now I will try to prepare myself for the next time: to ‘learn’ how to guide through a flow, what to say, and how to say it. So that’s going to be my homework now.

In my personal practice I tend to rush a little through my asanas that are powerful, yet airy. I need to work a little more on grounding myself and to move through my flow more precisely to let each posture really sink in. I want to do it all – that’s sometimes my problem – as I’m eager to do all the asanas I love in one practice, and instead I should probably concentrate on less, but performing them more mindfully. That’s what became clear to me during this third weekend, too.

 

Standing upright

What was probably most impressing to me was the correction of my habitual posture. We took a look at each other’s posture in groups and analyzed our way to stand upright. We did this over and over again during the last few months.

I always thought that I’m standing tall and straight. Haha… I was so wrong. And I even wondered why my left knee and neck always hurt when I need to stand for a longer time. Now I know better.

During this course it was very revealing that I can improve a lot. After all… What is a yoga teacher worth, talking all about body-work and great posture, who can’t even stand up straight herself?
So now I know more about what to do to keep track of my hips, my knees and my ankles to keep everything in line and my body and bones in balance.

You can also check if you’re standing tall and straight by taking a photo of yourself how you usually stand and analyze it. These following questions can help. Ask yourself:

  • ‘Are my eyes, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles parallel to the ground? ‘– They all should be!
  • ‘Are my knees overstreched or tilting to one side or is my hip bulging to one side?’ – If yes, maybe your hip is distorted. Your knees shouldn’t be overstreched. Try to acively rotate your hips back into a neutral position to not strain one knee more than the other.
  • ‘Is my back hollow, my stomach hanging out front or my neck overstretched?’ – You should always try to avoid a compression of the lower back: tilt your pelvis into a neutral position and try to hold it. This will mostly automatically put your neck and lower back into s straight position, too, so that no muscles are needed to compensate for a false posture of your pelvis (the very thing that causes tension).
  • ‘Are my ankles and my knees touching each other when I’m standing upright with closed feet?‘ – If not, this could be a malposition of your legs: either knees are touching and ankles not, ankles touching but knees not, knees rotated inward, etc. – Then you could try to align the bones of your leg, using the dynamics of a spiral: rotate your thighs outward and your lower leg inward. Ground the ball of your big toe, the ball of your little toe and your heel. You’ll see that this makes you even feel more ‘connected to the ground you’re standing on. Use this principle for asanas, too! (Look up books about spiral-dynamics to learn more about this principle! I just ordered one as I’m very interested in this topic and it seems to mak sense!)
  • ‘Are my shoulders hanging?’ – Try to pull your shoulders back, but not too much as there shouldn’t be a deep ditch between your shoulder blades.

Of course I can not give a 100% guideline as I’m no expert or doctor. I just can tell from my own experience by following the few principles listed in points above that the pain in my knee, lower back and neck has vanished since I actively think about what I’m doing with my body. I intend to use it for a long time, so better start doing it right earlier than too late.
If you’re really interested in learning more about good posture, I’d recommentd reading some books, and to ask your yoga teacher or doctor for advice.

Finally, observe and study yourself. I’m working on my posture daily and I made some progress already: I consciously think about the alignment of my body now, when i brush my teeth, when I wait in line, cook, walk, and when I sit at the desk. I’ll let you know in a few months if I was able to change my posture permanently! :)

Lots of love and namasté,

Elaine

 

Photo by The Vintage Romance.

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