Natarajasana is “the Lord of the Dance”. This beautiful asana develops grace and balance in the body all while producing energy and heat for the body. It encourages good posture by toning the gluteus and leg muscles. The entire spine, especially the lumbar is worked gaining flexibility and strength, the heart and shoulders are opened as well. Dance is a pose of inner beauty. Front body opening is extremely important especially in today’s society of forward rounding body positions.
TIPS: -Use the wall or a chair for better balance -Use a strap if one cannot clasp the foot, if using the strap with the arms overhead, work to keep the elbows forward rather than outward, this will allow a more appropriate stretch around the shoulder blades and triceps. -Try dipping your chest forward while keeping your back leg moving away from your body-We tend to move from the most mobile areas and this may increase potential injuries later on -Keeping the upper arm by the ear allows for the openness of both shoulders, then possibly one reaches behind the head for the foot with both hands-Many people turn the bend knee and leg out to "back bend" deeper, but in all reality they are simply tightening the outer hip and thigh and avoiding the stretch where they need it, the front of the body: quadriceps, psoas, hip flexors, abdomen-Do not pinch the shoulder blades together, but rather broaden the upper back (hence, the external rotation on the upper arm)-Avoid reaching with the chin, reach with the heart and tip from the hips not the waistline-Do work from a place that is comfortable, yet challenging VARIATIONS: -Loop a strap over your back ankle and hold the strap over head walk your hands down the strap behind your head (elbows in) and your leg moves upward closer to your hands. Grab big toe and foot with hands behind your head, chest moves forward. -Place the back foot (top of the foot) on the mouth of a chair, more challenging try with the top of the foot on a large swiss ball. CHAKRAS WORKED: -Root, Sacral, Navel, Heart COUNTER POSES: -Forward Bend, Standing Knee to Chest, Bear Swing, ChairHappy Asana-ing!Hope
- Begin in Tadasana, and find neutral pelvis. Shift your weight onto your left foot, keeping your hips aligned and engaged.
- Clasp your right foot behind you with your right hand, keeping the right knee turned down and hips square.
- Activate the left foot without gripping the toes; continue to activate the entire base leg, keeping the abdominal muscles active. Focus your eyes at a point on the floor in front of you about 6-8” in front, keeping your chin parallel with the floor (where our eyes go our body follows).
- INHALE, draw your right arm up over head alongside your right ear, and rotate your externally rotate your bicep turning your palm in, the shoulder is relaxed and down.
- EXHALE; begin to press your right foot into your right hand drawing your right leg behind you (keep your knee turned downward and hips square).
- As you draw your leg back, INHALE, being to let your heart pull forward, keeping your shoulders and hips aligned forward. Do not immediately lead with the belly to enter into the back bend, instead draw the heart forward and tilt from the hips not the waistline (this will decrease potential back pain).
- Hold the pose with a steadiness of mind and breathe for five to 10 breaths. Release with an EXHALE.
- Return to Tadasana slowly and steadily and repeat other side.
No one persons body is the same. No one persons body is put together alike, nor do they hold trauma or recover the same way either. So then why are we treating our students like they are all the same? And as teachers, trainers or coaches, part of our responsibility is to help and educate our student to know their bodies as many of them don't.
As a teacher and (teacher) trainer myself, I know this well. Teachers learn the "routine" and then teach it to their students. But what if a student shouldn't or can't do what your piece of paper says to do? What do you do? How do you accommodate them and still keep the class going? Or wouldn't it be nice to walk into class and ask your class what they would like to work on and be able to meet those needs? It's possible, just requires a bit of work on your part.
I unfortunately have seen the back lash of this, both as a student and as a teacher. Students having an "ah ha" moment in class as they realized that their back SHOULDN'T hurt in Cobra (I hear this a lot from new to me students of yoga). Or I as a new student in class was never asked about any health issues or concerns I might have (and this was at a very popular New York studio). What if I had a heart condition and knew nothing about what not to do, like lifting my arms overhead would be a concern and put pressure on my heart. Or what if I just had knee surgery and this was my first exercise class since then, or ever. The reality is that students don't think that issues they have would pertain to your services for various reasons. My mom had a heart attach while teaching at my studio and I was there and know that she is no no medications and know that she has no preexisting conditions and for me to do CPR on her and they EMT's to use the AED I know that no extra damage was ever done. But what if that was one of my students. In my case I have health records for each of my students and this is why. The question is "do you?"
Who cares if you have a successful business or any club for that matter, because if your business lacks the ability to actually do what you are saying you are setting out to do,to me that is a huge problem.
So now the question is how do I change this?
1. Update your client history at least once a year and post regularly that students need to inform you if their health has changed for any reason. And if they ask let them know that it is for "their health". How can you help someone if you know nothing about them?
2. Get to know your students, read the waiver forms, ask your clients and class questions about health issues, I can guarantee that your client retention will be much higher when they notice that you are actually paying attention to them and are hear to "help" them and not just kick their butt.
3. Re-evaluate what you are teaching or coaching? Why are you doing what you are doing? And what you are guiding, does it have merit to the health and well-being to your clients and students? I like to ask myself the "why" question. Why are you teaching me this, why are we doing this. Now don't go all mental on me, I am using this context to look at how we move our physical bodies, I don't believe we need to know all the why's in life, but I do think this one is important.
4. If you feel the need to pre-write your classes, base them off of your students issues and concerns. And remember what they need and what they want may not be the same so "show" them and educate them as to what you are teaching. This is a big red flag for students. If you teacher is just "doing" something just because, I would be worried. Many of my students know that as we go into to something they are not virgin to hear me say "if you have XYZ going on do not do this or go that far", followed up by "and this is why". If they know why they are more likely to not do it and then not hurt themselves and as a result trust you more.
5. Talk to your students. Get them to talk to you and respond to inquiries you are provoking on them. "How does this feel". I like to quiz my students in class. "Why do you think we are doing A this way?", this makes them stop and think and for a moment not just go through the motions. Plus they feel you are actually invested in them and that you do in fact know what you are talking about.
6. Get them to "self check". Ask them to look at their feet (or body part), I often use the lingo "actually look at your feet, take a moment you are this close-LOOK". This kindly reminds your students to actually practice body awareness, something we often "think" we are doing but are really off in la-la-land.
7. As the teacher or the trainer learn these flags (and teach them to your students): they can't do the exercise, there is tension or pain, alignment is off or difficult. Often times when a student experiences one of all of these they force even more and end up in greater pain or frustrated and if there is no line of communication between student and teacher how will you ever solve this problem.
8. Ask yourself and have your students ask themselves "how is this helping"? How is this helping them, is what you are doing just so hard that they are creating more problems just to do it, than actually trying to achieve the purpose of the exercise. When our bodies have dysfunction and we move in a way that encourages that dysfunction, how are we any closer to wellness than before; how are our bodies any healthier than yesterday? The only benefit may be in our head (ego).
9. Think "corrective exercises". Identify what the "pain" is or the "dysfunction" is and work to create balance. We are often thinking backwards. Balance is our goal. But if we can't identify the imbalance how will balance be achieved. This also encourages your students to take some self responsibility and create body awareness as they have to think for themselves. Something many honestly are not very versed in.
10. And finally as the student, you cannot put all the responsibility on your teacher or coach; at some point you must be responsible. This is a great reminder for all students that your teacher is not God, they do not live in your body, nor are they a mind reader. But as the teacher it is in our best interest to teach and encourage and educate clients on what is asked of them and let them know how this can help and show them the parallel to everyday life. I often point out to my students that as we blame our teacher or our mat or the distracting student next to us for why we can't do something, we most likely are also living that way (I am talking from life experience, this is how I use to live).
Mind-body fitness, yoga and any type of physical, mental and spiritual well-being exericse is a give and take, teachers give your students reason to want more and students give a little something for your teacher to work off of, you'd be surprised as to what comes about.
In the midst of frustration what else are we to do but lash out. Why would we rather have to figure out coping strategies to lessen the blow or better yet not be able to take it out on someone else? And like a food addiction we can so easily become addicted to anger, out bursts and worse off abuse. We say it’s not going to happen again, that it was just this once-because we were stressed out, annoyed or out of our element, but really we fear change. We fear that we will be different and that we will possibly have to work at it alter our lifestyle somehow and in some way. Wouldn’t it simply be easier to just give me a pill or zap me a few times and make it all better?
Isn’t that is so much our society-quick fix without the effort. So I ask you now to STOP! Stop with the lies, the anger, the violence towards yourself and all those around you. If you are to the point where you are hurting others in any way, I can guarantee you that you have been hurting yourself for years. So the change will have to be gradual and will put you in positions that will challenge you to go back to your ways or to challenge them and turn away. It comes down to your choice. We complain that we have no choices in life yet the ones we have control over, we’d rather not have. So in the midst of frustration here’s the thing, you can choose to change, alter your life, ruffle your feather in the hopes of a new look at the horizon. Or you can keep down the same path you have continually gone down over and over and over again with zero success, but it’s comfortable and easy and you basically don’t have to try.
Life is full of bumps and bruises, tears and laughs, questions and very few answers but this does not have to stop you from living, from the opportunity of change, from the life you keep saying you want and wonder why you never have. I know more people that I can count on all my hands and feet that say one thing and NEVER FOLLLOW THROUGH-heck I use to be one of them. But I’ve learned to say no, to admit when I am wrong (and boy is it hard), to speak up and go after what I know I am capable at in life. Why watch everyone else live the life you want because you simply don’t want to put the work in. Really that is what it comes down to. Give me all the excuses you want, I’ve heard them all because I’ve said them all and simply put-it’s all a load of crap. Am I perfect no, but, do I try my damdest and hardest to follow my heart, my gut my passion and you bet your bottom dollar I see my work paying off. And am I afraid to fall; no because I have told myself enough now that falling is part of the game, no shame, just necessary and a requirement in life.
So that anger, that frustration, it’s not your computer (would be an easy fix though), it’s not your Mom or Dad, your boss, your scale, your partner, your date book….it’s you. You have to step up and step out and welcome fear that makes you start living the life you have been dying to live. That fear, that worry that doubt is just a wake up that you need to keep moving, keep praying, keep believing and keep WORKING your ass off until you see yourself on the other end. There is no other way. I’ve been to the point in my own life that I chanced death all to many times, held death in my arms and still came out above it. So step up, step out and be somebody—YOURSELF!
This month I am brought to a place and opportunity to see myself and beliefs and intentions in another light, from others eyes yet again in a new fresh way! The old me would have been horrified to experience this, to even take a look and know what others thought of me. But yoga has so graciously offered me the opportunity to see things as they are through my own eyes and the eyes of others.
We are all connected, someway, somehow, and how we got here is still yet to be a mystery. Science has its “theories”, religions have their take and probably many more than I can even consume in one sitting of information on. But regardless of how we got here, why we are here and who or what keeps us here, at the end of the day all of “this” here on this Earth is something to be experienced, taken in and both enjoyed and learned from.
Some say that it was in my blood to become an addict, to struggle at some time in my life from depression, because my past family has had that struggle. And maybe I did fall into that cut-out, or maybe it was just how the cards fell, unrelated to my family and their DNA. But what I know was no mistake or coincidence was that yoga found me. And they kind of yoga that sought me out were exactly the kind of yoga that I needed to move forward from the DNA dead-end, from the continuous circles of no whereness that was once my life.
Yoga allowed me to shape and mold my own beliefs and values based off of what the world could and has offered me; my limitless potential that I have been shown. And the “union” that yoga has so kindly offered me, with first, myself, and then my family and Copper Tree and also the world that surrounds me both known and unknown is priceless. And what I come across again and again is that as much as we try to “know” this mystery, put science to it (even yoga) some things will never be able to be explained. And for me I would hope it to always stay that way.
I find myself constantly reading, researching and studying and all this information is wonderful and amazing, however none of this has ever yet to outweigh my own person practice on my mat, and the integration of myself into this world that surrounds me. In the last 6 months (probably more), we have been surrounded in the yoga community by evaluations and criticisms of all kinds, both at large and in-house; and I have had now many opportunities to sit and meditate and reflect on these questions and remarks to find myself coming back to the same answer again and again. “WE ARE ALL ONE”, weather we come from one maker or that we are simply one existence -isn’t it in the end really the same thing? In yoga we use the word “ATMAN” which means Brahman which means “universal consciousness” or “God”. Funny to me how those two definitions can be used interchangeably in a text older than the dirt your house was built on, yet we can’t seem to grasp the simplicity of the connection. We as educated peoples know almost too much and we miss the entire point.
What I hope for all those who have an opportunity to know yoga and those that choose to come through Copper Tree’s doors, is an opportunity to discover something within themselves that they may not have known before, grown somehow, find the ability to get off the high horse and step into the rawness of life where you don’t need to know the answer, and there is no separateness, we can all just “be” regardless of language, culture, beliefs.
Yoga may not be a religion, however it is a lifestyle and in part a belief in something greater than ourselves-whatever that may be, don’t let simple words get in your way of experiencing something quite amazing…..Yourself.
And as a yoga teacher and a student of life I am simply sharing what I have been so graciously been given…..