Posts

Practicing With Injuries

Practicing with injuries
Yoga’s enhancement of balance and flexibility helps decrease the chance of
various injuries. And there is good evidence that yoga strengthens the immune
system, helping to protect us from disease. But every active person is occasionally
bound to strain, break or wear-out something or fall victim to minor or serious
illness. And we do so to a degree that makes us first think that our yoga practice
is out of reach or provides some mental excuse for neglecting our daily yoga
routines.
But maybe we should consider such infirmities as opportunities for deeper
practice. From this perspective, injury and illness can be a blessing in disguise,
allowing the increased awareness of your body gained through yoga to be used to
send relaxation and metabolic balance to all affected areas and to allow full and
free functioning of the powerful healing functions that the body is constantly
generating. Until you die, so many more things are going right in your body than
are going wrong and that regenerative energy, enhanced by asana and breathing
routines, can assist and accelerate both physical and mental recovery.
The secret is just first to make it to your mat and then approach everything slowly
and mindfully. More than ever, this kind of practice is not a competition, with
others or yourself. Use asanas and your breath to cautiously (and perhaps
repeatedly) examine the problem areas and investigate how your yoga motions
and bodily attention might assist the natural healing functions. You might be
surprised by what you find!
If you let them know you have an issue, the Inside/Out instructors are always glad
to suggest alternatives to your normal routines. And remember, no matter what
the issue, 10 minutes of vinyasa, alone or in a class, is always a good thing!
Kerry Wilson 6.21.22

Why Do Asana? Part 2

WHY DO ASANA? PART 2
I’ve been reading an intriguing book by science writer, Annie Murphy Paul. The
Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain (2022) gathers and
analyzes the recent work of cognitive scientists demonstrating how we “think”
and perceive not just with our brains, but also with our entire body (embodied
cognition), our shared spaces (situated cognition) and our relationships with
others (distributed cognition). This isn’t just another book recognizing the reality
of “gut feelings”, but instead a deep dive into what exactly that might mean and
how we can specifically use this recent science to enhance our ability to learn
and, particularly, to think creatively.
Although Paul never mentions yoga, I’ve been struck by her reports of recent
studies and the terminology that has resulted. “Interoception”, a word scientists
are using to refer to our awareness of the inner state of our bodies, is something
yoga instructors constantly urge. We ask (or should ask) ourselves how does a
certain asana or movement make us feel? Even when most of us don’t turn our
awareness inward, she documents numerous studies showing that we engage in
“nonconscious information acquisition”, particularly when we significantly move
our bodies. Many of her insights in this area are linked simply with walking
(Thoreau’s “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin
to flow)”. But she also devotes an entire chapter to the role of “gesture”
(movement of hands, arms and body), citing studies which show that actively
gesturing on our part not only allows us to better communicate with others
(particularly children), but can be closely associated with what and how well we
(and our children) learn from others as well.
It got me thinking: Can we start to somehow equate asana practice with gesture?
When we ask ourselves why we do warrior pose in a certain shape, might it be
that previous teachers have noticed that such shape communicates with us better
than others? Or that the posture stimulates interoception or at least the impetus
to focus our awareness on bodily feeling? When we wonder or worry about the
historicity of yoga, might certain asana in fact be simply gestures from former,
accomplished teachers that instruct us across time without the use of voice or
words? And don’t get me started about mudras or a vigorous power yoga class!
Questions, questions, questions! Come join us for more at Inside/Out!
Kerry Wilson 3.31.22

Wind Relieving Pose, Really??

OK, let’s get down to yoga’s skillful means of increasing happiness–in this case
assistance with the removal of gaseous formations within the digestive tract.
Usually the result of a brew of food, consumed liquids and gastric juices
(collectively, the great word “chyme”), exacerbated by sedentary behavior,
digestive gas can build up in the stomach and/or intestines in a way that hinders
healthy peristaltic action. These gas “bubbles” can be uncomfortable, relieved
only by burping (an upward movement) or “breaking wind” (a downward
movement). If relief does not occur, this lack of movement can result in
increasingly uncomfortable constipation.
Yoga asana is a quite practical and direct approach to living in the world, and
several postures and related movement can often lead to remarkable results
when it comes to removing unwanted gas. Quite aptly referred to as “wind
relieving” poses, various positions that focus on squeezing, churning and twisting
the abdominal area promote escape of these gases (while also promoting healthy
digestion overall). Grasping and ungrasping (pumping) your front thighs to your
chest (“apana” pose), raising one knee at a time toward your nose (and strongly
extending the other leg’s heel), spinal twists like “big toe” pose and Lord of Fishes,
and even bridge pose and “two-legged table pose”, are almost guaranteed to
supplement and stimulate peristaltic action and remove gas to outside the body.
Not surprisingly perhaps, a strong downward dog can be a dramatic finale to a
series of these postures, often producing an audible announcement of success.
Accordingly, if shy, it’s often best to concentrate on these exercises in private
although its perfectively acceptable to make a not overly flamboyant sound in
class if followed by a quiet yet cheerful “Excuse me”.
Just an aside: Pursuant to my curious inquiry about her “secret” to long life, a very
healthy 90 plus year-old woman, not familiar with yoga, recently told me that she
grasps her knees to her chest and rocks sideways, back and forth, “at least 50
times” before she gets out of bed each morning. Said she had done this for over
60 years and attributed much of her good health to the practice. Another example of                                                       how yoga can be practice anywhere and be adopted into everyday routine.  Try it sometime!

 

Kerry Wilson 3.3.22

Why Do Asana?

Hello, yogis, and welcome to the first of many questions. I raise these questions not to provoke doubt about your postural yoga practice, but rather to strengthen your personal resolve based on answers well thought through. You might call them “yogic koans” — questions that you should face and either answer with your entire being, or just thoroughly drop as you reach for your second glass of wine.

Today’s question is “Why do asanas?” Asanas are of course the bodily poses and postures we perform in class and in private, whether they be warrior poses, forward bends, seated twists or others of hundreds which have now become popular. We know by now that nearly all these poses are essentially inventions of the twentieth century, first created in Mysore, India by Krishnamacharya during the 1920’s and 1930’s, and then sown, grown and magnificently fertilized by his students (like B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi). And then by hundreds of teachers residing mostly in California. I say this not flippantly, nor to minimize postural practice, but to make sure you don’t think that half-moon pose, for instance, has been practiced for 4,000 years. (The seated meditation poses (asana means “seat”) are of course another story.) Because asana practice is not ancient, however, does not mean that it is less important or effective. In fact, you might decide that its modernity and rapid international spread means that it has been proven and much improved over the last 100 years.

Does asana practice make you healthier? It would seem to and there is good evidence thereof. But so does playing basketball and intelligently lifting weights.

Does asana practice, particularly a more aerobic vinyasa routine, make you happier? Lots of evidence for this, though any good exercise program seems to do the same.

Why is assuming and maybe holding a seated twist, like Lord of the Fishes, beneficial? Does it touch and activate some spot in your body that has a particular healing power? 

Does returning to the same posture each day, the same arrangement of bone and muscle, whatever it may be, provide some more effective way for you to check-in with yourself or test your bodily health or demeanor?

Is asana practice, as some teacher once said, simply a beneficial method of learning how to breathe in difficult positions?

Do certain postures make you taller, more flexible, expand your range of motion or just make you temporarily feel taller, more flexible with a greater range of motion?

Is it some magical shape in space, some cosmic configuration of human angle, that melds you physically with Love, the Universe or maybe God in some special way?

Most importantly perhaps, does your posture practice promote what the Patanjali aphorisms long ago stated was the goal of yoga, that is “the calming of the fluctuations of the mind”?

Questions, questions, questions! Come join us for more at Inside/Out!

Kerry Wilson 1.27.22

1) If you have any doubt about this history (and there are many subtleties to the story), read Mark Singleton’s revelatory work “The Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice” (2010).

Hip Hop Yoga with Live DJ

Friday, January 21st, 6:30pm, $25
Prima B. will lead a all levels flow and Deek Beats will provide the live soundtrack.
Hip-hop originated from the Bronx as a cry from disenfranchised black communities and beyond. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice. Both are now mainstream beyond their origins and have become valuable tools for people to utilize in the self-care/expression world!

Events

Find Your Best Alignment – With Kathryn

Find Your Best Alignment with Kathryn.
Alignment is Kathryn’s thing.
Find the perfect pose for your individual body. You don’t have to do the pose perfectly, you have to find the perfect pose for you.
Space is limited to 7 students for plenty of individual attention.

 

What to expect:
* brief warm up
* alignment focus for bridge, down dog, warrior 1 & 2, triangle & reverse triangle, pyramid, lunge variations and thread the needle.

Deep Breaths & Big Sips (Yoga & Wine Nights)

Deep Breaths and Big Sips – Yoga and Wine nights! This will be a monthly offering on the 4th Friday of each month, 6:30pm. Join us for an all levels yoga class and some sweet jams. Followed by a glass of wine or non-alcohol beverage in the rock garden.

 

Prenatal Yoga with Natalie

6 Week Series, $66
When: Wednesdays, Oct. 12- Nov. 16
Teacher: Natalie
This class offers a physical practice, breathing techniques and a deep guided relaxation that will calm your mind and help prepare your body for labor.
Prenatal yoga can be practiced through your pregnancy (clearing any medical issues from your care provider).

BEND and BREATHE into BLISS

TEACHER: Kathryn

LIMITED TO: 10 students

DESCRIPTION
This class will include an all levels physical yoga practice, an introductory session of pranayama (breathing techniques), and a guided meditation. Our meditation can be practiced seated on the floor or in a chair to allow a comfortable seat for all participants. We bend to center the body; we breathe to calm the mind; and we meditate to find a peaceful state of bliss. Then we experience Yoga.