Monday, August 17, 2015

Leslie Kaminoff Workshop Part 4: Hands on Assisting Lab


I had the opportunity to attend an anatomy workshop lead by Leslie Kaminoff, author of Yoga Anatomy, during the week of Aug 3-6,.   This was one of my first yoga anatomy books and it remains a great resource. This was day four of the workshop.

Lots of moving today as we explored some individual movements in morning practice and later, partner assisted movements.  I will be totally upfront here - I don't like partner work.  I understand it's value in a classroom environment as a teaching tool, but I just don't like doing it.  That's my personality quirk.

Today's tidbit - Practice of yoga is about eliminating obstacles that exist in our lives.

In our partner work, we did:

Roll down and roll up exercises.  This comes back to day one of the workshop, where we learned how to focus on the posterior spine rolling down, and to use the anterior spine coming up.  In partner work, we were too look for areas that move as sections, rather than segments.

Standing Stick Fall.  We "fall" into our partners hands in a chataranga dandasana position, maintaining a strong line of energy and engaged abdominals.

Drishti-driven movementYou are well versed in the doctor asking you to follow his finger at your yearly appointment?  Well, expand this to following your partners finger in a wider range of movement that engages the whole body.

I think this exercise has some potential to help alleviate stiffness in the neck, but I also think there are some limitations (contraindications) to preexisting neck conditions and this should perhaps be used with care.  In my humble opinion.

Movement before breath.  We really did explore breath and movement throughout the week, but here we used bridge pose as a "technique for breath release...exploration of all three bandhas".   This is a variation on uddiyana bandha, and should not be overdone.  A couple three repetitions are adequate.


This was an interesting recommendation:  use a metronome in ratio breathing because we tend to naturally speed up on the inhale.  

Also of note, our heart rate naturally speeds up on the inhale and slows down on the exhale.  A variable heart rate is a healthy heart rate.   Which is interesting because the last time I donated blood the phlebotomist commented on my pulse increasing and decreasing.  

Out of the four workshop sessions, Thursday just flew by.  Out of the four sessions though, this was probably my least liked.

Overall, I think this was worth attending even though this wasn't what I was expecting at all.  Upon reviewing my notes for these posts, I learned (or was reminded of) quite a bit.  This is definitely an approachable anatomy session - good for instructors or someone who wants to deepen their own understanding of how their body moves.   I also this this is a good starting point to move into further, more in-depth, anatomy classes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Leslie Kaminoff Workshop Part 3: Our Articular Selves: Limbs of Locomotion and Evolution

I had the opportunity to attend an anatomy workshop lead by Leslie Kaminoff, author of Yoga Anatomy, during the week of Aug 3-6.   This was one of my first yoga anatomy books and it remains a great resource.  This is day three of the workshop.

On Wednesday of the workshop we started with our feet.  I finally got a better explanation of the difference between tadasana and samasthti - more so than just mountain pose and pose of equal balance with hands at namaste.

Tadasana (mountain pose) - with feet together, hands beside hips
Samasthti (equal balance) - feet apart (hip width or rooted under the sit-bones), hands at heart or hands at hips.

Though, in all honesty,  I think the definition remains variable depending on who the original instructor was.  In this case, it was Krishnamacharya to Desikachar to Leslie.  Doesn't get closer to the source than that. 

Wednesday's practice involved identifying the three points of contact at the bottoms of the feet and the lines between them:  the ball of the big toe, the ball of the pinkie toe and the heel.  The lines are the medial arch, the lateral arch and the transverse arch.  These three points and the accompanying lines create a tripod.  It is these three points of contact with which you want to firmly root on the ground in standing asana.

I really enjoyed the feet exercises.  I have maintained for years in my classes that our feet are undervalued and we need to stretch and move our feet as much as possible.  And we did just that with a few very basic exercises that focused on moving between each of those points of contact.

One underlying message was:  We've living in an industrialized world; at some point all of us will have some issues with our feet.  TAKE YOUR FEET OFF ROAD!  Ie, move your feet, go barefoot, go barefoot outside!

Another message:  when your feet start working better, everything above will feel better.  

From our feet we moved up our body to the hips, hands and shoulder girdle, spending the most time at the shoulder girdle and the hands.  This also was interesting, and I'm finding lots of tidbits now that I've had time to reflect upon my notes.

For example, to bear weight on the hands (weight bearing meaning bone to bone) the energy/weight transference must move through:
  • wrists
  • radius and ulna
  • elbow
  • scapula
  • acronium clavicular
  • clavicle
  • sternoclavicular joint
  • sternum
  • to the thorasic spine.  
By comparison, to bear weight on the feet:
  • ankle
  • tibia and fibia
  • knee
  • femur
  • hip
  • SI joint
Remarkable.  Lots of little bones and smaller joints have to support us in our hand balances, compared to the solid foundation up which we already stand. 

The days message again was HEALTHY MOVEMENT IS WELL DISTRIBUTED MOVEMENT.  Use more than just one part of your body to move you into your pose.


Next,  Part 4 -Hands On Assisting Lab

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Leslie Kaminoff Workshop Part 2: The Spine as Nature's Masterpiece of Sthira and Sukha

I had the opportunity to attend an anatomy workshop lead by Leslie Kaminoff, author of Yoga Anatomy, during the week of Aug 3-6,.   This was one of my first yoga anatomy books and it remains a great resource.  This is day two of the workshop.

I found day two to be more engaging than day one, and  it definitely built upon the lessons of the day before.  As I review my notes, I'm struggling with how to describe day two - again, it was that non-linear structure of the class.  There was dialog about the spine itself, there was a soap box rant about Desikachar, there was some personal discussion about what people were experiencing in their bodies...lecture was kinda all over the place. 

So I'll start with a couple definitions:
Sthira - to stand, be steady, stable;  as relates to the spine, protection for the nervous system
Sukha - suk - space,  ha - good,   good space;  as relates to the spine, range and freedom of movement

We again began class with a practice, and this time we did move - it wasn't a lot of movement, it wasn't through a whole slew of postures.  It was a very simple, and very challenging warrior sequence.  Check it out - I think you can probably find it on YouTube.  I will maintain, some of the best asana/vinyasa classes I've been to are the ones who keep it simple.  This was simple and challenging.

Again, practice was followed by lecture.  Some key points from Tuesdays session were:
  • THERE IS NO NORMAL from which we all deviate.  Asana doesn't have alignment, people have alignment.  
  • Alignment is a clear transmission of weight through the bones, though balanced joint space, and this will be different for each person. 
  • If your joints are talking to you, something is unbalanced and needs to change. 
  • Use a little movement from a lot of places; ie, it's not "square the hips", it should be turn the torso (shoulders, sternum, ribs, waist...).
  • The spine is a neutral seeking mechanism due to the compression and tension inherently built in. 
  • Working toward a neutral spine is working to uncover the obstructions that already exist. 
  • There is evidence of wear and tear on the spine as young as 20 years old(!)
  • Restriction in the thoracic spin is there to protect our heart and prevent us from ripping our organs apart. 
  • Roll down the posterior spine, roll up the anterior spine. 
 As I review my notes, more is sinking in.  There was a lot of good, practical, information in this session.

Next,  Part 3 - Our Articular Selves:  Limbs of Locomotion and Evolution

Monday, August 10, 2015

Leslie Kaminoff Workshop Part 1: Breathing as Shape Change


I had the opportunity to attend an anatomy workshop lead by LeslieKaminoff, author of Yoga Anatomy, during the week of Aug 3-6,.   This was one of my first yoga anatomy books and it remains a great resource. This was day one of the workshop. 

I will be upfront and say that the workshop wasn’t what I or my friend Laura expected.  We went anticipating an “Anatomy Workshop” where we would learn the relationship between X muscles on Y bones and the functionality of  X muscles and Y bones in [these] poses.  You know....anatomy

The workshop was a bit more loosey goosey than that and I haven’t decided if I’m okay with it or not.   I’m a rather linear person when it comes to learning and the presentation was anything but linear.  Leslie seems to work on the principle of here's what the session is, do you have any questions, and then class is built around the questions being asked.  

Which has it's pros and cons.  It does engage the class more, but when you get four or five outspoken people, class becomes tailored to their needs.  Introverted people are not going to be putting themselves forward, extroverted people are going to be asking specific (and sometimes personal) questions.  This can create some interesting dialog, but not always the best for staying on track.

Day One:  Breathing as Shape Change
This was an exploration of breath as space, what happens when you switch the breath when moving (ie – exhaling when you would ‘normally’ inhale during an asana) and a discussion about yoga and the breath as a method to find different ways to move out of discomfort. 

Class started with a practice - if it could be called that - where we did some breath work, the instructor did lot of talking, and we did a lot of listening but not much moving.   I really could have used a practice given the amount we were sitting.

Lecture followed for the rest of the day with an hour and a half break for lunch.   

Key lecture points included:

  • Don’t necessarily lead with the breath, start movement with the breath
  • Engage the student – ask question such as did you know your knee is doing X?  Do you mean for your knee to do X?  Can you do something different with your knee?  It’s the students job to keep themselves safe.  
  • Yoga is not asana, it is not some mystical pursuit of ultimate flexibility.  Which asks the question just how much flexibility does a person need?  There is always a pose you won’t be able to do.  
  • Breathing is the shape change of the abdominal cavity and the spine is the back of the cavity.
  • ALL BREATHING IS DIAPHRAGMATIC. 
This session did lay the foundation for the rest of the week.  


Amazon.com









Monday, July 6, 2015

YogaFit Training: Level 5

Over the weekend of June 25 through June 28 I attended YogaFit's Minneapolis Mind Body Fitness Conference.  This was my third year attending, my first year where I didn't stay at the hotel but opted to commute.  While I love staying in downtown Minneapolis, being on-site to take morning/evening classes, and eating out - the cost of staying and parking at the downtown Hilton became cost prohibitive.  So I stayed with family and took the light rail into downtown.

Level 5 training is considered the culmination of the previous four trainings:
  • Level 1 - Foundations of Safety for Personal Practice and Teaching  (Training/Foundations)
  • Level 2 - Communication and Breathing (Communications)
  • Level 3 - Meditation and Hands on Adjustments (Introspection)
  • Level 4 - Sanskrit, Bhagavad Gita, Sutras, Chakras and Chanting (Traditions and Integration)
  • Level 5 - Being Present and Emotional Healing (Being Present)
This session is not as intense as previous sessions, but I say that with a caveat - for some people looking inward and acknowledging what lies within could perhaps be the greatest challenge that person could face.  

This final level was more approachable because there was less poses to learn, no Sanskrit to memorize and pronounce, less homework, less group work (always a positive for my introverted self), the required reading was not as intense, just...less outward expectations.

What we did cover was: 
  • We reviewed the koshas
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Seven Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
  • The movie The Secret
  • and using/reading positive affirmations 
Each day we had a Master Class - a physical yoga class that incorporates that levels poses.  Saturday class was lead by YogaFit founder and director Beth Shaw.  Sunday class was lead by our instructor Sandy.  I always enjoy the master classes because a) they are a good reminder of how a strong, steady and well structured flow class can accommodate a "general population" or mixed group class and b) I get inspiration for my classes.

Required and Recommended reading for this class included:
  • Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro  (required)
  • Growing the Positive Mind  Dr. William K. Larkin (recommended)
  • Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (recommended) 
I did read Your Body Speaks Your Mind and strongly recommend (if you do this training) get a copy from the library before purchasing. 

Overall, a good training session.  Recommended if you've taken Level 1-4.






Monday, June 29, 2015

YogaFit Training: Anatomy and Alignment II

A very busy spring having my kitchen remodeled has meant a neglected blog, but I plan to be back somewhat more regularily now that things are calming down. 

It was YogaFit's Mind Body Fitness Conference in Minneapolis this past weekend, running from Thurs thru Sunday.  I took two different sessions this year,  Anatomy and Alignment II on Thursday and Friday (I posted here about Anatomy and Alignment I)  and Level 5: Unification on Saturday and Sunday.   The nice thing about the MBF's is being able to take several trainings all in one weekend. 
 
For this session we had Sandy from Utah.  Another amazing Master Instructor.


Sandi has been in fitness since 1985 and ACE certified since 1986. Her love for the industry has brought many opportunities. She has been a Fitness manager for several health clubs. She has her own business providing Wellness programs for companies in the Salt Lake area. She provides services like health fairs, ergonomic reviews, fitness center management, group fitness classes and personal training. Sandi has taught group fitness for all of the 20 plus years she has been in the business. She teaches step, aerobics, group strength training, cycle, pilates and of course YogaFit.

Her first YogaFit training was in 1998 with Beth Shaw in California in the old YogaFit Studio in Hermosa. This began a move to bring YogaFit and all ins benefits to Salt Lake City. I was a candidate to become a trainer because I took level 1 about 6 times, because I loved it so much. Since then she has been in nearly every state in the union teaching the YogaFit style. I have learned more in my association with YogaFit and in my travels and meeting all the wonderful people who come to trainings than I could ever teach anyo
ne.
 
Sandi has been in fitness since 1985 and ACE certified since 1986. Her love for the industry has brought many opportunities. She has been a Fitness manager for several health clubs. She has her own business providing Wellness programs for companies in the Salt Lake area. She provides services like health fairs, ergonomic reviews, fitness center management, group fitness classes and personal training. Sandi has taught group fitness for all of the 20 plus years she has been in the business. She teaches step, aerobics, group strength training, cycle, pilates and of course YogaFit.

Her first YogaFit training was in 1998 with Beth Shaw in California in the old YogaFit Studio in Hermosa. This began a move to bring YogaFit and all ins benefits to Salt Lake City. I was a candidate to become a trainer because I took level 1 about 6 times, because I loved it so much. Since then she has been in nearly every state in the union teaching the YogaFit style. I have learned more in my association with YogaFit and in my travels and meeting all the wonderful people who come to trainings than I could ever teach anyone. - See more at: http://www.yogafit.com/about-yogafit/team/master-trainers/#sthash.iYlS2aNs.dpuf
Sandi has been in fitness since 1985 and ACE certified since 1986. Her love for the industry has brought many opportunities. She has been a Fitness manager for several health clubs. She has her own business providing Wellness programs for companies in the Salt Lake area. She provides services like health fairs, ergonomic reviews, fitness center management, group fitness classes and personal training. Sandi has taught group fitness for all of the 20 plus years she has been in the business. She teaches step, aerobics, group strength training, cycle, pilates and of course YogaFit.

Her first YogaFit training was in 1998 with Beth Shaw in California in the old YogaFit Studio in Hermosa. This began a move to bring YogaFit and all ins benefits to Salt Lake City. I was a candidate to become a trainer because I took level 1 about 6 times, because I loved it so much. Since then she has been in nearly every state in the union teaching the YogaFit style. I have learned more in my association with YogaFit and in my travels and meeting all the wonderful people who come to trainings than I could ever teach anyone. - See more at: http://www.yogafit.com/about-yogafit/team/master-trainers/#sthash.iYlS2aNs.dpuf
It was stressed again that:  
We must adapt the poses to fit our unique bodies. 

No two of us are alike in size, shape, skeletal build, muscular build, strength, or flexibility.  There is is no "ideal pose".  There is no such thing as a "perfect pose".   Once a teacher and/or practitioner can wrap their head around that, as Pattabhi Jois would say "Practice and all is coming. 

So what did we cover in our two days of Anatomy and Alignment?  
  • Joint mobility and stability
  • Moving origins and insertion points
  • Methods of stretching muscles which include: Ballistic, Passive, Facilitated, and Dynamic
  • Muscle spindles and stretch reflexes
  • Mula Bandha, Uddiyana bandha, Jalandhara bandha
  • Padha and Hasta bandha
  • Skeletal Anatomy
  • Compression and tension
  • Q-angle of men and women's hips/femurs
  • Benefits to the brain and cardiovascular system
It was a lot of information for a couple of days.  Part of it was review from Level I, which was greatly appreciated because, as the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it.  Or, repetition, repetition, repetition.  

We used these two awesome books by Dr. Ray Long:  
The Key Muscles of Yoga
The Key Poses of Yoga

and this book:
Anatomy and Asana by Suzy Hately 

Sandy made the class interesting and the topic approachable.  I didn't leave feeling overwhelmed that I have to incorporate everything into my classes right now.  If there are a couple things I can bring back, fantastic! More will come as I can absorb and integrate.  

If you are teaching or intend to teach - I strongly recommend taking either the YogaFit or some other kind of anatomy class.  Your class will be better for it. 
 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Essential Oils: Lemon

I fully admit I'm absolutely fascinated with my new selection of oils right now.  So excited in fact, I have to post about it.  Because a) that's what people do and b) it kinda comes down to this:  you bought the oils...now what?

Find ways to USE them!

Speaking for myself, I'm finding the cleaning route to be the easiest avenue to incorporating or integrating the use of oils into my life.  And, having been bit by the spring cleaning bug, it's a great place to start.

Let's discuss your kitchen (or bathroom, or mud room) floor.  All are (usually) high traffic areas, maybe pets or kids leaving kibble or crumbs, outside dust and dirt being tracked in - unavoidable even if you leave your shoes in a singular location.  Kitchen has the added disadvantage of cooking oils, grease, and steam venting around the room.  Even with a stove hood, it's unavoidable.  Food prep - it's not just meat that can be contaminated with e-coli! Things miss the garbage can and might not get found.

Bathrooms are, well, bathrooms.   Shared sinks and showers.  I use lavender and tea tree in the bathroom which I'll chat about later, but lemon would also work well, especially if you don't care for the smell of tea tree.   A couple drops of lemon added to the washer when washing your shower curtain can help disinfect and deodorize. I have a high calcium content in my well water so I use 1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 5ish drops of lemon oil.   



Today is about LEMON!   I love lemon and I don't know why I didn't seek out this delightful oil earlier.  OMGosh, talk about spring cleaning in January!  Yes, actually, LET'S talk about spring cleaning in January.

It started with my kitchen floor:
  • 1 gal of HOT water
  • 1 cup white vinegar (okay, so I might have used a bit more) 
  • small squirt of dishsoap (I use Seventh Generation, free and clear)  No more than 1-2 teaspoons!
  • 10-20 drops of doTerra Lemon essential oil

Then I pulled out my stove and fridge to clean underneath, something I do at least 2x a year, and I found this gigantic dust bunny:

GROSS!!

What I had been neglecting to do was pull the grate off the front of my refrigerator and vacuum underneath.  Folks, pull out the fridge and stove if possible and run a vacuum and mop around.   Especially if you have pets.  You will be shocked and appalled at what makes its way under appliances, things that hold dust, mildew, and mold.   Fortunately, nothing like that crawled out from under the stove.

Moving on to the counters, stainless steel stove front, front of fridge (not stainless):
1 regular sized squirt bottle
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (I admit, I use more)
10 drops doTerra Lemon essential oil

Squirt, let stand a couple minutes, come back and wipe down. Have stubborn grease spots?  Use lemon oil directly on spots and rub in, then come back and wipe down with squirt bottle mix.  

Now the big question - when was the last time you wiped down the TOP of your fridge?  Uh huh, I thought so.  Up you go!  Scrub! Scrub! 

A NOTE OF CAUTION - in case of skin sensitivities, whether you know you have them or not, I strongly urge you to please invest in a couple pairs of dish washing gloves and protect your hands!  Even though vinegar and essential oils are "natural",  you could still have a reaction. Combined with hot water, bare hands could take a beating.

Wooden cutting boards - drop oil directly on and rub in.  Let stand upright in the sink to absorb the oil - you don't want to inadvertently leave an oil stain somewhere unwanted.  Let stand 12-24 hours or however long is possible.  Right before a trip is a great time to do cutting boards. 

Pet towels - same with shower curtain liner.  Add several drops to the wash cycle to help deodorize and disinfect those pet towels.   1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 3-5ish drops of lemon oil.   







And then there is my favorite way to take Lemon - in a glass of water.  I love, love, love lemon water - hot or cold.  I don't always have a fresh lemon on hand, like when traveling, so having a small bottle along is wonderful.  Just a couple drops can make a world of difference.  I find a cold glass refreshing, a hot cuppa soothing.  I can perk up a glass of fresh brewed ice tea because sometimes, fresh brewed doesn't mean the same thing across the county.   

I know there are many more ways to use Lemon, but this is how I've started.  If you feel so inclined, please take a moment and leave a note on how you are using lemon essential oil in your life.

Namaste!