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.
This session did lay the foundation for the rest of the week.

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