Friday, October 3, 2008

Teaching Inversions

Pam's six word diary posting for yesterday was "inversions: lift the contents of your brain." I had to laugh. Whenever I sub CTs advanced classes, I focus on inversions (actually I do a lot in her regular hatha classes. Inversions are an immensely important part of any yoga practice. If I have limited minutes to do yoga, I will do sirsana and sarvangansana first. They've changed the quality of my emotional, mental, psychological, physiological life in so many ways. I really love the opportunity to teach them to other people. Typically, CT focuses on other aspects of advanced practice in her advanced classes and so it is nice to fill in the gaps.

Side note: for the ongoing what is the difference between Anusara and Iyengar yoga discussion. In my experience with regular public classes, it is rare to take a regular public Anusara class where headstand and shoulderstand are taught (Full Arm Balance and Pincha M are regularly taught). It is rare to take a public Iyengar class where headstand and shoulderstand are not taught.

That is only an observation about public classes. It's not an observation about the differences in the methods as such. ( In fact, the above picture was taken at an Anusara Group Practice... ) I know that Anusara Yogis and Yoginis spend a great deal of time upside down in their own private practices just as Iyengar Yogis and Yoginis do. When Desiree R was in Austin, for example, she was absolutely clear on how central they were to her own practice, well-being and vitality.

Anyway, last week, I taught the eka pada variations and I was planning on doing the parsva /parivrita variations, but Mandy had asked a question about the sirsana cycle last week and when I looked it up in LOY for myself, lo and behold the changing arm positions being the first variation set after your sirsana hold (LOY says 5 to 15 minutes according to capacity and then do each variation 20-30 seconds per side), and the variation start with Sirsana I, II, III etc. So we worked more on sirsana and Sirsana II with a brief foray into III. Tuesday advanced, I'll do the parsva and parivrita variations.. (see picture above). and some related standing poses. When I become more accomplished at the padmasana variations, I'll teach those...

Yesterday was particularly fun because I'd just come from the most excellent Lois Steinberg workshop and I had some new tips to share about extending through the fingers to the finger nails and she also mentioned the idea of lifting the contents of your brain away from the skull. It really does make sirsasana feel lighter and more mellow.

But on a more metaphoric level that's really what inversions do. They lift the contents of your brain. They make you happier, calmer, in a word more sattvic. So I've been lifting the contents of my brain for many years now and just now am learning about how to do it concretely.


Lisa said...

Hi Anne,
Loved the class and this post. I liked your suggestion that if you couldn't actually make the contents of your brain move (hello!)that you just consider the idea. It has been my experience over and over and over in my asana practice that teachers suggest something that doesn't make any sense to me (I'm thinking about the first time my teacher said to "soften the inner ear") that with time and consideration began to actually feel like something, and in some cases became something concrete and palpable in my body. Someone (Christina???) said that Iyengar can actually cause the hair on one part of his leg to move one direction and hair in another area to move a different way. I am no longer incredulous when people say things like this, since it took me a looooong time to be able to even move my tailbone separately from my thigh bone. Hearing certain instructions over and over and practicing with an open mind until they become a reality in your own body will turn you into a believer! It's a fascinating practice...

Pamela said...

I have to say, I really loved the "lift the contents of your brain" imagery. It has worked for me on some level. Like Lisa mentions, just having that awareness of different parts of your body, not just one big blob, it changes how you consider movement. I am totally bummed that I will not be able to attend your Nov. 1 workshop. I would definitely be there front and center with all the contents of my brain otherwise!