Growing up and barely passing biology, I had no idea I would have eventually turned into a bit of an anatomy geek. Actually, to be more specific I should actually define it more as a kinesthetic functional yoga anatomy geek – now that’s mouthful! My yoga teaching has always been from an individual anatomy standpoint, more than trying to get into that perfect pretty pose seen on the cover of Yoga Journal. “Back off when you need to, move into it if it feels good,” can be heard on a regular basis in my classes. Yoga, to me, isn’t about touching your toes, getting your foot behind your head, or handstands! All that is just bonus. The real meaty stuff is in the postures some consider “basic.”
It has always been about meeting yourself where you are, and anatomy plays a big part. I was reminded of this when a wonderful friend gifted the amazing experience of the Yin Yoga Foundations workshop with Joe Barnett in late February. I was humbled that someone I adore would want to support me by gifting me experience; and hands down it is one of the top ten best gifts I have been given.
In the last two years, Yin Yoga has been such a delicious treat for my body. It is a slower practice, where the poses are held for five minutes or more. Practicing Kripalu yoga gave me permission to really be in the body and notice what is going on. My appreciation for Kripalu’s three stages, (1. Body and Breath Awareness, 2. Focusing Inward and 3. Meditation in Motion), is deep. Yin Yoga just takes that even further. It just resonates so much with me and where I am at in my practice at this moment. I got into Yin Yoga due to Paul Grilley’s Anatomy for Yoga dvd – really if you love yoga this will change the way you practice or teach.
I knew I was in for a good workshop when my geek flag flew high at the sight of a partial skeleton prop, (Joe named him Norm), laying in the middle of the floor. Using Norm really helped make the connection with the concepts of the lecture of how bones and joints move. It really hit home more when we got on the mat and was able to look around the room at each other. Some people were more flexible, some less so and it wasn’t always due to the muscles (connective tissue) but the bones and joints.
Everyone is different. Some people won’t be able to comfortably touch their toes due to their bone structure they were born with. Some people won’t be able to do a full split comfortably, again due to the bone structure. One of my favorite moments was the picture of several femur bones and you could see the difference of size in each and every one of them. When you start to think about the relationship with of the femur bone to the size and placement of the hip socket, it really sinks in just how much yoga IS an individual physical practice and not a “one size fits all” exercise.
Since the workshop, I’ve been hungry for more and wondering how can I get myself to a Yin Yoga Teacher Training to go way deeper, and another teacher training that is very anatomy based. In the mean time, I fill my need with making time to take local classes, rereading anatomy yoga books, and restructuring my teaching so that I can take on more private yoga peeps. Working one on one with people is a great way to get that image out of their heads, of what we have been bombarded with, on how we should look in a pose instead of how we feel in it.
A fire has been lit within me. I see a path of where I want to go a bit more clearer, and it was due to a friend supporting me with an amazing experience. I am humbled and blessed.