Finally! The day I dreamed of was finally here. I made it to the New York Yoga journal conference.
At the beginning of this year I felt a strong desire to focus my yoga practice on:
1. Structural anatomy- understanding how bones & ligaments work together in yoga
2. Relaxation techniques
3. Connect in with my lineage
It never ceases to surprise me when my dreams come true. I’ve been teaching at a physiotherapist’s clinic who is keen on introducing yoga mind-body techniques in his clinic. That sort of gave me the impetus to sign up for the new York conference. Other yoga teachers strongly recommended anatomy masters Leslie Kaminoff and Jason Crandell. My vacation day got approved. A dear friend offered me her place to stay in New York. Plus I met other friends who I had met at my yoga retreat. YAY! Who knew Dream #1 would come together so quickly.
So I followed not just these 2 anatomy masters, but also got to check out another favourite of mine, the uber-relaxed yogi—Rodney Yee..
Here are my learnings from the conference.. and its many sessions. Disclaimer -this is just my perspective. New York is a busy gritty city. The teachers who taught at the conference seemed to embody New York’s fast life. They focussed on a body level type of yoga. Anatomy is what my heart desired, anatomy is what I got. Remember when I asked for my wishes, I didn’t ask for anatomy mixed with heart level relaxation 🙂 So that’s exactly what I got, a lot of body work.
Its always been my belief from first hand experience that yoga can get us to deep states of consciousness where rest and healing happen. And that’s when we can listen to the clear voice of intuition. But this quieting of the mind happens when the body has been stilled of its discomfort & aches and pains. So a strong focus on body work is a great way to tackle quietening of the mind. I’m planning to take the sheer physicality of these teachings & combine it with my mind work (yoga nidra) to share with my class.
1. Leslie Kaminoff made this radical & practical statement:
‘Asanas don’t have alignment, people have alignment’
He advised us not to get too caught up with the artistic beauty of the pose, rather focus on structural alignment, meaning individual alignment. Something I’ve been aware of for a while. When I demo standing in mountain pose, I like to point out that my knees touch so I don’t keep feet together as is classically suggested, but slightly apart. I invite my class to also explore what alignment is suitable for them as an individual & not rely too much on copying my form totally.
It was a relief to validate my understanding that different bodies will do different things with the same pose.
Another takeaway was to take off the pressure from single muscle groups during yoga moves. For example during warrior pose, Leslie suggested stretching arms as if the arms extended out from the sternum. Something I was already doing with my class, mostly from intuition. I’d ask my class to take their hands to heart center. Then spread out getting a full movement going. Its always made the stretch easier. I love how my intuitive approach about expanding chest is backed up by the rationale that this move provides more support for the arms to swing out. hope you like my stick figure 🙂
2. Jason Crandell was all move and vinyasa flow. I enjoyed his explanations about moving congruously. He shared these notes generously with us via email after the class so that we didn’t have to worry about taking notes, but could just drink in the class:
Moving the pelvis and spine congruously in all planes of motion is essential for long-term stability and comfort in the body. I want to expand our way of thinking about the hip to include the muscles that surround the entire hip-joint.
Simply put, once again Jason reiterated what Leslie said.. let the whole body move in a pose to support you to get deeper into the pose.
3. I’ve always wanted to take a class with Rodney Yee. I saw him on Oprah years ago. He was so much fun. He always got me into giggles. To me this californian is the epitome of a yogi- relaxed, fit and doesn’t seem to take himself very seriously.
Big takeaway from Rodney, we are too determined. He wondered aloud why we use only our necks during a twist. here’s what he had to teach:
When in a twist, Turn from the feet. Can you start the twist from feet?
here is happiness, posing with Rodney & Colleen after a great class 🙂
Well hello!! looks like all 3 presenters had chatted with each other before class. For me, their message was one:
Use the entire body as a lever to bring support and anchoring to a pose.
Hope you enjoyed my sharing to add to your yoga practice. I am so grateful for the chance to do the things I love to do, like teach yoga and continuously learn & share again with class. As a yoga teacher, there is lot of ongoing learning we do. Its such a treat to be able to physically attend classroom yoga lessons. One that has just exponentially increased my understanding by leaps and bounds. I hope I was able to share the conference with you from my eyes.. Last but not least a fun pix of me 🙂