This is a very special guest post from my good friend, Sandy. I think Sandy is completely incredible – not only does she balance an Ashtanga practice with a full-time job, husband, two busy teenagers, and four dogs, but she has continued to do so after enduring a breast cancer diagnosis. On top of that, she’s managed to find some balance in the midst of it all. I think Sandy’s experience is an inspiration for all of us – not only women, not only people who’ve faced devastating illnesses and injuries, not even only yogis; all of us. We can come back from anything, and we can come back stronger – sometimes life just presents us a new definition of strength.
In June of 2016, I traveled to New York with friends to practice with Sharath – the current holder of the Ashtanga lineage. It’s hard to describe the experience of coming together with fellow practitioners from around the world, moving and breathing as one, while Sharath...
We can all lose our mojo sometimes. Whatever the cause, sometimes we just find that we’ve gotten out of our rhythm, we’ve lost our stride. But fear not, because we are in control of our lives and in control of finding our own ways back into positive habits and helpful attitudes.
It is possible to avoid low back pain in backbends, but it does require strength through to back side of the body.
* use a block to keep the legs engaged
* isometrically contract the hamstrings
* activate gluteus medius
* make space for shoulders
* breathe into the chest
Does this work for you? Let me know!
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Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. These aren’t just the five stages of grief - they’re also the five stages of practicing through a yoga injury. Depending on the injury, it can feel like the same thing sometimes.
If you practice yoga for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ll have an injury sooner or later. Regardless of whether the injury occurred during your asana practice, the recovery period can be frustrating, scary, slow, and a range of other experiences and emotions. Ultimately, though, your practice can support your recovery if you modify appropriately, and the ability to adapt and maintain your practice through challenges and hard times is one of the most important mental disciplines in (and benefits of!) Ashtanga.
The factors underlying injury can be incredibly complex, and they vary from person to person. Ashtanga yoga is not inherently dangerous, but it’s also not 100% safe. It’s a physical activity that...
Ever wonder how to keep your feet parallel in backbends? The key is to ground your legs more strongly.
Props such as block and pads, or even the wall, can be helpful in helping you work your edge and maintain weight in your feet. The more you are able to control the backbend from start to finish the better.
Watch this video to learn more.
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Or try the full length video course Build a Better Backbend here!
It’s been a tough year for Ashtanga.
2017 ended with the realization that Pattabhi Jois abused his position of power and sexually assaulted numerous female students over many years. Naturally, this has a ripple effect throughout the community leaving numerous students doubting the lineage.
What makes matters worse is a lack of acknowledgement from senior teachers and Sharath Jois at KPJAYI itself. This lack of acknowledgement is damaging to the victims themselves, but also detrimental to the global Ashtanga community. I realize I cannot possibly have all the pieces of the puzzle to know what might inhibit any one person from speaking - I was not there, so who am I to say? I’ll hold back judgment and continue to respect the senior teachers for paving the way for the new generation of yogis.
There have been other smaller incidents as well — one of which being Sharath Jois’s removal of several senior teachers from the official list of those approved by the...
As if life isn’t hectic enough – here comes the holiday hoopla. Extended family, holiday shopping, holiday parties, drinking, brunches and lunches, baking, cooking and decorating. You are going to need your practice more than ever over the next month – but how do you maintain your practice when the holidays are getting the best of you? Here are my tips for keeping your practice alive during the season of merrymaking.
Give yourself a break! Practice compassion with yourself this holiday season. If you’ve been indulging in too much food and spirits, let your binds go. If you are feeling jacked up from the holiday stress, don’t push your backbends. Now is the time of year to focus on showing up – you can fine tune all the details in the new year. So send yourself heaps of love. Don’t judge your practice – remember if you practiced, it was good – it’s really that simple.
Do your best to stick with the morning...
Modern Ashtanga tradition holds that students should only have one teacher. In my experience this has been a generally accepted rule and even a bit of a taboo subject.
Ashtanga culture emphasizes the student-teacher relationship The Sanskrit word paramparā, which denotes a lineage between student and teacher, is widely understood amongst practitioners. Who you practice with has become a badge of honor.
I asked Richard Freeman about this on a recent retreat and he pointed out to me that the very first words of the opening mantra, “vande gurunam” denotes plurality that is more than one guru. It loosely translate to “I bow to the two lotus feet of the Gurus,” suggesting that historically multiple gurus were common.
The word lineage denotes a narrow line, but true cultural heritage looks more like a family tree with many branches. If we look down the line, we might only see one teacher, but behind that teacher stands many others.
For the majority of my Ashtanga...