Category Archives: mindfullness

Neptune is Transiting My Sun. And, I Need Rest.

neptune-in-piscesToday I was introduced to a concept called the Forer Effect, which in a nutshell says that people have a tendency to believe statements about themselves to be highly accurate, even if said statements could be applied to anyone. The Forer Effect is used to denigrate subjects like astrology, numerology, the Enneagram, etc. as pseudo-science.

As my boyfriend will tell  you, one of my favorite words is “anecdotally.” The Forer Effect doesn’t really explain about anecdotal evidence. This was on my mind as I checked the ephemeris for 2015 and found that transiting Neptune is back on my solar degree. This is the second time in about 8 months this has happened, and I can feel when Neptune is on my sun. I am tired. My brain isn’t so good for organization, clear thoughts, tasks, deadlines. I’m forgetful. Have trouble formulating a coherent or elegant sentence. And my mild dyslexia flares up so I read things like “tonight” and see “Tuesday.” This makes for snafus a-plenty.

Also lately, I have been working seven days a week. It happened sort of by accident during a time when I was worried about money and scheduled more things than I should have, and when I wasn’t being careful, and yah, when Neptune was transiting my sun and I couldn’t keep Tuesday and Thursday straight and ended up with too many commitments, several of which I couldn’t break because they were contractual. So after about a month of this schedule, and Neptune doing its thing, I had to make some room.

So I gave up my beloved Yin Yoga class at Reflections Yoga, a class I have taught for about 3 years. It was the first time Yin was offered at Reflections, and what started as my love for the practice has grown into a very popular class and a beautifully community of practitioners. I just found out today that Reflections found a new teacher for Fridays. Her name is Tatum and she looks lovely and I am certain that everyone will love her class.

The lesson I got from this experience is that sometimes we have to let even beloved and dear things go, because holding on to them is taking more from us than we can give out. And if we try to give from an empty place, it’s no good for anyone. That’s what Ana Forrest calls the “sacrificial whore” and it’s an ugly phrase to express an ugly condition that we sometimes find ourselves in.

Needing rest is REAL. Especially when Neptune is transiting your sun. Working seven days a week, even if one of those days was just teaching one yoga class, has worn me down. And, I’m also going thru something. It’s hard to say what. This is part of the Neptune transit. It’s a time marked by fogginess, confusion, delays. Neptune in mythology rules the seas. Water represents our deepest emotions, and the hidden and mysterious parts of ourselves. It’s also where we are most fluid, most playful, and most adaptable, literally in the flow. To align with the way I’m feeling now, I need more time for quiet, for rest, for being ok with being in an in-between state. When the transit is over, what’s most important will be clear. I really get that, even though I’m not close to knowing what will be revealed, but I really get that this is a process, and letting go, feeling exhausted by the “regular world,” by work and obligations is part of that.

I am proud of the work that I do. I consider myself a hard worker, and very responsible. So to feel this way, that I don’t have the energy for much directed activity, is weird. I’m not used to it. I feel strange saying it, admitting it, which is why it’s safer to do so on my blog, although I have shared this feeling with a few friends who will understand. But I don’t want to be analyzed and questioned and given advice. I want to find my way through on my own.

 

 

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Beauty Report: The beach and being in the present moment

Sandy beach, Long Beach. Long Island, New York, USAMy partner and I went to the beach on Monday. Being at the beach erases all troubles and allows us to be our most natural selves. When we’re at the beach, everything is ok. The sound of the waves caressing the shore lulls me to sleep. We soak in the rays of the sun, build sandcastles, watch seagulls. In this moment, life is perfect and beautiful. As we live only in the present moment, let me rephrase that to say…life is perfect and beautiful.

There is nothing like being in nature to reconnect us to Beauty. Nature soothes. Without distractions of phones, computers, traffic, noises, advertisements, or schedules, we can simply experience ourselves as human animal, primal, perfectly made for basking in the sun and playing in the waves. This is healing.

Beauty Reports are something we do in Forrest Yoga to acknowledge the overwhelming beauty of our lives, and to help us reconnect to our spirits, the things that feed us. A-ho.

 

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Asking For What We Need: The Empowerment Triangle

empowermenttriangleA friend of mine posted this to her Facebook wall today: “What you resist persists. Gotta feel it to heal it. Avoiding life does not lead to transformation or enlightenment.”

Let’s break this down. “Feel it to heal it” aka “the only way out is through.” Sometimes “feeling it” means going thru a period of shadow willingly and without resistance. Our emotions don’t come with a time-table; sometimes we get activated by processes or life circumstances and we’re IN IT. The right time is now. The other day at lunch with some friends I started crying. My friend said “feel that.” As soon as she said it I knew what she meant. Don’t push it down. Get what that feeling is. FEEL THAT! I’ve learned that if we push down or deny or reason away our emotions, we’re going to end up numb and disempowered.

Avoiding life…just because we are active in our work and social lives and personal life doesn’t mean we are present. Non-avoidance means acknowledging what comes up and grappling with it, not shrinking away, having courage to admit “this is here” and then taking the next most healing step.

This dovetails into “what you resist persists.” When we know we have something to deal with and we don’t, it’s just going to sit there like mold growing on one strawberry in the box; eventually, the whole box is contaminated. What we don’t address gains momentum and strength, like opportunistic bacteria that thrive the danker and more toxic their environment gets.

For whatever reason, I was born in this life with a drive towards liberation and freedom, my own and others who are suffering (which is, everyone). All my samskaras (past and present life karma) are here to teach me. I have trained myself to view challenges, injuries, and “shit that happens to us” as teachers. I was not always this way. Peace is a long road. We all come to the path with different strengths and weaknesses. And we are all walking it together.

To couch this post in a constructive light, I’d like to make a request of anyone reading this: TODAY, please FEEL your feelings around something that triggers you. Do NOT avoid it. Then, write your comment here, what you felt, what you did not resist, and how you did not avoid life.

Here is mine, for today: I need to start ASKING for what I want and need in a clear and precise manner instead of assuming people will understand what I want/need and give it to me. This is especially true in intimate partnerships and work situations. This also applies to creative situations, where I am working with others. My programming around asking is that I will either not get what I ask for or I will get something less than what I asked for, or a replacement. For example, as a kid, I wanted to play the drums and wanted a drum set. My father said NO!, then a few weeks later brought me a small hand drum. I remember feeling as a young child that I was expected to be ok with this hand drum, but it was not the drum set with drumsticks that I yearned to bang on. I did not ever end up playing the drums. In relationship, when I have asked a partner for something I needed, like assistance when I had an injury, the expectation I had was not met. I was helped in the most rudimentary (and reluctant) of ways, and I felt burdensome and ashamed, especially because he lacked compassion for the condition I was in (needless to say the relationship ended). This is just an example of how I learned that asking did not mean receiving.

To heal this, I have to move out of “victim” mode by identifying how I feel. How I feel when I am confronted with need is afraid, vulnerable, unsteady, knocked off balance, shy, and anxious. How I will avoid avoidance (hah!) is by identifying when I need to ASK for something to have my needs met and finding the courage to ASK with clarity and precision. If my initial ask is not acceptable, I will NEGOTIATE until a solution can be reached.

This process was inspired by my friend Alex’s “empowerment triangle” he mentioned at dinner tonight. The image of it is above.

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Psychic Attraction or Twin Flame? How addictive personalities can justify all sorts of things…

BlindSpotFatalAttraction4Astrologer Lynn Koiner, in writing about Neptune’s retrograde period in Pisces from June 9, 2014-November 16, 2014, urges us to watch out for “psychic attractions” during this period. What’s a psychic attraction?

Psychic Attraction is an emotional reaction to another person whereby you get swept up with feelings…that this is destiny, karmic…but this is usually a “mood” that allows you to escape reality. I always say, “Thinking about it is better than doing it,” where some of these relationships are concerned. People who have severe boundary problems or who are going through a strong Neptune transit (affecting one’s sense of boundaries) are susceptible to this type of negative attraction.

Since completing my Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training in May 2014, I have been very interested in the topics of addiction, habitual behaviors, conditioned reactions…a rubric you could sort of lump under “things we do to prevent ourselves from feeling.” Upon reading Lynn’s description of psychic attractions above, I was hit by the part about this attraction masquerading as destiny and karma, but being more accurately a “mood that allows [you] to escape reality.” Yes.

A strong attraction to someone may be used as a means to escape reality. If thoughts about that person are preventing you from working, sleeping, and meeting your obligations to yourself and society, perhaps the attraction is functioning as a behavior that you are addicted to and using to numb out feelings. People with addictive personalities can be extraordinarily clever. If alcohol or drugs or gambling is not your thing, you can still check out by “totally crushing out” on someone, going into an obsessive state. Having had periods like this before, the amount of time spent thinking about the person, looking at whatever I could find about them online, etc. took up countless hours, that if I could get them back now, I would be able to do a whole lot of great stuff! But at the time, I was very caught up in the romantic idea of “destiny” or “fate” because of the magnetism.

Since many people visit my blog for the article about Stages of a Twin Flame Relationship, I thought it would be pertinent to add to the conversation by bringing up this idea of psychic attractions. Have you ever mistaken a psychic attraction for a twin flame? Twin flame relationships are characterized by spiritual growth and a sense of expansion, but a psychic attraction could mimic the early stages of the twin flame relationship. ANY new love affair could mimic the early stages of a twin flame dynamic if we are still working through a lot of karma because the Beloved always reflects back to us what we cannot yet own in ourselves (shadow and light!).

If your strong attraction to someone is not expanding you spiritually and is causing your focus to narrow, you may be using the attraction to stay in denial about other things and feelings percolating in your life. I’d love to hear back from readers on this topic.

 

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Beauty Report: The return of my personal yoga practice

yogapracticespaceSince completing the Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training, I am so grateful that my personal yoga practice has returned. My strongest intention going into the training was to get my personal practice back on track. While I received far more than this, one of the greatest gifts has been to get back on my mat every day, now for 33 days in a row.

It’s oddly common to hear yoga teachers talking about the loss of their personal practice when they begin teaching professionally. It really doesn’t make much sense: how can you teach something you no longer practice, no matter how many years or decades you did it before? Lack of logic aside, I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to get on the mat. The excuses were legion: I don’t have time (of course I do!) I’m not in the mood (ew!); my apartment isn’t really set up for it (ok, but there’s alternatives and creative solutions to this); I am tired (yoga will help get you untired); and on and on it went. Somehow, I equated the little bit of mat time I got through my various teaching gigs to count as practice. It’s not!

Our personal yoga practice is so much more than simply doing poses. What I’m finding out is that personal practice, especially daily personal practice, is a commitment to myself and a deep care-taking of my self that gets stronger each day I return to my mat. This has been the secret gift of getting back on the mat everyday: that the more days that go by continuously, the less likely I am to let a day slide, the more I actually tremble at the idea of a day going by.

I am healing from a lot of self-abuse. I need to practice regularly. I need to keep the well of my own sense of trust, appreciation, and love for myself topped up. Daily practice is, so far, the best way to do this I have experienced. I am so grateful to Ana Forrest and her amazing assistants for helping me get into the habit of daily yoga practice. This is one habit I definitely don’t want to break.

Here’s a photo of me practicing in my mom’s apartment’s gym space. To me, meeting myself on my mat daily, and letting it be discovered what comes up (am I focused; am I rushing; am I adhering to my intent; am I using my neck in the poses?!; etc) is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine. This is my therapy, my salvation, my healing, my gift to myself.

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Does the 200-hour yoga teacher training produce well-qualified teachers?

Signs you are in a TT: colored pens & pencils; binders & notebooks; foam yoga blocks used as desks :)

Signs you are in a TT: colored pens & pencils; binders & notebooks; foam yoga blocks used as desks 🙂

As yoga grows in popularity, more scrutiny is being cast upon teacher training programs. Is the 200-hour teacher training enough to really prepare someone for teaching yoga? I look into this question in a blog post I wrote for Pravassa.com. This is a multi-layered question with no right answer since many of us decide to do a yoga teacher training only after we’ve had decades of practice, while some of us jump in after only a few months. These, and other factors, weigh in on the final answer of “does a 200-hour teacher training adequately prepare people to teach yoga?”

In my opinion, a personal practice is where a teacher finds his/her wisdom, but a yoga teacher training, or “YTT” in the parlance, obviously fills in certain key gaps (like anatomy, a structured approach to the Sutras, etc.) that practitioners may not have dove into in their own practice.

Read more here…and please comment if you have something to add to the conversation.

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Riding the Breath (cross-posted from ReflectionsYoga.com)

Here is a blog post I wrote for one of the studios where I teach, the lovely midtown Manhattan oasis, Reflections Center for Conscious Living. It’s amazing that such a serene and lovely space for yoga and meditation exists in the middle of hustle-bustle Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. That’s one of the things that makes Reflections so special. It’s also where I did my first yoga teacher training, with my teacher Paula Tursi. She taught me a great deal about the breath, in particular, she taught me how to watch the breath, and to use this watchfulness to know when I’m struggling or trying too hard in a pose. Without further ado, here is the text of the post, or you can read it in its original form here.

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Riding the Breath

One of yoga’s gifts is the cultivation of witness consciousness. By teaching us to watch, with compassionate detachment, the fluctuations of our minds and bodies, yoga shows us that everything is always arising or dissolving.

We start with the breath and watch its fluctuations, its rise and fall in our bodies. Then we begin to extend our awareness to our bodies, and watch sensations rise and fall in them as we move through the poses. Another way to help us build awareness is to watch our thoughts and the attitude we bring to practice. By checking in with how we’re feeling when we sit in those first few opening breaths of class, we can set a baseline of tone or attitude that we can compare against once practice is over, and then see again the cycle of arising and dissolving.

To see everything as either arising or dissolving helps us when life takes its inevitable challenging turns. Cultivating witness consciousness and compassion towards yourself on your mat can help you bring this same watchfulness to your life. Instead of being caught in the drama of things ending or the exultation of things beginning, what would happen if you took an attitude of equanimity and allowed things to simply settle into place?

For many of us, the idea of letting go of control is very threatening. We have agendas that want fulfilling and we have invested in things turning out such and such a way. When things don’t go as we hoped, many of us suffer twice: once for not getting what we wanted, and twice for having our expectations thrashed. And yet we keep fantasizing into the future and sowing the seeds of our disappointment.

When meeting the edge of a challenging yoga pose, our teachers usually tell us to slow down, approach with respect and awareness, breathe, and feel. Witness consciousness is doing this before every big and small decision, before each potential argument, before each potential disappointment, before each conversation, before we deepen into another yoga pose, in short, always! If we can pause long enough to not barge ahead when a mindful step is a more skillful choice, we may find the rough edges of our lives becoming smoother. Instead of a series of ups and downs, we can learn to navigate ourselves right down the middle, riding the edge with grace and mindfulness.

~Post written by Lola Rephann

Lola teaches at Reflections Wednesday nights at 6:30pm (Foundations 1), Fridays at 6pm (Yin Yoga) and Sundays at 12:30 (Quick Fix)

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Planning Yoga Classes

This succinct and smart blog post from Jason Crandell really struck a nerve. He begins by stating simply and clearly: “If elementary school teachers create lesson plans and college professors develop syllabi, what do yoga teachers do to prepare for their class?”

yoga lesson planning

A random page from my yoga notebook. Click on the image to enlarge it.

I’ve only been teaching about two-and-a-half years, but I am already intimately familiar with the ins and outs of lesson planning yoga classes.

I am a planner. I have a notebook full of yoga classes I’ve developed. You can even see an excerpt from just one of my notebooks (I’ve already filled two) in the photo. Sometimes ideas get written on napkins, scraps of paper, and backs of flyers for other people’s yoga classes.

Why Jason Crandell’s post struck a nerve is not about the idea of lesson planning yoga classes; that’s an idea I’m totally on board with. What struck a nerve was the concept of “preparation” which isn’t just your class plan. Being prepared to teach class is so much more than having an idea of what you want to teach, although that is probably at least half of it. Being truly prepared to teach class gets more into Jason’s point #1: “Take a moment to observe your own body, breath, and mood .”

I know I am by no means the only yoga teacher in NYC with a busy schedule. It seems to be a bit of a thing amongst yoga teachers. From here to there, iPhone at the ready, steaming cup of coffee at their site. When you work a full-time job, as I do, and teach yoga after work (or before, or on lunch break, or on the weekend), getting to class on time and in the right mindset requires care. It’s in this transit time, this 30-45 minutes as I shift gears from office life to yoga mat, that I really  need to arrive in myself so I can be present for the students and present something good, worthwhile, earnest, and helpful. As Jason Crandell suggests, use the time before you arrive at the studio to feel for what’s going on inside you. When you’ve got 45 minutes in New York City rush hour traffic, that can be a challenge!

One of the ways I found to minimize the stress I was having around effectively planning classes was to stop trying to write a new class for each class I taught. Despite a couple notebooks full of yoga classes, I often want to develop new ones. One of the ways I was able to help myself be less stressed is to write one class per week and use it as the week’s template. Naturally the class shifts depending on who shows up to class, but the basic idea stays the same. There is a theme, a thread, and I’m able to hold on (for dear life!) to this thread and deliver a good class. I’ve noticed that this style of lesson planning also helps me learn the concepts I’m interested in teaching better.

Which brings up Jason’s second point: “Have a clear sense of what you have been practicing lately.”

Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given, and something which becomes obvious the longer you teach, is that should you ever feel stale as a teacher, get on your mat. Your own practice informs what you teach, and how else could it be? Most yoga teachers have a long history of practice. I am grateful I fell into a yoga practice in the 1990s. I never thought for a moment I’d become a yoga teacher, but here I am and every single day, I’m grateful for the yoga education I’ve experienced thus far. From my earliest days of very traditional, old-school yoga at Sivananda Yoga Ashram in NYC to my first (accidental) exposure to Ashtanga when I wandered into a “Led Ashtanga” class at a Brooklyn studio when I used to live in South Slope (I was so confused by the name. I thought, “what is Led Ashtanga” not realizing in this case, it was the verb “to lead”), I am grateful that my exploration of yoga has wound through the forest, so to speak (and the Forrest too), and I have had the opportunity to learn from wonderful teachers. It’s not always easy to remember when or where you learned something, or maybe you just figured it out yourself. Either way, this experience of yoga in your own body is probably the best teaching assistant any yoga teacher can have.

As much as I love Jason’s 2nd point, the part that gave me a little shiver was…what if I don’t have a clear sense of what I’ve been practicing lately? What if my schedule has been nuts and I haven’t really been doing full classes, just 15-minutes of mat time a day during really hectic weeks? What if my brain is so overloaded that practice has become simply to decompress from the stresses of life and I’m not really clear on what’s been resonating lately? Maybe the honest answer, when you’re really not sure, is just that: unsure. Is it possible, as a yoga teacher, to admit confusion or lack of clarity? To students?

Done with integrity, I think the answer is yes. I remember teachers saying “I’ve been trying to figure out this thing where you….(abduct the thighs in downdog/move the shoulders away from the ears in sirsasana/etc)” and then teach that exploration. I liked that we, the students, were helping the teacher gain clarity, and in the group exploration something valuable always came out of it. We co-created the class.

That seems like a good dovetail into Jason’s third point: “Have a plan (or not)—but, know what themes you want to work with in class and how intense you plan on making it .”

This pose has a similar shape to Ardha Chandra Champasana.

I’ve planned classes I thought were great, but due to the composition of class that day, I knew I had to change course. Instead of including something like Ardha Chandra Champasana, I would downshift to a version of Anjaneyasana with a foot grab.

Sidenote: I’ve realized that not all students respond to challenge the same way. In the earliest days of my yoga practice, I loved meeting my edge and trying new things. Not all students feel the same way. An asymmetrical balancing pose like Ardha Chandra Champasana may be inaccessible to some students. So why not offer a down-leveled option and let them get to the more challenging poses when they are ready? A too difficult pose too early could be something that inspires a burgeoning yogi and lights the flame of courage deep in their heart, or it could just be a no-go, something that creates a thought form of “I can’t do this” or “this is too hard.” Sensing which end of the spectrum your students are on is something not taught in any teacher training program, but something developed out of compassion, observation, and experience.

Which leads to Jason’s last point: “Be a good host.”

This just seems to make sense. A personable yoga teacher makes class more fun.

Mmmmmmmmm

I love teachers that tell stories, jokes, and share anecdotes from their lives. I aspire to be this teacher. Some of my jokes fall flat, or maybe it’s my timing, but I keep trying, to the chagrin of the students who come to my classes. Humor and stories are great to listen to while in class and constitute, I think, “being a good host.” Being a good host is also being friendly, remembering details about the students who come to your classes, and giving them all some personal attention, even if it’s just a little assist in child’s pose. My teacher told me to touch everyone at least twice. It’s something I still try to do.

So planning yoga classes, as you can see, is not just about the actual poses, the theme, etc. While that is a huge piece of it, it’s also really important to plan to arrive in the best possible energetic space to guide students into their practice, into their own hearts and souls, into the very exploration of life. The subtlety earned from practicing yoga is an immeasurable gift. It makes everything juicier, richer, and more nuanced. In one of those jokes I mentioned before, in a fit of enthusiasm for the sublety yoga teaches us, I said to a small class of fairly new yogis “you’ll get so subtle, you’ll start to feel things and see things before they happen, and feel people’s thoughts! Then people will think you’re all witches.” At least one student laughed. Maybe she liked the idea of being a witch, which is not a bad thing! Witches get such a bad rap…

Anyway, teaching yoga keeps on teaching…me! I refine how to manage my energy, find strength and inspiration, and am able to share the things that are literally closest to my heart. Continuing to develop my own yoga practice is a no-brainer…this absolutely informs how I teach. However, I am intrigued by the lessons taught by the practice of teaching. Being a teacher is a great responsibility, and I want to offer my students the best possible guidance I am capable of at any given time. To be on that edge is a practice in itself, one I am so grateful for and which offers endless opportunities for self-study (svadhyaya).

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Yin Yoga & Meditation

There’s a lot of reasons to do yin yoga. Yin yoga is an excellent counterpart to more active “yang” vinyasa or other physical practices. It’s great to practice yin yoga when you’re stressed out, over-heated, or for women in their moon cycle. Whenever you have been too yang, yin yoga will help re-balance your energy levels and serve as a tonic to an over-stimulated, over-booked life. Yin yoga can help quiet the mind and heal the body. Like all forms of yoga, yin yoga can help settle the mind by bringing awareness into the subtle realms of breath and energy, but yin in particular is well suited as a preliminary practice to sitting meditation. Why is this so?

Yin yoga helps lengthen and strengthen connective tissue (ligaments, fascia, possibly even bone!) by virtue of its “yin” methodology. The three principles of yin yoga are 1) meet your edge 2) stillness 3) hold for time. Once you meet your first edge in a yin pose, you’ll soak there until your body opens enough to allow you to find your second edge. Then you soak in stillness there, holding for time, until another edge appears, and so on.

The attention to detail it requires to follow the three-step path of yin yoga (find your edge, stillness, hold for time) naturally settles the mind. The breath in yin is used as much to invite space in (breathe into an area that feels stiff or congested) as it is a release (lion’s breath is a yin treat; holding a pose for a long time can sometimes feel claustrophobic and lion’s breath is a great way to release excess energy without moving). As the body cools down and the muscles become relaxed, the body naturally requires less oxygen. The breath can become slower and deeper.

The quality of breath that develops from a yin practice makes it a perfect antecedent to sitting meditation practice. Not only will the joints used in sitting (spine & hips) be open and lubricated (yin yoga practice actually helps create more of the substance, hyaluronic acid, that cushions the joints) but the breath and mind will already be well slowed down. A sitting practice after yin practice can go very deep.

I will be offering a workshop on yin yoga on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 at Reflections Yoga in NYC. The focus of this workshop will be on using yin yoga to prepare the body and mind for meditation.

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The X-Ray Vision of Yoga Teachers

xray vision of hand and arm

Yoga teacher x-ray vision: we seeeeeeeee you

Yoga teachers develop what I like to call “X-ray vision.” How many times have you been in class and the teacher walks near you while teaching, and gives the cue YOU need to feel the pose more clearly in your body? How about when the teacher is on the other side of the room and calls you out by name, asking you to elongate your inner leg or extend from your heart or tilt your gaze down to lengthen the back of the neck?

Yoga teachers develop the art and skill of seeing the body energetically and structurally. Over time, yoga teachers can help you see where the blockage or congestion is in your body, or where energetically you are not connecting, numb, turned off, or simply absent. This is one of the benefits to practicing in group classes or privately with a teacher: someone else is viewing your practice, and can help you see things you might not be able to.

In the last couple of weeks, since I started getting chiropractic treatments at Alive & Well Chiropractic in NYC, the x-ray vision is turning inwards, towards my own body, with the most interesting results.

Most yoga teachers are already aware of their own bodies, just as they are aware of the bodies of others, and our insight grows as we work in different mind-body modalities that deepen and refine our awareness. Through chiropractic, I have learned that the left side of my body is about 100% tighter than the right, as well as which vertebrae have subluxations (distortions of the structural body).

The x-ray vision I normally apply on my students as well as on my own body has become something profound in the last few sessions on my mat. I feel like one of the crew on “Fantastic Voyage.”

I am now able to feel very clearly subtleties I was not able to access before: the two halves of my pelvis and the rotation of each half (is the illium tilting forward or back?); the erector spinae tight around certain thoracic vertebrae, affecting rotation of the spine; even the space between my sacrum and illium (sacroilliac, or SI joint) and the quality of that space. This new x-ray vision is very handy when it comes to feeling the state of my inner body and helping myself find balance in my spine and all the limbs which radiate off of it.

When I’m practicing with this x-ray vision, my asana practice is unconventional. I almost never do standing poses, preferring supine or seated poses, and even the movement is minimal to get into these shapes. The shape is the container in which we explore. The shape (the asana) is not the goal; the asana is the vehicle. Or to not mix metaphors, asana is not the goal, asana is the football we carry down the field on the way to the goal (health, vitality, and self-realization). The football is our body, a leather sack. Don’t be attached to the leather sack, it won’t be with you in the next lifetime anyway!

This increase in my ability to see through the leather sack into the skeletal, energetic, and even emotional patterns that govern the structure of our bodies is something that helps me offer more to students in their own practice. Adjustments from skilled teachers are often an “a-ha!” moment, where suddenly you feel the energetic and structural essence of a pose in a way you  never did before. Exceptional adjustments from exceptional teachers are transformational, truly “before and after” in the way your mind and body approach a particular pose.

X-ray vision is a healing (and diagnostic) ability native to all human beings. It’s just most of us are so far away from ourselves. Yoga and other mind-body modalities can help us reconnect to this intuitive healing gift.

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