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Author: Lucy St. John

yoga assist in yin yoga

How to Apply Skeletal Variation to Yoga Teaching

[caption id="attachment_4096" align="alignleft" width="300"] yoga-assist-cueing[/caption] Skeletal variation is a term popularized by Paul Grilley, the founder and developer of Yin Yoga. It means that every single person has a unique bone and joint structure, which in turn, can make some yoga, poses easier and some poses more difficult than others depending on one’s unique structure. Some poses will be non-accessible to certain bodies regardless of how much yoga they do. This does not mean we don’t try yoga, it means that some of us will find it easier. Understanding our body’s limitations informs us of the endpoint of our flexibility. When you understand how and where to sense the difference between bone-to-tissue (compression) versus the muscular resistance (tension), you will begin to know what the sensation in your body is...

yoga teacher training with student

Yoga Cueing for Students of All-Levels

When I first started teaching yoga, I would offer three options to make it an "All levels" class. It was the classic option; "Choose to do a childs pose, a downward facing dog or a Vinyasa (plank-chaturanga-updog-down dog)" cue. Teaching an all levels class is not easy! Teachers are remembering their sequence, their theme, observing students for safety and accessibility, assisting students and, keeping the pace of breath to name just a few things. So to add in the three choice option above is a good start for an all levels class. If you've been doing that for a while, you are ready for more! One of the many nuggets of wisdom I've learned from teaching Yoga teacher trainees is to know the steps of each pose from beginner...

yoga sutras

The First Sutra – Atha Yoga Anushasanam

Atha Yoga Anushasanam The first sutra of Patanjali yoga sutras is one the most essential pieces of knowledge. Niscala Joy Devi’s translation is: “With humility, an open heart and mind, we embrace the sacred study of yoga” This translation suggests that you are required to be open. If you think you have nothing to learn, then you will not gain the “aha” that comes with realizing knowledge. If you are closed in either your heart or your mind, the knowledge has nowhere to land, no space to be experienced. Being humble and open to what IS is key. I believe this is one of the reasons I experienced a higher state of consciousness, I was open, I was aware that I had a lot to learn. As my dad says, unless you’re...

bike wheel

What is Biotensegrity in Yoga?

Biotensegrity is a term coined by an orthopedic surgeon, Stephen Levin who applied the model of tensegrity to the human body. Tensegrity is a term coined by Buckminster Fuller who described architecture as a balance of discontinuous compression elements combined with continuous forces of tension in your body. Imagine how a bridge uses tension and compression forces in its construction. Another example of tensegrity would be: A weighted bicycle wheel. Can you visualize how the wheel changes shape when you sit on it? The wheel becomes stronger with the constant tension of compression on it and yet as the wheel moves the compression upon it varies or is discontinuous. 1 So what does this have to do with Yoga? Biotensegrity suggests that your muscles and bones, what we previously considered...

How do you know what Healthy Boundaries are?

Spiritual communities are a great place to learn about personal boundaries because your boundaries are bound to be challenged. Many people will just walk away from experiences that challenge them while others will stay in an unhealthy relationship that they are not quite comfortable in. I used to feel guilty when I said “no” because I assumed my loved ones (or strangers for that matter) would feel rejected by my healthy boundary. So I would put up with what others were putting out, effectively over-stepping my own boundary and/or exiting the situation as soon as possible. My fear of other’s judgment stopped me from living in a way that was good for me. Like attracts like. I have been surrounded by others, mostly women with the same...

A Deeper Understanding of the Yamas

The Yamas are typically translated as behavioral restraints to be practiced as part of attaining a state of Yoga, or Unity consciousness. However, Maharishi describes the Yamas as the quality of intelligence that governs a higher state of consciousness. According to Maharishi, the Yamas happen naturally as you attain greater awareness of the Self. The Yoga Sutras are not meant as steps to a higher state of consciousness, sometimes referred to as Yoga. They are characteristics of the state of Yoga that naturally and spontaneously develop as you practice. Let’s take a closer look. The 5 Yamas are: Satya, truth that never changes Ahimsa, non-harming Asteya, non-stealing Brahmacharya, living alone, living Brahm Aparigraha, non-accumulation I’ve heard many teachers describe Satya as a practice of speaking one’s Truth. Maharishi describes Truth as “That which never changes”....

The Impact of Skeletal Variation on Standard Cueing

When I first learned about Skeletal Variation from Bernie Clark in 2012, I was appalled at how I had been previously cueing poses in my public yoga classes. It took another 4 years to integrate and change how I approach Postural Assists, Cueing Language and How to teach new teachers the implications of Skeletal Variation whilst helping them learn how to cue postures. So, what is Skeletal Variation? Photo from yintherapy.com It is the understanding that we are each unique, both in the length of our bones and the “fit” and shape of our joints. It means that some of us will never be able to do circus style backbends because the shape and space between our vertebral bones will stop us, not our lack of flexibility. Now there...

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Best Practices for a Vata Dosha

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