Saturday
Feb112012

Airport Yoga Room in San Francisco

I could have used this in Doha Airport the other day: an airport yoga room. Apparently San Francisco opened one. Very cool. Read more about it here and see a little video on it here.

 

Friday
Feb102012

Lock Your Knee

Since I’ve come back from India I’ve had some very nice morning practices in my yoga room. I find that teacher training has made me become much softer and more intuitive in my practice and I am enjoying the strength that the thousands of chadurangas have brought to my arms (my bum is finally comfortably lifting off the floor). But today was different. This morning I went (back) to Bikram. This happened for a number of reasons:

I believe it’s good to challenge my practice with a different type of yoga.
It’s so bloody cold in Copenhagen now so 40 degrees is heaven.
The main reasons though were that I had a groupon offer for a month of Bikram laying around and that Lara (the better half) woke up at 5.30 this morning to go to class at 6.30 - so I though I’d live up to being the yogi in the family and join her.

I was expecting queasiness like the first time as I haven’t been in the hot room for about 6 months, but I felt fine. It was hard - I’ll give you that - but I think 3-5 hours of Asthanga a day has prepared my body for most things.

Those of you who are familiar with Bikram Yoga know that rather than just straightening (or micro bending) your standing leg and actively engaging your quadriceps muscles in the standing asana, you are encouraged (demanded) to lock your knee, and fully extend the knee joint. When the knee moves into full extension, the thigh bone (femur) slightly rotates inwards on the shin (tibia) and ‘locks' the knee joint into this extension phase (somebody’s been to anatomy class and learned all the fancy words). This has never worked for me, not comfortably anyway, and now I’m not really sure I want it to. I do appreciate that you need to lift up the knee cap and engage the muscles around the knee to protect the knee it self, but I have a tendency to hyper extend and feel that my leg is going to bend the other way whenever I try to straighten it enough to lock it out. Does that make me a bad yogi? Maybe to Bikram. But If I have learnt anything from the previous weeks of intensive practice it is to honour my body and listen to the signals it’s giving me. And this is something I hope to be able to bring into my classes if/when I start teaching. Listen to what the body is saying.

As well as listening to my body I also googled (sometimes the answers are not only found within) and found lots of opinions of the knee lock. I came across this quote on myyogaonline.com (and I know that Bikram is totally different and completely out of reach from the yoga world, but the following kind of makes sense to me):

"The purpose of Yoga poses is to generate physical vitality so one can proceed through life with positive energy flow and with a holistic connection to what brings balance and harmony. Standing Yoga poses offer these benefits when mindfulness and proper intention is applied. Without mindfulness, some standing Yoga poses present a tendency towards knee locks and hyperextension, which can produce chronic problems in the function and health of the knee joint. The ability to lock the knee joint can promote a passive approach for some people in their yoga practice and can encourage some people to shift away from progressively engaging muscles to produce therapeutic benefits. Rather than exploring and using the muscles in the lower body to create lift and space, one can fall into this low energy knee lock and into possible hyperextension, thus reducing the benefits of the standing Yoga poses."

What do you think? Does locking the knees come easy to you? Or do you think it can actually damage the knee in the long run?


Wednesday
Feb082012

Angel Walk

 

I don’t expect anybody who wasn’t there to understand my experience of the Angel Walk. It was pretty full on and something I never imagined myself doing let alone enjoying. The pictures here are taken after the Walk, which we did on the last day of the teacher training course right after we received or certificates. So the concept, which stems from Agama, was, that we all stood in two lines close together and touched and whispered sweet things to whoever was walking down the aisle while soothing music was playing. This resulted in smiles, tears and full on sobbing and energy that was so full of love that it would make Mother Theresa envious. Picture the white clothes and colourful flower petals and tears everywhere. What a beautiful experience to see my fellow yogis walk down the aisle receiving warm touches and loving words, to tell them what beautiful beings they were and see them understand and take my words with them. And to receive the words and touches myself and feel the love and the climax of four intense weeks of growing, expanding, releasing and learning together with wonderful people. Thank you all.

Hope the pictures – although they might resemble album covers from a 90ies boy band – show the love.

Tuesday
Jan312012

Invocation to Patanjali

An Asthanga class always starts with a mantra: the Invocation to Patanjali.

In my old Asthanga school in Copenhagen where I used to do Mysore the mantra was chanted by the wonderful Susanna as a call and response where she would do the call and the students would respond. As a part of teacher training I am learning to chant the mantra so all of a sudden I'm doing the 'calling'.  And that's kind of a big deal to me. It really marks the shift of going from student to teacher.

Here it is:

Om

Vande Gurunam chadanaravinde

Sandasita svatmasukava bodhe

Nihseyase jangalikayamane

Samsara halahala mohashantyai

Abahu purusakaram

Sankha cakrasi dharinam

Sahasra sirasam svetam

Pranamami Patanjalim

Om

Sunday
Jan292012

Shala Pics