June 2015 Update
IYT Teacher Training Month 8. We studied the nervous system’s response to stress – particularly the sympathetic/parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Of course we focused primarily on restorative work and had a relatively stress free weekend. J. Brown was our dynamic guest yoga artist and shared both his process and his work with our enthusiastic group. Thank you Jason and great job group!
Mr. Iyengar died early this morning (8/20/14) at the age of 95. Although I never got the chance to study yoga with him, I have been a student of his techniques for over 15 years. As a trained modern dancer, his techniques went beyond the joyful movement of asana, (which I naturally loved), and taught me to go deeper into the experience of the body. His techniques brought together the physical body as a whole world: the skin, the organs, the muscles, and the bones. They also brought in the energy of the body with the breath, the weight, the multi-directions and the great miraculous extension the Iynegar technique is famous for. Every yoga class, every yoga pose, was a full diet.
Two weeks ago, for a cable special on yoga for seniors, I was interviewed at Staten Island University Hospital along with 2 current and one former patient. Each of us was interviewed and the students very eloquently discussed the reasons and health considerations that brought them to yoga. Some memorable moments included Josephine reporting that she was so “brainwashed” by the surgeons, regarding the hip precautions following her total hip replacement, that she has had to slowly unlearn them again to equalize her hamstring length. Mary, very politely stated that her daughter (an OTR/L and colleague) had suggested she begin yoga because she had a “hunchback”, and Irene, who did yoga in inpatient rehab, said when she did yoga she just “felt better”.
It been almost 2 months since I left for Texas to finish the 500 hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Training I started last August at Kripalu. We were lucky to be a small, cohesive group of 22 students plus a handful of teachers, and equally lucky to be staying on the grounds of a Hindu temple, with roving peacocks and truly delicious vegetarian food.
“In what ways is simply listening already a healing process and therapy
for both the client and the yoga therapist?”
Being heard and understood is a primal need most humans require. In infants, it becomes a matter of physical survival (hungry, tired, uncomfortable) and in adults it creates connection & peace and is a huge component in emotional safety. My work requires me to listen to people’s stories and feelings; always interesting to me, so that part comes somewhat easily. What comes less easily is listening without judgment and quelling my instinct to offer (what I perceive) as helpful advice.
At 75, my dad is starting his yoga practice. The facts are as follows; he is basically thin and fit, a tennis player, gardener and avid ballroom dancer. A psychiatrist, which makes him precise, direct and punctuated with shoulder tension. He has a history of asthma and abandonment issues (mother) and above all stays far away from negative emotions. He calls his current girlfriend love muffin, sexy bunny and lover -respectively horrifying and amusing my children. Over Christmas, my sister Johanna wryly stated that it was cute to find dad a yoga class, but we knew he would never go.
In my hospital job, it is customary for my manager Nora to print out letters of appreciation that we occasionally receive from our patients. In honor of that tradition, and as yoga teachers we know it is even less frequent, I am posting a recent email I received from a student. To all the yoga teachers and health care providers, take it in.
Pranayama- Ujjayi breathing in to lower abdomen and diaphragm (lying on back)
Mudra: Rupa Mudra for Bone Health
Body Awareness- place thin support under lumbar spine for isometric abdominal toning (belly button towards spine); one at a time, lift each knee to chest on exhale.