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Tuesday, May 22

I only get to go to Manuoso Mano’s class once a month. I had a sinus infection, but I decided to go because it was important to me. The class was difficult for me.

I do have a little trouble understanding his direction. Maybe because I don’t go to his class often enough, but after the class I was winded walking to work.

The class focused on opening the lower back for advanced students. In sirsasana, we hooked our big toe to the back side of our hell to pull the foot. This stretched the lower back and of course, the leg that was being pulled higher. 

While I didn’t have as much strength, Rita did say I was flexible and I should embrace that. Following a strenuous Adho Mukha Savanasa with leg up the wall and splitting the butt bones. Chair and shoulders against the edge was something that was really difficult for me. With the chair, we raised one leg up while the other one hung down to create the opening in the lumbar region.

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Friday, May 18

Back in San Francisco, I made sure my Friday night was dedicated to yoga. I went to Brian’s class at Bija as it was a level 2-3 one. 

An interesting thing we learned was using straps in trikonasana. By doing so, the hips remained in place and you were able to rotate your lower ribs up and out. It was very effective. Then by doing the pose again alone, the body could remember and further open. The straps were placed at the hip crease with a partner pulling the straps parallel to the ground. In addition, the partner place their foot on the person doing the pose back foot so they would not lose balance if they were being pulled too aggressively. 

The rotation in my thoracic/lower rib area is pretty good. I focused more on learning how to keep my hips level and my shoulders in line with each other since the last before this one was all about how to keep my arms in neutral. 

Another thing I enjoyed and immediately felt, I should use my chair for all the time, was bharajavadjasana in a chair. I liked pushing and pulling (not grabbing) while in this seated twist and switching back and forth quickly. 

Something I realized was Brian was really good at layering and helping one improve their poses in a simple manner. I remember when I attended a class back on April 18 where we did poses a majority of the poses (trikonasana, parvritta trikonasana, parvsakonasana) against the wall so again the student could feel the stretch in the spine and lean against the wall to keep the hips stable. I do my poses a lot against the wall just to make sure everything is in line with each other. 

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Three points on the legs to focus on:

Press the inner edge of your front foot down strongly. 

Move your front outer hip inward toward the midline as strongly as possible.   

Draw your rear inner thigh back strongly.

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Thursday, May 10

After 7 days of little to no practice, I knew I had to visit the Iyengar Institute in New York. Anna Golfinopoulos was my teacher for the Level 2 class. We focused on parsvotanasana with a chair and parivrtta trikonasana with a chair. We used do the wall for uttanasana. 

What I learned was I didn’t know how to have my shoulders stay in neutral. I also enjoyed working with the chair and wall. The chair was helpful in keeping my hips level and keeping my back in a concave position. 

Working with the chair and wall, helped me bring intelligence back to my feet, thighs and hips.

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"Do not live in the future; only the present is real."

- B.K.S. Iyengar
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Small movements to note: 

  • Extend the toes
  • See that the ankle, knee and middle of the thigh are in one line
  • The trunk should not tilt toward the front leg
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Friday, April 27

Gloria Goldberg, our lead teacher for the yoga training taught a very inspiring class. We focused on how to work with our knees safely. Against the wall, we took one block and placed it against the wall. The back leg was on the block pushing against the wall. We did Trikonasana. Then Adho Mukha Svanasana heels at the wall. Then Trikonasana with the block. Then Adho Mukha Svanasana hands at the wall. What did I feel? How did my pose change? That’s what started going to my head. Why was Gloria asking us to do this? 

If someone has issues with knees, the block is to help with the pressure/weight on the back leg. My lower back felt more open from this as well. 

From there, Trikonasana was the focal point.

Uttanasana then Trikonasana. Sirsasana then Trikonasana. With and without blocks. 

It was truly inspiring. My body was invigorated. I was energized. 

My legs felt stronger. My vertebrae felt open. My side body was stretched. The poses between Trikonasana made me feel more cognisant about how I could improve the standing pose. 

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Sunday, April 15

My co-worker and I decided to meet up so I could teach her yoga. She’s been to a few classes but is a “raw” beginner. (I sort don’t like that term “raw” but now it’s stuck in my head.) I was pretty excited. What will I teach her? How to instruct? Should I think of a sequence? 

During the week, I asked her if there is anything in particular that we should focus on or if she had any injuries Nope. I had a blank slate. 

I thought to myself, wow this is huge. I could theoretically mold this person into my student. Wow. 

In my typical fashion, I sat around all day before she came over. I gave myself 30 minutes just to change and wash my face. It wasn’t like I didn’t think about what I’d teach her, but my effort was impromptu. 

I used Gem for Women and Basic Guidelines and focused mainly on standing poses. I know that Iyengar yoga is big on balancing and strength in legs. With my student being so new to yoga, I wanted to gauge how much strength she had in her legs. 

We did the following poses: 

Tadasana and Urdhava Hasta Tadasana

Urdhva Hasta Padasana

Parsva Hasta Padasana

Uttitha Trikonasna (arms at waist, one arm up, both arms up)

Virabhadrasana II (arms at waist, then both arms up)

Parsvottanasana (arms at waist)

Prasarita Padottanasana 

Dandasana

Paschimottanasana

Savasana

We took is slowly and our class was about 90 minutes. She mentioned pain at the back side of knee in Trikonasana, so I had her adjust her stance and roll her ankles up and back. This helped with her pose. I skipped over Parvsakonasana as her knee was moving laterally. The strength in her legs were a bit weak. I did not want to cause any damage and figured we could focus on that at our next session. She really enjoyed Prasarita Padottanasana and Paschimottansana.

All in all, I am so happy to be teaching this lovely student! 

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"…When doing the pose (head-balance), you have to maintain a single stretch from the floor to the top without letting any part drop. When you are stretching your legs, you have to send an alarm signal to your arms: “I am stretching a leg, so don’t lose your attention!” That is awareness."

- Effort, Awareness and Joy. Tree of Yoga, BKS Iyengar.
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Monday, April 2

Last night I said I would read and do a 3 minute sirsasana (headstand). I read about 20 pages of the introductory essay in one of the versions of the Bhagavad Gita and man my eyes hurt. I went back to bed. HA. Just for 20 minutes. Take 2 - I got out of bed and attempted to do a headstand. Epic fail. My toe is swollen now. On Saturday, I went to a handful of parties, saw some people who I have seen in a while, went to a party where I knew no one and hung out with some new friends. On some level that day, I felt off. I did a headstand that day though and balanced. But somehow this morning, it was no good. My legs weren’t even up before I fell back down. My balance is off. I didn’t push hard on my forearms enough, my mind was wandering; thinking I wanted to get it over it, I didn’t want to go to work. So, the “little man”, the ego, the mind said well, you’re not going up. I gave in. Focus. Concentrate. Believe. I should repeat these words to become more balanced.