Friday, September 17, 2010

The Right Way

I know a few of you have begun practicing yoga and it is inevitable that you will (or have) practiced under different yoga instructors.  Once you have practiced regularly under a few different instructors, you will notice that you are receiving different instructions and your instructors will use different words.  Oh yes fellow blog readers, no two yogis are the same.  Here is a brief example of the different instructions I receive from Kim and Victoria:

1)  Chair Pose/Awkward Pose/Lightening Pose - 1) knees apart or 2) knees together

2)  Warrior anything - 1) Front foot should intersect the arch of the back foot or 2) your heels should intersect

3) Breathing - 1) soft stomach when you breathe in or 2) tight stomach all the time

4) Eagle Arms - 1) thumb to center of forehead or 2) forearms up and out

At first this mish mash of directions freaked me out.  Which way was the right way? 

I believe that the answer is simple - the right way is whichever way your body is telling you to move on that particular day. 

Truth be told, I tend to practice which ever way I am being told to just to challenge my body and to not become too comfortable with any one style.  The different instructions give me a great chance to explore the different poses and see how my body and mind react.  In fact, I think it may be very beneficial to seek out different instructors, not only for different variations of poses but for different focuses and sequences.  One of my vinyasa classes features a lot of high to low plank, balancing poses and back bends...the other of my classes tends to hang out in crescent warrior and chair pose for minutes on end.  Those classes combined allow me to experience a full range of motion and poses and have taught me what I love and loathe about particular poses.

Now, I know that I am constantly urging you all to give yoga a try...but if you already are maybe you should consider trying out different instructors and styles, see what fits you best.  Explore your practice.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to read this! It definitely is best to listen to your body and try different teachers. I find that it helps to try out different alignment methods and figure out what makes sense for you. And then that is what I teach. So:

    1. Utkatasana (I use Chair just because that seems like the most intuitive English name for it)- I call for feet together (as always, unless someone is purposefully modifying) because knee health is important to me, and it is easy for knees to get off the track of the hip width ankles when you take it into a twist.

    2. Virabhadrasana (Warriors)- Warrior 1 is heels in line with hips, Warrior 2 and all variations are heels lined up with each other. Both of these are not the traditional foot alignment, but I see that for many people in class, the hips are too tight to go narrower.

    3. Garudasana (Eagle)- I call for pressing the forearms away from the forehead in order to deeply open up the upper back and shoulders.

    So there are reasons why I choose the queues I do (beyond the fact that it is how I was trained from Baron Baptiste)- they work on my body better than other ways, and they work for more of the bodies that show up in class than otherwise. But every body is different. And yoga is a living, growing, breathing science based on self-exploration with all the messiness that comes with vitality!