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Posts Tagged ‘things that happen in class’

thank you!


kim on 12:07 pm November 25th, 2008 / Be the first to comment! »

i started this post several weeks ago when i noticed that the amount i was being thanked for adjusting students in class went up.

i didn’t know what to say about it at first, but i’ve decided now that it’s surprising.  i want all yoga students to expect to be adjusted, or at least be guided, with as much precision as possible through the poses they do in my class. when i adjust someone’s pose verbally or physically, i consider that part of my job, part of what i’m paid to do.

so, you’re welcome, but sheesh! it’s what you deserve!

the in of sane


kim on 11:32 am August 19th, 2008 / 1 Comment »

i want to clarify the term hatha yoga. According to Wikipedia and other sources i’ve studied, hatha yoga is not as old as yoga “proper;” hatha yoga showed up in the 15th century, because a guy named Swami Swatmarama wanted to give practitioners (sadhakas) a clearer path to the “heights of raja yoga.” raja yoga is, simply, the yoga that emerges through behavior observances, body/breath practices, and several stages of meditation.

this brings me to something Einstein said:

insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

the issue with today’s hatha yoga, especially the part influenced by vinyasa yoga (a more modern version of hatha characterized by repetitive, faster-paced movements linked to the breath), is that it can be too rote.

hatha yoga, like yoga itself, is a living, breathing, ever-changing reflection of the mind that studies it. we can call this mind “your” mind, “my” mind, or even the “collective” mind. whatever the definition of mind, it’s important to know that expecting the same result from your yoga class (i always feel so good after class! my hamstrings are always so strethed!), is missing the point of “ha” (sun) and “ta” (moon), hatha.

practice, of course, is always and only up to the practitioner. and the breath, which underlies the practice no matter what its form, is never, ever the same. back to einstein’s statement, we could, then, conclude the breath is the sanest thing around.

shaping up


kim on 2:11 pm May 13th, 2008 / 1 Comment »

like all animals, humans conform to the environments they live in. specifically, we conform to this shape


more than any other in our lives. it’s very likely that you are in this shape more hours than you walk or sleep combined.

that’s where yoga postures come in. the iyengar method of yoga practice pays a lot of attention to detail, and the more advanced you get, the more it suggests you drop into this pose


from a standing position. since we know that for every action there is an equal and opposite one, we could say that wheel pose, or urdhva dhanurasana, creates a shape opposite to hold ourselves most of the time outside of yoga class.

and since yoga and other mind-stilling practice are rooted  in the concept of the middle path of balance, this pose looks like a nice, yogic way to reach mind/body balance.

there are a lot of other poses to create openness in the chest and abdomen like wheel pose does. ask your yoga teacher this week about these poses.

yoga: from the gross to the subtle, with kim, $10


kim on 9:33 am September 21st, 2007 / Be the first to comment! »

yoga is the practice of moving from the gross to the subtle. we first learn asana, and how the breath fills the physical structure that we change, pose to pose, moment to moment. once we arrive at the subtler aspects of the practice, what, then, does the practice become?

learn tonight from kim about a brief history of yoga, its basic philosophic tenets, and how the details of the inner world unfold the quieter we become. kim will discuss the value of asana, contemplation, breath, and meditation as part of the yoga ashtanga system, and she welcomes questions about the myriad ways we deepen a yoga practice, both on the yoga mat and out in the world.

boundless at the green festival


kim on 9:21 am September 21st, 2007 / Be the first to comment! »

get two free tickets to the green festival with a purchase of $130 or more! supply of tickets limited, so buy now!  support your favorite teacher at the festival, and learn more about all things green!

12 p chaka–hatha yoga

1 p chaka–yoga for guys

2 p stu–vinyasa yoga

3 p orly–yoga basics

4 p orly–meditation and yoga

boundless at the green festival, 11 a-7 p!


kim on 9:18 am September 21st, 2007 / 3 Comments »

get two free tickets to the green festival with a purchase of $130 or more! supply of tickets limited, so buy now! support your favorite teacher at the festival, and learn more about all things green!

11 a stu–vinyasa

12 p james–yoga and ki chung

1 p kristen–core yoga

2 p andrea–transdance and yoga

3 p kim–chakra yoga

4 p kim– yoga basics

5 p jeanette–vinyasa yoga

6 p jeanette–yogilates

like a metronome


kim on 10:44 am August 24th, 2007 / Be the first to comment! »

if you’ve played music for any length of time, you’ve probably used a metronome. this what one looks like:


imagine your spine as the pendulum rod (the thing that moves) in standing poses, especially ones in which the hips are open. when we attempt to do warrior two pose (virabadrasana 2) or side angle pose (parsvokanasana),




, settling into the poses can feel very much like the pendulum coming to rest at its center. you might even see here how pose 1 sets the foundation for pose 2.

one of the main ways to experience this sensation is to firm the legs. for most of us, desk jobs preclude the active use of legs during the day. sitting in chairs creates bad circulation, bad backs, and weak leg muscles.

in standing yoga poses, the direct result of using the legs is freeing the spine and releasing the back muscles into more efficient, well-distributed, graceul use.

if we consider open-hipped standing poses as though the spine were able to move back and forth, in rhythm, on a stable base, eventually settling in toward center, we might then orient ourselves toward using the legs to relax the spine, the organs, the mind.




bridges, stress, and yoga


kim on 10:43 am March 29th, 2007 / 5 Comments »

if you’ve ever crossed a bridge by foot–any bridge, even the memorial or key bridges–you can feel its give as you walk (or the cars drive) over it. a bridge is anything but rigid: its very structure is pliant and strong.

setu bandha sarvangasana, or bridge pose, offers an example of this in our own bodies. the shoulder girdle and feet ground the pose in the same way two ends of a constructed bridge are affixed to the opposite banks of a river. the pose is a backbend, and the more grounded the pose, the more open the chest, diaphragm, and breath become. bridge pose is like all poses: we are seeking to be both flexible and “stressed” simultaneously.

i asked a class last night how they defined stress. many students quickly jumped in to define what it feels like in their bodies, and the energy in the room rose even as we discussed it. as we described stress, we noticed that very stress coursing through our bodies — how else would we have been able to know it well enough to give it shape and form through our voices?

stress is a funny word. we tend to look at outside events–demanding bosses, family, and friends; world events; environmental changes; money worries–as the forces pressing in on us that then cause us to feel constricted, tight, depressed, breathless, or anxious. we wake up in the morning, rush out the door, grab coffee or tea for assistance, and roll through the day as though each change were external, beyond our control.

like a bridge, we have to have that steeliness, that stuctural resistance under conditions pressing down on us. otherwise, gravity would have its way and the universe would be an eternally imploding, never-ending black hole. on the other hand, awareness is by definition expansive, and it is a moment of awareness that enables us to realize how compressive, how “stressed,” anything is.

if we use that awareness to our advantage, we actually give in (whether physically, emotionally, or mentally) instead of resisting stress, which, hey, is strong. superficially you may think this will make you weak, but in the end, you actually bounce back into shape with more strength, form, resistance, and flexibility. it is precisely through weakness of any kind that strength occurs. strength and weakness, as a bridge demonstrates, are two peas in a pod as they conduct energy back and forth, up and down. strength is weakness, then, and vice versa.

it’s nothing more than the pulsation of energy that is happening all the time, everywhere, and nowhere at once. if you close your eyes, for example right now, and breathe, you can feel it.

we achieve awareness through meditation practice, yoga, or other mindful practices. we have to practice because gravity and intertia are strong, as anyone who has chosen to forego her regular xx-night yoga class for a drink knows. it is very easy to avoid dropping into the body by giving over to habits, usually destructive, that take us in the exact opposite direction we really need to go. that, of course, is weakness with no strength.

back to life!


kim on 1:04 pm February 22nd, 2007 / 2 Comments »

it is understood in modern-day ergonomics that our backs are a mess. it would be safe to say that around 2% of my students and clients claim they have loose shoulders and pain-free backs.

that’s why, whether you are an advanced student or just beginning on your yoga path–or if you are not interested in mainstream yoga but have back problems–you should try out becky’s “back to life” yoga series. it starts tonight at 730 pm, and it’s a session that runs through april 3.

becky will offer the yogic approach to healing your chronic and/or injury-based back and neck pain, and she will help you develop home and office “work” that you can do to keep yourself feeling freer in your back!

where to, eyes (and neck and head)?


kim on 2:38 pm February 16th, 2007 / Be the first to comment! »

i was teaching handstand (adho mukha vriksasana) tuesday night in the 630 p open hatha class. a student, also a teacher at this studio, had settled into what my eyes told me was a quite well-executed pose. as she balanced there, i called the attention of the class to the pose because i wanted us all to observe.

as i described the various ways in which she was strong, balanced, graceful, and nearing a sensation of zero-gravity (one of the coolest side effects of any pose, and also, some would argue, the esoteric point of doing any pose in the first place), another student and yoga teacher in class commented that the back of this handstanding student’s neck looked compressed because she was lifting it to look between her hands. they wanted to know how the pose could be so well done if she was this tight in one area of her body.

the root of this observation comes from a different teaching of handstand that i, or other teachers i later discussed this exchange with, have been taught. indeed, if you look at p. 288 of iyengar’s light on yoga, or at this pose, the students (p. 288 is iyengar himself) are gazing in between their hands or further up as a point of focus.

(if you’re already bored, jump off now and save yourself).

this point of focus is called a drishti in sanskrit. drishtis have great importance in a yoga pose: the smaller the point, the greater the focus; when there is no point, there is little or no focus. this is why i have been taught to have the head raised in handstand, and also as a means of opening the chest. this can be done with no bowing of the back if the student’s core is engaged.

ana forrest, on the other hand, teaches that your head should be dropped in all poses, no matter what, as means for relaxing the neck. my understanding is that this teaching stems from modern-day issues we all have in the neck and shoulders (anyone who has studied with ana, feel free to chime in).

the teacher who questioned the head-raising-in-handstand choice and i later e-discussed this issue. showing this link and referring to a workshop where he’d learned to deepen his own inversion practice, he wrote:

The picture gives an indication of her [his example, in the link above] level of integration.During the workshop, we did a huge amount of lunge practise. One of the keys to all poses being the preparation. She was a strong believer that dropping the head was important in integrating when inverted, which then enables walking on the hands.

In my own experience, dropping the head is key. As you pointed out the cranial base and the sacro lumbar junction each require the other to release, for their [sic] to be freedom in the spine. Cranial sacral understanding of spinal fluidity seems to confer with this view. But there are no single answers and yoga requires an embrace of all possibilities.

exactly. and as i further contemplated his answer, the pose itself and, generally, what happens to the spine in inversion, i concluded, still, that in fact head dropped is unintegrated for me, and head raised is a more evolved way of looking at the pose (and, perhaps by extension, our own experience in general) for me. here are my reasons:

1) there is no such thing as a straight line. we know this from physics.

2) to this end, if the vertebrae were in fact to totally straighten (which to me the dopping of the head suggests a goal of), the spine would either implode or explode.

3) the eyes, like every other part of the pose, need to ground. that’s what relaxing into that eyes-half-closed-stare is in a drishti (think kevin smith’s mall rats: the picture of the boat)

4) when the head lifts, the heart opens. in meditation and pranayama, the idea is to keep the eyes looking downward, in an act of deference to the body and breath as guide, and to calm the nervous system. but in a yoga asana like handstand (as opposed to pachimottanasana, seated forward fold), we express our evolutionary capacity by looking up.

it’s almost as though, in this case, the heart is doing the real taking in, the actual assimilation (which by the way is where prana makes it most indelible mark). the eyes are simply two little data centers. they are ferrying in less and less distracting information by focusing on a smaller and smaller point of the outside world. this opens us up fully to the experience within.