Athletes: Meditate 12 Minutes a day

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In Depth Yoga Study: Working with Anxiety and Depression

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In Depth Yoga Study:  Working with Anxiety and Depression

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Saturday, July 8, Noon-4 pm

The yoga sutras indicate nine obstacles to the yoga practice, the antarayas.  

  • Understand that consciousness underlies body, mind and spirit
  • Learn to identify anxiety and depression
  • Optimize the digestion of food and experiences by body, mind and spirit
  • Nourish the physiology with powerful rest
  • Use tailor-made exercise programs, yoga postures, and breathing techniques to undo depression
  • Use food as medicine
  • Use meditation as medicine

Tuition:  $90

A New Look at Alignment in Yoga

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A New Look at Alignment in Yoga

Recently, the yoga community at large has taken up a more critical look at what the concept of alignment actually means in the context of yoga asana. This is a great conversation to have. So many of us have been practicing and teaching for decades now and are confronted daily by the ways that popular rules of alignment contradict one another and are often causing more problems than they solve.

Many of the problems we see in joints, muscles, and ligaments derive from our own mistaken assuredness that we have the answers for how we (and our students) should move. Most of our instructions have been based on the musculoskeletal system. We have precise rules, many contradicting one another, and still we have a lot of injuries, and witness a lot of wear and tear on joints of the longest time practitioners. Perhaps we have accepted a false premise. Let’s look at the term and its connotations:

align |əˈlīn| verb1 [with object]

  • place or arrange (things) in a straight line
  • put (things) into correct or appropriate relative positions
  • [no object] lie in a straight line, or in correct relative positions

alignment |əˈlīnmənt| noun1

  • arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative position
  • the act of aligning parts of a machine:oil changes, lube jobs, and wheel alignments.

 

Alignment as We Know It Doesn’t Work

How we think about things matters. The term alignment itself conjures up straight lines, correct angles, mechanical movement, and positional concerns. Both align and alignment clearly connote these qualities. Even if you know better, you will be affected by your ingrained understanding of the words. The idea of “straight lines”, “align [with object]”, and even “appropriate relative position”, miss the mark for considering what is healthy human support for movement.

Alignment, as we have been using the term so far, connotes a mechanistic approach to movement. Perhaps, we have mistakenly taken alignment in yoga to mean, we must dissect, separate, and arrange our bodies into appropriate positions, part to part, something like stacking blocks. Take the popular instruction to, “Stack your bones”, in tadasana. We have perceived our joints, for example, to be something like mechanical parts that receive forces of movement, and then, from their own discreet place on the body, transfer the movement through the bone and along to the next joint. I think this is basically an erroneous way to look at the movement of force – weight and prana flow – in the body.

Of course, areas of the body that are so susceptible to compression and injury should not be taking the primary burden of movement force. Our joints actually need a much bigger and more inclusive paradigm of support than simply the muscles and bones. We need a support system that takes the forces out of them—rather than asking them to do the job themselves. The forces need to flow more wholistically, around and through the joints, rather than asking them to absorb the forces themselves and transmit them along, through the next bone, and to the next joint, etc.

What do we mean by “alignment” and how does it apply to yoga? We are clearly still at the very beginnings of understanding what “alignment” means in the full yogic perspective. It is time to question the model of our thinking. Can we even come into alignment in a yoga posture through a set of musculoskeletal actions? Is alignment a set place into which we arrive? Is alignment in vinyasa a series of places through which we move? Maybe we even need a new word. Maybe the word is something more like “Integration”.

Thinking about the alignment of bones and joints is not in itself necessarily a problem. And there is still a lot to learn from new research into movement dynamics. But when we believe something about alignment—think that we know it—we are in danger of overriding our most powerful supports, supports that come from the underlying healthy movement of life force. In thinking we know better in some way, we often will apply a certain “alignment principle” that actually impedes the natural flow of underlying integration and stability. It is all too common to obstruct prana flow—or the flow of force, both subtle and obvious— when we try to manipulate the movement of our limbs from the musculoskeletal perspective.

We Need to Go Deeper

As we look into our assumptions about alignment, we may begin to notice the highly mechanistic view that our current ideas have arisen from—like Newtonian physics. Newton’s insights have been, and continue to be, so critical to our growth and evolution. The larger, more superficial structure and behavior of things, that Newton described is still true. Now, thanks to the platform and the work of those who have come before, our understanding is increasing all the time. We are learning more and more about the subtle and microscopic layers of life that are full of potential and possibilities. We now know that at its source everything is energy and we, like everything else in the universe, are energetic beings.

 For some of us, going deeper, and looking for a kind of support that is not as solid and dense as what we have been taught to rely on, does require an adjustment in thinking. But there are body tissues that can be explored and embodied in our yoga practice that are softer and more resilient than bones and joints, and actually may be better at handling the flows of force that are created by our movements. For a primary example, look into how the biotensegritous nature of fascia supports movement in our bodies. Embodied-Bio-Tensegrity, Fascia and Yoga

Another thing we can do is begin to explore how our bodies (and our movements) do not function as a series of discreet parts. Our body functions and supports itself as a well-organized whole. It can be useful to release some of our conscious and unconscious desire to control our body’s movement as if it’s movement was based on mechanistic concepts, with individual parts functioning independently. More wholistic thinking and feeling can be very helpful.

Prana and Integrated Movement

Prana animates your very being. Prana directs all of the inner functioning of body and mind. It moves within you and it also moves you through space. Learning to feel the natural flow of prana in one’s body is actually available to everyone. It is a very clear and precise study that we can all do. You may say, “Well, prana is subtle and I don’t know if I can feel prana”. But you can feel prana. In fact, you are feeling it all the time, you just may not have paid enough attention to it yet. All you need to do is learn how, just like you learn everything else that you do in yoga, with persistence, patience, and love of the process.

We can move without stressing and straining our joints. The new paradigm of alignment needs to be looking at integrated movement in the body. Movement that is fully relational within, and also in relationship to the environment. No line of force should ever shear across a joint in yoga asana. Forces need to be distributed through all of the body tissues, not just bones and muscles. We need to begin to look much more carefully at the depth of the fascial weave that we are, and understand how to allow the fascial matrix to transfer forces multi-directionally, and with resilience, at all times.

We need to yield into the earth and push away. We need to learn to reach and pull. These simple human developmental movements create the conditions for life force to flow—without interruption or blockage in the joints or anywhere else. These simple actions will appropriately keep us from exceeding our range of motion and stressing joints because it is the “mind of the posture” that shapes the pose, not an idea of shape that is at worst harmful, and at best minimally helpful.

Obviously, one needs to let go of the concerns about obtaining a “perfect” posture, or even the “shape” of a modified posture. Not all problems in any posture can be solved positionally. You can’t ultimately solve problems of energy flow by lessening or altering the angles in the joints. No positional action will inherently bring in the healthy flow of prana that is necessary to experience integration in body and mind. Ultimately, yoga asana is not a positional study. Going too far into the search for the right position of the body in asana is a case of barking up the wrong tree. We need to moving much more from the inside out without chasing an idea of outer form.

In Depth Yoga Study: More Vinyasa Krama

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

vinyasa
movement into / during a single yoga asana or between asanas in yoga, typically accompanied by regulated breathing
krama
denotes a step-by-step progression or a sequence of events
Direct the focus of a single yoga posture, a sequence of yoga postures, or the entire practice using your breadth of knowledge as a yoga teacher.  Yoga philosophy, subtle energy systems, human anatomy, and physical conditions can be addressed when the yoga teacher is adept at customizing the vinyasa krama.
  • sharpen your skills at teaching a single yoga posture
  • develop a diverse approach to the krama that links portions of a yoga practice and indeed the whole yoga class
Instructor:  Anne Basco, ERYT 500
12 noon-4 pm
Tuition:  $88.00

The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles

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CreditIllustration by Renaud Vigourt

The toll that aging takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigor and number.

A study published this month in Cell Metabolism, however, suggests that certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria.

Exercise is good for people, as everyone knows. But scientists have surprisingly little understanding of its cellular impacts and how those might vary by activity and the age of the exerciser.

So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64. After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.

Some of them did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise.

After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated. In general, everyone experienced improvements in fitness and an ability to regulate blood sugar.

There were some unsurprising differences: The gains in muscle mass and strength were greater for those who exercised only with weights, while interval training had the strongest influence on endurance.

But more unexpected results were found in the biopsied muscle cells. Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weight lifters. Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.

Many of these affected genes, especially in the cells of the interval trainers, are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells; the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in the number and health of their mitochondria — an impact that was particularly pronounced among the older cyclists.

It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s senior author. In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways more robustly to intense exercise than the cells of the young did — suggesting, he says, that it is never too late to benefit from exercise.

The toll that aging takes on a body extends all the way down to the cellular level. But the damage accrued by cells in older muscles is especially severe, because they do not regenerate easily and they become weaker as their mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in vigor and number.

A study published this month in Cell Metabolism, however, suggests that certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria.

Yoga Teacher Mentorship Program

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with Anne Basco, ERYT 500

Mentorship Program with Anne Basco, ERYT 500

Who is this for?

Everyone!

Yoga teachers:

  • Refresh skills
  • Develop a therapeutic yoga perspective
  • New teachers, newly graduated
  • Teachers who wish to refocus

Not a yoga teacher:

  • Experience the perspective of teacher training while assessing whether it is the right step for you
  • Study In Depth to enrich your own practice
  • The hours applied here can be applied to In Depth Yoga Study (200) with Anne

Main topics:

  • Asana/Asana Practice
  • Observation/assist 
  • Personal study guidance
  • Monthly weekend workshops (8 hours)
  • Private Mentorship Sessions:  structured to outline your goals/objectives/needs as well as your progress.  You may be given reading assignments.  Minimum one session per month.

You will be asked to keep a log of your time.

Main Book References:  The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar

                                     Anatomy of movement by Blandine Calais-Germain

50 hours of training must be completed in no less than 6 months’ time.

Prerequisites:

  • Regular yoga practice for two years
  • A detailed description of your yoga experience (type of yoga, why do you love yoga, let’s hear it all)
  • Teachers:  copy your certificate from your completed 200 hour teacher training, summarize your teaching experience i.e. how long/how often have you taught, clientele sketch i.e. what have you been teaching

Tuition options:

  1. One time payment:  $950
  2. Five consecutive monthly payments of $220