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Develop a Home Practice

How Do I Develop a Home Practice?

In an age of unprecedented amounts of distractions, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle with having a regular home practice.

How to start?  Ideally you receive instruction from a qualified teacher who gives a specific method and guidance based on your particular psycho-physiological constitution. Pranayama (breathing practices) is a vital component of getting the mind to be less rebellious and able to focus.  The fellowship of fellow practitioners (satsang) is also very supportive.

Though less ideal, people also turn to meditation apps such as Headspace, and Rod Stryker’s Sanctuary for instruction.  There are plenty of online resources for asana practice as well. Start with the first step. Postponing, or just thinking about a regular practice will not have the same effect.  

A regular home meditation and/or asana practice marks the transition from being a yoga student to becoming a yogi. A yogi is someone who recognizes their limitations and has taken ownership of their evolution. They see the value of regular practice and make it a priority.

Doing 10-15 minutes of meditation a day is an excellent start. Practicing asana for 20 minutes is also beneficial.  Ideally one can dedicate a half hour to an hour on a daily basis. It does not have to be all or nothing.

Being A Yoga Student In Our Training

What does being a student look like in our program?

Yoga teacher training is a significant undertaking for every student. And one should be aware of the demands and expectations in advance.

Enter the Unknown – Some, if not much, of the content in this program may be new to you.  The content might seem foreign and unfamiliar.  It is a little like traveling to a foreign country where you may not have a grasp the language or the food is different.  The experience of travel is always revealing and can show you a world entirely outside of your known reality.

Experimentation You can also look at the yoga training as an experiment in which the outcome is not entirely certain, though you have a hunch that it will lead you to a better place.  Yoga practice is unique in that you are both the subject and the object of your study. 

You are not standing there doing tests on something in a petri dish. You are both what’s in the petri dish and the scientist. You are the canvas and the painter.  The program will support you in integrating the pieces of the program into the grand experiment of your life.

Dedication –  This program is challenging at times. There will be days when you joyfully anticipate class and other days when you may feel challenged and don’t want to go.  Apply yourself to the process to get the most out of it, and know that you will most likely not understand or integrate all of the content. Dedication will help you make the most of this opportunity.

Class Participation – The classroom thrives when people ask questions and fully participate.  Your participation contributes to the welfare of the greater class atmosphere. The program happens over an extended period of time and the cumulative effect of everyone’s participation is quite powerful.

Learn the Craft of Teaching Being a confident teacher is not a given. As with learning any craft, at first, it can be awkward and unfamiliar.  Inevitable questions arise such as: where do I position myself in the room? how do I demonstrate? how do I find my voice? What happens when many different skill levels show up in the same class?  And many other questions.

It can take months or even years of personal practice and teaching on a regular basis before all the components of teaching come together into one unified whole.  One gradually learns the best places to position themselves in the room, how to bring inflection into their voice, and how to see the postures with great insight.

You will also become masterful at designing classes that meet the unique needs of the students.  You might even accumulate a stash of jokes to let loose at the perfect moment!

Strong Reasons To Do Yoga Teacher Training

Seven Strong Reasons To Do A Teacher Training

No matter what program you decide to go with (ours or another), a yoga teacher training costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time and asks a lot of you personally. There are many reasons to never take one up. There are also many seven compelling reasons to do a training if you want to go further with your practice. And it’s essential if you want to teach.

Reason #1: Adios Sporadic Practice. You’ve read my thoughts about the importance of having a consistent personal practice. I believe that the most potent way to develop one is to do a teacher training.  Maybe you had a real streak in your practice at one time and faintly remember the magic.

I’ve spoken with so many people who think that what they need is to improve on their downward facing dog and develop a positive attitude, when what they really need is a steadfast and safe container in which to be guided into practices that unravel years of accumulated tension and start to re-vision how they see themselves and the world in which they live. 

Reason #2: Exponential Momentum. A 60 minutes asana class will only take you so far. The content of classes more or less repeats itself week after week versus a teacher training that builds sequentially and continuously, like a staircase taking you to the top floor balcony where you can see the entire landscape of yoga and your life. 

Dedicated attention from a knowledgeable teacher and a committed circle of peers will exponentially increase your growth. You will receive the support of the class and give support in turn.

Reason #3: Who You Become. One of the biggest benefits of doing a yoga teacher training is who you become. You learn how to manage your mind, eliminate distractions and chart a new path of greater peace and fulfillment.

You don’t just read about these things, you do them for 3.5 months. Yoga teacher training will put yoga at the forefront of your life.  Practicing yoga on a consistent basis for 3.5 months will forever change how you see yourself and how you relate to the world.

Reason #4: Become More Self Reliant. At the end of the program you may discover that you’ve become the source of your own happiness, rather than projecting your sense of worth onto objects or individuals. You’ll probably find that you live in greater accord with what is most important.

Reason #5: Live a Life of Service. Contrary to a lot of motivational hype, you are not defined by your achievements.  However big or small your role may be, you are here to embody your unique destiny, no more or no less.  When you bring the spirit of yoga to everything that you do: as a parent, as a student, as a boss or employee, a school teacher, or a minister or you just might find that you have become a secret agent of good in the world.

Reason #6: Find and Live Your Dharma.
Living a dharmic life is a far greater measurement of one’s success at yoga than how long one can hold warrior III.  The word dharma means ‘greater law or order’, it is what gives a particular thing its unique qualities. The dharma of a pumpkin seed is to become a pumpkin, and the dharma of a swallow is to build nests from mud and migrate thousands of miles each year without getting lost.

Because of our capacity for higher reasoning and reflection, human dharma is more dynamic and complicated. Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma, or not.

Overstimulation, harboring resentment, fantasizing or neglecting one’s responsibilities undermine the ability to live in alignment with higher dharmic virtues. 

Yoga helps us to discover and live into our unique dharma.  Yoga allows us to get still and quiet enough to hear the voice of our conscience and make peace with shortcomings. Following the path of dharma gradually leads one down the path of greater fulfillment and meaningful contribution – something everyone wants at their core.

Reason #7: Learn to Teach.  At some point yoga becomes a lifestyle.  It shapes how you eat, who you hang out with, how you think and even how you breath.  Teaching can be a natural extension of your values and your personal relationship to yoga.  It feels good to live congruently.

I consider it to be a blessing for both you and the students.

Many people are searching for some way out of their current working life and feel the need to make a greater contribution. Yoga could potentially be that outlet.  I suggest easing your way into the transition to becoming a full time yoga teacher.

Deepen Your Personal Practice And Teach

Four Steps to Deepen Your Personal Yoga Practice and Become a Yoga Teacher With Depth:

Step #1: Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options

Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures.  However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing. A individual yoga practice is essential to your success as a student and a teacher.

I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to personal yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer students the full scope of methodologies.

After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice.  Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses. 

There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.

Step #2: Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With

You can read my in depth thoughts on the ethos of being a teacher, but I thought I would share some of the most essential aspects here as well.  Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable.  Some teachers will leave a much greater impression than others.

The teacher is there to guide the student on a journey from misperception to seeing themselves and life more fully.  They provide a living, embodied example of yogic principles and are also knowledgeable about the particular methodologies that best suit each student (including asana).  Of course the student is responsible for doing work, the teacher simply provides guidance.

In assessing a teacher see that they have a seasoned understanding of the various methods and also demonstrate a regard for the greater welfare as opposed to just themselves.  Personally, having a teacher who is deeply attuned to the spiritual aspects of yoga is essential.


What is it that you are looking for in a teacher?

Step #3: Be A Dedicated Student

We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student.  Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.

To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching. 

Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga.  If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself.  It will happen naturally.

Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own.

Developing a personal yoga practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight.  You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.

Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity.  As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.

I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.

Step #4: Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice
Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude.  Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress.  If you want to master the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice.  In order for the practices to work you have to do them.

These traits make for a good match

These traits make for a good match: 

There are lots of yoga teacher trainings in Denver. Each with its own approach and clientele.  Here is a list of qualities that most resonate with us. And, in full disclosure, the qualities that don’t.

  • You don’t see yoga as a fad, are hell bent on nailing handstand, ‘getting a workout’ or obsess about getting the best yoga pants.
  • You want to teach yoga (formally or informally). You know that life can be impossibly overwhelming. People struggle to manage their emotions, feel trapped within their lives, and spiritually depleted.  Yoga helped you to address all of that and it can help others as well.
  • You are easy going, friendly, giving and supportive of one another. You can get on board with a culture of ‘service’ and ‘support’.
  • You value being punctual, and starting class on time out of respect for your peers. You participate in classes and workshops by asking questions and even challenging some of the ideas presented.
  • You have a home practice (in some capacity) and want the most of each class.

Other positive qualities… 

  • You are willing and able to complete assigned papers and readings.
  • You crave to know yourself more fully and to be inwardly resourced when facing the challenges of life. You stretch into new territory and the discomfort that may go along with that
  • You appreciate that there are many modern styles of postural yoga and have regard for the roots of the yoga tradition. You want classic teachings beyond common cliches such as “this practice is for you”.
  • You have a genuine interest and curiosity about yoga beyond simple asana. Asana is a means to a much greater end that includes stability, equanimity, and spiritual development.
  • You have been doing yoga for 2-10 years.

And we have a special place in our hearts for people who…

  • You desire conversations and philosophies with depth. You value wonder and mystery more than “knowing things”. 
  • You can be open, honest and self-reflective and are willing to be vulnerable.
  • You find them at Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage), at the Tattered Cover bookstore, outside, and at meditation and yoga classes.
  • You are dubious of excessive technology and excessive materialism.
  • You desire a richly supportive community of like-minded seekers
  • You care about the welfare of the underserved and may want to bring yoga to those communities. You resonate with underground movements that do a lot of good although they don’t get much recognition. 
  • You appreciate that we are a good-hearted and small business. Some administrative details will feel more like a drive through a scenic country road than mainlining on the interstate.
  • You continue to seek balance in your life between your own needs offering help to others.

The following kinds of people are not a good fit:

  • People who are just in it for the certification and the cool clothing.
  • Only interested in yoga postures and not the greater picture of the yoga tradition.
  • Tend to isolate themselves from and not interact with their peer group.
  • Have no interest in personal development.
  • Are exceedingly dependent upon mobile devices. They could not see themselves getting through a lecture, or even a 10-minute break without logging in.

Yoga Has Pulled You Through

Yoga Has Pulled You Through Hard Times

It’s always fascinating to hear how people got into yoga.  For some the process was quite gradual. For others it was a more immediate and affirmative knowing.  “I did not even know it was possible to feel this way!?”

For others the road to yoga may have been more rocky and could generally be classified into one of five ways.   Perhaps you see yourself in one or more of them:

For others the road to yoga may have been more rocky and could generally be classified into one of five ways.   Perhaps you see yourself in one or more of them:

  • A Traumatic Event: For some this was a difficult divorce, ending a significant relationship, or an accident. Something has changed their lives forever and they can’t go back to how it was before. Yoga has provided shelter, healing and renewed hope and they want to build on that foundation and perhaps teach others.
  • Burned Out: Whether it’s being a social worker who is continually exposed to the plight of so many, a parent or caregiver (or just an over-giver) many people come to us depleted.  The stress of “trying to keep it all together” has become too much. Maybe they are looking for a career change. They may also come to us in malaise or even depression. They are ready to fill their cup for a change (and not feel guilty about it).

Life challenges seem to persist and yoga can be an antidote.

  • Wound Up: Others have come to us with unwanted anxiety, a stressful job,  feeling trapped, questioning if they will ever “be enough”, or generally frustrated with life.  Knowing how to regulate one’s emotions is a skill that can be developed with practice.
  • Physical Situation: a persistent health issue, sports or dance related injury, body image concerns, or general bodily discomfort. While we won’t promise any miracles, we are here to support one in feeling greater ease and vitality in one’s own skin.
  • Conscious Life Shift: Some have felt lost and without a compass. Others have overcome an addiction, a career change, a recent move or some other big life shift.   The timing seems right and they are ready to mature spiritually and finally do that teacher training they have been waiting for.

Regardless of the issue, yoga has provided some refuge and strengthened them, even healed them.  Maybe that’s you.
If it is, and you’re considering our Denver based yoga teacher training, here’s some of what we’ve learned over the years about who our programs are best suited and who they are not.

Yoga and the Five Koshas

 

Did you know that there are actually five of you?  ….Or rather, five distinct layers that constitute you.  Would you like to know what those five parts are and how you can support them through yoga?

Early yogic scriptures, espouse that we are much more than a mold of skin and bones that then gives rise to thought. Texts, such as the Taittiriya Upanishad, ascribe that we are composed of five distinct bodies or layers called koshas; each one increasingly more subtle than the preceding.  Many asana, pranayama and meditation methods are built around the kosha model and are designed to strengthen and harmonize each layer.

The physical body or “anumaya kosha” in Sanskrit, is the first and most obvious layer.  Anumaya kosha literally means the “food sheath”. It is constituted by the food that we consume.  Eventually, our physical body will become food for other creature -and thus the wheel of physical nature turns.

Eventually, our physical body will become food for other creature -and thus the wheel of physical nature turns.

Maintaining the health of the physical body, whether through diet, ayurvedic principles, asana or other forms of exercise will vitalize the physical body, prevent disease and prepare us for the journey within.

Pranamaya kosha, the second layer, is constituted by pranic-energy.  This energy is non-material though it influences the workings of the physical body.  Chinese medicine draws upon pranic principles through the use of acupuncture, which stimulate pranic-meridians to affect changes in physical health.  The sun is the ultimate source of pranic energy for life on earth -its invisible rays bathe the planet in life giving warmth.

The sun is the ultimate source of pranic energy for life on our planet
-its invisible rays bathe the earth in life giving warmth.

Prana is also present in the air that we breath and can be optimized through yogic breathing methods called pranayama.  Pranayama practices such as the yogic breath, alternate nostril breathing and kapalabhati are designed to increase the health and vitality of the second sheath.

One of the simplest ways to regulate the pranamaya kosha is by extending the inhalation and exhalation and making them as subtle and smooth as possible.  Aim to create a sustainable rhythm of breath. You can even integrate this practice into the postures, make each pose, or transition between poses, as a kind of breath meditation, become a connoisseur of respiration and sensation.

Think of it this way…

  1. Quality of breath first.
  2. Posture second.

Pranamaya kosha can attune our physical body and influence the third body, manamaya kosha, the mental/sensorial sheath. Manamaya kosha is the instinctual, reflexive aspect of our mind that is designed to keep us safe.  It tells us when we are thirsty and allows us to absentmindedly drive from point A to point B without any recollection of the journey. It also processes input from our five senses.

Western culture is entrenched in sensorial stimulation. Examples of this include having one dozen tv screens at a pub/restaurant, violent video games, or simple trying to manage so many life responsibilities that leave one unable to sleep at night.  Excessive exposure to these forces generate craving for further stimulation and ultimately leaves one’s mental/sensorial body depleted.

Excessive exposure to these forces generates the craving for further stimulation
and ultimately leaves one’s mental/sensorial body depleted.

Nourishing manamaya kosha requires being selective of the kinds of impressions we feed our mind.  Fortunately, there are many yogic techniques for replenishing the mental body such as the meditation kriyas, repetition of mantra (called japa), and pratayaha (sense withdrawal practices).

As a simple recommendation, abstain from the use of electronics for at least an hour and a half before bed to ensure deeper rest. Spend time absorbing the sights, sounds and feel of the natural world. We can also replenish our mind through meaningful work and fulfilling relationships.  Start a regular meditation practice.

Tantric-yoga informally designates these first three bodies as one-singular-body, because they are most obviously interrelated.  How we move and position our physical body (through asana) influences the quality of our breath. How we breath directly informs the quality of our thoughts.  And our level of awareness will inturn support us in becoming more sensitive to the needs of the body. Most modern yoga practitioners operate at the level of these first three koshas, gradually purifying their awareness so that they can develop the inner faculty to perceive the final two sheaths.

The remaining two bodies, vijanamaya kosha, the body of higher knowledge and undeterred will, and anandamaya kosha, the body of bliss, lye beyond the limitations of our rational cognitive mind. The methodical practice of yoga gradually reveals the light and power of these deeper dimensions of our being and lead to spiritual realization.

Whether we consciously recognize it or not,
each of the five koshas are perpetually in motion

Whether we consciously recognize it or not, each of the five koshas are perpetually in motion,  The process of yoga helps us to become sensitive to their presence and bring optimal health to each body.

If you have a desire to learn more about each of these koshas (including the final two) I invite you to attend our upcoming workshop on Saturday, June 28th from 9-3:30 where we will discuss each kosha further and do enjoining practices for each.  Handouts provided.

KOSHA WORKSHOP:
Saturday, June 28th from 9-3:30
3250 E. Sixth Ave.  Denver
(Inside of the church -upstairs)
Good Will Offering $75-150

REGISTER HERE

Five Poses for the Summer Season!

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Five Postures for the Summer Season!

Summer is in full swing!

There is so much to appreciate about this season; spending time outdoors, being more adventurous, travel and doing yoga on the deck!

Yoga teaches us that we are not separate from our environment. Our constitution is powerfully influenced by the seasons as is our temperament and disposition.  Certain seasons draw out different aspects of our being. Other environmental forces such as the people we hang out with or the food that we eat also influence us.

Sometimes things get out of balance, we experience disease or distress. One way that we can prevent such imbalance is to adapt our yoga practice to the season.

Summer asks us to be outside and spend time in the heat of the sun.  All of this is generally very healthy though it is important to off set some of this tendency with counter measures; the same way you might do “counter poses” to bring balance in asana practice.

Whether we recognize it our not, the mind and body are already constantly reacting/responding to environmental pressures. Intentionally adapting our practice helps us to adjust to the season in a way that prevents imbalance and promotes our greater wellbeing.

Five Key Cooling Postures:

I encourage you to adopt these postures 3-4 times a week, perhaps even more if you are spending additional time in the heat.  Remove any sense of urgency from the quality of your practice as you dedicate a minimum of 20 minutes to these postures in a room-temperature environment.

 

  • Generally speaking, forward folds are a boon for cooling the body, particularly when combined with longer holds (2-3 minutes).  Simple examples of these postures include paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) and upavistha-konasana (seated wide foot pose).

 

  • Sometimes billed as the “mother of all asanas” I recommend making time for salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand).  Use the support of 2-3 folded blankets under the shoulders when going into the full posture to protect your neck or simple do ¾ shoulder stand in which the legs are not directly over the torso, rather the weight is shift back over the wrists and elbows.

 

  • Balasana, child’s pose.  This is a great pose in general for renewal and quieting the mind, particularly if we stay in it for 2-3 minutes.  Tip! When placing the forehead on the ground see that this skin is dragged down towards the eyebrows as opposed to lifted up towards the hairline.

 

  • Gentle backbends on stomach, such as shalabhasana . Because these postures require some additional effort, it is important to maintain relaxed awareness while practicing them.  

    According to ayurveda and yoga, the navel is regarded as the seat of the fire element in the body.  Generally speaking, poses that put pressure on this region help to “disperse” excess heat from the body.

 

  • Reclined twists.  Who doesn’t love an extended twist at the backend of practice?  Spend about a minute on each side to enhance the effect.

 

The more we practice yoga the more sensitive we become to outer influences and our inner world.  We learn to create balance between these two powerful realms and live in a greater state of integration.  An experienced teacher can give you further guidance about how to best integrate these postures and give additional suggestions.  I encourage you to supplement your practice with these postures to cultivate greater harmony during the summer season.

 

In Peace,

Derik

 

 

Are You Dedicated in Practice?

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

How often do we ask ourselves “Am I dedicated?”

Almost by definition, yoga is limitless.  Yoga helps us live more skillfully in the world and ultimately, move beyond the constraints of an embodied life.

From that perspective, all life experience is an opportunity to practice a yogic lifestyle and mindset.  The art of a yogic life begins when we roll up the mat or get off of the cushion. Formal practice is a bridge into the true test of our day to day interactions.

Generally speaking, the more we apply ourselves to dedicated, regular practice the more integrated our life becomes and we experience a greater degree of fulfillment.  Magic!

However, it is not always so simple.  Life circumstances and distracting habits can undermine our ability to practice.  It’s easy to get “caught up”. No matter how distracting our circumstances may have become, the spirit and promise of yoga is still there, patiently waiting.  It’s like the sun, who continues to shine regardless of how thick the clouds may be.

Here are four tips to help you engage in your practice more fully:

Treat Practice as a Duty

Baba Hari Dass, one of my primary teachers, stated that sadhana (one’s dedicated spiritual practice) is a “duty”.  From this perspective, yoga is less about a positive emotional experience as it is about being inwardly resourced so that we can tend to all of our life-responsibilities from a place of balance, dedication and aliveness.  He emphasized being committed to the process more so than attachment to the fruits of our efforts.

Sustainable Practice

Yoga is more like a marathon than a sprint race -it takes time to mature in the practice.  And like any discipline the more we practice the more adept we become. Consistency is the key.  This equation becomes remarkably simple when we commit to practicing, no matter how small, every day.  This approach will completely eliminate “tomorrow syndrome” and build momentum over time.

Encouragement

Admittedly, there are days when I feel less inclined to practice, days when the warmth of my sheets starts to overshadow my desire to be my best self.  It is in these moments I give myself a nudge by simply reminding myself that I will be much better off for having practiced, that “I will be glad I did it”.

Oftentimes it is the first few steps that are the most difficult and a sense of appreciation soon sets in, having surmounted the proverbial “mind over mattress”.  The next step to get to the sink and splash some cold water on my face. Works every time!

Seek Support

Getting outside support is beneficial for seasoned practitioners and beginners alike.  Support can look a lot of different ways though ideally it entails being in the physical presence of an adept teacher with whom you resonate.  There you will also find and receive the support of fellow and kindred yogis who are also on the path.

Ideally, this happens as frequently as possible.  For those who have an established home sadhana practice, and for whom their teacher lives far away, this could look like making the trip once every six months.

Of course, the proliferation of yoga studios also makes attending a regular class very accessible.  Or consider enrolling in a more advanced workshop, retreat or committing to an extended training.

In Closing….

Yoga, by its very nature, is intended to help us live more embodied lives and propels us to be the best version of ourselves.  Of course, the path is rarely a straight line as we traverse the varied landscape of our lives.  Regular practice with the support of community is the means by which we mature as yogis and bring the teachings into our everyday lives.

 

 

 

You’re Invited! 300 Hour Open House

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s upcoming 300-hour yoga teacher training. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends!

When: Sunday, April 22 9:30-11am & Thursday, May 17 5:30-6:45pm
Where: Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs (3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver 80206)

 

 

Why Study Yoga Anatomy?

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Anatomy is the study of the structure and function of the human body, broken down into its parts. Anatomy is the study of the components that create a unified whole.

If you wanted to become a great artist, you would want to know how to blend colors. You would need to know the component parts of yellow and blue, if you wanted to paint something green. If you want to move your body in a complex movement, you would want to know the structure and function of the parts of the body involved in the movement.

For instance, if you were trying to learn that cool thing that good cooks do where they flip the food into the air from a sauté pan and catch it again, someone may tell you “it’s just a flick of the wrist.” Once you start focusing on the little wrist flick you need to create this movement, you find yourself flipping flapjacks with ease. A little anatomical thought goes a long way.

As a kid, when you first start sneaking around or trying not to wake someone up, you are advised to “tip-toe” your way through the halls. At first this is awkward, but the body adapts quickly to the new movement. Learning to ride a bike you are told to “just keep pedaling,” and you’ve just learned a little bit about physics! A moving bike is easier to balance. In P.E. class, if you’ve ever done pull-ups and chin-ups, you may remember that pull-ups (palms facing you) are WAY easier than chin-ups (palms away). This is a straightforward anatomical fact, that you get to really use your biceps brachii muscle in a pull-up. It’s the same reason why all doors open by twisting to the right, or why it’s easier to tighten a screw or a lid than it is to open it (next time you have a lid on a jar that’s REALLY stuck, try opening it left handed! And try not to spill anything….).

Anatomy is relevant to all aspects of life.

You have a body. Any activity you want to accomplish is going to be carried out by your body (except of course in circumstances of disability, in which case your brain is still calling the shots, so neuro-anatomy suddenly becomes really important!).

Anatomy and fitness transformed my life.

There was about a decade of my life when my relationship with my body was one of constant abuse, resentment, and pain. This was while I suffered through drug and alcohol abuse. The only association I had with my body was negative. The only exception to that was using drugs to numb the pain of having a body. This was hell.

Drunk, hungover, shaking and sweating, fearfully I went to a yoga class. The teacher instructed me to do things like “push through the ball of my foot,” “take a deep breath,” or “sit up proud.” I had an experience of feeling like I accomplished something remarkable in that simple class. I made the monumental achievement of doing something positive with my body, and the effect was HUGE. I definitely cried through my sweat a few times, and in that sweet savasana at the end of class.

For the first time in AGES, I experienced a positive association with my body. I was hooked. I went to at least 12 classes in 7 days during my “FREE intro week”. I soon became absolutely fascinated with the amazing ability of yoga teachers to suggest doing some tiny and specific thing with my body, and how it yielded amazingly accurate results. I almost thought they were psychics for a second, the way they seemed to know my body better than I did!

For me, learning more and more about my body, my own chemistry, and about the structure and function of various parts of my body gave me new tools with which to explore the world. It taught me how to move fluidly, and pain free. It continues to teach me new ways to manage stress, and pain. It continues to baffle and inspire me, and make me wonder. It makes me want to share this with others.

Yoga is a process of self-inquiry. We seek to understand our mind better, so we can find a state of inner peace or happiness. When the body is in pain, or it is anxious or depressed, it is nearly impossible to find inner peace. First we must take care of our body.

The amazing thing is – sometimes in moments of deeply concentrated movement and effort, the inner stillness and profound sense of peace and wellbeing just arises from nowhere, like it was buried deep in the knots and tangled fibers of your soft tissues, and just by moving and stretching and breathing and laughing and flowing, this inner peace suddenly springs forth from its imprisonment and overwhelms you with its transformational power.

This is why I study movement and anatomy. It’s a gateway to a subtler understanding of our deep inner nature.

 

Keep moving

-Anthony
Axis Yoga Trainings Graduate