Monday, May 30, 2016

Gulnaaz Workshop in Vancouver

heading back to dallas after some amazing natural beauty of planet earth and an incredible workshop with Gulnaaz.

What strikes me is her love of Guruji and the tremendous responsibility she and all the wonderful teachers who have studied with Guruji feel to present his teachings to us, she was constantly saying 'am i clear' , 'do you understand', we must teach the new students from the beginning so when the teacher says sirsasana they don't get a room of people saying 'i dont do', 'i cant do', we all have issues. I have a pain here it goes away and shows up there, i travel around my body, its all right here, the issue is not do i have an issue it is how do i work to resolve that issue. what does it teach me of how i was working where there was weakness.

do you understand, have any concept of Guruji's practice before the picture in LOY or his practice after that picture, you like to say 'sthira sukham asanam' you like it on t-shirts, it is nice, but Guruji lived sthira sukham asanam

she taught with no props, none all weekend, the room cleared of props, when you reach for a prop you must know why, even our hands, moving our legs into janu sirsasana without our hands for placing the leg with motion several times. yesterday she said triang mukha ekapadasana and smiled and said yes i see you thinking now what do i do, ok get a blanket or what you need to find balance. all weekend emphasizing the eyes forward not wandering sides of the neck relaxed, head amazing workshop

Saturday, May 28, 2016

 Gulnaaz Dashti

 I am in Vancouver for Gulnaaz, she is amazing, a force of nature, joyful smiling yet a force is there, her instructions full of depth. 

Last night she taught how to protect the neck in Sirsasana, Guruji called the neck a bridge, the neck the bridge between the torso and brain, between the heart and the mind, beginning with Tadasana, a very long Tadasana, 'chin back, outer shoulders back, elbows straight, you are bored you are getting tired... are you playacting at Tadasana, if there is dhyana you know that Tadasana is not boring' one of her main instructions was for the eyes to look straight ahead and not waver if she walks by, if a fly flies by, maintain the eyes looking straight ahead, she said if you place the head in sirsasana and the eyes look to the side the neck is affected, you go up with that misalignment it does not have to be a large move of the head to the side, this was amazingly difficult, I am not sure how long we were in Tadasana, but that instruction alone, to not let the eyes wander ...  

Adho Mukha Svanasana - releasing the neck while lifting the side torso

 In ardha sirsasana and urdhva prasarita eka padasana sirsasana, these you move through you don't take time and see, we took time to see lots and lots of time to see :) as if there is a nail near the dorsal move it in move away from the nail, you are waiting for the words go up or come down, either will do, both easier 

Prasarita Padottanasana with the emphasis on Prasarita, groin work in Upavistha Konasana 10x urdhva hastasana hands forward to floor, 10th time stop crawl forward again 10x starting where the hands crawled and baddha konasana 5x then back to upavistha konasana 10x, then Prasarita Padottanasana again, you don't mind wide legs in Upavistha Konasana yet you don't want to do in Prasarita Padottanasana, spread the buttocks to the side from the midline lift from the arch to the groin, outer heel press down

'i was nice today, be ready to work tomorrow'  - headed to day 2

Friday, April 29, 2016


 I am still thinking about a workshop I attended weeks ago at a studio that did not teach Iyengar yoga.

 I was sitting on my mat before class when a student put her mat beside mine and i looked over, she appeared to be around 10 but since her mom wasn't with her i will adjust that estimate to 19. I said something to her about Roger Cole and she said 'I don't even know who the teacher is, i am in the teacher training and it's required we are here'...  there was so much wrong with that statement for me that every muscle in my face froze.

  I will skip over my thought of getting up and going over to offer to create a diversion if he would like to make a run for it and move to the other thing, her slumping posture .

 Looking at her sitting in this way caused me to have a flashback to many years ago when i attended a workshop with a teacher who followed me around beating on my back while screaming obscenities (jk), at one point i looked up and the teacher was standing in front of me holding 2 long poles while their eyes calculated the cost/benefit ratio of sending someone to the store to buy super glue to have them permanently attached to my back. They discarded that thought, handed them to me, told me to put them across my upper back, under my armpits and hold them with my hands toward the ends, there was an implied 'for the rest of your life'.

 All of this caused the words 'If that teacher was here, they would be stalking you' to want to come out of my mouth so i started silently saying 'no, no don't say that' to myself while choking back a fit of the giggles that was trying to bubble up. My brain finally chipped in and i said 'he's great, you'll love him' as i turned back to the front while patting myself on the back for not grabbing her by both arms and yelling 'promise me you will attend class every week with roger cole for 2 years before you ever teach a class, promise me, promise me, promise me'. This took so much restraint on my part, i felt i deserved some kind of great restraint medal. She however did not look like she was planning our shopping trip to help me choose fabric for the ribbon on my cool new medal, she looked more like she was thinking 'how on earth did i end up sitting by this weird woman with the facial tic'.

 The point, as if there is one, is that i keep wondering how i would react to sitting in a class and have someone slumping walk in to teach. This is going to happen to students somewhere when she receives her piece of paper, 200 hrs, 500 hrs, whatever is not enough to reverse a lifetime of bad posture.  I don't actually notice my teacher's posture (they probably all just yelled 'why don't you start' in unison), they're not overly rigid like military nor are they slumped, there is no extreme to make me think what is up with their posture, they simply stand up straight.

 There was a time i would have said no way would i stay for the class but now i know that is not true. I sit in class while Geetaji instructs us to do the exact opposite of what she is doing, at the last yoganusasanum she spent a long time teaching the actions of the feet while her feet were doing the exact opposite, she even said nobody say then why are her feet like that, so i know that if Geetaji was slumping I would still feel grateful to attend her class. Which leaves me wondering just how i would react, i really have no idea so i am thinking i need to have that experience to know. I am now on the constant lookout for a 19 yr old slumping iyengar yoga teacher and I will let you know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


 I find even in smaller groups, say the Iyengar community, I spend so much time disagreeing with most of what people say i could write a blog about it..oh wait..

 I have found sequences to be an odd thing. I have never thought they are owned, I guess they could be considered intellectual property but for me Nope Never has that thought crossed my mind. Once taught if i experienced as a student, heard, read, watched, was told...I have always felt they were something to be shared, like

Bikram a few years back decided he owned a sequence and tried to copywrite it, which caused people to put him down because after all you can't own a sequence. Prashant Iyengar stated the below in an interview at the time:

'Vanessa Calder, chairperson, OSYU, said, "One cannot copyright, or own in any manner, an exercise routine."
Traditional proponent of yoga, Prashant Iyengar, son of the legendary BKS Iyengar, also rejected the idea of any form of trademark or ownership over yoga. "We are not teaching a new brand of yoga, though our pupils like to call it 'Iyengar Yoga.' We are following the age-old traditional methods of yoga given by Patanajali. We can't claim ownership or name it separately; this is traditional knowledge, it is eternal, it can't be claimed by an individual," he said.'
and i knew nobody in the Iyengar community who disagreed
But yoganusasanam Geetaji stated people could not take notes during the event, i thought she was going to end that statement with 'because it is distracting from ones practice' but no she said 'it's stealiing', I literally groaned, now the sequence is a possession, owned ,mine mine mine. I recently heard from someone who said a teacher had stated not to share a sequence they taught, mine mine mine. What were they saying about Bikram at that time, 'darn why didn't I think of that first' since now they are knocking on the same door
I used to email friends sequences i found or wrote down. I then wrote a program and key the sequences in where I can share sequences with those same friends. I have never asked a teacher if i could share their sequences because i have never believed they owned them, this is no different to me then us all meeting for lunch and me saying oh let me tell you what was taught yesterday, it is limited to the lunch group. However through the process of creating the site it took me about 5 minutes to find I don't think like others.
On one side there are the teachers, if you write my sequence down you are stealing and don't share, and on the other are students who also have an amazing attachment to sequences. I have never thought wow that was a great sequence, i will love it and cuddle it and keep it close, it's to enjoy, practice and share that's it, there is no deeper meaning in my heart for it.
I am at a total loss on the sequence thing. If you share a sequence you still have it and it has not been diminished in any way, I have also never thought oh now that i have seen a list of asanas on a piece of paper i never need to attend a class by that teacher since that experience is exactly the same as the other, so it doesn't affect the teacher in any way that i can see.
I have heard Laurie Blakeney say she didn't care if people wrote/shared sequences because she didn't own it, it's not hers. Arunji has also stated that what he teaches is not his, as they both have said, it all comes from Guruji. I believe lately there is some shift from this.
so I put my program on the web to make sharing with a small group of friends easy and when i pay for the site they constantly ask me if i want ,for just a little more they could move it up in the google search hits and I always say NO I don't want it found, they are usually a little surprised..'uh you don't want your site found' and i reply NO while thinking 'you have no idea'

Monday, February 29, 2016

 Jawahar Bangera

 I attended a workshop this weekend with Jawahar who i had never taken from. It was amazing. I will share a couple things he showed us this weekend.

When i was in sirsasana, i was directly across the room from Otelia, her pose was sorta hard to watch, it was crooked in a way that looked uncomfortable, anyway he told her she was doing the pose from the lumbar and had her come down, the next day as we were preparing for sirsasana he walked over to her and he told her  instead of having her hands cupped for her head, to press the palms together, when she went up...night and day, truly unbelievable!

 I am telling you, this pic below has absolutely nothing in common to what she had been doing...night and day! she said he told her it was for her shoulders, just wow

We did gomukasana work using the rope wall, he said if you are right handed when the right arm is the bottom arm its usually more difficult

top arm: fingers in rope thumb out 

 you must walk away to get the rope pull for the armpit/shoulder opening
 then walk a little toward wall to bring hand to back position 

bottom arm: thumb in rope fingers out, again use the pull of the rope

its nice to take top arm over once the bottom is complete, when you again do in the center of the room there is a noticeable improvement in the shoulders and firmness of the hand grasp

and then there was Virabhadrasana I

there is 1 bent leg and 1 bending leg, the front leg is bent the back leg is bending, the back leg must be straight the work of quadriceps just above the knee move back,  the initial turn comes from the outer hip of the back leg

even if the heel is on the floor, if the ankle of the back leg is turning out you need to be on the 5 year plan, in 5 years you will have the heel on the floor

Place block at the wall,  heel on block, the bone of the heel, crush the block as the front knee bends you should press more, every year come down 1/5 

to change legs - step the foot on the block forward beside the front foot, now move the front foot back to the block. When you look back at the block to step the front foot back, it looks like its about a mile away.  He said it shows you that you always decrease the distance, this teaches the tendency to shorten and short change the second side

 so many wonderful instructions and observations to absorb.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Roger Cole

I am in La Jolla for a 1 day workshop with Roger Cole, I have attended his class in Del Mar a few times but this is the first all day event i have been to. It was held at a studio which was not an Iyengar studio and he was brought in as part of their teacher training. It was really interesting watching him teach a room full of students who had never done Iyengar yoga, he had slides and spoke about BKS Iyengar leaving me even more grateful to have started a path of yoga in the sphere of such a genius, as Roger Cole explained his use of props to find integrity in the pose, alignment is a technique for equanimity.

The morning session was more active, several things stood out. watching people who had never done sarvangasana on support. He asked someone to demonstrate who regularly did the asana without support and who loved the asana. Then showed that her neck and shoulders looked good but the torso and legs were not straight so he put her on height and had her go back up to show, she said she felt she would fall over without him there, so interesting not just the alignment change but someone who does the pose and who is obviously flexible but finding and keeping the alignment made it so much more difficult for her.

 My favorite from the morning was Virabhadrasana I - him showing the tadasana pelvis being kept as the legs stepped apart, keeping 1 hand on the sit bone of the back leg side and 1 hand across the torso on the front hip bone keeping the same relationship of tadasana, raise the heel and bend the front leg keeping tadasana, he said almost everyone bent the back leg because the back leg wants to bend but the quadricep of the back leg must be engaged strongly to keep the leg straight, he said when the back leg bent it was like walking over to the wall outlet and pulling the plug, all the energy goes out of the pose.

The afternoon was restorative, he studies the physiology of relaxation so he had ekg's, eeg's, brain waves, heart rate graphs during a restorative practice... all of the science just made me more astounded at BKS Iyengar. He said he believed viparita karani was one of the most relaxing things a human could do from his perspective as a scientist, other forms of yoga do vip karani, it is in the ancient texts,  but only Iyengar yoga used the configuration with the pelvis supported in this way. Him explaining inversions triggering the blood pressure sensor in the neck, the sensor sending the message to the brain that the blood pressure has increased which has the brain enlarging the arteries and lowering the heart rate to bring the blood pressure down so that inversions, when in a calm mind state, lowers blood pressure, and Guruji knew all of this from experience ... wow. How stretching has an immediate reaction of causing the brain to contract the muscle, staying in a gentle stretch leaves you more relaxed as the impulses get weaker over time.

the teacher does not have to walk a student deeper and deeper into a state of deep relaxation, you just need to get the student to the tipping point as it tips a little more relaxation takes over and relaxation progresses by itself

prasarita padottanasana - forehead supported, if head to the floor be on crown, if flexible uttanasana head supported

dwi pada - blocks on lowest height, 1 block horizontal under pelvis 1 block verticle under shoulders, belt mid thighs

setu bandha - 2 blankets shelf fold in half lengthways end to end, legs torso on blankets mid calf belted

supta baddha konasana - 2 blankets lengthways fold stacked, 1 lengthwise fold folded in half for head support, blanket folded over feet under thighs

I was fascinated that someone explaining what BKS Iyengar gave to the subject to a non-iyengar group was every bit as astounding as any teacher talking about Guruji's gift to an Iyengar class, it will always give me pause to really try to understand the depth of this mans accomplishments

Monday, February 8, 2016



I attended a 1 hour knee class with Lois Steinberg while she was in Dallas yesterday picking up her cat, Greg gave her cat treats as a gift and she was thrilled :)

The class was a quick demonstration on the use of the knee rods - she had them for sale with her new knee book which also shows the rods.

The short rods come in a set of 4 rods (2 per knee) and 4 short belts - the set cost $65 from her, the long rods which she said started cutting into her leg for longer practice are more $, not sure of the price but i could see where i could use that for, as she showed, the side of the outer lower leg (where the dent is along the side) which i have had a huge problem with aching there but its much better but anyway... the rods are to get the knee joint totally straight, the joint being straight will allow blood flow and help in healing, she said for Guruji's 75th birthday (if i haven't confused stories) a girl was there with a stiff leg which would not bend as a result of a medical procedure gone wrong and Guruji still straightened it more before bending - so a practice would be straight leg poses then bent leg. Before the rods she would use rolled mat with the belts.

she went person to person telling them your knees go in , go out, this knee does this that one that....mine go in

Here's what we did:

1) Supta Tadasana

 are you looking at me?
Experienced students: heels on blanket roll, belt the rods on either side of the knee cap, up against the knee cap, belt the rods in place with the buckle of the belt on the inner rod (this helps hold it in place), the belt tail should be where it is tightened inward, weight on the thighs (she uses 75 lbs), belt mid thighs mid shins

Less experienced: very small blanket roll under knees, heels on floor, the blanket roll should not get knees to bend, rods belts the same as above




2) Legs up the wall - foam with sandbag on feet



3) Dandasana - sacrum at wall, feet press against foam held by partner so there is pressure from both sides (sacrum/feet) - heels elevated on blanket roll

4) Virabhadrasana II - if there is knee pain from the weight in the front knee in this pose: front foot on block, toes up wall, block between shin and wall, action move the shin block up the wall