Saturday, April 3, 2010

Toronto Yoga Conference 2010 - Part 3

My knowledge of anatomy is sadly lacking.  Thank goodness my body doesn't need 'me' to run the autonomic system or else we'd really be in trouble!  What a miracle we walk around in, this collection of skin & bones & muscles & ligaments. (illustration at right is from the book Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga)

"We must take care of the body because otherwise where would we live," said Aadil Palkhivala,  adding that asana/pranayama is only one part of yoga. Iyengar was his teacher for many decades, and sent him to the U.S. to  help spread the practise of yoga.

Aadil wrote Fire of Love  to promote living with integrity and finding joy in small things. On the editorial board at Yoga Journal, he is known as a "teacher of teachers," and there were many in the room.   A doctor, and past lawyer with a degree in math, he also trained his voice as an opera singer for a few years.  The classes with him were enjoyable.  He laughed a lot.  And hummed and sung.  And quoted poetry. And peppered his classes with interesting stories, like the famous unnamed Hollywood actress who remained unhappy, despite all her good fortune.  Or the Olympic weightlifter who later became a priest.  

Aadil taught his Hip Series that works the hips with six series of movement:  inner rotation & outer rotation / adduction & abduction / flexion and extension.  The moves help release tension in the psoas, which tends to contract throughout the day as we react - even subconsciously - to stressors.  He talked about lifting the bottom of the belly and side of the waist, an instruction that worked well for me in all the poses.

It seemed twists were everywhere - in Aadil's classes, in the Yin Yoga, & with Seane Corn.  I tend to avoid them, not so much for physiological reasons, but because Iyengar had contraindicated them for anxiety, and I do asana to relax.  But twists can be exceptionally beneficial because they help the spine to lengthen & decompress in a way other poses simply can't.  Twists also stimulate the organic/digestive body.  Aadil put it nicely when he talked about the energy of spirals, with twists helping to release the energy blocked in the spine. (image at left is from

Martin Kirk had a few tips for headstand that were very helpful.   When clasping the hands, don't try to 'lock' the baby fingers, and "keep space for a lemon" in between your palms.  Use the heels of your hands to press into the back of your head, and press the wrists strongly into the floor. Focus on the roof of your mouth when inverted.  Spread your toes.  And when coming out of headstand, do it slowly, unfolding yourself, keeping your neck and side body long as you do so.

Again this year, I had the privilege of sampling different styles of yoga:  anasura, kundalini, Purna, Yin, Vinyasa.  By the end of the four days I was indeed "tender around the edges," as Seane Corn phrased it.  She also said, "Thank goodness there are so many styles of yoga, because there are so many different kinds of people."

Lots to mull over, think about, and most importantly, to "put into practise".

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