Monday, April 18, 2011

Toronto Yoga Conference 2011- Day Two

Photo credit
In the Garden space, I joined the crowd in time to see Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman hypnotize everyone with their half-hour demo.  Rodney always takes time to wander the floor and make adjustments, offering his personal touch. Colleen usually offers insights from the stage. This time she read from Herman Hesse' Siddartha:
Siddhartha listened. He was now nothing but a listener, completely concentrated on listening, completely empty, he felt, that he had now finished learning to listen. Often before, he had heard all this, these many voices in the river, today it sounded new. Already, he could no longer tell the many voices apart, not the happy ones from the weeping ones, not the ones of children from those of men, they all belonged together, the lamentation of yearning and the laughter of the knowledgeable one, the scream of rage and the moaning of the dying ones, everything was one, everything was intertwined and connected, entangled a thousand times. And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all that was good and evil, all of this together was the world. All of it together was the flow of events, was the music of life. And when Siddhartha was listening attentively to this river, this song of a thousand voices, when he neither listened to the suffering nor the laughter, when he did not tie his soul to any particular voice and submerged his self into it, but when he heard them all, perceived the whole, the oneness, then the great song of the thousand voices consisted of a single word, which was Om: the perfection.
On Day Two I took in more sessions: 
Lee, Rizopoulos and Martin all touched on how to work safely in poses to avoid injury.  Lee mentioned she is seeing the same types of injuries all over the world: overworked shoulders, torn hamstrings, damaged wrists and twisted knees. Compared to the gentle postures of the early 70's, the yoga we're doing is pretty intense and extreme.  Done without full attention or poor instruction, yoga can result in injury. Rizopoulos made similar observations.  This was all reinforced when people in the 'Ow' class took colourful band-aids and put them on the spots they'd suffered sprains or strains in the past 2 years.

It is widely acknowledged teachers themselves have different levels of skill, and many are adamant about their approach to posture until time or experience prove otherwise. Bottom line, if you notice something isn't right, don't persist. 

Some specific tips for avoiding injuries in downdog

- don't spread the fingers too widely, keep the baby finger in line with palm (Lee)
- don't work to bring the shoulder blades down the back (a common instruction), look instead to be long in the torso (Rizopoulos)

Photo credi
Rizopoulos also recommended a safe way to work the mid-back in a back bend.  I tried it, and could feel it doing its job:  take baby cobra position, with hands as close to side as possible (near lower ribs); and as you lift your torso off the floor, also lift your hands, keeping them in position but floating them an inch or two above the floor.  In this way you strengthen your back muscles instead of relying on your arms to do the work.

This was part of a two-hour session that presented a sequence that culminated with the pose Cosmic Dancer:

Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Baby Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Up Dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)
Bow (Dhanura-asana)
Headstand (salamba sirsasana)
Cosmic Dancer (Natrajasana)

 Lucky for me, the following day at my regular studio YCT was a restorative class!


Giulia said...

Well, I admit that I only came over to say: Rodney can adjust me anytime:) I use his DVDs. Julie the Cat loves his voice. It's so funny. Her yoga practice is, of course, perfect & innate.

Diane said...

lol Giulia
I was tempted to say he was once dubbed the 'stud muffin guru'... you know it was quite a scandal when they left their spouses of 20+ years for each other.