Archive for the ‘Women’s Yoga’ Category

Merida, Mexico

January 2, 2016

Workshop at Namasté Yoga.

This student came into class with a migraine.

While the rest of the class followed the workshop program…

….she practiced a series of seated forward bends: Adho Mukha Virasana, Adho Mukha Sukhasana, and Janu Sirsasana with long holdings. These three simple forward bends (start with the head supported on a level with the chest) are very effective when dealing with migraine headaches.

In the menopause workshop, we practiced Cross Ropes Adho Mukha Svanasana, placing the crown of the head on a support to keep the brain quiet and cool.

Uttitha Trickonasana facing the wall. Sciatic pain is very common during menopause as the groins can become hard and the abdominal muscles tense at this stage. To avoid sciatica, open the front leg pelvis toward the wall and roll the pubic bone up. Facing the wall provides support so that the pelvic organs can be brought into alignment — this is also helpful for those with fibroids, ovarian cysts or endometrial scar tissue.

Uttitha Trickonasana, with back to wall. This variation provides support from behind, so less energy is expended and less heat generated (such as hot flashes or the heat generated during menstruation). Brings life to the spine and hip joints. Facing out is helpful for women when menopause is over to avoid osteoporosis of the spine, shoulders and hip joints. Open the back leg hip and chest toward the wall.

Set up for Sarvangasana with three or (or four for a greater lift) blankets.

Sarvangasana. Come first to Halasana. To avoid collapsing at the base, clip the outer edges of the shoulder-blades in.

Press the outer, upper arms to the floor and lift the cervical spine away from the floor.

Sarvangasana: align the side body along the midline.

My host, Beatrize, with a student in Baddha Konasana in Hanging Sirsasana.

Merida

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Pretty doors.

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Weddings say so much about the culture of a place. The reception was held at the family ranch.

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Grand living in Merida.

© 2015 Bobby Clennell.

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Ottawa Workshop, June 19 – 22, 2015

September 16, 2015

 ELEMENTS and Koshas at Pathway Yoga, Ottawa.

According to yogic principles, everything in the universe, including our body, is made up of five subtle elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether (space).

Our own beings also comprise five “sheaths” or koshas; Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vignanomaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha. In this workshop, we explored and brought into balance our own unique expression of these forces. We learned where the koshas and elements meet and how these intersections informed our practice.

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In Uttitha Trickonasana, gripping the ankle too tightly, and not externally rotating that arm reduces your ability to move that shoulderblade down – and open that lung and breast.

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Supporting the hands on blocks introduces the element of space into Urdva Mukha Svanasana.

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In Adho Mukha Svanasana, experience the element of space and  access the length from wrist to outer hips by elevating the hands on blocks, then pulling back through the outer corners of the hips

 

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Ardha Chandrasana is a good pose for figuring out ones (primary) dosha. I came to the conclusion that this student was Pitta (fire). She was muscular, bony, angular, and her eyes bright.

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The fire element rules the back bends,

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Stamp your feet down to charge the element of fire in the spine.

The inversions are ruled by the element of air and space (ether). Extend the sitbones to the ceiling to activate and lengthen the anterior and lumbar spine.

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In Uttanasana, Vata (air and ether) types can pranasize the element of earth in the legs by using blocks and pushing against a belt.

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Kapha (earth) types can practice Uttanasana this way to break up inertia, tamas, and heaviness in the torso.

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In Uttanasana, Pitta (fire) types can cool the brain and reduce high blood pressure by supporting the head.

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We tend to “eat” space in the abdomen and chest when we practice the forward bends. Using the chair this way helps us elongate and reclaim the space from the hip sockets to the fingertips.

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Here is another way to introduce space into the body. An upward lift, arm strength, and awareness of the location of the pelvis has to come before you can get up into Sirsasana, Adho Mukha Vrksasana and Pincha Myorasana

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I get by with a little help from my friends.

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One of the poses we practiced in the Breast Health for Everyone workshop.

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In the Breast Health workshop we practiced poses that opened up the sides of the breasts.

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The lymph nodes congregate around the sides of, and above, the breasts and lungs.

© 2015 Bobby Clennell.

Guangzhou. November 20 – 23. 2014.

January 26, 2015

Free Breast Health class at The Iyengar Yoga Institute, Guangzhou, China.

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Around 90 women showed up for this class.

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They don’t use the term “breast cancer” here.

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The closest I could get to a translation was “breast displaisure”. But whatever term you use, it’s in the increase in China. There seem to be less mammograms here. Many of the women who showed up to this class said they had recieved ultrasounds.

Women’s Workshop

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Uttanasana. To minimise abdominal or armpit compression, keep your arms aligned with your torso as you fold forward into the pose.

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We imprinted the extension of the abdominal area as a way of dealing with, or avoiding abdominal scar tissue and ovarian cysts.

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For an excessive menstrual flow (more likely experienced by women going through menopause), take the support of the bench.

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This student found relief for her heavy menstrual flow in this pose.

Baddha Konasana. Sitting with the rope around the mid back trains the back muscles and the spine to play a supporting roll.

 

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This pose helps reduce menstrual pain caused by endometriosis (a well known condition in China).

 

© 2015 Bobby Clennell.

China, part 2

January 4, 2014

Huangzhou

Above is paradise below is Hangzhou
— Chinese saying dating from AD 618

Day one of my 3–day women's workshop. Photograph © Sophie Chou.

Day one of my 3–day women’s workshop. Photograph © Sophie Chou.

Virabhadrasana I has a lot to teach us about how to hold the lumbar spine in our backbend practice. Strapping a block to this region is a tactile reminder to not drop the lumbar spine forward into the abdomen. Photograph © Sophie Chou.

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) has a lot to teach us about how to hold the lumbar spine in our backbend practice. A block strapped to this region provides a tactile reminder to not drop the lumbar spine forward into the abdomen. Photograph © Sophie Chou.

Metal lotus flower rain-chain created by Japanese artist especially for the Lingyin Temple.

Metal lotus flower rain-chain created by a Japanese artist especially for the Lingyin temple (Temple of the Soul’s Retreat).

Hidden away beyond the back of the temple, there were lots of these old images fixed to the side of the buildings where the monks live.

Hidden away beyond the back of the Lingyin Temple were lots of these old images fixed to the side of the buildings where the monks live.

Another of these beautiful images.

Another of these beautiful etchings.

Carved stone Buddha.

A stone Buddha carved high up into the rocks.

Lotus grass.

Lotus grass.

© 2013 Bobby Clennell

Are Women Different?

April 30, 2013

Here’s an interesting question I was recently asked:

Q: I practice restorative poses only and don’t do inversions on my period, and this is what I teach my students as well. I understand the reasons behind this, even though I am not necessarily feeling unwell at that time of the month. My seed of doubt, though, is that until fairly recently all yoga practitioners were men (or so I understand). Do these prescriptions come just out of Ayurveda, or if not what is their original source? Even though I know it’s an entirely different system of thinking, there is this uncomfortable parallel with Victorian admonishments for women not to over exert themselves by, say, riding bicycles, lest they damage their reproductive systems.

A: That’s a good question that you ask. For the most part, the idea that women should modify their yoga practice during menstruation and indeed, throughout the month has been gratefully accepted by female yoga practitioners, athough some have responded with anger. Some women did not want to be told what to do and wanted to decide for themselves how to practice during menses. Personally, I would be lost without my wise teachers! In India, Geeta Iyengar sometimes admonishes the Western students for being unwilling to “come back to their nature as women” in their practice. She also berates her Indian women students for not being prepared to work as hard as – and for not being as courageous as – the western women students.

The fact is, to quote Geeta Iyengar, women’s physiology “has certain functions to perform”. We must understand that we are overtime going to deplete ourselves if we don’t acknowledge our cyclic nature. The truth is, the more we practice, the more subtle our alignments and adjustments of ourselves need to become. It’s not that we should not practice during menstruation but that our practice has to change. The more mature our practice becomes, the more sensitive we become to our ebbs and flows of energy.