Teacher Training weekend 6 recap

This past weekend was our sixth weekend together. The asana focus was on seated poses, primarily twists and forward folds. These poses are important for everyone, although they are often not given the same amount of attention as the other pose groups. Seated poses are important for creating and maintaining openness in the hips. It is hard for many people to sit on the floor and we have limited mobility in the hip joints due to constantly sitting in chairs. So work on this can help to keep us healthy through old age. 

On Friday night we reviewed the pranayama exercises that we’ve learned so far. We started our pranayama practice with kappalabhati, which is a kriya, or cleansing practice, to clear the nasal passages. Kappalabhati works by a forceful exhale with strong contraction of the abdominal muscles followed by a passive inhale that results from the release of the abdominal muscles rather than the engagement of the diaphragm. It’s a practice that effectively reverses the normal pattern of breathing which is active inhale followed by passive exhale. It is common to feel lightheaded the first few times you practice kappalabhati. Then the students taught ujjayi, sama vritti, kumbhaka, nadi shodhana and 3 part breath. Most of the breathing patterns were review from previous weekends

On Saturday we began the day with a class designed to create opening in the hips for seated poses. We worked on low lunge, hamstrings, and outer hips. The seated poses that we worked on in this class included firelog, half lord of the fishes pose and wide-legged forward fold. In the afternoon, we continued with our work on seated poses. We discussed virasana (hero’s pose), dandasana (staff), paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) and upavistha konasana (wide-legged forward bend). These poses are all symmetrical in the sense that both legs are doing the same thing. And the broad principles of seated poses apply here. In these poses, we begin with a focus on the pelvis. The pelvis should be tilted forward so that you are sitting on the front edge of your sits bones, which will help you to create a sense of ease in your lower back. For some people, it is necessary to sit on a block or a blanket so that the knees are beneath the hips. Once you have found the correct orientation of your pelvis, then move your attention up your torso and your spine. Breathe into the back of the rib cage and don’t push your chest too far forward. Position your chin beneath your forehead and try to breathe with ease. 

When folding forward in a seated pose, the primary action should happen in the pelvis tilting forward relative to the femur bones, which will stretch the hamstrings. At this stage, you should still feel your back muscles engaging. It is ok to round the back, as long as you keep that awareness of engagement and don’t go so far as to strain your back. When taking a twist, it is also important to find a small bit of movement in the pelvis. Most of the twist happens in the thoracic spine, but starting the movement by turning the hips in that direction doesn’t hurt, and it can help to ease strain in the lower back, which does not have much twisting ability. 

On Sunday morning, the students taught mini-classes in groups of 2 or 3. Each class was about 40 minutes long and included an intro, warm-up, standing sequence, backbend and two seated poses. The instruction to the students was to focus on hands on assists. So they practiced adjustments that they had learned earlier and got a chance to review different techniques. On weekend 6, it is nice to  see that the students are doing a good job of integrating sequencing, alignment cues, verbal instruction and hands on assists. Teaching is as much of a practice as asana or meditation, and it needs constant attention to grow.

On Sunday afternoon we discussed Pema Chodron’s book. This is a book that is full of wisdom and lessons for dealing with the events of life without getting too caught up in the drama of them. Pema uses personal stories to both humanize her and illustrate examples of how we suffer and what we can do about it. The discussion this weekend seemed to center around the difficult people and situations in our lives. We talked about responding with compassion rather than anger and not letting ourselves be pulled in by the negative energy. 

We ended our weekend with a special evening class designed to prepare the body for rest and sleep. There were lots of deep, stretchy poses followed by some restorative poses. 

Our next weekend is coming up quickly - less than 2 weeks away. In six weeks, these students will all be yoga teachers! Until then, enjoy some pictures from weekend 6:
IMG_20170114_153318338Vivian and Helen practicing nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing.
IMG_20170114_181136958Students spent time this weekend practicing their hands on assists, which is one of the harder aspects of
teaching for many people.

IMG_20170115_123343455Student teaching in full force this weekend! Be on the look out for some standout teachers in just a couple of months!IMG_20170115_172628750Vivian demonstrating a solid bound lotus pose!
IMG_20170115_174330524Elisha has been working on wheel pose ever since our backbending weekend (and probably before)! She is finally able to push up on her own. Just keep practicing! 
IMG_20170114_173946569Beautiful Ganesh artwork by Vivian. Look for these in our boutique soon!