Teacher Training weekend 2 recap

Our second weekend of teacher training this year coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. While the winds were blowing outside, we were snug in the back studio practicing standing poses, learning about the anatomy of the foot, and discussing the philosophy of the Yoga Sutras.

Our asana topic this month was standing poses, specifically the Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 families of poses. Since this is such a big topic, we will continue learning more during our next weekend together.


We began our asana work with the Warrior 2 family of poses. Here, Elisha is demonstrating Warrior 2. We talked about the general principles of the hips and torso facing the side, with a slight bit of asymmetry at the hips, the alignment of the feet on the mat and the lift of the rib cage away from the pelvis. These, in addition to a few others, are principles that can be broadly applied to most of the poses in this family group, which includes triangle pose, extended side angle, and half-moon pose, among others.

The Warrior 1 family of poses is a bit more complicated since there are several competing actions happening at once in this pose. The front leg is in flexion, the back leg is in extension, the torso is in a bit of a twist. And to make things more complicated, there is the issue of whether or not to square the hips! Although the instruction to square the hips is often heard in yoga classes, it is actually not the best way to describe the desired action. Since the two legs are doing two very different things, it actually isn't possible for most people to square the hips. So instead of asking students to do something that their body isn't designed to do, and potentially risk injury, we learn to ask students to draw the back hip forward, but recognize that it won't get there and that's ok. The same is true of many of the Warrior 1 family poses, including pyramid, which Helen is setting up for in the image below.


Since standing poses rely on a strong foundation in the feet and the legs, we learned about the anatomy of the feet. Your feet are very carefully engineered to carry your body around this earth. The muscles, bones and ligaments are small and delicate, but are tasked with bearing the weight of your body with each step. In order to stay in good shape, and maintain their role as healthy foundation, they should be exercised regularly. Shoes can create a barrier to healthy feet because most shoes essentially hold to foot rigid and don't allow it to operate the way it was designed to. As a result, the muscles of the foot become weak. And this weakness can lead to structural problems in other areas of the body, such as the knees, hips and lower back. Luckily, yoga is a great way to gain and maintain healthy feet.

The top image is Francois, who is our anatomy teacher assistant. The bottom image shows the importance of the feet supporting the body in an extended side angle pose. Take care of your feet and go to yoga class!

Our Sunday asana class was structured around Hanumanasana, or the splits pose.

Here are two examples of Hanumanasana. On the left is a support version with blocks under the front hip and the hands. On the right is an unsupported version. Even though the poses may look different, it is important to remember that the internal experience can be very similar.

Finally, we continued our discussion of the Yoga Sutras. Students are working on their own personal experience of the Yamas and the Niyamas, which are the ethical tenets of a yogi. For homework, they are practicing ahimsa, or non-harming, aimed at both themselves and others. It is often easier to offer generosity and kindness towards others than it is towards ourselves.

Keep up the good work, yogis!