By Helena Fahnrich
How can those new to yoga conceptualize the limbs of the body, or the organs of action, i.e. the karmendriyas, to facilitate access to the spine? This is a question I've been rolling around in my head in preparation for the upcoming series. In yoga, it is useful to utilize concepts to facilitate our conscious embodiment because it provides a starting point from which we are able to move deeper into the practice. Together we will explore the positioning of the feet, legs, and hips; the hands, arms and shoulders in order to co-create access to the spine throughout the next 8 weeks.
In Iyengar Yoga we utilize props to help understand asana (postures), this in turn assists our embodiment of the postures - or, another way to think about it is the experience in the pose. What does my knee feel like when my foot is pressing against the wall in warrior 2, for example? How does my chest lift in triangle pose when I use the press of my hand against the block to move my shoulder away from my ear? Furthermore, how do poses affect the psyche, or state of mind? We can use categories of poses (standing, seated, twists, restorative asanas) to study our state of mind. It can be challenging work, and seeking clarity in asana facilitates that work.
Know the karmendriyas are our first props and that we can rely on them always. They give us access to the spine in countless ways in asana. The exploration of props, and the ways in which we position ourselves relative to gravity, provides ample opportunity to study the conscious mind. This in turn generously provides opportunities to observe our parameters and peek into our deeper self.
What can you use to make props at home?
Here's some alternatives and ideas:
And empty wall space, a couch, bed or chair can also be great tools.
Here's a video of Tracey sharing some prop ideas from around the house. https://youtu.be/MsRCFKq8Yr0
What props have you discovered that has helped in your home practice?
To our RY community, students and friends, past and present:
This is Jess Vega, and I currently serve as your Board President, as well as for some of you, your teacher. I am writing today very simply to ask for your support.
Riverwest Yogashala is a people-powered yoga school. As the only nonprofit, community-based yoga school in Milwaukee, we offer the highest quality teaching in the Iyengar method for the most affordable fees.
But we are also so much more than that.
We are a diverse community with stories under our skin, coming together to sweat, struggle, and stretch any amount more, any little bit further. We are students at RY not by accident - for one reason or another, this place has changed us.
I'll speak for myself.
I initially joined RY because it was the only place in Milwaukee where my teacher was a bad-ass, unapologetic woman of color, and that helped me feel safe. I needed to feel safe, too, because quite frankly the first time I did some of those backbends and inversion, I came out crying. I was working through my own depression and trauma and being asked to reach and stretch, quite simply, to transform myself through the discomfort but courageousness of asana.
For me, yoga brought meaning, and even though sometimes it seemed too difficult, every so often a teacher would help me surprise myself, by doing that thing I thought I couldn't do.
I am grateful for how Iyengar Yoga has helped me grow, and for Riverwest Yogashala's open doors. And it is from that gratitude that I support Riverwest Yogashala.
Your story is probably different than mine. Maybe you haven't been to class in a while, but you remember that time you saw yourself in another student whose shoulders are as tight as yours. Or maybe you were grateful to see another student had a hole in their socks! Or maybe RY is one of the only places you can afford to come to class, with our community-gift/sliding scale class offerings. Or maybe something more.
If this place, this space, this community has inspired any gratitude in you, can you offer a donation to help us continue doing this work? For us, every little bit really does matter, $3, $5, or $10. We are so appreciative.
I wish you all wellness and happiness,
-Jessica Vega Gonzalez
Board President, CIYT
It’s a new and ancient way of being with each other.
Yoga is a sacred practice, a 5,000 year old tradition rooted deeply in India. It is a path and process, a way of life one chooses to study under a teacher with whom you have a deep connection. Cultural appropriation in the US has taken yoga and made it into something it’s not — an aerobic exercise class that flexible, thin-bodied people do at the gym.
Like many things in the US, yoga has become a commodity --something easily bought and sold for money. Community Gift is an attempt to work against this.
Yoga is sacred. If we put any dollar amount on a class, we end up devaluing yoga. At the same time, teachers aren’t chasing paper, but we do need some bread!
Community Gift says:
Offer what feels right to you.
Suggested Sliding Scale: $5-$18
But PLEASE, offer WHATEVER feels right to you.
Thank you for being with us.