So... I know nothing about yoga but I gave the introductory video a try and here are my unedited notes (because I'm a scientist and that's what I do).
"Cockroach who died near a wall... oh wait... it's arms are moving... it's not dead" pose (obviously not what she called it)
1) I can keep my back flat on the ground and get all the way up against the wall
2) My right leg wants to rotate to about 45 degrees. I also notice this on the back of my dress shoes, the right shoe wears at an angle but the left one does not. I also have knee pain when I ride my bike, but only ever in the right knee. I imagine all of these things are related. However, when I do that 90/90 test, I have trouble staying upright on the left side, not the right.
3) When I bring my arms to the floor, at about 30 degrees I struggle to keep them from rotating inwards (palms want to face forwards... with my face)
4) I paused the video too early and did a backwards roll to stop being a cockroach. It was a fun roll.
Didn't remove my gels at the TSA pose
1) I noticed when I backed up from the wall that, despite my best efforts to get my hands level, my right hand was about an inch lower when I moved back and could see it. I also often notice that my right backpack strap is shorter when I think they feel the same. So, again, I think I'm broken.
2) My right hip wants to rotate forwards and my left shoulder wants to drop. I told them "stop it, that's not funny!" But they didn't care and kept on trying to do it.
Mountain pose... I can say this one.
1) Sweet, this is just standing. She's just going to stand there. Wait a second... why can't I seem to stand properly? Stupid yoga. My left shoulder is rotated forward... it's hard to unroll it. I can't tell why my shoulders feel weird and different from each other. One of them is doing something wrong. I'm blaming lefty but it could be righty playing mind games?
The chair one
1) "I put a little height on my chair because I'm tall"... no you're not, I'm tall, but thanks for thinking of us tallies.
2) This is getting concerning. My left shoulder is rotated forward (classic hunch) but I can barely get it unrotated to do the pressing when it's lefties turn.
The sitting one
1) What if when I'm spreading and opening my chest, the left shoulder doesn't want to cooperate? Again, it is rotated forward but I can't make it feel like the right side.
2) "Just see how you feel in your head... mentally." My answer is "concerned... I think I'm broken."
Concluding thoughts and questions
1) She seems really nice. Did she put this together for me at your request? If so, please send a huge thank you! If not, please still send a huge thank you.
2) How often should I do this? Should this be daily? Multi-daily because of my weirdness?
3) If I keep doing this, is it likely to fix me?
4) In non-yoga situations I don't refer to my arms as "righty" and "lefty".
You also now know that although I take note-taking seriously, I don't take serious notes.
Thank you for the video!
Check out the videos here.
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
What Is Community Gift?
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.
Riverwest Yogashala Blog
A source for educational, informative, and sometimes just plain for fun material.