Tag Archives: anusara

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBook

I was recently asked to review a new yoga eBook, and it looked pretty cool. Darren Rhodes successfully kickstartered the Yoga Resource Practice Manual, a 360-pose guidebook that’s totally digital. You can browse everything on the computer, your phone, your Kindle, and more. Here’s the preview:

I’d seen Darren’s awesome poster (From Tadasana to Savasana) in the back of my Anusara studio, but didn’t know much about his style. The poster and the book show his love of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga;each presents a comprehensive index of poses, showing a range of forms the human body can take. (Darren actually created that poster as he learned to do each and every pose in Light on Yoga. Read his piece on Elephant Journal for more details.)

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBookThe book was nice to browse, I skimmed it as I planned a Saturday morning class with a friend. Each category has some important explanatory text, and a cool diagram of the main alignment cues. You can save poses to your favorites, add notes, or highlight the text. You can quickly find the alignment instructions for any pose, as well as a little piece of inspiration in the “refinement” section. I liked these personal notes a lot, and would actually like to see a book of just these details!

As a student, you can choose new poses by browsing categories and picking a photograph. It would be good for discovering new poses outside of your regular classes, and for getting all their alignment details in one organized place.

I hope that future versions let you create and save actual sequences I saved a bunch of poses and notes, and they were all mixed together in the sidebar. Beginners might also appreciate some default sequences, or some instructions on how to sequence a home practice.

I also wanted to know why I might choose one pose versus another, so that there are goals beyond the shape. After the category intros, there’s not a lot of details on particular benefits (or contraindications).

Accommodating injuries is (still) my current challenge, so (as a side note) I’d also love to hear more about what Darren learned from his intense approach to asana, his breaks from it, and his current practice. He writes:

“Consider viewing hatha yoga as a sport instead of as a remedy for injury and health issues. In that context, when injury occurs in your practice it simply goes with the territory. The aim of hatha yoga is certainly not to injure you. Nor is that the aim of any sport. However, in both sports and yoga, injury does occur. In my view, that is not necessarily a problem.”

That seems like a healthy relationship to injury, but I still haven’t decided if I want to agree!

I’d recommend this book for intermediate students in good health, and for any teacher wanting an inspiring, comprehensive index with clear and efficient alignment instructions. Thanks Darren.



Thank Goodness for the Little Things

I’ve been wearing black this week, grieving the death of summer. And my practice; I’ve now got wrist pain to match my tricky hips. Le sigh. I’d had a couple weeks to rest it; I’d been running and biking to build up some strength. I finally realized I needed to ask a yoga teacher for some advice; it was not getting any better on its own.

On Friday some early plans fell through, so I dropped into Abhaya before dinner. It was their Dub Vibe class: slow, flowing Anusara, with a live DJ spinning dub (reggae) in the back of the room. Sheila Donnelly was subbing for Tara, and knew just as much about anatomy. Her tips for my wrists:

  • Wrist pain in yoga usually means you’re putting too much weight in the heel of the hand.
  • Work on lifting the heels of the hands (in Down Dog and similar poses). You should be able to fit a couple pencils under the back of the palm.
  • To strengthen the wrists, practice on “ridge tops,” for short periods: lift the heels of the hands about three inches, until the weight is entirely in the bottom knuckles of the fingers. Or lift all the way onto your fingertips.
  • Most people lean weight towards the outsides of the hands; make sure the weight’s to the inner sides of the hands. The wrist should NOT be rotating outward.

So now I have some answers, some assignments. So grateful. On with class.

I was in a strange mood; things were hitting me very poignantly. I was feeling injured, and old; stymied and slow. But the class, and the music, made waves. Seven students sprawled across the space. One had brought her baby; it chirped, and grabbed its feet. We chanted, and focused, and saluted the setting sun. The pace was kind; the teacher was calm. DJ Ceiba gave us “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The pressure cloud started to lift. We helped each other jump into Handstand; I knew I couldn’t do it, but then all of the sudden I was there. My partner jumped right up, and stuck it; he’s 75 years old. I felt less old :) I felt a sense of perspective, or scale. We found relaxation for the night.

This shit really works, huh?

Little Lesson: Chase Rainbows

Bakasana, from Yoga Journal
Bakasana, by Yoga Journal

From Elias Lopez, at Abhaya Yoga:

Elias, demonstrating Bakasana: You can stay here, with the toes on the ground. That’s the pink variation. Or you can lift one foot, that’s the blue variation. Or the other foot, that’s still blue. Or lift both feet, that’s the purple variation. Any color you wish; all colors are light.

Rough quote, but it was a beautiful use of language. To get people to detach from chasing “advanced” variations, just because they’re there, we need to eliminate the hierarchy of Beginner < Intermediate < Advanced. The variations are like colors, distinct but equal; we just want to choose the one that feels right for the moment.

[Strala Yoga does something similar, calling its classes “Strong”, “Relax” and “Recover.”]

Little Lesson: Pull Back!

Visvamitrasana, from Yoga Journal
Visvamitrasana, from Yoga Journal

From Tara Glazier, at Abhaya Yoga:

Student: Why do I feel like I’m pulling my shoulder out if its socket? [in Visvamitrasana]

Tara: You might be!

This wake-up call drew a big round of laughter from the class. It’s easy to forget that the asanas are serious challenges for the body. (She went on to explain that we need to draw the shoulder strongly back into its socket to counteract the force of the leg.)

Full on Breathing

I’m still chewing on an idea from yoga this morning, a delicious treat. Even better than weekend pastries.

Tara Glazier, the owner of Abhaya Yoga in Dumbo, was teaching us the concept of arm spirals. (It’s an alignment refinement she said she just figured out last week, after 10 years of practice.) We would internally rotate the arms, rounding the shoulders, to feel the width across the upper back, the spreading between the shoulder blades, and the expansion of the breath in the back of the body.

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Anusara with Tara Glazier at Abhaya Yoga

Abhaya Yoga
Abhaya Yoga

On Friday I stopped through Dumbo on my way home. A friend was having a party in her workspace there, and my can’t-make-it excuse (“I’m supposed to go to yoga”) held no water once she informed me that her office had a yoga studio ON THE SAME FLOOR. So, 6:30 yoga; 8:00 party it was. ($10 new student specials help with spontaneity.)

Abhaya Yoga just opened last week. It’s the only yoga studio in Dumbo, so it’s a welcome addition to the beautiful waterfront. (They lead free classes in the park at 2pm Saturdays.) The views from 10 Jay Street are ridiculous, so I was excited to test my focus against them.

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