10,000 Vinyasas

Tag: Mike Matthews

Practice Notes

by on Sep.18, 2011, under Acro Yoga, Yoga, Yoga injuries, Yoga practice, Yoga Teachers

Because of sweaty conditions, this morning in Lisa Long’s Mysore practice I got myself into Garbha Pindasana today without help. Couldn’t do much with it but roll backwards a few times, but still…my right knee is still preventing me from taking the full Marichyasana D, but I’m ok with that. I can usually take the full Padmasana in the correct order (right before left), but some of the other poses (Janusirsana C comes to mind) are still limited. I am looking forward to studying with Manju Jois, a teacher my original teacher referenced many times.  Further progress is also noted in acro-yoga, where my kickovers without help are more consistent.  Hoping to take more of Mike Matthews in the near future.  An odd event:  my attendance at Mysore the other day resulted in my being given a number of Second Series poses.  I have to wonder about that;  I don’t feel that I’ve  “mastered” Primary Series, although I grant that I can do a passable version of most of the poses.  So, what really is the standard for moving on, I wonder?

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Kino Macgregor Workshop

by on Dec.05, 2010, under teaching, Yoga, Yoga practice

I took the workshop this weekend.

The first substantive portion (after the led primary, which I had to skip) was the building strength and lifting up module. Kino Macgregor has studied directly with Pahttabhi Jois, which was entertaining, since she shared some stories about Guruji. Kino has an interesting diction, which reminded me of the skateboarder/surfer Jay Adams, and made me wonder if she originated in California. She spent some time talking about the common personal excuses that we utilize in avoiding difficult poses in our yoga practice, i.e., “my arms are too short, my butt’s too big, I started too late,” to be able to jump forward and back. This is a favorite topic of mine. At any rate, she most effectively broke down the jumping forward and back process, differing slightly from Mike Matthews’ approach, who encouraged us to jump into a preliminary position with the tops of your feet to the floor, before scooting the feet forward of the hands (Kino referred to it as walking the feet forward), whereas Mike told us to pulse the hips, bringing the feet forward until they came past the hands and “kick the feet out.” In contrast, Kino spent quite some time teaching us what she called “building the foundation,” which meant placing the hands with fingers slightly digging into the mat, bringing the “ball” of the index finger deeply into the mat, rotating the eyes of the elbows in to a 45 degree angle, and emphasizing the strength of the deltoid muscles, along with bringing the spine into flexion and drawing the lower belly in. We went from all fours into plank with these cues. From there, she encouraged us to bring one foot forward, placing the top of the foot near the hands, and then the other, and walking the feet forward, straightening the legs, and then lowering the hips. I can mostly do this without instruction, so this part of the workshop was not enlightening for me, although I did enjoy the different perspective, and the emphasis on uddiyana and mula bandhas in attaining this difficult skill. Separating out all the parts seems to be Kino’s special talent in Ashtanga yoga. The part for me that needed clarification (and Kino gave it to us) in this workshop was the action of bending your arms and bringing your chest forward and down before jumping back. I attained several almost perfect jumpbacks using all of Kino’s cues, and of course, doing it once means you can, eventually, do it again, and then over and over with practice. Speaking of which, Kino mentioned that it takes about 10,000 repetitions of movements to enable familiarity within the body, so once again, we have to practice over and over. Kino also said some things that I’ve been noticing, and have previously posted here, specifically about the long horizon in yoga, the fact that beautiful-looking poses should be looked at as expressions of the amount of work and dedication involved, and that injuries result from students trying to push themselves into poses their bodies are not yet ready for. That was kind of cool, to hear someone that accomplished say what I’ve thought for awhile.

The second day was Mysore, followed by a module on backbending. I loved the Mysore in that hot, crowded, sweaty room, but I must’ve done a little too much, since I injured my left hamstring pretty severely (it’s frustrating that I can never pinpoint when I actually injure myself, apparently; it just happens, and the effects show up later). The backbending was interesting. Since I’ve been practicing with a former gymnast, Vladimir Vladev, I have gotten his instruction on backbending, and it’s slightly different than a yoga-style backbend instruction, but I’m always eager to get a different perspective, and maybe even blend some things if possible. I really liked Kino’s approach to this area, beginning again with building a foundation with tucking the tailbone and drawing the lower belly in, and lifting the stomach, ribs and chest up, creating space in the spine, and then bending the upper back. I can see that my chronic lower back pain has to do with not tucking the tailbone, and this I certainly can use in my practice. All in all, an excellent workshop, taught by an extremely accomplished and charismatic teacher. I can only imagine what my practice would look like with regular lessons from this yogini.

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