Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Helping knee pain, hip pain or back pain with simple adjustments that help you stand in a place of ease

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This is something simple that you can do with yourself in standing in everyday life. It can help with knee pain, hip pain or even a sore back.

You can also use it in Tadasana (mountain pose) in yoga before you move into something like a sun salutation. I’ve taken some of the ideas from Yoga and Body Mind Centring about yielding to the ground and some ideas about thinking ‘up’ from the Alexander technique.

In yoga we use the word adjustment to mean a movement in our bodies which take us back into something that is true for our bodies.




Yoga Teacher Donna Farhi says that alignment is

“The first, and most important, is that the body should be able to breathe, and by breathe I mean that the subtle yet perceptible oscillation of the breath should be able to travel everywhere: in the floating spaces of the joints, throughout the soft center, along the undulating spine, and through the alternation of tone and release in the musculature.

Second, the structure of the posture should allow a strong and clear movement of force through the body.”

We need to be careful about the terms that we use, if we use alignment as a term that adjusts only your body we could be buying into the idea that our bodies are bio-mechanical entities and end up disconnecting ourselves from our emotions, from our intuitions and from our spiritual selves.

Bruce Fertman, an Alexander teacher, reminds us that

“human beings are not mechanical, we are not machines, alignment is for cars. We’re organic, we’re mammals. The Alexander technique is about learning how we’re best designed to function as homo sapiens”

So, as you begin this exploration, can you invite your whole being to be present? So that you are emotionally present and available, fully connected to your intuition and guided by your spiritual selves.

Is there is a way that you can be in your pelvis that brings you into presence, centredness and ease? What would it feel like? What would it look like? You are exploring a state where you are prepared for nothing and ready for everything.

Then you can bring a simple beginner friendly adjustment into your bodies and your life. I like beginner friendly adjustments, it means there’s a chance I might also understand them!

Do you have
Dog tail – tail tucked forward between your legs, pelvis displaced forward
Duck tail – tail sticking out behind pelvis displaced backwards

Whatever your habit is, you want to move towards:
Dinosaur tailpelvis in neutral with support coming from below and body releasing upwards into space above

Can you be with your habit without immediately interfering with it? Can you be emotionally available for the past you who was hurt so badly that the only way to survive was to distort your body? Can you allow those feelings to arise without being controlled or defined by them? It’s just your stuff again.

Now just invite your pelvis into a dinosaur tail arrangement with your pelvis in neutral. It’s both a definite physical movement in space with emotional feelings of softness and acceptance.

When I’ve taught this to students, some get into the subtler aspects of this movement and they somehow freeze and forget to move. Some see this as purely a physical movement, they go into some very pragmatic version of themselves and they lose the emotional connection. Some over focus on the pelvis / ground relationship and their upper body disappears in their awareness. Some the other way around. Notice your tendency

Once the movement is done, let it work!

Another very common habit of all the students I work with (and sometimes myself) is to second guess an adjustment and try multiple adjustments in a random way in the hope that one of them will be right. Have the courage just to do one, even if it’s the ‘wrong’ one!

Allow this movement to ripple through your body so that it reaches your head, your finger tips and your toe tips.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, it’s a matter of practice and experimentation. I find that many yoga teachers and students have a very strong connection with the ground (apana or downward energy) but they have often forgotten or disconnected from the upward energy. Can you find a way to bring both into your life? Groundedness creates contact and connection. Thinking up brings lightness, levity, a sense of fun to how you stand.

Most students will then complain that it feels wrong, it feels like they are leaning forward (with dog tailers) or back (with duck tailers). I find that it’s important to acknowledge all our feelings and not dismiss the ones we just think are resistance. So, then I acknowledge that it feels wrong to them and that I’m sorry they’re finding it difficult to find their true balance.

Their feelings are absolutely correct, they are leaning forward relative to their habit.
The feelings are correct, it’s just the interpretation of the feelings that is off (the feeling of leaning forward and the interpretation of the feelings that something is wrong and needs to be corrected).

Invite yourself once again to bring yourself fully present and be alive to the truth about your condition so that your whole self can guide you into a better relationship with the world.

What will I learn in yogaground’s 6 week yoga class?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Yoga Finsbury Park Restorative SetupSo, you’ve signed up to my 6 week class or you’re thinking about it. What are you to learn and how will that happen? If you haven’t read about my approach to classes (What poses will I do in the yoga classes) then that could be a good start.


I structure the classes so there’s quite a bit of repetition. Creative repetition is at the heart of any practice and yoga is no exception. I want to create an optimal learning environment, so taking an exploratory / investigative approach seems to be the best way to do this. It means there are poses but they are ways to explore how you are in your body rather than a routine that you have to get right.

I use a combination of verbal instructions, examples, guided meditations and guided touch to teach. If one teaching method is not working for you, then we can experiment with others. Some students find verbal instructions confusing and learn by looking at examples and receiving guided touch. Some students have sensitivities around touch and prefer verbal instructions. Generally, it’s about trying things out and then letting me know if something doesn’t work.

The overall themes of the 6 week class are breathing, standing, lying down and sitting.

Week 1

We take a look at the breath and how it works. Another theme in this class is learning to relax when you lie down as we do a lot of poses lying down. I want you to come away with a basic understanding of how breathing works in your body. Then we’ll explore how we can stop interfering with this natural mechanism. You’ll come away with a couple of ideas about breathing a little easier in your day to day life.

Week 2 and 3

We’ll looking into your relationship to gravity, the space around you, within you and the environment. Do you hold yourself up or do you tend to collapse? Maybe a bit of both? Another theme to this class is (un)learning how to stand with ease as many of the poses are done standing up. This introduces the idea of yield, how to give yourself to the earth and receive support from the earth.

Week 4

We’ll return again to the breath and to yield as ongoing themes underlying and structuring the movements that we do in the class.

Week 5 and 6

As well as breathing and yield, the other theme of these weeks is getting to know your spine better. It’s also about your spine’s relationship to your arms and your legs. We’ll look into head and tail integration. You’ll do some sitting poses to encourage you to sit better. You’ll also start doing a simple sun salutation where you move from one pose to another so you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to yield in a more fluid and dynamic setting.

Which students do well in these classes?

I’ve found it doesn’t matter what size or shape you’re in as to whether you do well in the class. What seems to matter most is that you’re willing to experiment with ideas and movements which might help you grow as a person. A sense of perspective, a degree of self acceptance, a willingness to communicate with me about what’s happening in your body and a bit of humour is also helpful.

Which students don’t do well in these classes?

I’ve had a couple of students come to my class hoping for a really strong and sweaty workout. I’m afraid I’m not set up for that. I will do these classes at some point, but not right now. Some students would like to relax but only if they can do it without letting go. I sympathize, letting go is scary. If you’re not willing to let go, even a little bit, then it’s unlikely that you will relax. Some students are very attached to a particular teacher or method. I make use of a variety of methods and ideas based on my current understanding.