Anatomy in Yoga

Anatomy in Yoga

An excerpt from the Yogacara Yoga Teacher Training Manual by Emily Kane – studio owner and staff member   An understanding of anatomy is key for the safety and development of your students. Integrating this knowledge can encourage injury prevention and facilitate the healing process. It can connect a deeper understanding of the philosophies in creating yoga sequences for public and private classes. For private classes, if there is a specific area of focus, then you can design a practice that addresses those concerns.  An anatomical awareness also prepares you to take on students with injuries in a safe and effective manner. Using variations, props, and mindful sequencing to compliment this information can create an inclusive yoga class. An understanding of anatomy also gives you the tools to analyze your practice and teachings to create effective movement patterns. This encourages proper sequencing techniques that include adequate warm-ups and poses with appropriate counterposes. It also reinforces the importance of alignment for the purpose of safety for our joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments rather than for an esthetic appeal. The patterns we create on our mat have the ability to affect how we progress outside of yoga, meaning that our muscle memory creates healthy habits to impact other activities in our daily lives. The evolution of yoga suggests that one day it can be utilized for rehabilitation in a clinical setting – perhaps a connection can be made between medical providers and the application of yoga as therapy. This is one of the many reasons anatomy should be part of the curriculum in any yoga teacher training. In teaching yoga, it...
The Journey of Yoga Teacher Training

The Journey of Yoga Teacher Training

Written by Emily Kane – owner of Yogacara Whistler and staff member of the Yogacara Yoga Teacher Training program   I used to think Yoga Teacher Training was out of my grasp. Seeing the respect that yoga teachers had for leading classes with confidence, awareness and grace is what drew me towards yoga teacher training, but life seemed to get in the way. Becoming a yoga teacher was always put on the back burner. When I finally took the leap, it was like I found the place I was always meant to be. I was making a commitment to myself – the start of a lifelong journey. Even if I had decided not to teach public classes, it would still be one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. So why did it take me so long? There are some common misconceptions about yoga teacher training that could hold someone back from doing what they love. Here’s why anytime’s a great time to start your next journey.   1.) You think you’re not good enough I started practicing yoga just before I turned 15 years old, but it took me years to complete my yoga teacher training. Why? I didn’t think I was good enough. I couldn’t really do anything “crazy,” my warrior II felt like it needed some work, and from time-to-time, I fell out of balancing poses. If you think you need to do EVERY pose, think again. Yoga’s much more than asana (or poses) and just like the lessons we’re taught in class, we’re encouraged to work wherever we’re at in that moment. Honoring your body and...
Restorative Yoga – Relax, Restore, Renew

Restorative Yoga – Relax, Restore, Renew

Yoga has the ability to create bliss on many levels – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The key to this state can come from a variety of practices, but one form seems to stand out when it comes to relaxation. Restorative yoga uses long, supported holds to relax the body and restore the nervous system, which has the ability to open doors to the subconscious mind. We look to answer a few questions you may have about restorative yoga and how you are able to benefit from this healing practice.   How is restorative yoga different? There are different styles of restorative yoga, but generally they all have the same intention. Restorative yoga uses props to support the body, meaning there is no physical effort or strain in maintaining a pose. In fact, it is encouraged to be in complete relaxation. If there’s any intensity, sensitivity or pain then it’s important to ease out or provide more support using props. If the pose is not supported, the body unconsciously holds tension to protect your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. This can prevent the nervous system from entering it’s relaxation phase, known as the parasympathetic response. In a deep restorative yoga practice, you may relax in a pose for 10 minutes or longer. Moving quickly from one pose to another can disrupt the relaxation response, which makes patience and timing essential to a restorative yoga practice.   How does restorative yoga affect the nervous system? During everyday life, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli from our environment. For most of us, we’re operating with a fight-or-flight response, a.k.a. the stress...
Snow Yoga Sequences

Snow Yoga Sequences

Written by Emily Kane – owner and yoga teacher   Skiing and snowboarding is pretty popular this time of year in Whistler Village, especially after a snowfall. Handling powder can be a challenging workout and yet, it still has the qualities of meditation. Its ability to connect you to bliss, nature, yourself and a higher consciousness can make sliding on snow a spiritual experience. The only potential limitation is a body that’s unprepared for the demands, making it difficult to enjoy the ride. So how do you prepare yourself to connect with ease and grace? Snow yoga sequencing can get you ready to take on powder and to start loving pow-days.   My Favorite Snow Yoga Breath: Ujjayi (a.k.a ocean, serpent’s, or victorious breath) When you’re on a cold chairlift, there’s nothing better to calm your mind and heat your body up than ujjayi breathing. Krishnamacharya, one of the founding fathers of modern yoga, said that ujjayi breathing increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat – perfect for a cold day. How to: – Gently tuck your chin and constrict the back of your throat. This creates the “neck lock” a.k.a. Jalandhara bandha – The constriction should be as if you were fogging a mirror, but with your lips closed. Practicing the breath on your inhalation and exhalation. – The breath should be audible to you, or even a person next to you, but the sound is subtle enough to maintain a calm awareness of your breath without disturbing your nervous system You can practice Ujayyi breathing on it’s own in meditation, but it’s also useful during a physical...
Detox Yoga

Detox Yoga

The holidays are an amazing opportunity to spend time with friends and family. The only downside of these joyous festivities can be the tendency to overindulge. Processed food, sugar and alcohol over the holiday season can result in feeling fatigued and unbalanced. Yoga can have many powerful effects, including the ability to detoxify. A detox yoga practice can benefit health and wellness by leaving one feeling clean, refreshed and energized. Here are a few techniques for your next yoga sequence to see the benefits of detox yoga. 1.) Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath) Bhastrika pranayama or bellows breath has many benefits including the ability to promote detoxification. This powerful breath technique has the ability to purify physically and spiritually. Although detox yoga is important for the physical body, the cleansing aspects it can have on a deeper level should never be underestimated. How to perform bhastrika 2.) Uddiyana Bandha (The abdominal lock) While uddiyana bandha contibutes to a detox yoga practice, it also improves blood circulation to the abdomen. The increase in gastric fire promotes digestion and elimination to further contribute to the detoxification process. How to practice Uddiyana Bandha 3.) Twists The asana (or pose) portion of detox yoga is to include twists in your sequencing. Twists compress the body’s organs to help remove wastes and toxins. Think of it like wringing out an old sponge – the body has a similar ability to rid itself of what it no longer needs with a bit of twisting.   These three yogic cleansing methods can make a great addition to any morning routine. Using these detox yoga techniques during your...
Why Invest In Private Yoga Classes

Why Invest In Private Yoga Classes

Going to yoga classes in your community is a great way to practice what you love and connect with others, so why would it make sense to do private yoga classes? There are many reasons why private yoga classes can be a great investment. We give you seven reasons to consider trying private yoga classes in the future. 1.) Personal Attention You really can’t get a better ratio than 1-to-1 with your teacher. This allows the teacher to plan a lesson to your personal needs, whether that’s tailoring to a specific injury, or working towards that tricky pose you’ve had a tough time with. 2.) Communication There’s more of an opportunity to create dialogue with your teacher when it’s appropriate. If there’s confusion with a pose, or there’s something that’s not working then you’re able to communicate your concerns. 3.) Working with an injury This could be one of the most important of all. If you’re working with an injury, it is much better to go to private yoga classes initially after your injury to ease back into your practice. Your teacher can show you modifications to adapt your practice as you recover and prevent any further damage. 3.) Less distractions Do you find yourself glancing over at your extremely flexible neighbor wondering how you’ll ever get there? Private yoga classes may help if you tend to be self-conscious. This way, you’ll truly be “in the moment” rather than focusing on where you are at vs. that other person. 4.) A ridiculous amount of space Ever wanted to stretch out and make yourself as big as possible in a...
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