Life, yoga and other adventures

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

I take a rather liberal view of what makes a good yoga practice. (Iyengar-style teachers and students might want to avert their eyes here.) I'm very much a 'sthira sukham asanam' kind of woman - that is, Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.* That's not to say I give my students an easy ride, as those who enjoyed/endured the Crow balance with me this week will testify; but I can't see that there is anything to be gained by insisting on perfect alignment.

Isn't it better to have one foot slightly forward of the other and to achieve a beautiful, stable Trikonasana, for example, than to struggle to keep the feet in the 'right' place at the expense of everything else? I hope it goes without saying that safety is always the prime consideration, so twisted hips and skewed knees are a no-no, but I really do believe that a little judicious tweaking here and there is a Good Thing.

Apart from anything else, when we 'achieve' a posture, whatever that means, it not only makes us feel good - and yes, I know: ego rears its ugly head here - but also boosts our confidence and makes us more willing and able to explore further.

I maintain that when working into a standing balance, it is much better to rest a tentative fingertip on the back of a chair and be stable than to try be in what is ostensibly the right shape but then to wobble all over the place. Two feet on the ground and arms overhead is a balance; one foot on the ground and the other limbs flailing around frantically is most definitely not.

* So says The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II, 46


  1. Hi Julia, I used to do Hatha yoga a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It took me a while to master the breathing, I didn't realise at the time but I had adult on set asthma.
    Which was why I found the breathing so difficult. Once I got treatment, I set about trying again.
    Eventually, I got better at the poses - I'm not very bendy, but I did enjoy it, and found it very calming.

    I moved gyms, and finished the classes, which I did weekly for almost two years.
    That was two years ago. I'd like to start again, and have recently joined a health club that has a couple of classes a week.

    I'm recovering from a serious bout of sciatica which left me with little mobility for over three months. I'm recovering well now, and have a lot of pilate/yoga type exercises to do daily from the NHS physiotherapists. They do help.

    Could you recommend any 'gentle' poses that I might do?

    Thank you

    1. Maria, find yourself a good local teacher - is a great place to look. A nice stretch to ease sciatica is simply to lie on your back with the knees bent, feet on the floor. Get comfy, then bring your knees over your body and hug them in close. Simple, but effective, like so much in yoga.

  2. Thank you Julia, I will take a look...regards that stretch, I do one leg at a time already, knee to chest, but I'll give that a go too.

  3. Getting on well with stretches, just finished a six week NHS Back Class which was circuits, pilates, and a talk/forum. It was very good, BUT, now we are cut loose, and I have to make my own plan.

    I've decided I want to go back to yoga, as opposed to the pilates they rave on about, I just don't enjoy it! I feel I can get as much, if not more out of yoga.

    So its time to find a decent class.

    Hope things are well with you?

    1. All is well, thanks. Glad you're on the mend and of course delighted that you're choosing yoga. Pilates is great, but you're right: there's so much more to yoga than the physical postures. Let me know how you get on with finding a class. Where are you? Maybe I know someone in your area.

  4. I'm in Leicestershire...Loughborough to be precise.

    1. Small world. My son lives in Loughborough. He is a drum teacher at ISMLoughborough on Meadow Lane. On the yoga front, check out Chandra Yoga on Fennel Street.

  5. Wow! Fancy that...I will look Chandra Yoga up. Thank you.