Ask A Guru
Find the answers to your yoga questions from experts
Leave a comment after reading and be entered to win a free spot to Lydia’s workshop at Moksha!!
[dropcap]Lydia has a sweet demeanour and is very passionate about truly taking care of yourself and allowing your yoga to soften you and open you up to what life has in store for you. Lydia has been committed to sharing yoga for over 10 years, starting a formal practice of awareness at 19. She likes to incorporate play in her workshops,and bringing both her love for nature and travel into the practices. She believe yoga is a way to remember the ease that is in each of us, an extraordinary way to heal past trauma, and feel good.[/dropcap]
“I’m inspired by a yoga practice that allows me to be responsive to change and receptive to balance. My husband and I have been gypsies together for a few years. Bouncing between running a yoga co-op business for the last 3, and supporting Sonnie’s traveling work, I have learned that my practice is a grounding zone, and needs to facilitate an attentiveness and wonderment to whatever arises – the changes that each day brings.”
[quote]I have always been told to engage my muscles to protect my joints and so I do not stretch connective tissue in my yoga practice. However I recently have been introduced to
yin yoga and the point in to stretch the connective tissue. Im not clear on when it is safe and beneficial and when it is not, to be honest I am not sure what the connective tissue is?[/quote]
This is a great question. It can be slippery to know what is safe and what is not when working with repetitive movement. Especially when practicing something consistently, it is important to do some research. I have learned a lot from one of my teachers named Gioia Irwin, with whom I have been studying with for 3 years.
Connective tissue, or fascia, is the web-like collagen and elastin sacking that holds your body together. Muscles are simply stuffing in this webbing, and if it wasn’t there, there would be no differentiation between them. It holds your adipose (or your lovely fat layer), determines your shape (especially in women), and makes up your tendons and your ligaments. It is plastic in nature, and stretches like plastic – slowly. It communicates within itself (not through your central nervous system), conforms to the shape you habitually put it in, and loves to be hydrated (so that it slides). Often when we think we have tight muscle groups, they are simply caught in a train of distortion in our fascia (connective tissue).
Stretching may not be the best word for this intelligent fabric. Instead of pushing your heel away from your sitting bone in a standing forward fold, think about loosening the braid of your hamstrings and lower legs by widening and lengthening in a radiance of directions.
1. Go at 70% effort. Overdoing anything leaves you with no stores and the potential for injury. Practice being gentle with yourself.
There is no where to go.
2. Use gentle wiggling and omnidirectional movement. Fascia loves oscillating and intuitive movement to loosen it. Think about a tangled
up rope. To untangle it you don’t just yank on two ends. You may have to pick it up and wiggle it or shake it to loosen the strands. From this place of separating the strands, you can then gently tug it apart. In your yoga postures practice dropping in to the position and then easing off, and then repeat. Feel buoyant.
3. Boxing your joints. Think of centering your joints in their capsules by keeping even tone in the surrounding muscles and fascia around them. ie don’t slacken one side of a joint and engage another. For example you can do this in your knee joint by keeping even weight on your toes, circumference of your hell and the inner and outer edge of your foot (transverse arches). This way you will ensure an even tug of the fascia on all four sides of the joint. Micro bend your knees!
4. Keep a little microscopic bend or “bow” in your joints. In Yin Yoga, be careful not to overstretch around the joints. Think about carefully “threading” your joints evenly from the front, back, sides, top and bottom.
4. Do one long hold practice a week. Yin yoga is a great practice for the fascia. However, don’t completely sag into the floor so that you sag around your joints. Lean your weight
into the floor and receive the rebound force coming up through your body.
5. Be cautious when told to “straighten” your joints and limbs. Mother nature rarely works with the linear.
6. Feel good. Be at ease. Go slowly so that overused muscles don’t habitually fire. Put feeling good on your list of things to do. (From Gil Hedley)
resources: my teacher Gioia Irwin
Gil Hedley the fuzz speech.
[quote]I love the feeling I get after my yoga practice, I leave feeling elated and calm, however I have found that the calm seems for wear away about an hour into my day-to-day. How can I work to live my yoga more and keep that clear mind even after the Shavasana haze has worn off?[/quote]
Another great question, and useful for all of us who woven into this fast paced 21st century. It has been important for me to begin the process of undoing the seams that separate the fabric of my yoga practice from the rest of my life. Yoga offers incredible tools for self awareness, as well as the time to do self research and record the data. It doesn’t only give that “hazy” feeling of the dissolution of separation from things, but also a sharpness of clarity and sense of knowing yourself. The mind is a creature of habits. It may be how you practice that habituates your mind to continue to be responsive to life and to rebalance regularly.
A few things that can facilitate this sense of balance.
1. practice at least 3 times a week or more. If not able to take the time to practice, choose a few activities in your day to be very mindful of your mind state and body posturing. ie breastfeeding, doing the dishes, cleaning the house etc. Soon mindfulness will spill over into everything you do.
2. Just like your connective tissue conforms to how you mold and hold yourself, your mind will do the same. Don’t zone out in your practice. Even if you close your eyes a lot, come back to conscious breathing or proprioceptive awareness of where you are and what you are doing. In other words, get into what you are doing.
Also attend an all donation class at Purple Lotus with her on Friday August 3rd at 7:30pm-9pm!
For more information on Lydia see her websites
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Leave a comment below and be entered to win a free spot to Lydia’s workshop at Moksha!!
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