Blessed Are The Stiff

Dear Yogis

Summer wine gives way to Sober October and I’m a year older and very definitely a year wiser having studied with Ryan Giggs’ yoga teacher Sarah Ramsden. Her day-long workshop last weekend was called: short, stiff & tight: how to work effectively with really inflexible people. This, she says, refers to most of the population. “The miracle of ballet is that it is able to distort the body so much”… and Ashtanga, she adds, is not based on human design!

If you think you have short or tight or restricted muscles, here are some definitions for you. ‘Short' means the actual measurement of the muscle is short when compared to the bone it covers. This means the joint it operates won't go through its full range of motion. On the other hand, the terms 'stiff' or 'tight' or ‘restricted’ are expressions of feeling but might not refer to an anatomically short muscle. 'Tense' refers to the muscle being slightly contracted in its ‘resting state’ which might be because of stress.

So why do we get restricted? Routines, repetitive sports, bulking up, sedentary lifestyle… you know the kind of thing! Injury is another reason; repair tissue sets down around the injury and weakens muscle around it. There is also a genetic possibility; some people have more fibrous muscle, some more elastic and malleable muscle. And don’t forget the modern disease of stress. Constant stress releases all the wrong hormones, restricts blood flow to muscles, decreases oxygen, lets waste build up and results in muscle tension.

Her advice to teachers and practitioners is to look to the ancients for inspiration. “Teachers who went before like Pattabhi Jois were revolutionary and radical and dragged yoga up from the Tantric vagabonds and tricksters to clean it up for a new India. Like them, question, change, adapt and make it useful”.

Home Studio

Classes are starting to book up in advance up to the week before Christmas! Can you believe it! Anyway, there’re loads of spaces left and the 6.00 classes are back. It’s cold outside but we can still create a Bikram studio with our six mats and our Ujjayi breathing! You can see what’s available on my website.

Training at Eden

Really lovely news from Eden Fitness in Ealing. Incredible teacher Alain Zak is joining the yoga teaching team. You may have experienced his wonderful classes in my Home Studio, at Yoga West in Acton or at Eden. Alain is a student of John Scott who, in turn, was a direct student of Pattabhi Jois. Alain’s classes include the traditional Vinyasa count, vigorous practice and meditative focus on breathing and alignment. He is also influenced by Tibetan Heart Yoga and Buddhist meditation. Eden is giving him two classes starting Monday 22nd October: Mondays at 8.20-9.20am and he is taking over my Wednesday class which will be starting at 2.00pm from now on – not 2.30 – and finish at 3.30!  A wonderful 90 minute class! You won’t find that anywhere else in this area. I will see you there.

Yoga in the news

This is a nicely written article: How yoga is changing to meet contemporary needs from The Centre Daily in Pennsylvania. The first example given is that no one discusses renouncing existence as part of their approach to yoga! Errrm, no, not really! Other examples of how the focus of yoga has changed: yogis generally don’t prioritise meditation over physical practice, and the guru-student model has given way to the studio-student model.

This is a sweet read from the Huffington Post: ‘What My Yoga Teacher Taught Me About Improving My Life’. As you would expect, yogis never talk about the physical results but the life-changing effects. Here’s a helpful article from The Standard with suggestions for people observing Sober October. Yoga is there, of course: Disco Yoga every Tuesday at the Trapeze bar, Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HX for yoga under a glitter ball.

Have a glittering weekend

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