It has been a great weekend so far at the Immersion. We had a big day yesterday. I had planned on teaching a strong asana class and when I made a refinement early in class, someone said, "Should we do that even if have a hamstring injury?" And then several people "came out" about their hamstring issues which I did not know about. And so we spent the first hour and half of class on yoga therapy for hamstring issues since very little in the sequence I had planned was appropriate for cranky hamstrings. Then we did part of the asana practice I had planned and we finished with some introductory seated pranayama.
It was a really interesting process in a lot of ways. I think understanding Anusara Yoga requires a radical shift in perspective from many approaches to yoga. On the one hand we are a very strong practice that incorporates advanced asana and all kinds of crazy variations. On the other hand we are a super precise therapy for both the body and the heart. And we are everything in between as well. And while a teacher, in the average class, is endeavoring to "get everyone into classic form of the pose" we also want people to be in the stage of that pose that is appropriate for them given their capacity.
For instance- As I was teaching a partner exercise for parivritta trikonasana and talking about turning the head up, someone asked, "Do we have to turn our head up?"
And I asked, "Well, why not?"
The person replied, "Vertigo and neck injuries."
So I gave a long discourse on how it comes back to the always-appropriate-answer of "it depends." As practitioners I think we should know what the full pose is and how to work towards it. I think, as we are doing that, we should explore the range of alignment tools we have to see if we can overcome the limitation- in this case, neck pain in the pose and/or vertigo (both in this case would be aided by good shoulder principles) and if we cannot solve the problem through those kinds of adjustments then absolutely, we enjoy a modified form of the pose. We never "have to do a pose" at the expense of our own well-being on any level. That is not the spirit of the game at all. But where along the continuum of any pose we practice on any given day really just depends.
And for me, I never figured a lot of that out on my own. When I was in pain, I asked for help and my teachers helped me re-work my postures and deal with my dysfunctional habits in the poses so I could find relief. And sometimes it is better to walk around the problem and avoid the pose for a while and other times, we need to march right up to the problem and work through it directly. It just depends.
The Immersion group is very strong, capable, respectful and dedicated. Many of the participants are teachers and most folks in the room have been practicing for quite some time and they are really a pleasure to teach. We are into pretty deep work very early into the process which speaks to the receptivity and commitment people have brought to the training. It is cool.
All right, time to prep for class.