… heads of the arm bones back.” This was the primary “mantra” for today’s yoga workshop – the first of five I will complete as part of my teacher training program. (Five workshops, not mantras.) : ) Today’s two-hour workshop was all about Shoulders and Neck; and while I didn’t really know what to expect from a “workshop”, I guess I did expect it to be somewhat different from just a regular class…and yet, this workshop was basically just a slightly longer tech session. Please don’t misunderstand: the content of the session was good; the teacher was knowledgeable and helpful; and the teacher-student ratio of this session was outstanding (my teacher training cohort consists of 25 other people; today, only five other people were present – resulting in much more individual, hands-on attention, as well as the ability for everyone to ask any and all questions that came to mind); but basically, this workshop was just a 2-hour tech session. There was quite a bit of lecture/discussion (so I have really rich notes as a result of the session, which I’m confident will be helpful down the line), and while we did do some asana (pose) work, it was very mellow and rather low-key; which is fine, I suppose… I guess I was just expecting something different, something “more”? Alas, it is what it is, so I get to take the experience for what it was, and continue on.
In addition to moving through various asanas (poses), the session today was very focused on proper body alignment – which is critical in ensuring good neck and shoulder health, but is also very important in yoga as a whole. To remind us of proper shoulder positioning in every pose we did today, our teacher kept repeating, “Side seams of the body long, heads of the arm bones back.” Which basically means inhale – and as you are inhaling, lift up the spine vertebrae by vertebrae, from the tail bone all the way up through the neck; while simultaneously tucking the tailbone, slightly squeezing the abdominals, and lifting the chest/breastbone. Then, lift the shoulders up slightly, then roll them back slightly, then gently place them back down. Once all of this was done, then we moved into the given pose. While parts of yoga can seem easy, hopefully this one example provides some insight as to how complex even a “simple” pose really can be – when it is done properly and consciously. (I imagine the same can be said for many different facets of life.)
So while today’s workshop didn’t deliver some sort of “different” event I guess I was expecting, I did get to experience familiar poses in very new ways. Additionally, today’s session reminded me of how amazing my primary yoga teacher really, truly is. Through this teacher training program, as I am receiving formal instruction on the various technical elements of each yoga asana (pose), I am simultaneously “learning” that the teaching my primary yoga instructor provides in her “everyday” classes is truly phenomenal. Everything I have received thus far in my formal, technical training has simply been reinforcement of the coaching my primary yoga instructor provided to me so “casually” in the weekly class I attended. In her sessions, I didn’t exert conscious effort to learn – and yet my yoga instructor taught me bundles and bundles of goodness. That is one of the signs of an amazing teacher.
I really am blessed to have so many high-quality mind/body resources readily available to me; and I truly am grateful for that.
So, everyone, breathe deeply, sit up long and tall, and roll the heads of those arm bones back. Your neck and shoulders will thank you. : )
P.S. For my yoga friends who geek out on the technical elements of practice, here are the asanas we explored in today’s workshop. Enjoy!