Category Archives: Asana

Yoga and Your Body Type

Jay, the Russian fitness trainer strapped me into a leg machine then stopped and said, “I didn’t realize you were so tall. Are you over six feet?” Why do you ask, said I?  He told me that the length of my legs were equal to a body over six feet tall.  It was then I had a revelation about my body type and subsequent excuses for why I couldn’t perform certain fitness or yoga exercises.

Stand me next to the shortest person in the room then have us sit down side by side. Whilst I tower over the short person standing, they suddenly become taller than me when we sit next to each other. With these super long legs comes a short torso. I sometimes wonder how all my organs fit into such a small space and another reason why my rib cage is so large. Point being, my structural uniqueness carries with it some challenges and some advantages.

Structurally speaking leg lifts or boat pose “Navasana” are the most traumatic exercise experiences for me while bike riding is the most structurally easy exercise. In leg lifts my torso has to nearly be on the floor to counterbalance my legs. In bicycle riding, my long legs provide great muscle mass for peddling while the short torso keeps my center of gravity lower.

Many of you practicing yoga might get frustrated by why some postures are such a challenge when others can master such postural moves. It is really all about your physiology.

I had a friend who mastered a head stand from a wide leg position and other arm balances easy.  Like olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, he had a long torso and short legs. He is 6’4″ and our legs are the same length. His extra length is in the torso. He could put his head to the floor easy because of his structure. It was almost as if his legs would naturally come off the ground to accommodate his torso. With such mass in the upper body, inversions are easier. Many think inversions are the end-all to mastering yoga when in fact inversion postures are simply another direction to test the body. Some find it easy some do not.

Here is a visual of the differences between torso body types, the weight and mass of the legs  in comparison to the torso.

Structural differencesDaily movements of our body requires finding our center of gravity. Gravity is what we work with to move ourselves.  When we begin a practice of yoga we become aware of our structural design and integrity.

Early on in yoga practice people use structural design as an excuse as to why they can’t do certain postures. I tried it, but my teacher wouldn’t buy into my excuses and called me lazy. Over time I simply became more aware of myself, dropped the ego expectation and humbly worked within my framework.

We all have structural differences which make certain activities easy and others more difficult. If you’ve ever played an auto racing video game, before the game starts you get to design your car. The design of the car will provide the parameters from which you get to experience the race.

Select your car

Whatever our structural design we all benefit from the yoga practice and can eventually perform all the poses in the class. I see students struggle with expectation and humiliation but the humbling effect brings one further into the benefits of the practice.   Remember yoga is simply a process of understanding.

Whatever your belief or excuse about your body it’s the starting point to becoming aware of who you are. All the poses I had excuses for have now become easy.  This is true with any perceived limitation of health or ability. When we release the expectation and ego, we can begin to discover the magic of who we are.

Blessings on your journey. I’ll see you in class.

 

~Douglas

Injured? Don’t Do Yoga!!

“Don’t do yoga.” It’s something I’ve heard students and clients tell me as their doctor’s or therapist’s instructions.

There is something deep and fundamentally disruptive with this mentality and level of intellect. First off  “yoga”  in itself is such a general statement about a system of practices for a healthy lifestyle. Yoga is about the way one perceives life. Surely the doctor didn’t mean: you’re injured, stop perceiving life with gratitude. Of course not. It’s simply our western model of health care. A model which is fundamentally sickness management, and the longer you can manage someone’s sickness or injury, the longer you make money. There is no education regarding the ancient secrets of health within the typical practitioners of western medicine.

What the doctor is referring to, I’m sure, is “do not attend a yoga class.” Another reality is that yoga, like medicine, has been reduced in it’s effectiveness and away from the wisdom of inner self. It’s now an exercise routine performed as an athletic competition. Many classes do not properly train an individual for the greatest accomplishment in yoga, to do nothing and be happy. The state of being is what matters in all circumstances.  So yes, the fast paced or poorly directed classes are not properly suited for injury care.

Yoga in its clearest form teaches the wisdom of doing no harm. Do no harm to the body. Do no harm to the mind. Treat yourself with respect and listen deeply to your inner wisdom.

Depending upon the extent of the injury, yoga can be used to learn the lesson of rest and using healing energy, or used to circumspect the range of injury through gentle movement. Yoga can be used for healing at every level of injury. What is needed is not less yoga, but more education for what is yoga.

In health and prosperity

~Douglas

 

Words of Wisdom from Dear Teachers

Namaste all.  I have put together some of my favorite quotes from the beautiful Douglas and also my great inspiration, Andrey Lappa.  I hope you enjoy! ;o)  (I am overflowing here, so ready to go!) ~Shalyn Bauschlicher, Associate Yoga Teacher

Douglas King:

*The vital understanding of man on this earth and our relation to the heavens is discovered in the practice of yoga, through right living, and steady pose.  

To this I would like to respond with the definition I found when searching “Satori” (what I know to be temporary Samadhi in Savasana, corpse pose): a flash of sudden awareness, individual enlightenment…”It is often said that when you truly need a teacher-or that which will function in lieu of a teacher-a teacher or satori, for example, will fall upon you.”

*Our physical body can heal and regenerate itself through awareness and interrelated support of the earth, sun and sky.

PRANA, Life Force

*We are inherently supposed to be strong, healthy and vibrant through our days, happy and wise as we age.

*Natural living is awareness of nature and living in harmony by nuturing the native environment and utilizing the fruits naturally present for our health and well being.

*While working to perfect the postures, our mind is challenged to be calm and peaceful in order to work through physical and emotional aspects of the practice.

*Synergize the movement into a powerful charge of energy…

This can be especially helpful when breaking through physical and emotion barriers in the individual practice…I am sure you will hear me repeat the words of my teacher in our practice together, “The pose is not easy, it is not difficult…it is what it is.”

*Regret for things we’ve done can be tempered by time. Regret for things we did not do is inconsolable.

(Book of Vinyasas: Creative Flow for Yoga  by Douglas King)

Still one of my favorite books of sequences.  I love Doug’s classes.

Andrey Lappa:

*Your attention is your “wireless” connection to your object of focus.

*Ego is the separation from things and those around you.

*Yoga is non-duality (unification), control (sign of presence of consciousness) and balance (control of energies).

*Using only physical practice with no balance of breath, meditation and purpose can actually inflate the ego.

For beginners the practice can be very good and humbling for the ego, but when only the only focus is asana development without the practice of the main goals of yoga (unity, control and balance) it can lead to imbalance and strong dualities.

*Yoga is technology teaching how to be conscious.

*God is One with many faces…Oneness has unlimited channels.

*When we eat unorganic foods, we are ingesting poison [residues]…eat unorganic thoughts and you have the same problem.

*For many people around the world, wealth and happiness can be found in a handful of rice: it means for one more week they have life.  (And think of the expressions on the faces of people in Wall Street).

Swami Rama:

*…you don’t need much external information, you already have true knowledge within.  You need to learn to apply the knowledge that you have.

Happy pondering! ;o) Namaste

Love, Shalyn