Yoga is fundamentally an act of kindness towards oneself, says renowned yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater in this free download. And certainly right now, whether we are a yoga teacher or a student, we need yoga more than ever before
As yoga teachers, we have been preparing for this time – the age of the coronavirus for years, Judith notes. We’ve been preparing for it with asana, pranayama and meditation, in our self awareness and self study and in our commitment to being present in the world.
Many yoga teachers right now are struggling and wonder how it’s all going to work out and whether yoga teaching will return to person to person interaction. But we should remember that the teaching does not come from us, it comes through us, Judith notes. With our practice, we prepare the vessel and when we step on the mat, whether it’s online or whether it’s in person and we open the vessel.
Judith tells the story of the first yoga class she taught. Like most new teachers, she was feeling a little nervous.
“And this little voice came from the back of my head and it said, what do you do when you’re feeling like this: Breathe.
“So I sat there and I took several deep breaths and then something opened up in me and I got the total kinesthetic, sensual sense of my teacher standing behind me, and then her teacher behind her. Her teacher was Indian, and so very quickly it was Indian way back into the midst of time.
“And I realized I wasn’t doing anything. I was just handing the bucket. I was the bucket, not the water. And then when I did that, I could go and I used to call it plugging into the cosmic grid.
“That’s my dharma. That’s my love. That’s my reason for being on earth – to open up and let what is real and true and fine and good use me in that moment.”
Judith also talks about how, even though we could all use some “restful yoga for stressful times right now” unfortunately, the barrier to practice can be high if, for example, you are middle-aged, not in shape or don’t have the typical ‘yoga body.’
She talks about how some groups of poses are more tricky to teach and learn, particularly forward bends, which paradoxically are also one of the most calming and restorative yoga postures.
“Forward bends are the most advanced poses in yoga, in my opinion,” Judith notes. “The average person of 30 cannot bend over and touch the floor.
“Forward bending postures require more and more flexibility, not just of hamstrings, but of a wide range of muscles, including the adductors, the rotators, and even the calf muscles,” Judith notes. Forward bends require the whole posterior chain to be involved.
At the same time, many more students are injured by hypermobility than hypomobility. Judith also talks about common hamstring injuries, particularly at the sitz bone attachment and why stretching the hamstrings often is contraindicated in that situation.
However, forward bending postures when practiced correctly can be one of the best posture groups for practicing ‘restful yoga during stressful times.’ Judith further discusses some of the anatomical alignment keys to get the most out of forward bending yoga postures
You may also be interested in Judith’s course, Calming the Nervous System – The Art of Forward Bends.