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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Weird and Wonderful

Yoga instructor Simon Low is known for his slightly unconventional approach to the practice. While he says he had learnt from the different schools -- Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anusara, Bikram and so on -- he doesn't belong to any. What he teaches now is known as Yin Yoga, a particular style that I am interested in (see my earlier entries on Paul Grilley), with restorative yoga integrated into his teaching/practice. 

I'm currently taking a four-day workshop with him and the man is good. And I can't tell you exactly why/how he is good (other than the fact he comes across as very intelligent and is very good at articulating his ideas), you just have to practise in one of his classes to understand what I mean. Yesterday afternoon, he led a flow (yang yoga) class in which we kept moving from one pose to another, one sequence of poses to another, for over two hours. And the strangest thing was, instead of getting tired, after about 90 mins, we got more and more energetic and I could (okay weird yoga talk time) feel energy whirling around the studio; so when I lifted my arms, I could FEEL the power of the lift and the extension of my arms ... when instructors described this energy to me before, I was, like, Uh? What are you talking about? Now I know. And by the end of the class, I just felt Great. Positive. Confident.

Then after a quick early dinner, we had a restorative yoga session. This part of Yin yoga that Simon teaches is totally new to me and it is kinda ... "elaborate" in its setup/execution ... see photos below:

Seriously ... this is Yoga Therapy
It requires A LOT of use of props: blankets, towels, bolsters, eye bags, sand bags (!) ... basically anything you can get your hands on to support a pose that sets out to relax the body for a long period of time (15-20 mins) ... it's therapeutic I'm sure but I just can't see myself doing this on a regular basis.

Supported spinal twist
Simon did solve one riddle for me in this session: the Spinal Twist.Basically my spine doesn't twist well so whenever I get myself into this pose, if I push my bent knees onto the floor, my shoulder would come up off the floor on the other side, and if I push my shoulder down, the knees will come up (a bit like a see-saw). So the solution to this "problem" is to put a couple of blocks under my knees to give them enough of an elevation to allow my shoulder to rest on the floor. Voila! I get a twist as well as not straining the part that is off the floor (see demo left). Simon says the fact that some of us need that support doesn't mean that we are "bad" at yoga, but just cos we have very different body/anatomical type/built/makeup -- something that Yin practitioners are particularly aware of.

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