I sometimes wonder if I should give up coffee. Not because I’m a yoga fundamentalist who thinks that this kind of drug is incompatible with a dedicated yoga practice (please no!), but simply because I’m now more aware of how it makes my body feel and the aftermath of a strong coffee isn’t so great: it wreaks havoc with my blood sugar levels. Cue the need for a sudden intake of something sweet! Of course I particularly loved the day we ran into my teacher in the supermarket — while I was positively inhaling a bar of chocolate, I was eating it so quickly! Even though I’m sure he didn’t care…!
But coffee drinking is a pretty modest vice and I enjoy the social ritual of it as much as anything. It’s not just a habit to enhance my concentration when I’m working, it’s something I love to share with friends and family. Now that I can’t stomach a good pint of English beer any more, this is my substitute!
So after a morning of bathroom painting and Sanskrit grammar (I think you can tell who was doing what), Hubby and I went out for an afternoon brew. We fell to talking about his yoga practice and he told me all about his class on Friday.
Today he’d been watching my Vira 3 hamstring-friendly modification — essentially keeping the lifting foot right down low or even on the floor instead of raising it parallel to the ground. He asked me about it. So I explained that when the grumbling hamstring was in the supporting leg I was trying to minimise the amount of weight it would take when the body tipped forward and lengthened the muscle. When it was in the leg I was raising, I was concentrating on engaging the hamstring and lifting the leg with that muscle, building strength gradually by keeping it low for now.
Then I got carried away into talking about the importance of engaging muscles in the standing leg from the foot up, about hip-stability and keeping the movement as smooth as possible, about the different feeling of pointing or flexing the lifted foot, the energetic line you can feel up the back from heel to head, using the pelvis as the pivot point; how you can engage the muscles and feel these actions even without lifting up fully into the balance. It might not look much but the work is certainly still going if you pay attention.
Too much information maybe? I blame the caffeine rush!
He was so intrigued he tried it out later at home. And exclaimed at how amazing it felt!! He really likes exploring and feeling the action of a pose, even if the form of it looks really weird. I reckon this is good yoga, and he’s pretty amazing at leaving his ego outside the studio and doing his practice the way his body needs it.
It was also really nice talking him through how I experience this pose and translating that into what might be helpful for him.
Nicest of all, he said I light up when I talk about yoga and although he’s really picky about what he considers reliable sources of information for his practice, today he genuinely listened to what I was saying.
All that from a cup of coffee! I just hope what I said made sense.