There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

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Each month I write for OM Yoga Magazine – here is my column from November 2012

Since 2012 I’ve written a monthly column and the odd feature for OM Yoga Magazine. This column was originally published in the November 2012 issue:

A mild thoracic curve means my chaturanga can look slightly lopsided. However, I only noticed this after observation in a mirror and working one-to-one with a teacher. X-rays and scans confirmed mild scoliosis
as well as spondylolisthesis, so the wonky chaturanga then made sense. Not long ago I had the experience of being in a workshop where an advanced teacher tried to (literally) wrench my shoulder up and back in chaturanga to straighten me out, despite my explanation of my physical imbalances. Instead of listening, he stared at me blankly and said, “You’re not doing it right”.

These experiences greatly inform how I approach teaching. They also remind me what an honour and privilege and responsibility it is. If I were less confident, that experience with the advanced teacher would have upset me. (Let’s save the ‘what is advanced?’ discussion for another time!) I like to remember the words of Judith Lasater who I studied with earlier this year. During training, one of the many things she said that stuck with me in regard to yoga asana is that there is no right or wrong – there is only safe. It’s important that we do our best to be safe in our postures.

I enjoy one-to-one yoga sessions a lot. Each person I guide through practice teaches me something. Every body is different. There is no perfect yoga pose. One of the things I love about working one-to-one is being able to guide someone to finding the expression of a posture that works best for them. Together we can take more time to get back to basics, break down poses and tailor their practice. My hope is that within this the yogi comes to experience that the practice they are developing is about more than touching their toes. When a client told me she had practised a couple of poses on her own at home because she liked how they made her feel afterwards I was delighted. Delighted that she felt confident enough to do some asana practice on her own and that she was finding her own unique experience of yoga that went beyond where to place her feet in trikonasana. Even better that this was for her self-care and not to please the teacher.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher (www.ucanyoga.co.uk) – if you are in London and interested in 1-2-1 or Small Group Private Yoga, please click here for details.

If you’d like to read a selection of my past OM Yoga Magazine columns and a FREE 24 page preview of the latest issue at my U Can Yoga website, please click here.

A New Season – Saluting the Sun

A New Season – Saluting the Sun

Sun Salutation infographic - via Health Perch, Aldo Baker

Sun Salutation infographic - via Health Perch, Aldo Baker

In my home-town of London it feels like the sun has officially come out of hibernation and that Spring is here at last! With a mix of my own home practice and recently teaching sunrise yoga in the beautiful New York loft-style, light-filled studio at Victor’s Lab on Mondays, I’ve been making the most of the brighter mornings by taking the opportunity to salute the sun for real!

I was recently introduced to this great Sun Salutation infographic by Aldo Baker via Health Perch and it’s a really handy guide to refer to if you’re new to sun salutes and want to practice outside of class. I’ve attached a jpeg alongside this post, but you can see the guide in full at the Health Perch website by clicking here.

On another note, I am always surprised by how time flies! It doesn’t seem long ago that we were just starting the very first south London-based Stretching the City Yoga Beginners course in Pimlico in January – now it’s already the halfway point in the second 6-week Course in Pimlico.

So far we’ve been working on standing poses, forward bends and twists. Week 3 is where we introduce backbends and we’ve also been introducing sun salutations into our practice.

If you’re new to yoga (or know someone who wants to start) and would like to learn in a relaxed group setting, then why not join the next 6-week Pimlico course? It starts on Tues 15th April 7.30-8.30pm. As well the sun salutation mentioned above you’ll get a good overall grounding in yoga basics. I also like to suggest different options to encourage you to safely adapt and modify poses to suit you. By the end of the six weeks you should feel confident enough to attend drop-in yoga classes, practice at home and attend yoga retreats.

You can find further info on Stretching the City’s courses and sign up by clicking here.

In the meantime, take care and I hope the sun is shining where you are 🙂