Thursday, January 05, 2012

yoga discipline

On days that I teach, it's always best to take a couple hours to prepare. Even though I can easily wing it if necessary, I'm a lot more confident if mentally prepared, and if I have a holistic sequence mapped out.

Today's class is at a senior center, so we won't be doing extreme postures like the kurmanasana pictured here. But my clients, some of whom are in their 80's, will be put through a vigorous routine of strenuous poses, modified to suit the needs of joints which are somewhat less flexible and bones more brittle than they used to be. The point is not to demand that practitioners rise to a physical standard established by heavenly bodies, but for all practitioners to realize the optimum benefit of each movement, and to adapt the movement in response to changed anatomies.

Yoga is (or should be) primarily about function rather than form. Feeling better is the point, not conforming to an ideal shape. As my grand-teacher and founder of American Viniyoga, Gary Kraftsow, is fond of saying, "This is not a competition, and it's not a performance art."

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