One of the challenges with a yoga website isn't just providing good information, it's making the information easy to find.
As a teacher I often (but not always) try to match the content of what I teach to the ability and needs of the students in my class. I basically access my own database (of understanding) and choose what to deliver to my students.
In the case of a website, I don't have the connection with you to see what you need or what you are looking for so I have to "pre-think" my indexing system so as to match a wide variety of possible scenarios.
(Continued below the More index)
(Click on the header image at the top of any page to get to this index. You can also click on the header of any section on this page to return here. )
Ideas for turning balance into a general skill along with two simple exercises for learning how to balance.
Eka Pada Bakasana
the transition from Marichyasana A
controlling tension in the IT Band
(How it helps to stabilize the Hip)
(Lifting the back ribs to improve ribcage awareness and control)
One of the easiest ways to organize information so that it is easy to find is alphabetically.
You can go to the alphabetical list of yoga poses for a list of most of the poses and stretches on this site. Note that there are two lists. The first list is without images, the second list, lower down on the same page is with photos.
If you make a mistake, and go to the wrong place or don't find what you are looking for, you can click on the letter heading at the top of each alphabetic section to return to the index.
Something to bear thinking about when learning yoga (or anything else) is how forgiving are you of errors? The better you can bounce back from a mistake, the faster you can get on with learning. The trick is in learning to make mistakes less costly. (And practicing a mindset where you don't worry about making them.)
That can be much easier to do if part of your process of learning includes breaking things down into small and clearly defined elements.
And that's more or less what I did when I learned Ashtanga Yoga (from a book). It's a set sequence of poses and I simply memorized and practiced a little bit at a time till I learned the whole series. I apply the same idea to learning the body.
As a teacher I try to do that for you. But the better you are at doing this for yourself, the less dependent you become on any one teacher, and perhaps ironically, the better a student you become.
The body is a tricky thing to break down into elements.
An example of breaking things down that I like to use is oriental calligraphy where characters can be broken down into brush strokes.
If you can break something down like your own body or a yoga pose into the equivalent of brush strokes, elements that you can feel and control, you can apply that same method to learning most other things.
One way to practice clearly defined movements and positions is with the Dance of Shiva.
Apart from alphabetically, Another way to lookup up a yoga pose is by the actual action or type of pose. So there are pages with standing poses, seated poses, kneeling poses etc. But there are also pages with poses grouped according to whether or not they are back bends or forward bends or twists etc.
One advantage of these pages is that you can see poses with similar actions grouped together making it easier to find substitute poses or poses that are easier or more challenging or just different. In some cases you may find that poses are organized in such a way that you can do them one after the other as a sort of sequence of yoga poses.
Aside from having instructions for various yoga poses it can help to have some basic ideas or principles that you can apply to doing yoga poses and sequencing them.
In addition, two things you can do in any yoga pose are creating space and creating stability. Creating space or length makes you yoga pose look and feel big (and can improve both feel and control). Stability can be viewed as an important subset of control. It can be one of the first things that you create when using control, and it can lead to easier control of other parts of the body.
Ironically (or not ironically) creating bigness in a yoga pose could be thought of as one way of creating stability since creating space tends to add tension to connective tissue which in results in not only a better feel for your body but stability.
If you are interested in strength or flexibility there is some overlap. That is because muscle control can be used in both types of poses.
Now you might think it is simply a matter of turning muscles on for strength training and turning them off for stretching. But, what is most important for both activities is creating joint stability, or failing that, creating a fixed end point (by stabilizing that part of the body) for any muscle that you are trying to stretch or strengthen.
One way to think of the difference between strength training and flexibility training is that strength training tends to be done well within the limits of your range of motion while flexibility training works at the limits (and tries to push them back.) Flexibility training does also include relaxed stretching, and I should point out here that being able to relax a muscle or set of muscles) is just as important a part of muscle control as activating muscles is.
One way to guide the way you sequence stretching poses is via the meridians.
In meridian stretching you can focus on relaxing the muscle being stretched so that you stretch the connective tissue within the muscle itself.
Although you are trying to relax the muscle you are stretching the goal isn't to relax completely. You still need to stabilize or anchor one end of the muscle being stretched.
One advantage of meridian stretching is that it can leave you feeling refreshed.
Most breathing exercises are actually exercises in muscle control.
Bar focusing on the actual passage of breath through your nostrils, throat or mouth, most breath control exercises ask you focus on feeling the sensations generated by your respiratory muscles. And so one way to think of muscle control is that it is like a breathing exercise, particularly if you practice activating and relaxing muscles slowly and smoothly.
Most of my classes include muscle control whether it is direct, feeling muscles activate and contract, or indirect by feeling connective tissue tension and/or pressure at any point of contact.
And most of my ebooks and videos focus on some aspect of muscle control.
And that is one of my main interests as a yoga teacher, effectively teaching students to feel and control their body so that they can use that awareness and control in any endeavour.
Muscle control is what allows you to consciously feel and control your body. It's via muscle control that you can develop proprioception (a fancy word for "feeling your body".)
With respect to the posture, movement, muscle control and proprioception, tensegrity is the state where you've optimized tension throughout the body so that you can sense and respond simultaneously. You could think of it as being tuned, like a guitar or violin.
Balance is one way of beginning to learn to feel and control your body.
If you view the body as a system of relationships, then balance is about feeling and controlling your relationship with the earth.
As you get better at feeling and controlling this relationship you can apply the same ideas to feeling and controlling the relationships within your body at least at the musculoskeletal level.
And that's where the anatomy and biomechanics section comes in.
The study of anatomy and biomechanics can be used to help guide how you explore your own body.
The idea here isn't just to talk about, say, the insertion and origin of the biceps muscle (I would just say attachment points) but to actually feel those end points and the muscle that pulls them towards each other in your own body.
The alphabetical anatomy index lists anatomy pages alphabetically.
Some people get into yoga to deal with pain. Others experience pain in the process of doing yoga.
If you are going to try and fix any problems of pain yourself, I'd suggest that part of that process includes learning to feel and control your body. The feeling/sensing part is how you try to diagnose what is causing the problem. The controlling part is what you do to fix the problem.
Learning to feel and control your body is a very long process. And you may find yourself going in circles, till you figure out what you need to do in order to go deeper. But if you deal with problems in other areas, the same process applies. In either case, the better you understand what you are dealing with, the easier it is to fix problems, (or redefine problems so that they are fixable.)
If posture (or a lack of good posture) is the problem, the same thing applies. Practice feeling your body and controlling it so that you can then find good posture with minimum effort.
Depending on how you practice yoga, it can lead you to a better understanding of what it means to be more conscious. (It could simply be used to feel good and there's nothing wrong with that).
But the better you understand consciousness, the easier it can be to apply what you learn in yoga to other aspects of your life.
I'll suggest here that thinking, and ego, aren't bad things. They are handy tools to have. Thinking (and ego) are how we create limits, or definitions. Limits are tools that we can use to make learning more effective. The trick is learning to get rid of limits when they no longer serve.
Being present is a state of consciousness where we aren't thinking, but we are aware. It's the state of mind where we become fully immersed in the present moment so that time seems to stop. You could think of being present as the equivalent of expanding your consciousness into the space of your immediate environment while when thinking your consciousness is expanded across time in "imaginary space".
How does this relate to yoga? Basically, the more you focus on feeling your body and controlling it, the more present you become, and the less you think. And that's one reason for the focus on sensation, particularly tension and pressure. These sensations give you something to pay attention to in the present moment.
Thinking, or analyzing is also important because this is how you look back on your experience of your body from another point of view. Both points of view help you to better understand your body.
All of my yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you have a better experience of your body. Currently you can find a list of them on my Neil Keleher page.
Sensational yoga poses are a way of Learning Your Body.
The easier it is then to improve strength, improve flexibility, coordination, or simply the ability to "be present" in your body.
As a yoga teacher, I'm constantly exploring new exercises, new ways of doing yoga poses.
There is no single "right way" of doing a yoga pose. Instead, there are options. And the better you are at "feeling" your body, the better you can get at choosing the right option for your body as it is now.
For any technique, the point of practice is to learn feel it and to control it, so that it can be used without thinking about how to use it.
And that is more or less the approach taken in all of my ebooks and videos. They help you to feel your body and control it so that you can work towards using it effectively in anything that you do.