22 April 2011

Couples Prenatal Yoga and Yoga for Childbirth

Saturday, April 30th
1:00 to 3:00 pm
Price per person:
$25 preregistration
$30 day of workshop

Couples Prenatal Yoga and Yoga for Childbirth
This workshop is an opportunity for you and your partner to experience a prenatal yoga class and connect to your inner wisdom as you experience the many changes of pregnancy and childbirth. You will learn to work with your changing body in a relaxing yoga practice that supports the needs of the pregnant woman. Developing the connection between mind and body during pregnancy will help to ease the fear of labor by empowering women to listen to their bodies and trust the natural process of childbirth. 

This class covers breath work and gentle yoga practice, guided meditation to enhance relaxation, and comfortable positions for labor and childbirth. Please join Sandra Knoy, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, and other couples for 2 hours of fun, laughs and relaxation. No yoga experience required. Can’t get your significant other to attend? Bring your doula, a close friend, or just come on your own! 

To preregister (including payment), contact Sandra via phone or email. 


05 April 2011

Final Teaching Script

Note: This was the teaching script I prepared for our final teaching session, which was a class in which each trainee taught 1-2 poses within a 5 minute time limit. It didn't all come out of my mouth quite like it was written, but I think it was fairly close. And most importantly, it was well-received by my fellow trainees as well as my trainers.

Opening, Ujjayi Breath, Child’s Pose

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor hips distance apart. Bring your attention to your natural breath and just observe. Is it smooth and slow, or is it uneven and quick? Just observe for a few cycles of breath.

Now begin to slow your breath down, breathing gently in and out through your nose. Make your inhales and exhales the same length – even breath. To create the Ujjayi breath, focus on keeping your belly soft during both inhale and exhale, gently constrict the back of the throat to create a soft sound. The ujjayi breath is often called ocean breath because the sound created is a soft hissing sound, similar to the sound of the ocean we hear when listening to the inside of a seashell. If you have trouble creating this sound, imagine you are trying to fog a mirror with your mouth closed (if it helps, actually open your mouth and “fog” a pretend mirror for a moment to get the idea). Ultimately our goal is to maintain the practice of ujjayi breath throughout our asana practice. If you notice your breath is strained in a pose – or even that you are holding your breath – it may be a sign to come out of the pose for a moment and rest – refocus on your breath, then try the pose again. It takes practice to continue ujjayi through an entire class, so if you feel frustrated because you keep ‘losing’ the breath, try to let the frustration go. It is ok, just refocus on your breath, and continue your practice. There is no time limit that says you must achieve perfect breathing techniques during your first class. It will come with time.

Move to your hands and knees, placing your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Take a moment to be aware of the neutral position of your spine. There should be even length from your neck to your tailbone, with the natural curves of your neck and lower back dipping toward the floor slightly. Press your hands in to the floor, making the index finger, thumb, and base of thumb the heaviest part of your hand. Check the creases of your wrists – they should be parallel to the front of your mat. On your next inhale, soften your belly slightly toward the floor, tipping your sit bones to the ceiling. At the same time, bring your gaze up to the ceiling if that is comfortable for your neck – if not, just gaze forward. On your exhale, reverse the curve, arching the middle of your back toward the ceiling like an angry cat. Draw your belly toward your spine, tipping your sit bones toward the floor, and relax your neck so your gaze comes inward to the floor beneath your or perhaps toward your navel if your neck is not strained. Inhale and repeat the belly sinking gently to the floor, sit bones and gaze rising to the ceiling. As you round on your next exhale, lower gently back onto your heels while keeping your hands firmly pressed into the ground. Inhale and come up and into the gentle backbend, sit bones and gaze to the ceiling. Exhale, round and lower, belly to spine, forehead to the floor. Do this two more times on your own breath, finishing with a neutral spine on your hands and knees.

Come to sukhasana, or any comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and bring your hands together in front of your heart in anjali mudra, also called prayer position. Leave a small space open at the center of your palms, allowing the space to signify the openness of your heart. Take a moment here to focus your intention for your practice today. Make it simple so that it is tightly focused: flexibility, freeing your back from pain, or something wider reaching such as peace and recovery those touched by the disasters in Japan. In the spirit of keeping our hearts open, I would like to share my intention with you today: to honor each woman in this room for sharing this experience with me. I have learned from all of you, and I am grateful for the gift of your presence as we all have grown and deepened our knowledge of yoga in its many forms. Take a deep breath for the OM. <chant>

04 April 2011

Makeup: Teaching Script

Tadasana for New Yogis
Come to the top of your mats and stand in Tadasana – Mountain Pose (demonstrate to give a general idea of the correct position). Tadasana is the foundation for standing poses – the actions you learn here will be repeated over and over throughout our practice. Place a block between your inner thighs. Your feet should be hip distance apart and parallel to the sides of your mat. Press down through all four corners of your feet. Lift your quadriceps – the front thigh muscles – as if you are trying to draw them upward toward your hips. This action secures the kneecap in place, protecting the knee joint from injury. Release your inner thighs to the back of the room – the block is there to help you feel this action, which opens up the sacral and lumbar areas of the spine (the low back). Draw the belly up and in, as if the abs were a rubber band stretching tightly from the front of your hipbones to your lower front ribs. Remember that firming your core muscles does not mean holding your breath! Continue to breathe slowly through your nose.  Keeping your core strong will protect your lower back as well as build abdominal strength that you will need for more challenging poses. Lift your sternum, widen across the collarbones, and press your shoulder blades forward toward your chest. These actions help bring your shoulder into proper alignment and will reappear in every standing pose. Relax the tops of the shoulders away from the ears and find length through all sides of the neck. Arms hang loosely by your sides, palms forward. Inhale and grow taller, as if you could gain more length in your spine, feeling the spaces between each rib expand gently. Exhale and ground more firmly with your feet – strong as a mountain, unmovable, unshakable.

03 April 2011

Makeup: Philosophy

It’s difficult to choose just one favorite sutra, as there are so many that are wonderful and applicable to everyday life. Perhaps the best choice is the beginning – Atha Yoga Anusasanam: The practice of yoga begins now.

I keep coming back to this sutra because it is a reminder that yoga encompasses far more than simply an asana practice. Yoga is something we can practice every day, in every moment of our lives, and this practice can bring peace and joy to our lives if we just allow it to do so.

While it’s difficult to weigh the true value of this yoga teacher training, I think it’s safe to say that this concept is definitely one of the most important things I have learned during YTT. I have never delved so deeply into yoga philosophy – in 13 years of practice the only sutras I’d read were those printed in Yoga Journal. And honestly I just skimmed the philosophic topics for the most part. It just wasn’t what I was seeking at that time for my yoga practice. For years my yoga has been about healing and injury prevention.

YTT has brought my understanding of yoga to a deeper level, which is invaluable to me not only as I start the journey to becoming a yoga teacher, but in my daily life as well. I have a long way to go, but already the effects of concentrating on the sutras, 1:1 in particular, have had an impact on my life and interactions with the people around me. Asana is a wonderful practice to draw people into yoga, but the philosophy has so much to offer us that it seems a shame to stop for too long with just one limb of Patanjali’s eight.

02 April 2011

Week 12: Teaching Script

Transition from Vira I to Vira II

In adho muhka svanasana, inhale and elongate your spine from neck to tailbone, exhale and let go of any tension in your neck. From the inner right heel, lift your right leg to hip level and bring it forward between your hands, making sure your knee is directly above your ankle and not extending in front of your foot. Let your back foot drop to the floor, angling the toes toward the front of your mat. Look at your feet – they should be in heel to heel alignment for Virabhadrasana I, and your right knee should be in line with your second toe. If you are pregnant or have any low back problems, take a moment to adjust your feet to a wider stance for more stability.

On your next inhale, lift up from your core, sweeping the arms overhead until the palms come together lightly. Allow your gaze to follow your hands. Hold the pose as we work from the ground up to square the hips to the front of the room. Press down strongly through both heels, especially the outer edge of your back heel. Exhale and sink deeper into the pose, bringing your right thigh parallel to the floor. Engage the quadriceps on your back leg and spiral the inner thigh toward the back of the room. Exhale and bring your hands to your hips.

To prepare for Virabhadrasana II, we need to adjust our foundation. Heel-toe your front foot to the left until your front heel is aligned with your back arch. Adjust your back foot if necessary – it may be more comfortable if you shift your toes back slightly – they should still angled toward the front of your mat, but a wider angle for the back foot will give your more stability in Virabhadrasana II and allow your front leg to open into external rotation. Adjust the position of your pelvis – it should no longer be squared to the front of the room, but open to the side wall. Look at your right knee and ensure it is in line with your second toe.

Inhale, get length through your waist, and lift your arms to come parallel to the floor as you turn your face to the front of the room (over the right arm). Lift your sternum, widen across your collarbones, and press your shoulder blades forward into your chest. Exhale and sink a little deeper, bringing the right thigh parallel to the floor if you can. Soften the face and let the shoulders drop away from the ears, finding stability and ease in the pose as you hold here for another breath. On your next exhale, windmill the arms to the floor and come through a vinyasa – chaturanga, urdhva mukha svanasana, and finish in adho mukha svanasana.

01 April 2011

Week 12: Sequencing

Level 2 class with Urdhva Dhanurasana (UD) as peak, component part (CP) poses noted: Tadasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Utkatasana, Setu Bandha
1.        Opening
a.        Sukhasana (Easy Cross-Legged Seat) – set intention
b.       Marjaryasana/Bitilasana (Cat/Cow) – to warm the spine
c.        Balasana (Child’s Pose) – still the mind
d.       Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) – lengthen the spine
2.        Surya Namascara (Sun Saluatation) – warm the entire body
a.        SNA x3 – lengthen spine, extend through heels in Chaturanga
b.       SNB x2 – shoulder girdle mantra
3.        Standing Poses – open the hips and prepare for peak pose
a.        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) – CP for UD: Press firmly into hands, esp. thumb and bases of index finger thumb. Shoulder girdle mantra esp. shoulder blade moving in toward chest
b.       Balasana (Child’s Pose) – hold for 3 breaths to rest and reenergize for standing poses
c.        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) – CP for UD: Press firmly into hands, esp. thumb and bases of index finger thumb. Shoulder girdle mantra esp. shoulder blade moving in toward chest. Soften front ribs to protect lower back.
d.       Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) – open hips, shoulder girdle mantra, focusing on the use of shoulder muscles to lift arms. Spend time here doing a moving warrior with the breath to really get into the hips and warm them.

e.        Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) – shoulder girdle mantra, extension of arms toward sky and earth, upward rotation of shoulder blades
f.        Tadasana (Mountain Pose) – CP for UD: ground evenly through all found corners of each foot, softening of lower ribs to protect low back and spiraling inner thighs back (use block to reinforce the inner thigh action)
g.       Utkatasana (Chair Pose) – CP for UD: external rotation of the arm, focus on creating the backbend in upper spine by pressing shoulder blades forward toward the chest and widening from the spine
h.       Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) – counterpose to backbend, let neck release
i.         Tadasana (Mountain Pose) – CP for UD: instruct softening of lower ribs to protect low back and spiraling inner thighs back
j.         Parivrtta Utkatansana (Twisting Chair Pose) – hands to anjali mudra, twist to balance the forward bend, focus on keeping the neck long
k.       Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) – CP for UD: Press firmly into hands, esp. thumb and bases of index finger thumb. Shoulder girdle mantra esp. shoulder blade moving in toward chest
l.         Dolphin – draw lower front ribs toward frontal hipbones, press down the length of the forearm, stacking the inner wrist on top of the outer wrist
m.     Sirsasana II (Headstand) – press down the length of the forearm, stacking the inner wrist on top of the outer wrist, extend lower ribs toward frontal hipbones
4.       Peak
a.        Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) – to enter peak pose – CP for UD: shoulder blades in to chest to bring backbend into thoracic spine, spiral inner thighs to floor.
b.       Urdhva Dhanurasana – build on component parts from previous poses: Press firmly into hands, esp. thumb and bases of index finger thumb. Ground evenly through all found corners of each foot. Shoulder girdle mantra esp. shoulder blade moving in toward chest and widening away from spine, external rotation of the upper arm. Softening of lower ribs to protect low back. Spiral inner thighs to floor to prevent overarching in the lumbar spine.
5.        Cooldown
a.        Reclining Twist – feet wise as the mat, take knees to each side of the mat and return to center with the breath
b.       Happy Baby – release spine
c.        Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) – prepare for Sarvangasana
d.       Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)
e.        Matsyasana – release upper back
f.        Apanasana (come off blankets) – roll gently side to side, make circles with knees
6.       Savasana (Corpse Pose)