Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Yoga Book Report: Edges, Lines and Intro Poses

I kind of hate to admit it, but I was Very Excited when I saw we were past the meditation portion and moving on to poses. All that meditation business was starting to make me feel grossly under-qualified to be teaching anyone anything having to do with yoga, whereas the practical yoga, or hatha yoga - that, I can actually DO, kind of. Added bonus - a good portion of the poses section so far has been pictures, which makes me feel a little better about how many pages I still have left to read and dissect (three hundred and twenty-three).

There are a few chapters about edges and lines prior to jumping into the poses. These are very long, prose-y sections that I will sum up in a few quick bullet points:

WHAT ARE THEY

  • Edges are personal boundaries; they change on a minute-to-minute basis and determine the depth of the pose (for you).
  • Lines are established coordinates for your energies and determine the shape of the pose.
  • Edges and lines are what define where you are and where you're going within a pose.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Always listen to your own body.


I think the stuff about edges and lines may be the most crucial part of the hatha yoga section of the book, so my apologies if I've minimized their importance. They're complex concepts but they boil down very simply. If you want to get the meaty version, or Erich's take on it anyhow, I suggest reading the book.

And now, the poses, hooray! Erich is starting to get the hang of how I operate, because he opens the section with something about how you probably don't have time to do the poses as he describes them, so just picture it in your head and feel it in your body as you read the instructions. Done and done, says me, as the subway train lurches around yet another corner.

He starts with the most basic of poses - mountain pose - and begins to build off that one to some of the other classics. He patiently walks through each detail of each pose, most of which start out pretty much the same (I'm guessing he was doing a lot of copy and paste during this portion) and peppers in black-and-white photographs of the bendiest people I've ever seen, absolutely dominating their rotated triangles and whatnot. Their lines are tremendous, to say the least. His brand of yoga is different from what I've practiced - deliberate and slow, with lots of talk of cat-tilts and dog-tilts. Definitely no music, definitely no vinyasa flow. His warrior II looks different and his transitions are nothing I've ever seen before. When he finally puts together a sequence, there's no down-dog (he has yet to mention down-dog at all, actually) and he jumps from mountain to warrior II to half-moon - what?! - but it's all good, because he's teaching and I'm learning and the whole thing is starting to make a lot of sense.

Despite the fact that I will absolutely be going straight back to fiction after finishing things up with Erich, I continue to admit to myself how much fun I'm having with the instructional-style writing. He's got that amazing tripping teaching cadence and flow - even as a writer, I can just tell. He's also full of all kinds of great nonsense, the kind of stuff that starts to speak to you once you're doing this stuff often enough. I love, for example, his constant use of ridiculous descriptions, such as "gaze straight backwards into infinity," "orchestrate this action perfectly" and "'do' and 'not-do' at the same time." He's also always using very silly non-yoga words - for example, he is constantly telling me to 'snuggle' my foot down into the ground (while I'm creating the lines). Never 'plant,' 'ground' or 'root,' but always 'snuggle.' If my palm is also on the ground, like in triangle pose, I'm to snuggle that, too. Snuggle! This is how I know we're best friends.

When I am a yoga teacher, I hope to:

  • Speak with a lovely tripping cadence
  • Use fantastic word choices to inspire energy and keep things interesting
  • Not intimidate my students by bending into a perfect pretzel every time I demonstrate anything (chances of this happening at my current level of flexibility are slim to nil anyhow)
  • Be funny and relatable, always


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Thoughts?