Well, it's been quite a week for me. I had a great time down in San Marcos over Memorial Day weekend. On Friday, Gioconda and I got together to make plans for our 300-hour Advanced Teacher Training that is coming up in the fall. We have an amazing group of applicants already and are hoping to have many more folks apply and register. We started outlining the program parameters even more clearly with specific Teaching Methods topics to review as well as an amazing course on the Business of Yoga. Our primary emphasis is on experiential practices that will help people both technically and through embodied experience. Neither of us want to chase down or dictate a bunch "rights and wrongs" about teaching but we do want to offer a meaningful year of study, practice and community-based learning. So that went well. We will be publishing a more in-depth syllabus soon. T
Also- this program is one weekend a month for a year and many people who live farther away have asked about an option that would make it more commuter-friendly. If you are someone interested in this program in a 5-day format over 18 months, send me a note at email@example.com. I will start a list of interested folks and Gia and I can make a plan if we have enough folks who are seriously interested in such a program.
On Saturday I worked on a photo shoot for the second sequence of my Asana Junkies Webinar. That went well. Like I have mentioned before I am working with a different sequencing strategy this time around. Last session I made 10 different sequences and this session I developed 3 sequences that build progressively on one another and instead of being a 2-hour back bend emphasis or a 2-hour forward bend emphasis I am using a general-template apporach that moves through warm- ups, headstand, handstand, pincha mayurasana to standing postures then arm balances, back bends, forward bends and then shoulder stand and closing. I am pleased with the first iterations of these sequences and will be making a few changes to them as time goes on and the feedback from actual practice rolls in.
One thing that is really clear to me is that working with a somewhat set sequence is a really different practice mentality than the peak-pose strategy. To work with a general template, one needs to know that the poses are your preparation whereas in a peak-pose strategy, we tend to prep every pose so that it feels great. That takes some getting used to . (And this context has to be measured with one's capacity as well because remember, ideally we never leave common sense out of yoga.) For the Level 1 student for instance, one might need a fair amount of preparation for headstand or handstand. For the Level 2 student, handstand is a great preparation for other things. Or think about pincha mayurasana- some folks need to open their shoulders to do it while other people get great shoulder opening from doing it. And also, if we do it as a shoulder opener it feels one way- maybe a little tight at first. If we do it after opening our shoulders it feels another way-- maybe freer and more expanded.
I personally have learned not to expect the same things from it. But that is a hard shift to make if your primary experience with harder poses is prepping them. (And with common sense in mind you have to know if you NEED the prep to be safe on the pose of if you just LIKE the prep because you prefer the way your pose feels even though the other way is perfectly safe.) So we've been talking about this a lot in junkies and orienting ourselves contextually to a full-specturm sequence intended for a general practice as opposed to a "how-to", peak pose yoga class/workshop context. Both strategies are awesome but they yield different outcomes, in my opinion. At least initially.
Anyway, I woke up Sunday with some pain in my hip which became excruciating by the end of the day and for several days after. It was so bad I subbed out my junkies practice on Wednesday, cancelled my trip to Minneapolis this weekend and had an MRI done. Turns out my gluteus minimus was in a total red-hot spasm/strain situation and that little muscle was causing a ton of problems and referred pain. It is so much better now, thanks to rest and some anti-inflammatory medication and some great bodywork. And like any injury situation I have already been processing lots of lessons.
When I saw the Sports Medicine doctor about my hip initially it was sobering because the symptoms I was experiencing could have been from strain, sprain, fracture, necrotic bone tissue, arthritis, torn labrum, cancer, etc. and there was really no way to know without getting an x-ray and MRI. But it got me to thinking that as a yoga teacher so many people come to my classes and workshops with pain that is undiagnosed and how, while I try to help, the truth of the matter is, pain is caused by a variety of things and good treatment outcomes depend a lot on knowing what is actually wrong AND we should, in my opinion, stay on the humble side of this dynamic as yoga teachers.
Years ago I worked in a TT program at a local studio where we made the trainees memorize this line: "I am a yoga teacher and I do not diagnose and I do not treat" to help the trainees understand their scope of practice. Scope of practice is a topic of a mini-series of blogs, actually as we have not governing body, as yoga teachers, that determines for us what our scope of practice actually is. Are we exercise teachers, counselors, life coaches, physical therapists, ministers, etc.? Are we some of each and then how much of one and how much of the other? So, I reflected a lot on these issues as I was lying in the MRI tube taking advantage of some sophisticated diagnostic equipment and preparing myself mentally for the range of possible outcomes and treatments which could start at rest and ice and go all the way to a hip replacement, depending on what they found.
And while that is a little dramatic-sounding perhaps it does serve as a great reminder that if we, as practitioners, have lingering pain or if our students have unexplained/undiagnosed/persistent pain we or they should get some help determining why they are hurting. For instance, if the bone had grown necrotic which was a main concern of my doctor then no amount of "thighs back" was going to help that. If I had torn something, stretching was not smart. If I had cancer, well, obviously I was going to need something other than PT. You get my point.
I could go on, but this is already a very long post. Suffice it to say I have a "pain in the butt" and I am getting better every day. I am enjoying the time on the couch to rest, watch some TV and get some work done on my TT Manual that I am going to finally make into a sellable product since so many people have been asking for it (and rumor even has it is has already been used in someone else's TT program so I might as well publish it and get some credit for its genius!)
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