The Delicate Art of Adjustments

The article in this past weekend's New York Times: The Delicate Art of Adjustments blows my mind. It's hard to believe that adjustments in yoga are just now becoming a hot topic. I'm a big believer in energetic and oral adjustments; this article further evidences why that may be a growing trend in yoga studios. Every person's body is different and it's theirs...where it became appropriate for another person with very little awareness of your physical history to manipulate you into challenging poses is beyond me.

Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal taught a revelatory session in their Therapeutic Yoga training at Integral Yoga Institute that completely blew my mind; all based on the permission to give an assist to someone and how intimate and empowering that is.

Image credit from The New York Times' February 13, 2011 article, "The Delicate Art of Adjustments"

I'm sure more articles and opinions will follow. 

You're a pain in my neck...

When you're working on the computer a lot, driving frequently, traveling or just stressed out, somehow it all builds into your neck. Here's a simple stretch that I do a few times a day that helps release tension and builds a nice "PAUSE" into the typically hectic schedule (it also helps that I tend to do this with my eyes closed to really quiet the outside world):

  • Sitting or standing, take a moment to notice your posture and bring yourself into proper alignment (engage your core, move your shoulders down from your ears, shoulder blades down your back, head in a neutral position parallel to the floor)
  • Inhale and on your exhale bring your right ear towards your right shoulder (note: do not bring your shoulder to your ear!)
  • Practice 3 breathes; on the inhale focusing on the left side of your neck bringing in spaciousness, and on the exhale focus on releasing tension. 
  • You can place your right palm on your ear, letting the weight of your hand increase the stretch (do not pull your head closer to your shoulder!)
  • Inhale your head back to center. 
  • Exhale your left ear towards your left shoulder, repeating the stretch on the other side, again with 3 breathes to ease tension in your neck. 
  • Repeat the sequence.
  • Close the sequence by inhaling your head to center, and exhale your chin to your chest, bringing space to the back of the neck. Pause here for 3 breathes. 
  • Inhale your head back to center and take a few breathes here, noticing how your neck feels. 

Blogging yogis...

The New York Times seems to be loving the topic of yoga...

Yoga’s Serious. Except When It’s Not.

Not to say whether I agree with everything that's said or not, but nice to see yoga is spreading it's wings and being introduced to new people...though I'm not a fan of the posting about who's going to what yoga classes; that seems disingenuous and counterintuitive to yoga's consideration of the importance of ego.

Milkin' it

Asana poses that incorporate a twist are helpful for invigorating organs with fresh oxygen, and known to "wring out the toxins that may have taken up residency". They are also great for releasing lower back tension and when done with props like bed pillows, are what I like to call "yummy".

Since I've been experiencing more tension headaches than normal, likely due to more travel in the past month than I've had in awhile, this is a great gentle pose to practice first thing in the morning, and even just before bed. Here's the how to:

(This can be done without props, or with...whatever you prefer.)

Photo sourced from
  • Sit on a bolster or large bed pillow, with your tail bone in the middle of the pillow.
  • Tuck your chin and with your hands helping to walk you backwards, lie supine on your mat. Reposition the pillow as necessary.
  • Hug your knees into your chest and hold the pose for 2 full breathes.
  • On your next exhale, drop both knees to your right side, and extend both arms out in a "T". (A pillow between your knees and the floor helps ease the stretch, as well as a pillow between your knees.)
  • Focus your awareness on your lower back, picturing the tension you feel easing on the inhale, and releasing from your body on your exhale. I find it useful to visualize a color; like that of a warm and gentle sun on a summer afternoon.)
  • Rest in this pose, bringing your awareness to your breathe, and focusing on opening any areas in your body that feel tight. At least 5 mindful breathes on this side.
  • Inhale your knees to center and give them a hug on the exhale. On your next exhale, drop them to the left side, repositioning pillows as needed. 
  • Repeat the above steps on your left side.
  • To come out of the pose, place your feet on the mat and gently lift your sit bones up to the sky, pulling the pillow out from under your bottom. Slowly lower down back to the mat, bringing your knees into your chest and roll back up to sitting.
  • In a comfortable seated position, see if you notice any shifts in your body.
I find it very challenging to only do one yoga pose, and usually end up with at least a 25 minute practice every time. Good for the body, great for the mind, blissful for the heart.