Support…

Hello all!  First some admin stuff to get out of the way:  substitute teaching this week, all at various Equinox locations:

Tuesday 2/15 10am Columbus Circle

Wednesday, 2/16 1:15 pm Columbus Circle

Wednesday, 2/16 6:30pm basics, 7:30pm level 2/3 Soho

Friday, 2/18 1:15pm Columbus Circle…lots of options!

Today, Sunday February 13th, is another beautiful, clear Sunday in Manhattan.  Folks are out doing Sunday type things – shopping, carting children and/or dogs around, strolling, eating, going to church, coming back from church, and all types of other in-between things that folks do on Sundays – laundry, relax, an of course, heading to or heading from yoga class.  I was privileged enough to have another brilliant array of students in my 9am vinyasa yoga class, taught at Equinox Columbus Circle.  It is always inspiring to watch people undergo the process of transformation.  That’s really what my job is- I facilitate the process of transformation, and in that facilitation I am witness to, and participate in life’s great poetry – large or small, subtle or striking, once we become present and give ourselves attention, time and breath, we change.  Issues seem manageable, problems fade from our immediate focus, and we deepen our relationship with ourselves just a little more….All that from yoga?  How?  Today we will discuss it in the context of support, and how with the right support at the right time, anything is possible.

We all deal with the concept of support in many aspects of our lives. In the world of movement, personal training, yoga teaching and health education, the concept of support is hugely important. Support is the thing in life – personal, professional, yoga, running, dancing, anything -that can keep us from failing. It holds us up.  It is like the small voice whispering in one ear “don’t give up, you are almost there, you can get through this…I believe in you.” It feels like a hand just hovering at the small of your back, ready to catch you if you should start to fall.  With the proper support in place, we are held up, we can grow, we can explore, we can shine.  In terms of movement and personal training, there is a direct relationship between how well a muscle can perform a certain action and the amount of support it receives from the smaller muscles.  With a well functioning muscle – one that can go through its full range of motion, can contract and relax with reasonable efficiency, and can assist in everyday or sport specific tasks when we need it to, there is an entire system of supporting musculature that facilitates that action.  In yoga the same rules apply.  We have to understand where the support is coming from in order to be able to grow, explore, and shine in our asanas.

There is some basic physiology at play when we talk about supporting muscles – lets take tree pose for an example.  We are standing with our right leg straight, and our left foot pressed up against the middle of the right thigh.  Our left knee is turned out to a 45 or greater angle, and our hips are even left to right, our pelvis is neutral, and our shoulders are aligned right over our hips.  Even though our left leg is the one that is in the tree posture, it is able to do that because of the support it is receiving from the right leg.  In dance we call it the standing side – the one that does the work, that provides support, that gives stability and allows the left leg to express the beauty and calm of a well executed asana.  Were it not for a strong right leg, we would have great difficulty in this pose. Now of course all you exercise physiologists, yogis, dancers, pilates folks and assorted other movement specialists out there are thinking – wait just a minute Melinda!!! what about the trunk, the core, the visual stability, the hip stabilizers????  What about all that support?  Well, yes of course all that is functioning as well.  We can see that a well placed, well timed, well established system of support leads to our ability to first stabilize ourselves, then grow, and then shine.

Maybe when we watch others we are blinded by the shine, inspired to garner more support so we too can be a bright light in whatever we do -work, school, yoga, exercise, personal relationships, professional relationships.  Maybe we are already working towards our own brilliant shine and our support is not quite functioning as it should.  What do we do?  Breathe – go deeper and breathe more  – go a bit deeper and breathe more – go deeper still and pause – is there another source of support we can tap into?  Are we neglecting some other layer in this intricate dance of support and strength?  Or are we already shining brightly, well equipped with all the support we need?  It is question only we can answer for ourselves.  Our yoga practice is our journey to explore this notion of support and strength, seeing where we are strong, where we are weak, and where we need the hand at the small of the back to hold us up while we become that brilliant light.

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How did I go from taking yoga classes to instructing almost 20 per week at Equinox in NYC? My yoga experience dates to 1995 when I took Hatha classes at a local community center in Santa Cruz Californ

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Melinda Abbott. Washington Heights, NY 10040