Sunday morning yoga class

I usually try to think of a focus for the class when I teach yoga: either a type of pose, say hip openers, or a theme, such as quiet.

Today I decided to link the class through a series of twists. And it flowed nicely, from a simple seated twist in the beginning phase to Matseyandrasana at the end, lunge with twists and Parsvokonasana coming toward the middle of the practice.

I also threw in a more challenging balancing pose, just to try. My teacher calls it Crow. It's what we called a tip up when we were in grade school gym. Kids can do it with no effort at all. Some adults, especially those with upper body strength, also can move into it fairly easily.

But for most of my students, it is a new pose. I try, particularly when teaching a more complicated pose, to remind my students that yoga is a practice. My hope is that they will try something new, even fall, realize nothing bad will happen, and try again. Hmm, is yoga a metaphor? Beyond that, I hope that they will laugh and have fun.

I demonstrated how to get into the pose by crouching on a block (my Iyengar teacher's method), then tipping forward and bringing the shins onto the forearms. It's all about spreading the fingers, bending the elbows in a straight line rather than akimbo, and creating an invisible tripod with your hands as two points and your gaze, or dristi, as the top point of the tripod. Then you tip forward and suddenly the body seems light, the gaze has space in front of it, and even for a millisecond you're free of gravity.