So I’ve been pretty busy since the conference and haven’t had a chance to sit down and write about it. Mostly because whenever my mind has turned to yoga I’ve wanted to just practice and rehearse and integrate what I learned in those classes over the weekend.
So I attended four events. Thanks to Jennifer again for picking up my swag and badge the day before, and for being a fun companion on Saturday. I also ran into Patty Schneider on her way to Shiva Rea (how mellifluous that sounds), and Patty was in fine form.
My first class was with Scott Blossom, who was introducing Shadow Yoga. I was attracted by the blurb which said… Well here’s what it said: “… founded by Zhander Remete, is a hatha yoga system that helps free the body of energetic obstructions and ignites your inner fire for healing and meditation. This practice consists of doing spiraling, circular, and linear movements designed to integrate yoga asana, martial arts, South Indian dance, and Ayurvedic medicine.” So as my students know I’m all about the spirals and circles, and of course I wanted to find out more about the connections to martial arts especially, as well as the dance and medicine. And I wasn’t let down. This is pretty wild stuff. I need to find out more about Zhander now, but apparently he studied for like 30 years with Iyengar, so his method does begin with a solid lineage. And I really loved the circular motion stuff of course, but what really stuck with me is the idea that one has to build prana from the foundation up, from the feet and the legs, these cannot be over-emphasized, especially for beginners. And beginners can do a lot of the less complex standing poses, which is something that I do naturally in my classes. Perhaps in the end I had more questions than answers, but it’s a fascinating approach.
I was a bit let down by Gary Kraftsow’s “Common Aches and Pains: The Lower Back, Sacrum, and Hips.” Since I teach the back care workshops and have one back-hurtin’ private client, this was an easy choice. Now Kraftsow’s been doing this stuff for decades and he’s got a great thing going with Viniyoga, I think. This workshop was just a panoramic view. He started with a lecture and slideshow. Now I hate to say it, but Gary really needs to apply some Dharana to technology. I mean, hey, I’m an elder too, but I know my way around computer apps, and PowerPoint ain’t that hard, and like dude, this is your very important tool. Excuses that ‘I’m just learning this now, I’m old’ begin to lose charm against wasting so much time having to repeat parts of slides and going back and forth, fomenting confusion because of being klutzy with the tool. And the slideshow itself was just godawful – entirely illegible from the back of the room and lacking any pizzazz whatsoever. And one other hate-to-say if I may: he kept apologizing for going so fast, and asking us twenty times if he was going too fast, and I’m probably not even exaggerating. First, if you’re worried about that, slow it down. Secondly, if we all say no, which is inevitable, then move on. Asking over and over is just insulting, like we’re incapable of going at your lightning speed. This is New York. We don’t dawdle, move on my man, no apologies necessary.
He then took us through an asana session concentrating on what works for the lower back. I picked up a few tricks; most of it was obvious stuff. I felt like all in all it confirmed stuff I’m already doing, which is a good thing, yes. Not mindblowing, but good.
At lunch, after looking over the merchandise, we went to Tao Porchon-Lynch conversation about her life in yoga. She’s a fine lady, and her stories were of interest.
My last class was with Jason Crandell. I used to watch his podcasts when I lived in Ireland and, it being pretty rural where I was, had no access to mentor teachers. In any case I like so totally dig his style of teaching and he’s been a huge influence on my own, so I would’ve gone to any class I could. As it happened this was his class for beginners. His sense of organization, his manner of presentation, his precision – all just sterling. It was really fun being in the class. One aside for other teachers, I noticed when we were in Trikonasana that he came up to my neighbor and lowered her upper hip down, rotating the pelvis inward, which shocked me. Later he explained that he doesn’t abide by the dogma of opening out the hip and drawing that back, as it can strain the hip muscles, and isn’t really necessary or even conducive for opening the chest (I’m sure his explanation was better than mine is here). Anyway, that’s a neat lead to follow up on.
Of course I was fairly astonished at the range and frequent silliness of much of the merchandise in the marketplace, but that’s our yoga world today. Y oga is commercial, Dorothy, watayagonado? Anyway I bought a new mat and yoga towel, so I can’t complain.
All in all, very glad I attended, dough well spent, I’d say.