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Thread: Incorporating Primal into Yoga? Or just general personalisation. page 2

  1. #11
    eKatherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YogaBare View Post
    Just a hunch, but maybe you injured yourself cos' you were pushing too hard?
    I was following the teacher's instructions, not pushing myself harder than she said. I could take the pose and hold it comfortably, but then she would tell me I had to do it in a manner that was much harder to do. For a person whose knee-lock position is greater than 180 to hold their leg at 180 is a highly unstable position. Instead of being stable, it is stressful to the hips.

    It's not like it was an advanced class I was in. We weren't doing anything that ought to have been challenging.

    When you have students whose legs are slightly more than 180 at full knee extension, do you make them try to hold them firm at 180? Blaming me for 15 years of tendinitis I got from following the teacher's instructions when she told me not to listen to my body is a cheap shot.

  2. #12
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    I'm sorry Katherine - I didn't mean it like that.

    Most people get injured in Yoga because they push themselves beyond what they are capable of. It's because of our competitive culture: people want to be good at it. Your teacher should have told you that Yoga is something you're not supposed to be "good at".

    When she told you to move your legs to a 180 did you tell her it was uncomfortable? If you did and she insisted you hold them like that, it's malpractice. If you didn't tell her and kept pushing through, that's also not your fault - you were trying to do it right. The teacher should always make clear to the class that Yoga isn't about pain.

    But if you were in pain doing the poses then, by my definition, you were pushing yourself too hard. Again, not saying that's your fault. We come from a culture of "No pain, no gain"! Most people bring that mindset into Yoga when they start, and it's the teacher's job to get them to drop it.
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    I teach Moksha, and I don't deviate from the series much when I'm teaching specifically a Moksha class; students tend to hate it when you go too off-book, and I'm the same way when I'm a student, I hate when you seek out a specific style and then the teacher instructs a totally different class. But I too wanted to bridge Primal and yoga within my teaching, so I ended up creating an entirely separate class I call "athlete mobility" (creative naming is not my strong suit) that incorporates a lot of Primal movements and prepares the joints and muscles for Primal-style workouts. It's mostly Crossfitters and runners that come to the class. I do long holds on the big muscles--lots of Powerful, Awkward, Prayer Twist, Runner's Lunge, etc--and do lots of hip, chest, and shoulder openers, and in between the longer holds I throw in flows designed to mimic Primal movements. So, like, one flow I do is Grok Squat (I like that name better than any of the various yoga names for that pose!) to Crow, jump back to Chaturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, jump up to Grok Squat. I'll also toss in some light plyometrics designed to increase range of motion and prime the brain for explosive movement.

    I don't make it a very strenuous or difficult class--something that always irks me, as someone with a VERY strenuous physical practice outside of yoga, is that it's hard to find yoga classes that focus more on mobility and proprioception than on "come get a kickass workout!". I already get my ass kicked daily, I don't want yoga to be another workout on top of that, thanks. And athletes are usually hesitant to try yoga for exactly that reason, they (rightly) feel like their muscles won't recover if they throw in more workouts. Personally I don't consider yoga to be exercise (I'm not saying it's not, I'm just saying I don't see it that way). I consider it to be a mobility practice for the body and mind.

    Honestly, I think the biggest Primal/yoga crossover I practice is that I'm completely open with my students about eating meat and my personal thoughts on ahimsa as it relates to nutrition. Those who teach yoga know what a huge deal that is, all by itself.
    wow!..I wanna take that class......kind of a long commute from san diego tho...

  4. #14
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    What do you define as a "Primal-style workout" and "Primal movements"?
    I think the definitions would vary a lot from person to person, but I define a Primal-style workout as anything incorporating short bursts of high intensity along with lifting heavy things. Primal movements, to me, would be anything you'd have to do to hack out an existence living in, say, the forest, or a jungle or someplace wild: sprinting, climbing, jumping (and landing well), hanging and pulling oneself up by the arms, lifting and carrying heavy things, sitting and laying on the ground, etc. I just picture crashing on a desert island and imagine my movements from there.

    What I know of Moksha yoga is similar to Tantra. It's all about living your true essence, being yourself?
    Moksha, the word, means "freedom" (I'm sure you knew that, just saying for the rest of the audience), but Moksha Yoga is a specific series of postures performed in a heated room. The postures and their sequence focus mostly on joint-opening and alignment, especially of the spine and hips. I like it because it's beginner-friendly and has something for everyone; there are some long holds, some vinyasas, breath exercises, guided Savasana (for people looking for meditation), and it's all encouraged at your own pace and level of ability, so there's no killing yourself trying to keep up with, say, the Baptiste crazies (I say that with a wink, as I love Baptiste and other power yoga, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart).

  5. #15
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    So, I'm rather late to the party. . .

    Anyway, this primal stuff isn't new to yoga. When I was going through my teacher training, I was cross trained. My main teacher was a PhD kinesiologist with Kripalu training. She had me work closely with an Iyengar teacher to learn form, while she taught me function. Stability, mobility, therapeutic movement, understanding isometric, eccentric, and concentric contractions, and appropriate application of plyometrics through yoga movements were all parts of this equation. Learning how to breathe properly is vastly important -- physiologically and otherwise.

    Sequencing theory was designed to hit certain road markers before moving onto other movements, and using certain movements to help achieve those road markers anyway. I currently use mountain pose, and then certain awarenesses (proprioception) in the thoracic spine as well as shoulder and hip flexibility as an indication of readiness for the next level of sequencing (the intermediate class).

    At the physical level, my classes emphasize proprioception, stability, and mobility. At the mental level, we work from focus to concentration to meditation to awareness. There are also energetic levels at work, which I don't speak to at all, usually -- unless in teacher training -- and of course pranayama is a huge part of the equation, though I take the iyengar approach of allowing people to feel out their bodies and get a sense of the deeper muscles (again, proprioception), before getting to deeper, more subtle muscle groups as we would in breathing.

    IN addition, the joints are taken through a full range of motion in classes -- and we discuss how this range of motion works (for example, how the deep external rotation of side angle pose is, in part, drawn by the gluteus medius -- and how to feel that). We also do a "test/retest" in terms of mobility so that students can lean about *how* this stuff is working. We start class (in the warm up) with a test, and before doing the floor work, we do a "retest" of that movement to see how it's working after having done the full range of motions through the standing sequences. From there, we go to the floor and emphasize mobility in the spine (gently and systematically), and then do some passive work on that range of motion stuff, finishing with a good relaxation.

    I also offer a gentle class which focuses entirely on tension release. We basically align properly using props, then relax into that alignment allowing the fascia and tension in the muscles to release, so that we can develop muscle flexibility and release of physical tension (such as knots in the muscles -- or trigger points). This is more meditative -- lots of deep breathing and long holds -- and we typically do 6 postures in between a simple warm up and savasana.

    In terms of my own process, I've actually removed a lot of postures that are 'common lexicon' right now -- such as chaturanga. Turns out that this can seriously muck up your houslders -- and it did mine. I started to notice that my postural issues -- which are old patterns from childhood coupled with injuries and what not over the years (such as playing softball and throwing with that arm, as an example), lead to certain vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities came under 'fire' with chaturanga -- even though I can do it and it feels good -- after thr third, the rotator cuff goes bung and it's pretty awful.

    Additionally, most teachers don't even know how to teach this posture (or how to set it up properly structurally) nor do they know to look to the details as to whether it will work for *this* student. What I observed is that most of my students ahve the forward head thrust and rounded shoulders common to office workers, and until their shoulders are stable, it's really not appropriate to put them into chaturanga, no matter how cool it looks or how much they want it. I do not want to risk the shoulder injuries that I saw coming out of studios in the US, nor even those that I'm seeing here.

    my alternative sun salutation, therefore, is as follows:

    Mountain -- sweep up
    forward fold
    flat back forward fold
    plank
    side plank right (inhale)
    plank (exhale)
    side plank left (inhale)
    plank (exhale)
    upward dog
    downward dog.
    (etc and sun B modified the same)

    Notice how in this one, the shoulders are working their primary range of motion without having the potential weight-bearing/collapse of chaturanga? You get all of the work of strengthening the shoulder girdle, without any of the risks. It's working well for my students. In addition to working some chest stretching work, their shoulders are nearly getting to normal, and head over shoulders on top of that.

    it's a work in progress, though.

    Anyway, I suppose to answer the question in terms of employment -- you need to think about what it is that you seek to accomplish for your students overall -- and for that matter what they are looking to accomplish.

    You take what you know and you build on it, and you might actually create an experimental class if you have the client base with which to do it. I used to have one class a week that I labeled as "experimental" and students paid a low price to attend ($10), and then I would just take them through a routine or several new routines or different ideas and just see how their bodies responded (most things ran in 6-8 week cycles) -- how long to pick up the new postures/sequence, how it helped or hindered their bodies/minds, what other elements needed to be in place before that was possible that I'd not realized in my own self-study, etc.

    From there, I learned a great deal about what seems to work for a lot of people and what doesn't. And I stlll experiment today. My intermediate class is a cautious experimentation group. That is, I take them through much of the similar stuff that they are used to, then start to ratchet it up a bit in intensity/depth, and then build up to slightly more difficult postures. It's also where I introduce more challenging concepts (deeper muscle groups, more subtle feelings throughout the body (how energy moves and shifts), or mindfulness meditation instruction.

    So, it's part functional, and then every few months there's a completely whacky sequence to see what they are ready to move into.
    Last edited by zoebird; 03-25-2013 at 03:57 AM.

  6. #16
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    Oh, and experimental class was entirely independent and off site. I rented a dance studio near my house for $20/2 hrs, hand-picked about 20 students whom I invited to take this class because they were experienced and capable overall in the sequences that I did commonly at the Y, gyms, and yoga studios where they attended.

    I took it off site so that there wasn't anyone at the studio involved in my process, no one concerned about differences, liability and other stuff, and so renting the space was easy and effective, and on average, my weekly group was about 12-15 people -- so it was a good enough sample to get a good sense of what was going on with them.

    Later, about half of them became my teachers-in-training.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    I think the definitions would vary a lot from person to person, but I define a Primal-style workout as anything incorporating short bursts of high intensity along with lifting heavy things. Primal movements, to me, would be anything you'd have to do to hack out an existence living in, say, the forest, or a jungle or someplace wild: sprinting, climbing, jumping (and landing well), hanging and pulling oneself up by the arms, lifting and carrying heavy things, sitting and laying on the ground, etc. I just picture crashing on a desert island and imagine my movements from there.
    Thank you - that's actually great! You've giving some really cool suggestions.

    I like the idea of seeing movement as an interplay with the environment that it exists in. When we do stretching I get my students to imagine like they're stretching first thing is the morning - it's a stretch that takes you beyond the natural limitations of the body, yet doesn't put strain on it. I think might be the static version of "Primal movements". It would be good to incorporate some of that dynamism into the stronger poses that I teach.

    The challenge is getting a class to understand that while they're in a confined yoga studio!
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  8. #18
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    Thanks for the long reply Zoe! I was wondering when you'd drop in I've replied in the body of your message.

    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    Anyway, this primal stuff isn't new to yoga. When I was going through my teacher training, I was cross trained. My main teacher was a PhD kinesiologist with Kripalu training. She had me work closely with an Iyengar teacher to learn form, while she taught me function. Stability, mobility, therapeutic movement, understanding isometric, eccentric, and concentric contractions, and appropriate application of plyometrics through yoga movements were all parts of this equation.
    Where did you do this training? It sounds amazing. I did mine in India, with a really, really Traditional old Tantric. The training was much more philosophical and spiritual than anything else. I do enjoy that aspect obviously, but I appreciate that what the West has brought to Yoga is the enhanced physical conditioning.
    Sequencing theory was designed to hit certain road markers before moving onto other movements, and using certain movements to help achieve those road markers anyway. I currently use mountain pose, and then certain awarenesses (proprioception) in the thoracic spine as well as shoulder and hip flexibility as an indication of readiness for the next level of sequencing (the intermediate class).
    I do something similar. Do you mean that you incorporate movement into certain postures to ease the transition to the next one?
    At the physical level, my classes emphasize proprioception, stability, and mobility. At the mental level, we work from focus to concentration to meditation to awareness.
    Again, I do something similar. Out of interest, what verbal cues do you use to guide your students through the mental states?
    There are also energetic levels at work, which I don't speak to at all, usually -- unless in teacher training --
    Ha! Yeah, for a lot of people the energy thing is "out there". I try to explain in physical terms so that everyone can connect with it. Do you mean energetic levels in terms of the effect certain poses have on prana?

    IN addition, the joints are taken through a full range of motion in classes -- and we discuss how this range of motion works (for example, how the deep external rotation of side angle pose is, in part, drawn by the gluteus medius -- and how to feel that). We also do a "test/retest" in terms of mobility so that students can lean about *how* this stuff is working. We start class (in the warm up) with a test, and before doing the floor work, we do a "retest" of that movement to see how it's working after having done the full range of motions through the standing sequences. From there, we go to the floor and emphasize mobility in the spine (gently and systematically), and then do some passive work on that range of motion stuff, finishing with a good relaxation.
    That sounds great. In London people tend to want less-talk-more-action, but in my three hour workshops I've started to incorporate more feedback time.
    In terms of my own process, I've actually removed a lot of postures that are 'common lexicon' right now -- such as chaturanga. Turns out that this can seriously muck up your houslders -- and it did mine. I started to notice that my postural issues -- which are old patterns from childhood coupled with injuries and what not over the years (such as playing softball and throwing with that arm, as an example), lead to certain vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities came under 'fire' with chaturanga -- even though I can do it and it feels good -- after thr third, the rotator cuff goes bung and it's pretty awful.

    Additionally, most teachers don't even know how to teach this posture (or how to set it up properly structurally) nor do they know to look to the details as to whether it will work for *this* student. What I observed is that most of my students ahve the forward head thrust and rounded shoulders common to office workers, and until their shoulders are stable, it's really not appropriate to put them into chaturanga, no matter how cool it looks or how much they want it. I do not want to risk the shoulder injuries that I saw coming out of studios in the US, nor even those that I'm seeing here.
    Yip, my teacher was completely anti chaturanga. He regarded it as an advanced pose. Actually he said the Sun Salutations is an advnaced series, because it is complete within itself. Which is also the reason it became the default Yoga series for everyone learning and practicing! People can feel it works powerfully, but actually you are supposed to have prepped your body quite a lot before you do it.

    The series we teach is very similar to the one you designed!
    you might actually create an experimental class if you have the client base with which to do it. I used to have one class a week that I labeled as "experimental" and students paid a low price to attend ($10)
    That's actually an amazing idea. I've just gotten a regular weekly gig at a new yoga studio, so maybe this is something I can suggest to them. Experimental yoga - I like it
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  9. #19
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    This discussion of Chaturanga is so interesting and timely--we just had a big discussion among Moksha teachers on our internet board about the cue "now step or jump back to high plank, lower to chaturanga", which is ubiquitous in Western yoga. We as a group don't do it, because a hard landing in plank is awful tweaky on the rotator cuff, and then basically no one takes the time to set up properly for chaturanga, so it ends up tweaking the shoulders even more when they lower down. We only enter plank from down dog, and do a series of cues there to set up for chaturanga. And we encourage newer students to lower the knees down first. I agree that it's a much more advanced posture than it looks, and many people aren't even anatomically able to do it right off the bat, no matter how strong they may be.

    But I don't think I've been to a non-Moksha class in the States or Canada in the past ten years that has not included "step or jump back to plank". One of those utterly pervasive yoga things. I think maybe because it's part of a traditional Sun A?

  10. #20
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    I think chaturanga is so prized because A. it is in sun salutations, and B. because it looks like a push up and that's important in western fitness. And C. because people are ignorant about it.

    I never taught it with knees on the floor, because you loose the driver of the glutes/psoas/trunk muscles. It can be done by beginners when the driver is right -- as I taught it to beginners in less than 6 weeks with *overall* good structure. BUT, i started to note that those with more rounded shoulders and tight pec minors had the same pain patterns that I was having on my left side, where I have that same issue. It was then -- digging deeper -- that I learned how to more effectively access the shoulder girdle, and what needed to be aligned before hand *there* to get the shoulders right.

    So, one of my mile markers is to make sure that the shoulders can support it effectively.

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