Back bends tend to go toward adrenaline, for example, where as deep stretch/long holds (such as paschimottanasana with a hold) can lead to cortisol rushes, etc. But, it really depends upon the practitioner, too.
Personally, it feels quite uncomfortable -- ungrounded really -- sometimes with more aggression (testosterone is always there in the back ground, but during this time, it's in the foreground because it's kinda the only thing there). It's also why sometimes women get particularly . . . amorous . . . during this time (as well as, btw, between estrogen and progesterone phase, or fertility).Also, how would you describe the sensation of the loss of progesterone before the estrogen kicks in?
Overall, that discomfort that women feel that makes them feel quite cranky -- often call PMS -- is due to the hormone flip.
My background is as follows:Btw, do you teach a particular style of yoga, or is it a synchronisation of everything you've learned? What style did you study?
My aunt studied in san fran back in the day -- with Walt and Magana Baptiste -- and taught my mother as a game. my mother taught me what she took from her aunt -- who didn't tell anyone that it was yoga becuase my mom came from a conservative family.
At age 14 or so, I happened to run into a yoga book. I realized that what my mother and I had been doing for fun had a name -- and it was yoga. One of my teachers at school was practicing yoga, and so she shared some of her books with me, including Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar. I read a lot of books during thsi time, because there were no classes where I lived.
At 18, I moved to my university, where I studied with a teacher who was a kinesiology teacher at the university, as well as being kripalu trained -- and she'd been trained in the early days of kripalu when it was still in PA. She was very adept and experienced, and it was a really special opportunity to study with her.
During the same time that I started to study with her, she encouraged me to study with a local iyengar teacher -- who at the time was jr certified (he is now sr certified). I was lucky to apprentice with both of them over 5 years.
As I was at university, I took advantage of many opportunities -- such as getting a minor in religious studies with an emphasis in eastern religion and philosophy. I also took several biobehavioral health classes (also called psychoimmunology), and with my professor, I was able to do some casual studies on hormones and yoga. we took swabs from students before, during, and after classes, and had them record their feelings (connecting thoughts/feelings with hormonal surges). i did small studies focusing on individual postures practiced by different students (different levels) -- with pre and post class self evaluation forms.
I also recorded very detailed records of my own feelings, as well as running swabs from my own practices -- often comparing kripalu and iyengar methods as well -- as they are uniquely different methods. I also observed that I could very distinctly "feel" my cycle, which was later backed up by fertility charting.
I spent a lot of time learning the functional anatomy as well as how things seemed to work in terms of organs, hormones, and so on. Not all of it is scientifically founded yet -- that is, a lto of claims are made that have relationships with traditional chinese medicine, for example, but aren't yet verified (if they will be at all) with western science. I do spend a fair amount of time researching western science to see it's connections with what we're doing. Right now, I'm working on the connections between brain volume, neuroplasticity, and yoga squat (both going in and coming out).
After graduating from university, i moved away and began studying astanga yoga and baptiste power yoga at the same time. Anusara was also introduced into the area (and liked the spirals/biomechanics, but disliked the poetics and disconnect from traditional eastern philosophy, history, and culture/relgion). I started studying with sr iyengar teachers (white and garfield) in Philadelphia as well, which continued my education within those forms.
My passion at the time was vinyasa forms -- and from the time I was 19 and started teaching, I'd longed to lead "all levels" classes, but was strongly discouraged from doing so. Through vinyasa forms, I was actually able to learn about how to run all levels classes, and was excited to know that such a thing existed. Being closer to NYC and Philadelphia, I spent a lot of time trying out all kinds of different styles that were developing there, and i enjoyed experimenting with that.
All throughout, I kept meticulous journals of my practice, and i was carefully observing my students. I also had an experimental class where I would loosely hypothesize what I expected the sequence to do for the students, and then they would evaluate through forms just as I did in university. It was an interesting process of really developing what I do.
During this time, I also studied with Dharma Mittra a great deal -- which allowed me to "break form" a bit. More or less, he told me to loosen up. I was using the forms (asanas and their sequences) with very specific therapeutic benefit for my students -- something I still do today -- but with more pedantry and less "inspiration" (or that was the criticism I was often given at the time). Dharma taught me about the idea of allowing something to be ecstatic expression, and while we did talk about how hormones play a part in ecstacy and what that might mean in terms of "reality" in terms of "self" vs "Self." nevertheless, it did allow me to loosen up a bit and allow people to express and experience in a fun, light-hearted way as well.
So, really, what I teach I call "Power Yoga" or "Gentle Yoga" (depending upon what I'm teaching). Both are therapeutic, with an emphasis on mindfulness (how we are training the mind in particular for mindfulness meditation), while also working on specific physical benefits that people seek from yoga (better posture, pain relief, better sleep, and a myriad of other things that people mention to me).
And, during this time I also started studying and practicing traditional thai-yoga massage. I'd already had a strong, hands-on approach to teaching yoga (hands-on assisting), but I really honed this part of my teaching-practice between 2000 and 2007. It was extremely important to me -- and I am often complemented for my assists, even by "great" or "luminary" teachers. I think my understanding of the forms as extending out of function coupled with the "energy work" side of things that I do (which also has neurological and endocrinological connections) it what allows me to -- with practice -- become particularly adept.
I align myself with the krishnamacharya lineage -- because i take strong lead from there -- but there is definitely kripalu mindfulness process in there, as well as the simple idea of just adapting what you are doing to the people in front of you, in that moment, at this time. And that was very important to krishnamacharya. So, that's what I teach, really.