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Thread: Incorporating Primal into Yoga? Or just general personalisation. page 7

  1. #61
    eKatherine's Avatar
    eKatherine is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatlapcat View Post
    I have been going to a very small Iyengar class for a number of years now and one of the prime motivators was the parlous state of my knees. My teacher is very knee orientated , but not about keeping them straight, she's hyper vigilant about not hyper extending the knees, pulling the knee caps up and making sure that we are engaging the musculature around the knee in order to support it and therefore support the rest of the legs, hips, spine etc. She always tells us to bend our knees slightly if we feel that we are ever at risk of hyperextension.

    "The teacher was very strict on protecting my knees by keeping them bolt-straight, even though this was an unnatural position for someone whose knee joints straighten to >180. When I changed studios and joined one closer to home, that teacher was as insistent"

    I think as someone else has suggested, that you had a bad teacher as Iyengar has been amazing for my knee. I have a ruptured ACL, articular damage on the other side, a disintegrating kneecap and no cartilage at all on the inside point of the joint. Iyengar yoga keeps my knee strong and stable.

    On a more general note, my yoga teacher talks a lot about intelligence - not doing things because you're told to, because you "think" you should, because everyone else does - but about applying your intelligence and allowing your body to tell you where is the right place for you to be. This applying not only to yoga but to how we live....which I find very Primal.
    I think yoga in general and Iyengar specifically are good for people with bad knees. I didn't and don't have bad knees, but rather weak hips. The position that is strong for a person with knees that are stable in the fully straight position is inherently weak to maintain with knees for which retroextension is part of the normal range of motion. All the stress is on the hips. The leg muscles cannot work to maintain the position. There is a huge difference between knees that naturally retroextend and knees that have been injured by hyperextension. My healthy knees are not inherently pathological.
    Last edited by eKatherine; 04-16-2013 at 03:26 AM.

  2. #62
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    zoebird is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by YogaBare View Post
    Have you noticed there's a correlational between particular poses and hormonal responses, or do you find it varies from person to person?
    Yes, and also yes. People will have different effect in different postures based on what they bring with them, but it can be fairly easy to project which postures will cause which sorts of hormonal responses, too.

    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.

    Also, how would you describe the sensation of the loss of progesterone before the estrogen kicks in?
    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).

    Overall, that discomfort that women feel that makes them feel quite cranky -- often call PMS -- is due to the hormone flip.

    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 background is as follows:

    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.

  3. #63
    YogaBare's Avatar
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    Just reviving this thread as I have more questions about the hormonal component of Yoga and I'm hoping Zoe will continue to share her wisdom with us all

    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    People will have different effect in different postures based on what they bring with them, but it can be fairly easy to project which postures will cause which sorts of hormonal responses, too.

    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.
    Are adrenaline and cortisol the primary hormones that get released during yoga practice? There's certain poses that I find very soothing: like Crocodile, or Foetus. Crododile stimulates the pituitary, so I assumed the relaxation came from the release of certain hormones. Foetus feels like it soothes the nervous system... Idk. What do you think about those poses? Also, shoulder stand is meant to stimulate the thyroid: do you know anything about it?

    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).
    Do you mean you studied how the organs etc. respond to yoga poses? This is a pretty big question but... if so, what was the most interesting thing that you learned? Also, I know in the past you took swabs etc to learn so much - these days how do you go about studying the physical responses to poses (eg.brain volume, neuroplasticity, and yoga squat)?

    Btw, thank you so much for sharing all the info about your background! It's fascinating that you've had such a long, diverse journey with it. I think I asked you before, but do you do teacher training?
    "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

  4. #64
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    zoebird is online now Senior Member
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    I'll answer the easy question first, which is about teacher training.

    I do train teachers, but really only to teach for me. I tend to teach only 6-8 people per year, if that (some years I don't do teacher training), and it takes about 10-11 months. Usually, people are able to teach about part-way through, but we continue on with the teacher training and then when they are hired, there's on going peer supervision and continuing education as well. We also do what is similar to "clinical" work -- which is observing our students, seeing what their needs are, and then adjusting what and how we teach to meet those needs. So, our supervision and continuing education is necessary for this to really work.

    The teacher training is really there to create a common knowledge base from which all of us are working. That knowledge base is a combination of western science (anatomy, bio mechanics, etc) plus the traditions (forms of yoga, traditions in terms of healing/health, and so on -- example, when you say "X stimulates the pituitary!" I always go "ok, how?" If western science doesn't back it up, I might mention it as "traditionally, this is said to. . . but it's not confirmed yet in our sciences. I suppose it could happen by this mechanism, but I don't know.").

    I'll answer the other questions best that I can -- and we can talk about how relaxation works hormonally, which is one of the things you are looking at, and also potentially neurologically as well.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    I'll answer the easy question first, which is about teacher training.

    I do train teachers, but really only to teach for me. I tend to teach only 6-8 people per year, if that (some years I don't do teacher training), and it takes about 10-11 months. Usually, people are able to teach about part-way through, but we continue on with the teacher training and then when they are hired, there's on going peer supervision and continuing education as well. We also do what is similar to "clinical" work -- which is observing our students, seeing what their needs are, and then adjusting what and how we teach to meet those needs. So, our supervision and continuing education is necessary for this to really work.

    The teacher training is really there to create a common knowledge base from which all of us are working. That knowledge base is a combination of western science (anatomy, bio mechanics, etc) plus the traditions (forms of yoga, traditions in terms of healing/health, and so on -- example, when you say "X stimulates the pituitary!" I always go "ok, how?" If western science doesn't back it up, I might mention it as "traditionally, this is said to. . . but it's not confirmed yet in our sciences. I suppose it could happen by this mechanism, but I don't know.").

    I'll answer the other questions best that I can -- and we can talk about how relaxation works hormonally, which is one of the things you are looking at, and also potentially neurologically as well.
    That's a great approach: that way you get a consistent message running through your studio. I checked out your website btw - looks great

    Thanks, look forward to discussing more!
    "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

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