Category Archives: Yoga

A Happier Back

Yoga Triangle 2

Returned to yoga class today after month-long Feldenkrais Method teacher training. Our guide, Marina, invited us to focus on self-knowing. With each asana, she asked us to listen  to ourselves and to feel.

“What does this feel like?”

I discovered yoga before I started teaching fitness. Blessed with tight, well-used hip joints, yoga has never been an easy practice for me. Nor has it been regular. Over the past 25 years I’ve regularly and irregularly practiced. I hoped to maintain strength and flexibility for dance through a yoga practice. While I did find an occasional class that did not annoy my hips, more times than not I left in more pain usually lasting for several days.

I recognize that not every practice is for everyone. I also believe that yoga may just be the exception. (Except for dance, of course, which is also for everyone!) I have considered that finding a teacher who is a fit for me may also make a difference. It has.

Today’s class pace offered me a chance to explore myself within the asanas. Not just to create the “right” shape, but to feel into the shape and then feel around within that shape. To discover how that shape can be both “firm and relaxed” (Patanjali) and how it breathes. Today I connected to patience and the power of softening.

To both of the above, I credit my Feldenkrais practice.

Patience and the power of softening.

To be clear, when I say “softening” in this context I do not mean melting and being loosey-goosey. I mean finding where tension and muscular work are preventing me from going any further (in this case, a yoga pose or asana) – where working hard has become an obstacle. Then I find out if I can breathe a little in this place and at first I may not be able to bring an breath or space. This takes a little patience since I have been conditioned to “make” more space by using more muscular work, by force. This might give me some immediate gratification, but the next time I come to this or something like it I am facing the same challenge. Force gave me temporary space, but the second I left it, my body returned to the same tense state.

After leaving it and returning a few times (maybe over the course of several classes and without force), I noticed that there was something different. My triangle pose felt more stable through my legs and when I asked for rotation from my spine, I received it – more than in previous classes. At this point I had to wonder if I could ask for a little more rotation since this was comfortable and for once, my low back was not doing all the turning. I brought breath and thought about how long my spine was and instead of working harder for more twist, I relaxed my torso some and just asked if more twist/rotation was possible. (For a change, I decided that I would take “no” for an answer if more was not available to me today.)

The middle of my back responded by giving me another couple of inches.

Breathable inches. Inches that were not just for that asana and that class, but inches that I would be able to take with me and use, off the mat, when I needed them.

Who can’t use a more comfortably supple spine?

For backing out of your drive way or parking spot.

For turning to respond more easily and gracefully to your children.

For more efficient, whole-body running.

For more fluid walking.

For easier bending and straightening.

For a better coordinated tennis serve.

For a firm and relaxed triangle pose in yoga!

Yoga Triangle 1

The Feldenkrais Method gave me this approach – these tools.

That is what the Feldenkrais Method does:

it gives you tools so that you can

-do more of what you need to do

-do more of what you want to do

To explore how the Feldenkrais Method can help you do more of what you want to do, email me: for class days and times. Group classes and one-on-one sessions available.