Thursday, November 01, 2007

Shoulderstand Part 2

Some cool pics - thanks, you fabulous Flickr posters:

straighten up, originally uploaded by *trigger hippie*.

21 february 07, originally uploaded by 2achel.

And I know this isn't a real post, but I thought those of you who haven't read the comments from the first shoulderstand post might be interested in some of them - I certainly was:

Karen Beth said...

My arms are not strong enough to do shoulderstand (although I wish they were!) and my teacher never pushed me to do it. I tried it anyway once and also made my neck sore.

It is a student's responsibility also to know their limitations. Any teacher who insists and insists upon them doing what they know they can't isn't a good teacher.

People should listen to their bodies and teachers should respect and know that and never push.


Karen Beth :)

Linda (Sama) said...

"This means I have been remiss in my teacherly duties"

not necessarily, nadine. more likely your students don't "have the bones" to do shoulderstand comfortably. as Paul Grilley says, "yoga is all in the bones."

when I train with him and he wants to show examples of the "winners and losers" (and you have to know him to know that he really doesn't mean you're a loser!) we line up for certain poses and he looks at our bone structure. someone with "winner" bones can do a pose easily, the "losers" can't. the angle of the neck determines who can do a shoulderstand comfortably.

for shoulderstand, he has us drop our chins to our upper chest. now take a ruler or stick, place it on the back of your student's neck going up the back of the head and look at the angle. less of an angle (i.e., the more upright the stick is) the more uncomfortable; more of an angle (in other words, the top of the stick is lower), the more comfortable the student will be in shoulderstand, neck-wise.

and if someone never does shoulderstand, what's the big deal? we're so attached to our bodies, to the "forms" that we are "supposed" to do. why?

Linda (Sama) said...

"The catch is that after class, Mary is a judgemental and mean person."

sounds like those 30 years of yoga study really hasn't done much at all...have they?

all the technical knowledge doesn't mean anything if it doesn't evolve the heart.

Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

I can completly relate to your concerns and questions -- is it appropriate to even introduce certain poses? The issue I find is in most classes there is a wide range of abilities. I don't introduce shoulderstand, handstand, headstand, or hand balances in a beginning class, because even if someone is flexible and strong it's the "awareness" that I stress when starting Yoga (and always). However, in one of my classes that's been going on for a while, we do shoulderstand sometimes--because their are folks really ready for it. In that same class there are folks really not ready. Ah, the dilema! I tell them what to look for (such as the Paul Grilley suggestion for the neck angle) to be sure they are ready. However, I do not play the parent. I literally say, "I'm not going to make you do or not do anything. If you want my recommendation, I will offer it, but I'm not going to make you come down." (I've only insisted once that a woman not go up--she has major neck issues. Regardless she says she does it all the time at home....)
This might not be the best approach, but it's the one I've taken to. Point is, I want to offer more challenging poses to people that can really benefit from them. At the same time, I offer info and guidance. But in the end, people will do what they want. "You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make them drink it." You offered alternatives (legs on wall), but you can't make someone not take it. Perhaps allowing each student to back off (and maybe bruise the ego a bit) 'on their own' is a lesson in and of itself.
Hope I'm not rambling too much....


Linda (Sama) said...

OK...I know we aren't supposed to be attached to our bodies....but I want cellulite free thighs like that!

hey, I'm human, not enlightened yet! :)

Everyday Yogini said...

I love the shoulderstand pics...

That is so interesting about the bone structure dictating our ability to do certain asanas. Years ago I was studying astanga and kept injuring myself doing the jumps. Finally a teacher pointed out that the span of my arms is shorter than my height which makes it far more difficult for me to do the jumps.

That totally altered the way I think about Yoga and teaching Yoga. I'm much more aware of the need pay close attention to the uniqueness of our bodies! Great posts...

Nadine Fawell said...

Linda, I suspect your thighs are quite perfect, so you can tick that off your Things to Do Before Enlightenment list!

Nona, I have short arms too, amazing how we are all different shapes, and yet we have so much in common.