Thursday, February 28, 2008

Help me BREATHE!

I am having Some Trouble breathing right now. I mean, obviously I am breathing. I'm still alive. But I'm not breathing, y'know?

In class today, I asked people to choose three standing balances; two they liked, one they didn't. Everyone chose tree as one of the poses they like, everyone chose eagle as the one they don't like. Odd, don't you think? So I asked why they didn't like eagle. The responses were all along the lines of:
'I feel I can't breathe'

Haha! People have all figure out for themselves what I have noticed in my practice, and from what gets taught at KYM: some poses facilitate comfortable, easy breathing, some don't. I personally don't really see the point of regularly doing the poses that don't!

This does:

boof yoga tree pose bw, originally uploaded by lastbeats.

This does:

Debbie in Virabhadrasana III, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

This does:

Debbie in Half-Moon, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

This doesn't:

Tara in Garudasana, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

They make quite a nice sequence: do the first three as a flow, then rest, and do the last one. Try for yourself, let me know what you think! Just remember to do a few squats or gentle forward bends after the balances, to counterpose.

Now, perhaps I should go stand on one leg & breathe. Just Breathe, Nadine, Just Breathe!

PS: Thank you all for your comments and emails. You support means so much! I will do my best to keep up with my blogging, but if you notice my absence, bear with me while I dismantle my life and re-assemble it on the other side of the sea!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moving to Melbourne!

That would be me, moving to Melbourne. At the end of April! Eek! How exciting! How scary!

1. The 'Yve' Building - Melbourne, 2. Webb Bridge - Melbourne Docklands, 3. Neon Lobby - Bourke Street Melbourne, 4. Brighton Beach, Melbourne 2003, 5. melbourne at night, 6. Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, 7. m-m-m-Melbourne, 8. Tram,Melbourne,Australia, 9. Rialto Towers, Winfield & Rialto Buildings - Melbourne, 10. Melbourne's elegant details..., 11. Melbourne & The Yarra River, 12. Ol' Melbourne Town

Why, you ask, would I do something so extreme? Well, the short answer is that I have lost faith. I have lost faith in the future in South Africa: every day the news tells us more horror stories of violence, crime, mayhem and corruption. The politicians I thought were trustworthy turn out to be just as bad as all the rest, and our infrastructure is crumbling. Worst of all, I have lost faith that my vote will actually make any difference to all of this.

I want to live somewhere with (fairly) honest politicians, where murder is not something that happened to your neighbor last week. I wish I felt able to be an activist about this, but I am honestly just spending all my energy trying to survive. Not the best situation, and hopefully, when I feel safer and more stable, I will be able to raise some awareness and get some action going about the sorry state of a nation that could have been something so much more; we have Nelson Mandela, for heaven's sake. Maybe this is the first step? If any of you international readers are interested, visit IOL to read our daily news.

And of course Melbourne is so beautiful! So to paraphrase The Avett Brothers' song, The Weight of Lies:

Wherever you run, make sure you run
To something and not away from
Because the weight of lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you down.

(I've been listening to that album a lot lately)

I am running (?) to something great, I hope. The truth is, we all want to believe in a better future, and for me, this is the only way. If you live in South Africa, the questions need asking: Are things OK? If not, am I willing to do something about it? I answered these questions for myself and discovered that I am in some ways less than I thought, and in other ways more.

So, onward, to something (and away from), at the end of April!
I will miss, most of all, the amazing yoga community I am leaving behind. Thank you all, so much. For all I have learnt, for everything.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Paris la Belle (and some good eatin')

It is really too late to post about my visit to Paris, since it was in September last year, but I am going to do it anyway, prompted by all the talk of eating properly in the new year, diets to get rid of festive flab, and the like.

Now, mostly I escape the festive fat, but then winter arrives and it gets harder to stay on the straight and narrow. My parents, both of whom have been slim all their lives, taught us very good, moderate eating habits. But for some reason I tend to stray from that path with alarming regularity. One of the reasons I came to yoga in the first place was that I had a great deal of weight to lose. I lost it. Then the extreme eating espoused during my teacher training left me more than a little confused, and over the past few years I have found it difficult to balance enjoyment, moderation and guiltlessness in my eating. So my weight tends to oscillate. Before our two-month world trip, my jeans were tight. By the end, they barely fastened.

Thank goodness Paris was the last stop. Had it been a less beautiful city, after two months, my overstimulated senses would just have shut down completely. And then there was the food. I think about the food in Paris a lot. Wistfully. Strangely, a lot of the people carrying baguettes under their arms (yes, gasp, white bread!) looked thin and healthy. How could this be? Well, a clue came when I overheard our hotel manager ordering his lunch: a tarte aux fruit rouges. And a salade. Aha! He was balancing the naughty pastry with the saintly salad. Clever. And just so you know, he breakfasted in the hotel dining room on pain au chocolat and coffee.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory I remembered a book called French Women Don't Get Fat. Couldn't find it anywhere, but my favourite scond-hand bookstore did have a copy of the sequel, French Women for All Seasons. The author, Mireille Guiliano, is a Frenchwoman who struggled briefly with her weight when she move to the US. Returning to the eating principles of her youth sorted that out rather quickly!

She gives great advice, most of which is common sense, but we all need to be reminded. Well, I do anyway. Eat slowly. Savour your food. Stop when you are full. Eat the best you can afford. Carbs are not the enemy. Get a bit of exercise every day; she favours walking, cycling and, yes, yoga!

It was such a liberating read, lifting so much of the guilt I carry around food and eating. And since reading it, I have got rid of the extra eight kilograms I lugged around India and Europe. With no guilt, no hunger, and quite a lot of chocolate. The book is now with my best friend. I hope it does for her what it did for me!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Someone left a lovely comment on the post I did for Valentine's Day last year, and when I read through it I was pleasantly surprised: it was coherent, no spelling mistakes or anything! Not like my recent posts at all....

So here it is, picked up and dusted off, straight from the archives to you.

Valentine's Day is a festival where people show their love for one another, and if you have time for yoga practice today, you might want to do some heart-opening back bends, opening to giving and receiving love.

How about a quick little sequence like this:

Dynamic Tadasana -
Stand in Tadasana. Become aware of your breath, of your heart beating, of your whole system working in unity.
When you are ready, inhale to raise your arms out to the sides and up, rising on to tiptoes, bring your palms to meet overhead. Exhale to bring hands to your sides and heels to the mat.
Repeat 6 times

Warrior 1/Warrior 2 Vinyasa -
Step your left foot forward, your right foot back, aligning the feet through the midline of the body if you can.
Inhale to come into Virabadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), exhale to straighten the front leg and draw your hands to your heart in namaste.
Then inhale to come into Virabadrasana 2 (Warrior 2), exhale to straighten the front leg and draw your hands to your heart in namaste.
Cycle through this vinyasa 6 times on each side.

Sun Salutes -
As many as you want, spend extra time in your lunges and upward dogs.

Then lie down in a comfortable supported backbend like Supta Baddha Konasana, sometimes known as Reclining Goddess Pose. In this position, let your breath become smooth and even, matching inhale to exhale. When you feel centred, and your breath feels steady and comfortable, imagine that you are sending love to those who need it with every exhalation, and receiving love with every inhalation. Notice who comes to mind when you think of giving love, and who comes to mind when you think of receiving love. Spend as long as you want with this imagery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seane Corn in South Africa

Seane Corn & me!, originally uploaded by Danura.

Seane Corn is coming to SA in March! (Seen in this pic with the lovely Danura at the Asia Yoga Conference last year.

Here is the schpiel:

Dates: 7-9 March 2008

A Vinyasa Flow Workshop

Workshop Theme
Using intuition, mysticism and the yogic journey to cultivate inner awareness and initiate global change.

In this Vinyasa flow workshop taught by one of America’s most sought after yoga teachers, we will explore the three realms of consciousness: the physical/ mental, the energetic/emotional and the psychic/symbolic. These three realms create a holistic pathway for Self-investigation - the key for personnel transcendence. In these three realms: asana, chakra exploration, meditation, reflection and prayer create a ritualistic journey initiating the mystical into to the practical - bonding body, mind and Spirit. Learn how Self-confidence is the necessary tool for intuitive work, how to use your body to create a cosmic relationship with Spirit, and how, through prayer, we can become of service to Spirit and to the world around us. The intention of this workshop is to reconnect to our bodies, gain emotional insight, explore our individual Soul’s purpose and cultivate skills - both physically and psychically - to Spiritually assist each other, our students, and the planet we inhabit. (It is recommended that those attending have at least 6 months yoga asana practice.)

About Seane Corn
Seane has been motivated by yoga and Spiritual self-reflection since the late eighties. Her style is evident in her unique self –expression, and as an inspired communicator, her vinyasa classes are an eclectic fusion of various healing and Spiritual modalities making them challenging, intuitive, insightful and uplifting. Selected by Nike to represent yoga she has been featured in commercials, print and various articles and been seen on the cover of numerous magazines including Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga. Seane has been invited by acclaimed author and Spiritualist Caroline Myss to be on her “Experts Forum” where she answers questions on spirituality and yoga. She also created the yoga program at Children of the Night, a shelter that houses and educates adolescent prostitutes and is an activist for YouthAIDS. Seane teaches group classes in Los Angeles and leads workshops and retreats internationally.

Workshop Session Times
7th Friday 18h00-21h00
8th Saturday 09h30-12h30 & 14h30-17h30
9th Sunday 09h30-12h30

The investment fee for those who register before the 22nd February is R 1200, thereafter R 1350. A 50% deposit is required to reserve a space in the workshop. Full refunds, less a R50 admin fee are given for cancellations prior to the 29th February. There after, for cancellations prior to the 7th March, 50% of the deposit will be returned; no refunds after the 7th March. Full payment is required prior to the commencement of the workshop.

To register for the workshop please complete a registration form and fax or email a copy of the form and deposit slip to the number/email address listed below. Banking details are included on the form.

Workshop Organiser
For any queries or a copy of the registration form please contact Ashleigh on the following:

Cell: 073 525-9610
Fax: 031 573-2287

Pay it Forward (and the circle of love)

At high school, the popular kids hung out by the entrance to the tuck shop. I was decidedly not one of them. I was so not one of them that I tended to avoid visiting the tuck shop altogether. I was happier down by the art classes with the geeks, losers, smokers, skaters and bikers. I have never smoked, but have certainly been classed as geek and loser, and dated my fair share of skaters, if not bikers!

So imagine my surprise when not one, but five, lovely bloggers named my blog as one of their faves! It just shows how far blogland is from high school, thank Gawd.

Julia, the stylish, cat loving, knitting yogini from Knitteroo said my blog made her day! Right back at ya, Miss Muffy!

Then four yoga gals offered me an excellent blog award, wow! Thank you, Brenda (Grounding Thru the Sit Bones), Yogamama, Linda (Linda's Yoga Journey), and Nona( Everyday Yogini)! I love all you blogs too, and yogamama, I am looking forward to getting to know yours!

So I thought I would pay it forward by naming my favourites other than the ones listed above, since there are soooo many great blogs that I read, and it is hard to pick just ten!

Here goes:
Creating Ms Perfect
Cupcakes & Yoga
Rand(Om) Bites
Shiny Yoga
Holistic Girl
YogaGumbo - by yogamum, creator of woyopracmo!

Some have already elected their top ten blogs, but for the rest, I am looking forward to finding great new blogs from your lists!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I don't usually make political commentary, but I though I may as well join the blog-wide trend.

For those of you who don't know what is happening in South Africa, click here , here and here to get some idea.

Now for the rest of us:Edited: I have the feeling the other image danced too close to the edge of libel, so I have replaced it with something a little more innocuous!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy Hamstrings

That backbending post sparked some really interesting conversation and comments! Below is an abridged version of email correspondence between me and Laura of Yogachi. She is very knowledgeable about anamtomy and movement, intimidatingly so! You can learn more about her at her blogs - for yogis, and also one specially for teachers. Thanks for all the awesome advice, Laura!

This does get a little long winded, but it is really worth the read I promise!

Nadine, did you try the dandasana on a block pose? We need to chat -- one hamstring injury to another!

Ooh, tell me more....
Does dandasana on a block help build stability? My main problem is that my hips have become so flexible in the forward direction, that my sitbones tend to flick up and my lower back overarch, unless I am really concentrating on my alignment, and of course, I am not always, especially when demonstrating! I just want people to get the gist quickly, so bad. So the injury heals, it flares up, heals flares up. I will take any and all advice! It works best for me so far to do a lot of work on strength and stability in the hips - esp the hamstrings, loose bastards, so I do a lot of locust etc.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts Laura!



Interestingly, our problems are similar, yet not. I have hamstrings
that are very tight (yogically speaking, that is. I went to a doctor
about my pull and he brought my leg easily to 90 degrees and
proclaimed me healed. He walked out before I even had a chance to say,
“uuhhh....”). The reason I ask is we can exchange notes. I can share what I have learned for my self and I would love to hear what you do.

Here is a list of what I do:

1. I learned how to hold the attachment of my hamstring. I contract
at the tendon right at the sit bone. I do that while lengthening
the rest of the hamstring. If you stand in Tadasana and
isometrically push one leg back, you can feel the necessary
contraction. (Sometimes I put a strap a the top of my thigh to
remind myself to contract.)
2. I do the dandasana I shared on my blog. REALLY helpful for
learning how to ground through the errant sit bone. Yes, I think
it does help build stability. As I mentioned in the post, you
feel the bones so you can tap into keeping them aligned. It
isn’t about the soft tissue anymore. You won’t flick the
sitbones either if you are in the bones.
3. I do seated forward fold with the extended leg heal up on a
block (and sitbones on a blanket). I can’t explain it, it just
4. I also ground well when I forward fold in seated positions to
not do what you mentioned doing in your email – flick those
babies up. Teaching is tricky. Not only do I do moves quickly, I
often exaggerate the movement so students can really see what I
am doing.
5. I also do LOTS of strengthening. I love bridge, too for
strengthening “that” area.

Okay, any ideas for me? Thanks for sharing!!

Have a spectacular evening.


Hey Laura!

You have pretty much covered all bases, I think. This is just about what
I do: I can elaborate a bit, but there is nothing you aren't doing, that
I know about! I really appreciate the reminder to be present even when
teaching, since this is my problemo...

The reason that propping your foot up on a block helps, is that it
'locks' the femur into the pelvis and prevents over-rotation. I didn't
figure this out for myself, read about it in Yoga for Wellness by Gary
Kraftsow! Funny, most of the time we are trying to get people to move
their pelvis around the thighbone more, not less.
As to strength: I also love bridge, moving dynamically in and out of it,
then holding the pose. I do the same with baby locust, lifting chest,
arms, head and alternate legs, in and out with the breath, then both
legs together.
I have found that getting stronger in my core - lower back and belly -
has helped a lot with the 'floppiness' so I also practice urdvha
prasarita padasana (leg lifts) every day.
Since I am tight in the front of my hips, I have found also that regular
and assiduous stretching of the hip flexors and quads helps balance the
hips - basically mine are overstretched and weak at the back and the
opposite at the front. My favourites for this are warrior 1, warrior 3
(also really good for contracting the hamstrings) and some pigeon
variations. Moving in and out of pigeon forward fold is another good
back strengthener, I find.

My last thing is this: it seems that the injury shows up in the
hamstring but sometimes comes from over stretching the entire hip area -
including aggressive hip openers, and if you do less of this, it helps.
I have found this for people whose knees trouble them too, actually!

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that most yogis spend too much
time on flexibility and not enough on strength...

Thanks for all the help!


Hi, Nadine.

Fabulous! Thanks for explaining why foot on a block works. I love knowing why I am doing something — especially the physiology behind it. Thank you for that info. (I was going to call it a “tidbit” but it is so much more for me.)

I was thinking about your comment about getting our students to move their pelvis around the thighbones more, not less. You know, as I understand it, the injury occurs over time because the femur is not rotating tight within the socket, being “locked” in, but protruding out ever so slightly to be out of alignment. Apparently, many Iyengar practitioners are suffering from hip joint problems. I think it has to do with exaggerating the movement and the femur coming out a bit. (Hence what you telling me makes perfect sense.) It was part of my problem too. I thought the pain was from stretching the scar tissue in my hamstring, but it was pain in my joint from using it incorrectly for years.

As for your hip flexor, also add releasing the psoas. Are you familiar with Liz Brock’s book, The Psoas Book? She also had an article in Yoga Journal a few years back that is available on the YJ website. The psoas needs releasing first before stretching and it can drastically shift your hip flexor tension. Strengthening it will also transform your Urdhva Prasarita Padasana. (Everyday? You are amazing!! And I am inspired...) I have a YJ article written by Richard Rosen on that pose in which he talks about the psoas too. It was written in 1995 so I would guess it didn’t make it to the website but you can check. It is excellent for describing how to use the psoas and not the abdominals for the lifts.

Do you move in and out of pigeon forward fold with your arms overhead? Or just with out using your arms? I am curious how to do it to use it for strengthening the back. I do Salabhasana (locust) with arms overhead. Wow is that one amazing! It really helps get into the lower trapezius.

Ooohh...I am just moving through your entire email and responding as I go and just got to the part about too many hip openers. That is what I was talking about with the hip injury! Another recommendation to help “bring in” the femur is to do a practice with a strap running through your mid hip — just across the top of the femurs — the greater trochanter. Use the strap to draw the femurs in (it is subtle. It is easy to contract in the buttocks, but the action is lower, at the top of the thighs.) This action is especially important for seated forward folds and standing poses like Parsvottanasana and Parivrtta Trikonasana. And, yes, the issue affects the knee as well.

Peace and miracles of the hip joint...


And to finish, this comment which Kathy of KnittingSutra (great name huh?) left on the original post:

Due to injuries I wasn't able to do forward bends for over a year. I feel your pain. In the beginning it really bugged me, but then you learn how to be real creative with your practice. You then begin to realize that yoga is real flexible, but I was the one with the rigid mind.

Food for thought!