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Build the Base

Many years ago when I had a yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, a 60 year old woman who was shaky balancing on her two feet came up after class and asked when we are going to start doing headstands. Not liking the response, she was kindly referred to the gym across the street.

There’s a rush to stand on our head before we can stand on our feet. Students are guided to put weight on their upper bodies much too early on in their practice. Placing weight on the smaller, weaker and more vulnerable areas of the neck and wrists before the base of the body has been prepared can often lead to injury both physically and energetically.

I worked for a doctor of Chinese Medicine for almost 6 years and he’d get a lot of yoga people coming to the clinic for treatments. I’ve seen many physical and energetic injuries to the neck, wrists, shoulders and throat from improper practice. I would ask the patient what they practiced and more often than not I was able to guess the style. It is always the teacher’s lack of understanding or experience that is at fault, however there is an underlying problem with a style if so many similar injuries occur. Any repetitive movement that is one sided and over done will cause harm.

Blood flow and grounding to the feet should first be established, energy through the legs needs to develop, breath through the pelvic floor needs to circulate and spinal distortions need to be corrected before turning that all upside down and flooding the brain. Because this can take years to set up, for some decades, and for a few it should never be attempted, we have chosen to skip proper preparation and do what’s stimulating to our ego instead, not considering the long-term repercussions.

In our fast paced lives with such speedy access to information, we have lost the ability to appreciate taking things slowly. We lack the patience to comprehend the element of practice and repetition. We need to learn to have more trust in the teachers that work that way. They are trying to keep us safe.

By sticking to and mastering the basics first, we stay free from injury and protected from our ambitions and competitive selves. Basics may be very simple uncomplicated movements such as squats but simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.

There are some experts in the fitness field that have admitted if one starts running with any misalignments of bone, jogging will make it worse. Meaning, you shouldn’t jog unless you are perfectly aligned. Any offset will eventually stress and degrade the bone that’s out of place due to the heavy impact that running has on the joints. Do you know anyone that is perfectly aligned? Unlikely. Do you know any joggers? Chances are. I often find them in my yoga classes attempting to relieve the pain in their knees, feet and lower backs.

SAMASUCHI (even needle) shown in the photo above, helps to correct misalignments in bones such as ankles and hips, improves blood circulation, draws the breath and Apana Vayu (downward wind) down changing the quality of the voice and respiration. It brings evenness to both sides of the body straightening distortions and sharpening the central axis like a needle. It increases focus by pulling the mind and senses in towards centre.

It is great for joggers and is also a huge challenge to stay in for almost every one of us. All one experiences at first is enormous discomfort. Try and see how long you can last!

Radhasri (Rhonda Fogel) has been teaching yoga in Canada since 1998 and is the founder of Hatha Yoga Shala currently based in Montreal. She is an authorized Shadow Yoga teacher since 2005. She can be found here on Medium as well as on Facebook, Instagram or her website.

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