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The Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga

Ashland Yoga Center
Event organized by Ashland Yoga Center

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Yoga practice is not an end in itself, or even simply a means of ‘transcendence.’ It is a tool for being in our bodies and being with ourselves. In a simple way, yoga is about our relationship to our body and mind; this workshop will be about enhancing that relationship in can-do ways. In the bigger sense, Yoga is about our relationship to the Self from whom we came — which grows through our relationship to the self we are coming to be.
This will be an all-levels workshop on deepening these inner relationships, which will be informative to teachers and enlightening, encouraging and inspiring to students!

Friday 6-8:30 Sacral Rhythm and Low Back Health

At the center of all movement lies the sacrum, the keystone of the pelvis, which regulates the curve of the spine as well as the ‘openness’ and flexibility of the hips. Much of yoga has focused on the suggested actions of the tailbone — even in describing ‘Mula Bandha’ — but has given little attention to the natural actions of the sacrum. This leaves the ‘tail’ wagging the ‘dog.’ In this session we’ll focus on some simple actions to be incorporated into asana practice that will strengthen the muscles supporting the actions of the sacrum, increasing the stability of the sacroiliac joint as well as the health of the low back and flexibility of the hips. Attention will be given to the causes of sacroiliac and low back pain in a way that will be useful to teachers and enlightening to students! This will be a practice-oriented asana session, introducing fundamental and simple actions for sacral health that will be explored through the weekend.

Saturday 9-12 Understanding Sacroiliac, Pelvic and Low Back Pain — and What to Do

This session will go more deeply into the details of understanding Sacroiliac, Pelvic and Low Back Pain, in terms of sacral stability and the rhythms of its movement in the sacroiliac joint. This will include an understanding of patterns developed during pregnancy and postpartum — and will include plenty for the guys to contemplate in their own case too! — as well as in postural and movement patterns. The session will include lecture with very practical and illustrated information about pelvic and low back pain, as well as applications in practice. We’ll be doing asana, but this won’t be a sustained asana ‘workout.’

Saturday 2-5pm Therapeutic Wisdom for the Lower Body: Lower Body Pain Problems Arising from Both Inflexibility and Hypermobility $50/$60 Typical pain problems — especially the many forms of sciatic pain, as well as psoas-related trouble — will be covered. The challenge of working progressively with tight hamstrings in many classes of poses will be covered, as well as the typical problems arising from hypermobility. The principles covered in this session will pull together many of the ideas from the previous sessions in the form of sequencing strategies for classes, as well as focusing on practical tips for working in different classes of poses, especially as they relate to the main pain problems as well as typical complaints from students regarding these poses.

Sunday 9-12: Prana Blocks and Fascial Distortions Building on the foundation of the first day, we’ll explore the role of the fascia in pain problems more deeply in terms of typical ‘fascial distortions’ that arise in daily life as well as being typical of many types of ‘yoga injuries.’ Doug will introduce the Fascial Distortion Model, presented in yoga- and user-friendly terms, relate it to traditional approaches from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Marma tradition. And he will relate these ideas in particular to the upper body as he transitions to considering the arms and shoulders.

Sunday 2 pm to 5 pm: Rethinking the Shoulders ‘The Head is the Foundation’ A vital part of understanding problems involving the shoulders and arms rests upon understanding the role of the head as the ‘foundation’ of shoulder health. Traditionally we think of the foundation of the body — in yoga and in our posture in life — in terms of the foundation set by the feet (and how the bones are ‘stacked’ above it). But because the shoulders ‘hang’ from the head in important ways, it’s vital to look above them for their foundation. Neck health and the impact of postural patterns of the head and neck on the rest of the body will be explored in the context of asana practice and what it has to teach us, in keeping with the maxim “As above, so below.” The guiding principle will be the yogic insights behind the ‘bandhas’ — Jalandhara bandha in particular. Special attention will be given to problems arising from neck tension as well as misalignment in asana practice, as well as neck-strengthening and neck-aligning strategies for practice. The Arm ‘Sutras’ This will lead us into working with the myofascial ‘Sutras’ of the arms — an exploration of the myofascial lines or ‘sutras’ that govern the actions of the arms — the lines of larger muscles that govern the movement of the shoulder blades and give the arms their power, as well as the deeper lines of muscles that govern rotations and are crucial for the health of the rotator cuffs, elbows and wrists. A big challenge in practice and in life comes from the shoulders, which can be limited in movement as well as being easily injured. We will take a deep and natural approach to ‘shoulder opening,’ thinking of the action of the rotations of the arms as beginning from the spirals of the hands and wrists. We’ll incorporate wrist health and elbow awareness into the poses that challenge our shoulders (and neck!). The session will include helpful information about the shoulder — its structure and how it works in various arm positions, and how variations in the usual shoulder actions can be helpful for mobilizing the shoulders, with some remedial stretches as well!

Each Day will include some Pranayama and Exploration of the Role of Deep Relaxation/Yoga Nidra in Yoga This will include a consideration of the role of Yoga Nidra in any yogi’s practice in light of contemporary research on sleep. Many of the deeper processes of meditative yoga having to do with reducing the power of ‘samskaras,’ undoing or rewriting emotional patterns often described in terms of ‘working on the chakras’ and so on will be more practically comprehensible when we consider how these functions are handled in sleep. Yoga Nidra as a practice of hatha yoga augments and deepens this natural process. We’ll consider variations on the approach to Yoga Nidra, and will practice a fundamental form that allows us to go even deeper than seated meditation.