Friday, January 3, 2014

Practice tip of the Month - January 2014

"It is not the look of an asana in any one moment that provides true health but how the asana sustains you over time." AW

One Legged Balancing Postures

Standing head to Knee
Standing Bow
Balancing Stick
Separate Arms Balancing Stick
Tree Pose
The importance of maintaining even and consistent weight distribution of the foot on the floor when practicing one legged balancing postures can not be emphasized enough. When the three points of the foot are grounded only then can you truly grow and expand the posture. These opposing forces enable one to maintain floor to the core communication and offers tremendous stability as the posture is organized along the midline of the body. This stability is essential to maintaining properly aligned sacroiliac joints and a healthy spine.
Take your time moving in and out of postures avoid falling to the outside of the foot and falling into the joints of the hip, knee and heel. Instead try stepping into the posture and feel the heel, little toe, big toe connect and maintain connection with the earth below. By maintaining equal pressure of the foot on the floor you will not only be able activate the thigh muscles but also recruit the arch, calf, hamstrings, inner thigh and gluteus muscles, in affect stabilizing your pelvis in relationship to gravity.
One should first define success in the posture by one's ability to ground your standing foot not by whether or not your knee is locked. Make sure to feel the floor under the mound of the big toe, stabilize the ankle and recruit the back of the leg to counter the thigh muscles. Practicing this way will ensure that all the energy moves along the vertical axis and prevents the energy from escaping out the back of the ankle, knee and hip. 
If you have been accustomed to stabilizing your postures via the hip, knee and ankle joints know you are not alone. It is never too late to learn something new and improve. In the beginning your body will be weak and unsteady of the above approach and your mind may be even more unsure. Be patient as it will take some time in order to recruit the leg muscles efficiently but persistence will pay off. 
Steps you can take to move towards better alignment and balanced muscle recruitment:
1. Step into the posture slightly flexing the knee and push into the earth with big toe mound. (Slowly grow the asana until the knee is in a neutral position, avoiding hyper-extention)
2. Make sure your foot and ankle are grounded and stable all the way into and out of the posture.
(continuously receiving information from the floor to the core)
3. Keep your hip over your knee and your knee over your ankle at the same time aligning your upper inner thigh to the sagittal plane.
(If this is not possible in the beginning bring your knee forward enabling you to ground the big toe)
4. Find stillness in the maximum expression of your posture without losing the above alignment.
5. Lastly allow the corners of your mouth to turn up - it is only yoga!
Good luck, have fun and pay attention to the little things as they truly have the greatest impact on your practice over time.

Mountain Yoga Sandy - Behind the Scenes


It was 7+ years ago now that Jackie and I had sought out the instruction and guidance of Tony Sanchez, a renown and humble disciple of Bikram Choudhury from the 70's. Tony had recently sold his yoga studio of 20 years in San Francisco and moved to Baja in order to cultivate his personal practice and vision of the future of the Ghosh Yoga Lineage. Tony's approach to this influential lineage of yoga made intuitive sense to me. After only a few days with him I realized how his approach to Hatha Yoga was balanced, sustainable, aligned and therapeutic. He was like no other teacher that I had worked with in the greater Ghosh community. Needless to say those few weeks planted seeds in me and inspired me to learn and grow. At the time I had no idea how much I would grow.

As it turned out soon after my time with Tony my growth was stunted with a life changing back injury, via a snowmobile. The back injury twisted and turned my life upside down and challenged me to no end. I spent countless hours and many years working with yoga teachers, physical therapists, osteopaths, physiatrists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, pain experts and many more struggling to find a way back into a pain free practice. After 5 years of intense personal study and recovery my practice began to emerge.


During this whole time Jackie and I continued to operate our Bikram Studio, often in a tumultuous and challenging environment. Bikram claimed ownership via a copyright of his beginner yoga class. No one could teach the class if they were not certified by him. Every teacher was instructed to teach his dialogue. The short of it is that Jackie and I were not able to effectively implement Tony's or for that matter any other teacher's more sustainable and more balanced approach.


I attended Tony's first teacher training and continued to find great relief to my debilitating back injury. He spent a lot of time with me insisting that I improve my approach and alignment. After previously working with many yoga teachers of other lineages, physical therapists and doctors to help my back I began to see how both Tony's approach and theirs were aligned. There was no way I would go back to a misaligned and unsustainable practice draped in dogma. I was ready to let science lead the way and let go of any one teacher. Tony was the individual catalyst for me, he not only helped me through my pain but also encouraged me to learn from all my teachers in order to find a healthier path. He paved the way for me to implement more aligned practices in our studio.
Soon after, Bikram lost a pivotal lawsuit and the U.S. Copyright and patent office claimed that he did not have a copyright on yoga. The fact that Bikram did not own the beginner class and the fact that I knew there was a safer approach to the Ghosh practice, simply gave us permission to grow.

The time has arrived for us to move onward and upwards. Now we have expanded and remodeled offering a variety of classes from the Ghosh's Traditional 84 asanas and more great classes of different styles of yoga.

Mountain Yoga is honored to be a mentoring studio for Tony Sanchez's teacher training. In addition I am truly humbled to be an Ambassador for Tony Sanchez Yoga and look forward to continuing to assist and learn at his teacher trainings.

Both Jackie and I are thankful for the path we have taken. We would not change a thing. We have learned so much from our influential teachers and would not be where we are today without them.

The future is upon us at Mountain Yoga. We will continue to expand and learn from all teachers and from all lineages that come our way. We are free to teach what we know will truly help you, our yoga community, and we welcome all of you with open arms.

Peace and Love to all,

Alex & Jackie