Eight yoga inspired exercises for opening the shoulders

Who doesn’t have a cranky set of shoulders?

Hunching is the body’s natural way of protecting itself from outsiders by physically closing off access to the vital organs.

It might be caused by an old injury, or by the slumping in a bad posture we do all day at a desk. Or even, especially in these days of staying at home due to quarantine rules, by what I like refer to as the “couch syndrome”. Surely our lying long hours on the couch is not helping our shoulders and backs to maintain the correct posture and healthy mobility.

Whenever you realise that you are slouching forward, try to take a second to roll your shoulders back and take a deep breath.

Although we have had to momentarily quit our normal training and physical activities, we can still take care of our body by maintaining healthy habits.

As I have to cope with a pretty stiff set of shoulders too, I have introduced shoulder and chest openers at the beginning of my daily practice to prepare my body achieving deeper postures.

Following you find my favourite yoga inspired exercises that can help you release your shoulders, and leave you with a sense of openness to your chest. This will definitely improve your posture and your breath will start come deeper and more easily.

Balasana (or Forward Fold) with Clasp:

Sit on your heels and clasp your hands behind the back. Take a deep inhale to open chest. On the exhale, fold forward, abandon your forehead to the ground and gently relax the neck. Stay here for 5 deep breaths to a minute.

You can practice this position starting from standing tall as well. After a deep inhale, soften your knees and fold forward. Keep your spine long, and your head and neck released towards the floor. If you feel comfortable, bend one knee and then the other to get more into your shoulders.

Cow Face:

Sit on your heels and reach the right arm to the ceiling. Bend the right elbow and let the right hand fall between your shoulder blades. Reach the right elbow with the left hand to very gently deepen the shoulder opening with the weigh of your left hand. Do not force the position by pushing too much!

If you are comfortable in this pose, you may bring your left arm down, bend the elbow to reach the left hand up to the centre of your back. You can take hold of the right hand. Take care that the right arm doesn’t add any unwanted pressure on your neck. Stay here for a period of 5 deep breaths to a minute. Repeat on the other side.

Thread the Needle:

Begin on all fours (Marjariasana). Reach the right arm underneath the left arm, allowing the shoulder and temple to release to the ground. The left hand can stay where it is, or crawl a bit to the right over to your head, or also reach behind your back to open your left shoulder. Stay here for 5 deep breaths to a minute. Repeat on other side.

Criss-Cross:

Lie down on your stomach. Lift your torso and thread the right arm underneath the left at shoulder height, about a 90 degree angle away from your body. Reach left arm in the opposite direction (again, about 90 degree angle away from torso). Hook the chin over your shoulders. While holding this position, keep your hands and fingers active to deepen your stretch and lengthen your arms. Breathe here as long as you feel comfortable to stay (minimum for 5 deep breaths). Repeat on other side.

Eagle Arms:

Start sitting on your knees or in a comfortable cross-legged position. Wrap your right arm under the left arm. Lift up through your arms by reaching elbows and fingertips up and away from face. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths to a minute. Unwind and repeat on other side.

Reverse Prayer:

Sit comfortably on your knees or in a cross-legged position. Bring your arms down to the sides of your body and, bending the elbows, reach the arms behind your back. Press your palms together in a prayer position at the centre of your back and reach hands as high up the spine as feels good. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.

(Definitely not the easiest for my stiff shoulders, but super effective in releasing tensions from the back of your shoulders!)

Extended Puppy:

This pose is a cross between Child’s Pose and Downward-Facing Dog. It is useful to lengthen the spine and open the shoulders.

Start from all fours (Marjariasana). Curl your toes under and, as you exhale, walk your hands forward to extend your arms while keeping them active. Drop your forehead to the floor and let your neck relax. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, keep pressing the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels. Breathe into your back, feeling the spine lengthen in both directions. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.

BE ROOTED FOR VRKSASANA. HOW TO, VARIATIONS, AND BENEFITS OF TREE POSE

Vrksasana is among the first poses you practice as a yogi, and it is one of those that give big satisfaction from the beginning. A classic, it looks pretty and never too boring. In fact, it challenges your sense of balance and, thanks to the several existing variations, you can give it a change if one day you feel you want to funk up your practice a bit. At the basis of every versions of Vrksasana is the concept of “rootedness”, of connection to the ground and, in a wider sense, to the Earth.

For many beginners, balancing poses are not that easy. Sometimes it is hard enough to do an asana with two feet on the ground, let alone standing on one foot only, trying to balance everything else. The key to successful balancing lies in cultivating awareness of your grounding.

In yoga this concept is expressed as Pada Bandha, but what does that mean exactly?

Pada Bandha

Pada bandha is a term coming from the Sanskrit pada, “foot,” and bandha, meaning “lock,” or “harness.” It consists in a yoga technique in which the soles of the feet are placed on the ground so the weight is evenly distributed in the triangle formed by the big toe, little toe and ankle. Through this foot lock we can activate the energetic connection between our body and the earth, in this way drawing prana from the earth, at the centre of the foot and into the foreleg, up to our hip joints.

Pada Bandha works on our first chakra, which is directly connected with the “secondary” chakras in our feet, and it is fundamental in order to ground on the floor and feel strong on our feet when we practice standing balance yoga poses such as Vrksasana.

How to practice the foot lock

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain pose) with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel, your core activated, chest open in a natural way, and arms relaxing down by your sides. Eyes closed if this helps you focus inward. In this position concentrate your attention on your feet: activate them, spread your toes, then lift them. This increases your awareness of the four corners of the foot. Once you feel them grounding into the floor, lower the toes so that they are long and active. You will notice that the arches of your feet naturally begin to lift. In this situation your weight will be evenly distributed, and you’ll feel that your standing posture is supported starting from the feet, which are strong and active on the floor.

Vrksasana (Tree pose)

From Sanskrit vrksa meaning “tree” and asana “pose”.

As above-mentioned, Vrksasana requires a sense of “rootedness” and centering down through your core. If you attempt to balance on your right foot without focusing on Pada bandha, your weight will easily fall on the outer leg and outer foot, and the inner edge of your foot will lift. Before you know it, you will find yourself lying on the ground!

How to enter Tree pose

Start on Tadasana. Your feet, your legs, your center, everything is activated at this point. Remember to open your eyes if you closed them earlier, otherwise balancing might become a remote dream (talking from experience here!). Afterwards, start shifting your weight on the right foot and, on the inhale, lift the left foot. If it’s the first time you practice this pose, try it gradually. Place your foot on the ankle, and if you can do it easily, move it to your calf, or directly to your inner thigh (heel close to the groin). You can experiment with the position of your hands and arms as well. Press your palms together in Anjali mudra (prayer position) in front of your chest at the centre of your sternum, and then try to extend your arms over the shoulders, and finally bring your palms together in Anjali mudra above your head. Gaze at a point in front of your eyes; the closer, the easier will be to focus and to find your balance.

No matter what your version will be, you’re fine!

For those who have tight groins and inner thighs, problems externally rotating the hips, or also issues in finding balance, lifting the bent knee too high may cause them to lose the correct alignments. Therefore, in this cases it is much better to lower the foot against the standing leg.

Give yourself time to internalise the practice. You may assume it’s a pretty basic asana, but each of us is different. As for every other asana, it can be easy for someone, but much more difficult for others.

Whatever you choose as variation, don’t forget the alignments!

Let’s scan your body from your feet upwards, and check you’re on top of your alignments.

First of all, practice Pada Bandha with the foot on the floor. It is active and strong, literally the root of your tree. Standing leg is strong too.

Secondly, your lifted leg is externally rotated (hip to be exact) with the foot pressing against the inner thigh of the other leg and viceversa.

Third, check your hips: they are squared, your frontal hipbones maintain their parallel alignment.

Tailbone down and lengthen your spine.

Also, don’t forget your center, your core! Another important element to feeling centered is abdominal tone, which provides the core strength necessary for the pose. If the abdominals are weak, they provide no support for the low back in the posture. Practice gently drawing your navel back toward the spine and up.

Open your chest and relax your shoulder. Draw your shoulder blades down your back.

Almost there. As above-mentioned, choose the position you prefer for your arms and hands. Anjali mudra in front of your sternum or above your head, or also raising your arms overhead, palms facing each other.

Finally, last but not least, your head and neck. Keep your neck long by having the chin parallel to the floor, slightly inward I would say. Gaze at a fixed point in front of you, and bring all your focus to that point.

Now. Why you should practice Vrksasana

Vrksasana strengthens the legs and the spine, opens the hips, groins, and chest, and fortifies your Muladhara chakra. Moreover, through the practice of balance, you develop concentration, as well as steady and calm your mind. Tree Pose brings you back to your inner side, and connects you to the earth.

Wanna do a funkier Tree?

If you’re already familiar with the classic Vrksasana version, you can try one of the many variations you find everywhere in the web, or just ask your yoga teacher!

I personally get excited about this one:

Ardha Padmasana Vrksasana (Standing Half Lotus Pose)

So, the above picture, where I wear my focused-looks-like-pissed face, is Ardha Padmasana Virksasana, also know as Standing Hald Lotus Pose.

It is a slightly more advanced pose as it involves both balance and quite a good deal of flexibility.

The lifted leg is brought into half lotus pose with the foot or ankle resting on the front of the opposite thigh close to the groin. The hip is in external rotation. Different arm variations can be used to provide additional benefits. The variation I chose helps open the shoulder for instance. The arm on the same side of the lifted leg is brought behind the back to bind with the foot in front. The free hand can be taken into a mudra (here Gyan mudra) or lifted towards the ceiling.

To conclude I’d like to cite a quote by Mary Oliver:

Can You Imagine?

“For example, what the trees do

not only in lightning storms

or the watery dark of a summer’s night

or under the white nets of winter

but now, and now, and now—whenever

we’re not looking.  Surely you can’t imagine

they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing

to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting

a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly

more shade—surely you can’t imagine they just

stand there loving every

minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings

of the years slowly and without a sound

thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,

and then only in its own mood, comes

to visit, surely you can’t imagine

patience, and happiness, like that.”

Mary Oliver

Vrksasana gives us the possibility to become trees. Rooted, calm, directly connected to the Earth. Can we imagine being happy and patient where we stand? Can we stand rooted, not wanting things to be different when storms and discomfort come along? Are we able to really live in devoted connection to Mother Earth?


BE ROOTED FOR VRKSASANA. HOW TO, VARIATIONS, AND BENEFITS OF TREE POSE

Vrksasana is among the first poses you will practice as a yogi, and it’s one of those that give big satisfaction from the beginning. It’s a classic, looks pretty and never too boring. In fact, it challenges our sense of balance and, thanks to its several existing variations, you can give it a change if one day you feel you want to funk up your practice a bit. All of them though are characterised by the concept of rootedness, of connection to the ground and, in a wider sense, to the Earth.

Eight yoga inspired exercises for opening the shoulders

Who doesn’t have a cranky set of shoulders?
Hunching is the body’s natural way of protecting itself from outsiders by physically closing off access to the vital organs.
Following you find my favourite yoga inspired exercises that can help you release your shoulders, and leave you with a sense of openness to your chest. This will definitely improve your posture and your breath will start come deeper and more easily.

Effective yoga techniques for releasing anger and frustration

Do you feel angry quite often? Even small issues irritate and frustrate you?

Frequent episodes of anger and frustration are not normal and you need to
release these feelings out of your mind. If you get angry quite often, you can hurt yourself as well as feelings of others at home or workplace. In the long run, these emotions can not only impact your mental health, but also your physical health.

Exercising can be a great way of getting rid of these negative feelings.
For people who get irritated easily, yoga can help manage their feelings and calm them down. And we are not only referring to a single moment of anger. Consistent practice can have a role in managing anger in the long term.

As a beginner, you can join yoga classes for learning the poses that can help relieve negativity. Practicing in a group can be particularly beneficial.
Another option is to watch yoga courses and videos online for beginners as well as for advanced students.

Whether you join a class or practice on your own, make sure you develop a regular practice routine. Even 10 to 20 minutes of yoga practice daily can dramatically drop your stress levels.

Let’s have a look at some yoga techniques that are beneficial in releasing anger and frustration:

Child’s pose (Balasana)

Balasana


It is one of the best asanas for calming your mind completely. Get into a kneeling position and with your toes touching, spread the knees wide apart as far as you feel comfortable. You will feel a stretch on the inner thighs and groin area while your upper body rests on your thighs and your forehead on your forearms. Take long breaths while holding the pose for a few seconds. The posture can be easily performed by anyone and offers a deeper sense of calmness.

Lion pose (Simhasana)

Simhasana

The pose is said to be quite effective in getting out of the state of anger. Get into a kneeling position and spread your knees wide apart. Press the palms into the floor with your wrist facing forward stretching your forearm. Inhale and then exhale hard from your mouth sticking your tongue out as far as you can. Make a sound like ‘haaahhhh’ so that you can flush out all the heat and tension from the body.

Meditation

Meditation

We all know how meditation can help have a peaceful mind. During
meditation, you must focus on your breathing style. When the breathing is deep, it will promote feelings of calmness and you will attain a peaceful mind.

Reverse Savasana (Advasana)

You can also try this pose for promoting calmness. Simply lie down with your face down, tucking the chin slightly. Bring the forehead to the floor avoiding touching the floor with the nose. Take deep breaths and try to hold the position for as long as you can. Your arms can lie along the sides of your body or in front above your head with your palms together in a prayer position.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Matsyasana

This pose is an effective way of controlling anger and letting go of negative emotions and temptations. The asana not only helps get rid of stress, but also promotes blood circulation in your head. Sit in Padmasana and grab your toes. Now lean backwards while stretching your neck and spine. Try to touch the floor with your head if possible. Make sure that the back is bent and not touching the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds before relaxing and repeating the pose.


So, you’ve read that yoga can help you unwind and get rid of negative feelings, but you are concerned about not being able to practice consistently?

You should try and give it a chance!

Often, once you start experiencing the benefit of the yoga practice, it comes quite easy to find those minimum 10-20 minutes per day you need!

Of course it can happen that, for various reasons, you are not able to dedicate this time to the practice.

There is a good news though. Even simple breathing can help!

The deeper the breath the better! Keep breathing till the time you feel calmer.

Read more on yogic breath

You can also try to maintain a journal wherein you can keep a track of your progress. You can take a note of how gradually yoga is affecting your overall anger. Also, it has been observed that writing can reduce the intensity of anger.

These days most people have a hectic lifestyle and demanding professional life which induces stress, frustration and anger. Practicing above mentioned simple yoga poses can help in keeping anger at bay and make you a calmer person.


About the author

Katherine Austin is a professional yoga teacher trainer with 10 years of experience in Yoga. She is a certified yoga teacher trainer, in particular specialised in Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga. Katherine has worked with Chinmay Yoga School for 6 years.

Chinmay Yoga School

Chinmay Yoga is a Yoga School in India which conducts yoga teacher training in Dharamsala and Gokarna. Chinmay Yoga works to spread yoga knowledge by providing free drop-in classes, conducting YTTC Courses in India (Yoga Alliance) with amazing homemade food, great
accommodation with air conditioning and very knowledgeable yoga teachers from India. Chinmay Yoga also works for the nature and surroundings around it by planting trees and installing dustbins in
the city.


Learn more about them:

Website – http://www.chinmayyoga.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Chinmay-Yoga-523172021363450
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ChinmayYoga

How to start meditation: a guide to begin in the right way

Would you like to start meditating in the best way?

Great! So this is the article for you 😉


Meditation in recent years has spread at an incredible pace as it gives countless benefits to those who practice it.
While this growth is certainly positive, it often creates a lot of confusion.

Indeed, meditation has the goal of opening the mind and allowing us to look inside ourselves, but this can only happen if the practice takes place correctly and consistently. When this condition does not occur, it is pretty much impossible to get the benefits we are hoping for.

I decided to write this post to give you some hints to help you start meditating properly.
Take some minutes of your time to read it, and you will discover everything you need to know to begin the practice of meditation in the best way.

Have a good read!

Index

  • Meditation in a nutshell
  • Get ready for meditation
  • How to start meditating
  • Various meditation techniques
  • Meditation in everyday life
  • Informal meditation

Meditation in a nutshell

As it emerges from the words of the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, meditation can be considered the art of knowing yourself, your mind, breath, emotions, and thoughts.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on how much you know yourself? Have you ever been for more than 20 minutes with your eyes closed to observe your mind?

If not yet, you probably only know the most superficial aspect of yourself and in this case meditation can do really good to you.
To get to know yourself, however, you need to focus your mind inwards and eliminate all distractions. Only when the attention is turned internally and is not disturbed, then the actual meditation is able to takes place.
In addition to self-knowledge, meditation also makes us fully experience the present moment, which rarely happens in normal life. With meditative practice, we learn that the mind is constantly between past and future. The aim is to train us to bring it back to the here and now whenever it is no longer in the present.
As you practice, you also develop a greater awareness and the ability to let go, which are two qualities that can change your way to see life.

Get ready for meditation

Wear comfortable clothes

First of all, it is recommendable that you wear comfortable clothes when practicing meditation. You want to focus the mind, not to concentrate it on those too tight pants or itchy clothing.
My personal favourites are jumpsuits and any comfortable baggy outfit that does not bother me.
Also, make sure your are not wearing too light clothes, especially in winter. The body cools down during practice, so cover yourself, maybe use a blanket too.

Choose the right place

It is very important to choose the right place for your practice. The mind gets used to it easily and meditating always in the same place helps concentration.
Of course if you don’t have access to your favourite place to meditate, this should not turn into a limitation. If one day you are somewhere else or maybe you are traveling, meditate anyway and do not skip the practice.

Choose the perfect time

It is important to choose not only the ideal place, but also the ideal time. Looking at your ordinary day, try to understand when you might enter meditative practice.
There are times of the day, such as sunrise and sunset, when the mind is calmer, so they are considered more suitable for meditating.
Another good piece of advice I was given when I started is to try to meditate at the same time of the day everyday. The habit of always practicing at the same time positively affects the mind that gets well disposed towards mindfulness and introspection.
Additionally, if you decide to practice for a defined period of time (e.g. 30 minutes), you should focus on not standing up or interrupt before that time is over.

Relax your body with some yoga

Maintaining the position of meditation is not easy at all and after a few minutes usually begin to arise various pains. To prevent this from happening I find useful to do some yoga to prepare the body for meditative practice, as asanas rebalance the body and prepare it to sit long during meditation.
Actually, meditation starts already with asanas, as they can be defined as meditation in movement.

How to start meditating

Try to remain still

When you start meditating, it is important that you choose a meditative position and maintain it. At the beginning of your practice you can change to find the best position for your body, but once you have chosen it, it is important to keep it.
If you’re approaching this world, a meditation pillow can surely help you maintain the position for longer.

Follow a specific technique

There are numerous meditation techniques that you can practice.
No matter what technique you decide to start with, it is essential that you practice it for a long time and consistently. Many people go from one technique to another, but in my opinion this is not the best way to go deep into ourselves.

If you had to make a hole in the ground to find water, would you think it is better to make a deep hole or make many small ones???

Various meditation techniques

Vipassana

Vipassana is a meditation technique that consists in focusing mainly on breathing or body sensations in order to learn more about our mind and the laws of nature.
It is considered as the essence of the Buddha’s teaching and it is also regarded as a real way of life.
I am actually practicing this technique, and I feel it is greatly helping me look inside and in my process of growth.

Mindfulness

This term means awareness and is what you get if you constantly practice this meditation technique.
The development of awareness leads the practitioner to live fully in the present moment, the only one that ultimately counts.
Mindfulness also comes from Buddhist meditation and is very similar to Vipassana. The first, however, has a more scientific approach, while the second more spiritual.
This method is often used to solve widespread problems such as stress, anxiety, fear, addictions, etc…

Walking meditation

Walking meditation is a wonderful technique that can be used both when you can’t sit for a long time and by those who prefer a moving meditation.
In this case, instead of focusing the mind on breathing and body sensations, we focus on the gesture of walking and on the movement of the body.

Dynamic meditation

This technique was spread by Osho, one of the most important spiritual leaders of the last century.
It is a unique method because, unlike static meditations in which you sit all the time, it allows practitioners to move, to scream, to dance, to jump, and so on.
Precisely because of its dynamism, it has been heavily used in the Western world.

Mantra meditation

Mantras are sacred words or sounds that are pronounced in repetition to form a core of spiritual energy and are used to calm the mind.
Usually in yoga classes they are used to open and close a lesson but can be recited for a longer time, in this way taking on a more meditative aspect.
They can be both recited aloud, whispered, or recited mentally.
The best known manta is Om, considered the mantra par excellence.

Meditation with mudra

jnana mudra

Mudras are gestures that are made mainly with the hands, and they represent certain states or processes of consciousness.
When we practice them, we get in touch with these states that they represent.
Some of them, such as Chin and Gyan mudra (see the above pic), are particularly suitable for meditative practice as they calm the mind and allow us to concentrate more easily.

Zen Meditation

Zen meditation (or zazen) is of Japanese origin and, according to tradition, zazen was originally the posture of the Shakyamuni Buddha, through which he achieved complete liberation.
This technique is based on the control of breathing, posture, and mind.

Meditation in everyday life

Consistency and patience

No matter what technique you decide to practice, the most important thing is that you carry on the practice consistently.
Many practitioners begin to meditate enthusiastically, but after a short time it disappears and gives way to boredom, doubt, and other obstacles typical of meditation.

It is important that you are aware of this and that you do not abandon the practice when the first difficulties begin to arise.
Working on yourself and disciplining your mind is the hardest thing in the world, and if you really want to grow as a person and experience the benefits of meditation, you need to be patient and practice consistently.
Patience and perseverance should always be in the mind of a meditator.

Follow a master

Practicing self-guided meditation is among the best things you can do in your life. However, it can be useful to follow a teacher who can help you understand the mistakes you are making.
When everyone begins to meditate, they are unaware of many things that happen within them.
This state is called Avidya in Sanskrit, that means spiritual ignorance, non-knowledge, unconsciousness.
To prevent us from remaining in the condition of Avidya the help of an experienced master can provide great benefits, otherwise we risk to make the same mistakes for a long time.

Dig deeper into the theory

Meditation is a practice-based discipline, therefore practice is a vital and most important aspect of it. In addition to it, however, books should be read to support the discovery of the principles that are hidden behind the practice.

Informal meditation

Have you ever heard of informal meditation?

Many practitioners, even if they have been meditating for a long time, have no idea what informal meditation is.
In a nutshell it is the meditation you do in your daily life and it is very important.
Formal meditation is when you sit on your meditation pillow, while informal meditation is when you apply the same principles of meditation in everyday life.
Basically, they are two sides of the same coin. Formal practice is indispensable to discipline the mind and develop awareness to practice informal meditation in life.
It is when you start to live your days in a more meditative way that you begin to see reality with different eyes.


I really hope this article was helpful to you, and you have clearer ideas on how to start meditating!

Thank you and namaste 🙏

You are ready for 200-h YTT when…

This past weekend I started my 200-hour yoga teacher training here in Milan.

I had been wondering if I should do it or not since August. I would keep going back to the website of my favourite school at least two or three times per week, reading the program, and trying to look for any requisites I hadn’t noticed before.

Nothing. It really looked like the course was open to anyone willing to take it. How exciting! The idea of starting this journey made me feel high every time.

However, I did not have the courage to enrol till November.

Although yoga practice has become part of my daily routine during this last year, I was afraid of not being good enough, of not being able to keep up with the rest of the class, that I would end up losing time, money, and hopes.

“I am not good enough”

I don’t have a proper background”

“I haven’t practiced long enough”

“I have contractions”

These were all the excuses that I was giving to myself in my head. I was often googling “When are you ready for yoga teacher training?” (did you happen to find this post in the same way?!?), with the hope that some more experienced person could specifically address my doubts, and answer for me.

Well, after months of internal struggle, I decided in the end. And I COULDN’T HAVE DONE ANYTHING BETTER FOR MYSELF.

While talking to a friend of mine, who is attending her 200-h YTT in Australia, she told me: “You are ready because you are walking out of your comfy zone..”

And that was true.

There is no rule, no-one can objectively tell you if you are ready or not. THE ANSWER IS IN YOURSELF.

It’s absurd how things change. If one or two years ago someone told me “The answer is in yourself” in response to my many doubts, I would started friendly making fun of him/her. The “new philosopher!”. I probably wouldn’t really take the advice seriously either.

But things change. I am undergoing a process of change, and self-development. While in the past the need for change was related to my environment and my external stimuli (so much that I moved to the other side of the world!), this time development needs to come from inside.

So, in my case the answer was: I am in a moment of transition, my ideas about the future are not as clear as in the past, I have never got keen on doing something daily as it happened with yoga. I AM READY TO START THE JOURNEY.

Because yoga teacher training is a journey. It involves a process of discovery and acceptance of the self on the physical level, but also, and more importantly, on the energetic, mental, and spiritual level.

If you feel the need and strong desire to do it, often that’s already the answer.

If you need some reassurance though, I can tell you this.

YTT IS NOT A BOOTCAMP.

Yes, 200-h YTT offers time to practice yoga, but more importantly it offers an introduction into the philosophy of yoga, as well as alignment principles, anatomy, proper assists, the method to create a yoga sequence. These foundations come together, so that students can understand the deeper root of yoga.

If you are concerned about looking “stupid”, or “clumsy”, I can report the words of my teacher Giancarlo during the first half a hour:

“Do not compare yourself to others. It’s not a competition. We are not here to judge yourselves or the others. Most important, respect your bodies, and accept what they are communicating you.”

Your fellow mates usually have different degrees of experience with yoga. Groups are variegated. And not just in terms of age, body shapes, and yoga backgrounds, but also in term of attitude and personal inclinations.

For example, in my (amazing) class three or four people are already teaching yoga to small groups, few others have a strong five or ten year practice. Someone else is a beginner. There are introverts and extroverts. Someone admitted to have blocks to get rid of. More than a couple of people have the innate ability of teaching, while others are there willing to take the challenge to stand in front of a class.

The awesome team!

It’s a totally non-judgemental, relaxed, and fascinating context. So, really, don’t be concerned about what you may look like while performing an asana.

You can’t do it YET. You don’t touch your feet YET. You don’t do Sirsasana YET.

This doesn’t mean you will never be able to do it. Yoga asanas are just like that. The more you practice, the more you advance, and then one day they come. They will slowly unfold with dedication, awareness and time, when your body and mind will be ready.

Freeing yourself from self-judgment can be a tough challenge, both on and off the mat (this is valid for me for instance). If this applies to you as well, perhaps you can set non-judgment as your intention for your yoga teacher training. After all, yoga represents a nurturing experience where you can let go and get rid of criticism, which will lead you to a steady mind.

Remember: this is just the beginning of your journey into yoga. So, let go and enjoy the ride!

Let me introduce you Platypusasana!

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that this year I got addicted to yoga. Daily practice, meditations, and reads have become my routine.

You know that thing you are absolutely excited about and keen on doing whatever happened during your day? That’s yoga for me.

At the same time I started feeling the need of creating something mine, a project to grow slowly, with commitment and patience.

This is when the idea of creating a brand came up to my mind. And what else could I choose as a sector other than yoga?!?

And PLATYPUSASANA was born…

After months of planning and waiting my first two babies are finally out!!! My CORK YOGA BLOCKS and CORK YOGA MATS (complete with yoga bag).

Check them out on the section PLATYPUSASANA of this blog on Amazon!

More gadgets and customised props to come….

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