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Email sent on May 16th, 2018:
I’ve sent a lot of emails to this list over the years, but this feels like my first email. I’m in transition now (aren’t we all, always, anyway?) Well, on June 4th I dive into my first summer term at Hunter College for Physical Therapy. There’ve been a lot of small steps and a few giant leaps over the years that brought me to where I stand today.
This transition began several years ago when I was experiencing daily, persistent pain in my hip. Some days, traversing the SOHO cobblestone on my way to teach, it felt like my right femur bone was falling out of my hip socket. There was clicking and slapping and pain all around my greater trochanter (the knob on the upper, outer portion of the thigh bone). I also had a wonky (that's a clinical term, ha!) left SI joint and hypertonic (high muscle tone) right QL and psoas muscles.
In assessments with both a Rolfer and a neuromuscular massage therapist, I was observed standing. “Do you always stand with your feet parallel?”—they mused—“Why?” Ummm, because yoga alignment. For years, I'd built my purpose and my pride on standing well and teaching others to do the same.
But there's this: The more I learn about the human body, the less I care about yoga alignment.
Standing in mountain pose with parallel feet is not for everybody. It most definitely wasn’t for me all day every day. My lateral hip rotators were locked long from spending so much time with my thighs turned in more than was natural for my bony structure. The muscle tone around my hips was all uneven, with some areas overstretched and weak and other areas contracted into knots. With a couple of bodywork sessions and a week or so of allowing my feet to turn out in standing and walking, the pain disappeared. I added weight lifting to my practice, targeting my hips and butt—squats, deadlifts, weight loaded bridges and such. I was feeling better than ever and flying up the subway stairs. I’ve since persisted on a path of training strength, varying my movement beyond what’s offered in typical yoga sessions and putting myself together in the places where yoga asana was pulling me apart. Along the way, I've come to value function over aesthetic form, and my body is so happy for it!
You won’t find any information here about upcoming teacher trainings, because there are none. I finished leading my final 200 hour teacher training this month. I’ve had a good run—an opportunity to share what I love with incredible students all over the world—it’s been an absolute pleasure. I have no interest in continuing to teach surya namaskara B, or “the alignment” for warrior 2.
What you will find here is me cutting a new path. I'm taking what I find valuable about yoga as a mindfulness practice, adding cross-training elements that build balanced muscle tone, and having a whole lot of fun mixing up movement with tricky motor control games.
Just as we have building blocks for yoga poses, some yoga poses serve as building blocks for valuable human movement. It can all live happily together in my world.
My students tell me my classes now feel like group physical therapy. I'm honored, but I'm not there yet. I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of questions. One of my teachers says, “be joyful in not knowing.” I couldn't have more joy for the learning ahead.
To those of you who’ve been meeting me here over the past few years, thank you. If you are new to my list, welcome. Please stay in touch and I hope to see you soon!