My third day at Yoga Journal Estes commenced with a more subtle joy than yesterday.
Or at least I wasn’t as distracted from the joy that was there the entire time. With no snow, I enjoyed the company of everybody who shared our tiny doorless cabin. After some tea, we checked out of our cabin and made the short jaunt up to YMCA of the Rockies for another revealing day at the conference.
Tias Little directed, “Unwinding the Low Back” to a large audience, of which only one person raised their hand as having never had any low back pain in the past. With modern society constantly encouraging shitty posture I found it uncanny that somebody had such delightful fortune. The experience of lower back pain is also quite easily brought forth through irresponsible yoga practices. And by irresponsible I primarily mean unaware of several areas that Tias focused his class upon: alignment of the sacrum, including positioning of the sacroiliac joints and pelvic floor.
The class utilized many props and with my lack of attention to the class description I was forced to utilize my towel shirt as a strap. Serves me right for leaving everything in the car. Tias carefully developed the class around therapeutics and led students through postures to acutely make students aware of variations in alignment in the low back. Tree pose on one’s stomach struck out to me as most memorable and evident in identifying misalignments and asymmetry in this region of the body. I did find it uncomfortable to open up my hip in such a manner that moved my bent knee’s upper thigh to be flush with the ground. Throughout most of my practice, the alignment generally cues to inwardly rotate the inner thigh (up in this instance) and recess the groins back, rather than forward.
Perhaps my mediocre hearing incorrectly processed these cues, or simply a different lineage of yoga holds many different things to present in regard to the body’s alignment. Either way, my grandmother-like hip sockets were not so keen to proceed: my hip joints feel like loose ball bearings jostle around between the ball and socket when my hips are thrust forward and rotation occurs.
Another alignment struck me as odd: gazing down with the eyes and not maintaining length in the front and back of the neck. This chin tucking seemed like over time it would be quite strenuous on the back muscles of the neck and create an imbalance. Part of what I really enjoy about Yoga Journal Conference is that so many different yoga lineages congregate under magnificent teachers and I am exposed to quite a few new perspectives to my own practice.
The class was a little uncomfortable to me because of the different cues and alignments from what I am used to, but this added to the overall value of the class. I asked myself questions about my body and how it moves.
The atmosphere that Tias fostered was one of warmth and nurture for the self.
After an enjoyable morning of learning and questioning, it seemed appropriate to enjoy a little bit of chocolate from Theo and UliMana.
Anthony Actis is starting up the next chapter of his life as a graduate student in Hydrology. He recently spent five weeks driving 8600 miles from London, England to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to raise money for The Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaanbaatar and have himself a proper adventure. He is a scientist, an engineer, a philosopher, a yogi, an adventurer, sometimes a bit of a lush (although increasingly less often) and completely drawn toward everything associated with his native homeland of Colorado. He finished a 200-hr teacher training in Denver but wants to grow his personal practice and knowledge further before teaching (if he ever does want to teach). As a citizen of the world, he is enamoured with francophile culture, asking difficult questions, people watching, airports, being uncomfortably polite and courteous, early morning asana, existentialism, pain au chocolate, fake mustaches, awkward facial expressions and Oxford commas.