In today’s fast-paced environment, the “no pain, no gain” attitude can sometimes creep into our yoga practice.
We are all busy and have a never-ending to do list, so let’s quickly do our asana practice, shorten savasana and move on to the next activity of the day.
Hurry, hurry, hurry and don’t take the time to listen to what the body is screaming at you.
Leeann Carey, in her book The Yapana Way: Restorative Yoga Therapy & The Art Of Being, suggests an alternative. Yapana yoga therapy consists of basic movements to warm up the body, followed by Doing (dynamic) poses and Being (relaxing) poses held for an extended time and ending with a Still (final relaxation) pose.
The practice relies heavily on the support of props to allow the body to experience the full benefit of the pose without forcing or straining any specific part of the body.
Although all yoga is therapeutic, Leeann says what makes an intelligent yoga therapy practice is using the right pose at the right time in the right way in such a way it meets the student where they are.
Yapana is a Sanskrit word which means “the support and extension of life”. Leeann creatively suggests strategic use of props to support and extend the life of the poses.
“Don’t believe anyone who says using yoga props on the mat is cheating.” ~ Leeann Carey
As a yoga teacher who teaches in gym and fitness centers, my students often resist my suggestion to use a prop because then they feel like they aren’t really doing the pose. I’ve learned from Leeann, and I try to pass along to my students, that a prop is nothing more than a tool to help a yogi meet themselves where they are for that moment.
Using more than just a mat and a block, Leeann’s yoga prop tool chest includes bolsters, chairs, blankets, walls, sandbags, foam rollers and even a tennis ball. “The right prop support can teach a skill necessary for experiencing a balanced approach for doing, being and breathing in a yoga pose,” says Leeann.
The Yapana Way gives not only a clear picture of prop placement in each pose, but detailed instructions for how to get into, how to properly use the prop and how to safely come out of each pose. Much detail is given to explaining each of the Being poses; twists, inversions and forward bends. She explains the benefits of each pose along with any suggested modifications.
Yoga teachers will especially enjoy the Purposeful Practice section; 10 different specific sequences which target common challenges, including pregnancy, that most yogis encounter.
I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of Leeann’s savasana variations to address headaches.
The use of sandbags and eye wraps has not only saved me from head pain, but has brought much-needed relief to my pre-teen daughter who suffers from frequent migraines. You know a therapeutic yoga pose works when your 12-year-old wakes you up in the middle of the night asking , “Momma will you please wrap my head?”
Although Leeann’s detailed writing makes this a great tool for any practicing yogi, it’s a must have for a yoga teacher’s library.
*Note: I was given this book by the publisher and remain unbiased in my review of the author’s work.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman