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  1. I avoided yoga for years (to my own detriment) because I was turned off by what I perceived as the combination of materialism and spirituality-lite that the modern culture of yoga in the west seemed to represent. And I really didn’t like that it seemed to be turning into a status marker, that having the time to devote to yoga and the money to invest in a pricey yoga wardrobe was sort of a class signifier. But I realized that it doesn’t pay to throw out the baby with the bathwater and that yoga has a lot to offer, and what it has to offer is bigger and more powerful than – and will outlast – the contemporary cultural associations that I may not find so tasteful. And anyway, if some people are initially attracted to yoga because of the cute Lululemon leggings, and they find some meaningful benefit from doing yoga, then isn’t that still a good thing? Is it my place to judge anyone’s reason for doing yoga? This is a good question for me, because becoming less judgmental has been one of my major goals as I get older. In a time when ideas can spread across the farthest reaches of the globe, humans looking to tend to their mental and physical well-being can choose from any number of spiritual and religious traditions, psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals, dietary practices, exercise regimens, systems of meditation, and more. In some ways this is overwhelming, and it is bound to lead to a cafeteria approach – picking and choosing what works rather than dedicating oneself fully to a single practice or tradition. I don’t see that as good or bad, it just is. If one person wants to get more into yoga as a full “system” and someone else just wants to do the postures for 90 minutes three times a week, I think that's fine. What is clear is that most of us need something to keep from being tossed about on the waves of modern life filled with constant stressors and intrusions on our mental peace. For many people, that might be sugar, alcohol, drugs, shopping, zoning out in front of the TV, etc. Life is hard, and I myself am not giving up my red wine any time soon. But I believe that yoga helps, and it helps even if “all” you do is the asanas. I’m not in it for spiritual reasons per se, but I know that when you do good for your body, you do good for your mind, and yes my “spirit” benefits from yoga. Even just looking at it as a physical system, I am constantly amazed at how thorough, deep and effective yoga is. I’m not going to renounce such a great practice because I wasn’t born to the culture that came up with it. I count myself lucky to live in a time when I can benefit from the wisdom of people across the ages and across the globe! And as for yoga at the YMCA, etc., I would actually like to see yoga become *more* democratized, and for more men, older people, heavier people, people with unfancy workout clothes, etc., to have access to it and feel that it is for them too. Will it become "watered down" by virtue of becoming more widespread? Is that bad? Interesting questions to think about!
  2. I've been instructed in class to jump straight to chaturanga for the same reasons you cited, but it took me a while to get it. When I first started jumping back I was doing it to high plank, not really meaning to, but I think I didn't have the confidence in my tricep strength to land in chaturanga. Also I think my timing was off in that I wasn't bending my arms soon enough. Once I started jumping straight into chaturanga, I realized how much better (springier and less jarring) it feels.
  3. I love wide-legged forward bend, especially with the arms clasped behind the back and falling away from the back. Ahhh, bliss! It feels like everything is stretching and releasing at the same time...a yummy stretch combined with a feeling of freedom is so good. I also love pigeon, lizard and splits. I just love the feeling of being stretched out in the hamstrings and hips.
  4. Thanks for the great advice! That’s not my dog in the pic but my own two dogs have a dedicated, if narrowly focused, yoga practice. They get sooo much length in the spine in downward dog, but their eagle stinks. I haven't found a way to shift my balance to avoid the poking tailbone, and I’ve never had a blanket with me in class as we don’t use those as props in the classes I take. I’ve tried to use my little sweat towel on top of my folded mat and that’s definitely not enough, but I’m going try a real blanket at home first and see if it allows me to do these poses with less discomfort. If not, I’ll do as you suggest and skip them and maybe do a plank variation instead. Thanks again!
  5. I just discovered this blog and it's such a wonderful resource for a fairly new yogi like me. Thanks, Candace! So here's a question/problem that's been bothering me throughout my practice. My tailbone seems to be closer to the surface of my skin than is normal. Poses that require you to perch on that area (such as boat/navasana) are very painful, even after tripling up my mat, because my tailbone digs into the floor. I have an average body weight, so it’s not because of too little padding. I can deal with the mild discomfort of my hip bones digging into the floor on some poses but my tailbone is much sharper/pointier and creates significantly more pain. I often end up with bruising or redness in that area after class if we’ve done a posture like that. (It’s even worse in Pilates class since a lot of Pilates postures are set up like this.) I mentioned it to my teacher once and it seemed to stump her; I don't think she has run across this problem before. I suppose I could substitute other moves but I hate to do that because a posture like boat is such a core challenger and my core needs it. I was wondering if anyone else has a tailbone that gives them trouble and, if so, whether you’ve come up with a good solution. Thanks!!