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Posts posted by Robbie

  1. This has been a great discussion. I have loved following the contributions. The responses have been thoughtful, spirited and scrappy. It is so rare to have a forum on the internet which doesn't descend into name calling or Godwin’s law. These discussions have been valuable in helping me reason through my own thoughts on the subject, namely:


    A selfie is a just a photo. Labelling it a “yoga selfie” doesn't change anything. If you don’t like selfies of “skinny white women in bikinis doing yoga” then I'm guessing it’s not the “yoga” part you have issues with. Also the inclusion of the word “selfie” is intended to be inflammatory - contrived to tap into the groundswell of contempt for the selfie generation. Most of these pictures are not even taken by the subject. How the funk are they meant to be pushing the button?


    My own conflict about yoga being an internal experience and not creating something for others to look at; Well even if I do end up uploading more yoga selfies, they are only as a by-product of my personal practise. I am not “creating something for other to look at” I am creating something out of a love of yoga, hours of classes, hours of personal practise and one or two bruises. There is a sense of achievement and pride in having something to show for all those hours. Yes there may also be an element of vanity if I'm being honest, but none of these things are my motivation for doing yoga.


    So my conclusion is to get over myself and enjoy the benefits of help and encouragement that the yoga community offers. I will proudly tag my next Instagram upload with #YBCyogis - I just won’t be doing it in a bikini.

  2. I have noticed an interesting debate gathering momentum on various platforms recently, so I thought I’d bring it here to see what people thought.


    It seems to have originated with this article on yoganonymous:


    And Ali Kamenova has responded with this articulate rebuttal:


    There is, as always, a spectrum of views in between. It has raised an interested contradiction in my own beliefs which I am still reasoning through.


    I follow many of the skinny white bikini girls under 30 on Instagram. I also follow male yogis and yogis of all shapes and sizes colour and creeds. The yoga selfie is a staple part of my social media diet. They inspire me and motivate me. They teach me and help develop my yoga practise.


    However……! I am not oblivious to the narcissism of many of these yoga selfies, and sometimes you can’t see the yoga for the vanity. There is a phenomenal dominance of inversions and arm balances and more than just a hint of showing off. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that the most popular feeds belong to the young and the beautiful.


    The very first yoga text I read was The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar, and I highlighted a passage that really leapt out at me,


    “What is yoga after all? It is something that we experience inside, deep within our being. Yoga is not an external experience…….Yoga is different from dance or theatre. In yoga we are not creating something for others to look at………We do it only for ourselves.”


    Now I know that modern yoga has no dogma. You don’t have to follow the teaching of the Desikacher or Patanjali to enjoy the benefits of yoga. But for me, the above extract taught me a valuable principal of yoga that I apply every time I get on the mat. It has allowed me to focus on the importance of being mindful and present in yoga and to free myself from external perceptions and pressures. It is one of the foundations of my practise and I cherish this philosophy very dearly.


    I uploaded my first yoga selfie the other day. I have started balancing in handstand for a few seconds and I wanted to see how straight I was. I posted it on Instagram with a yoga hashtag and instantly received more likes than I had for any other upload (Granted, I am spectacularly crap at posting on Instagram).  It was great encouragement; I felt like I had finally joined the Instagram yoga community and yes, I want to do it again…


    Was my handstand an internal experience? No, not at the point the picture was taken.

    Was I creating something for others to look at? Yes, I was showing off at least a little bit.


    I feel a little conflicted. One the one hand I think the positive feedback from Instagram can really help motivate and develop my practise, but on the other hand I know it won’t be long before I crave validation and before you know it, whoops my shirt has come off.


    I’d love to know what others feel about this phenomenon. Is there a place in yoga for vanity?

  3. I used to attend a regular yoga class in a gym where it was the same 6 students each week - 4 ladies and 2 guys and we were all of a similar ability.

    The gym decided to run a free introductory session to try and increase class numbers and so the next week there were another 6 guys added into the class. I think these guys were more used to the culture of lifting weights and, oh man, the grunting! I had never heard anything like it in a yoga class. It was like listening to pigs truffle hunting!

    The feel of the class had changed from the gentle inhale and exhale of waves crashing on a shore, to an alpha male testosterone fuelled gut busting competition. The instructor really had her work cut out for her trying to get everyone to breeeeeaaaaaaaathe and reeeelaaaaaax.

  4. Oh no, that sounds dangerous! Thanks for the warning. Fortunately I haven't had to resort to a neck brace, or any kind of support device. I haven't flared up so badly that I would need to go down that route.

    I've had a couple of sessions with a physiotherapist now, and I've been learning so much about my own body that I never knew! The physio has been poking around in my neck and showing how my stiff neck joints are triggering off my shoulder spasms. She pokes in one place and the twinge appears in a different place!

    I've also been introduced to the joys of the foam roller which I am really enjoying, and I have been prescribed some very yin yoga type exercises to do with it. Not really a style of yoga I have ever practised before, but I will certainly be doing more of in the future - those chest openers feel so amazing afterwards!


    I did also take the opportunity to discuss neck pillows and desk layouts and other potential triggers. She was sceptical about spending lots of money on pillows with orthopaedic claims. Her advice was "keep it simple", keep you neck as neutral as possible, in line with you spine both horizontally and vertically and this made me think of your u-shaped pillow experience!

    My desk layout on the other hand was awful. Everything I was doing was contributing to poor posture and poor alignment. I often sit with a leg under me, my screen was too low and my mouse hand was pulling my right side forward.  She explained to me that the body is amazing at compensating for all these errors, but if you then suffer a trauma that puts more stress on your posture (like a broken rib), then the compensating mechanics are thrown out and something has to give. So I am working on the causes and alleviating the effects and training myself to get into better habits. This worries me because I'm very stubborn about getting into new habits, it takes lot of time and effort to change old habits...

  5. I can see so many similarities between your account and what I'm going through at the moment. I have been getting a rather persistent neck twinge on my right side. I am also a spooner in bed (Big Spoon!), but I actually end up sleeping on my front with my neck twisted which can't help. The masseuse mentioned a similar imbalance to the one in your picture where one half of my body was higher than the other, although I don't think it's as pronounced as yours.


    Thanks for the advice! I am going to look into u-shaped pillows and read up on the Forrest yoga neck releases which I haven't heard of before. I have an appointment with a physiotherapist on Monday and I'm having a work station assessment for my desk. I'm declaring war on my injuries!


    Sorry to hear that you can't make the pain go away entirely. If I come across any helpful advice on my journey I'll be sure to share it with you...

    MrBalloonHands and yogafire like this

  6. No, you're not intruding at all, I welcome the discussion!


    Yes, I do think the injury was a major contributor to my tightness, but I also now realise that much of it existed prior to the injury. I had been suffering from twinges in my neck and traps for years, and while yoga would help alleviate these to some degree, they would persistently return.


    I spend a lot of time at a desk working on a computer making my body do things it really doesn't want to do. A also spend a lot of time on a racing bike in positions that put a lot of pressure on my neck and traps. I don't spend the same amount of time on my yoga mat correcting the problems that this lifestyle creates. Yoga has been incredible in alleviating the stiffness in my lower back. The masseuse was complimentary about the health of my lower back muscles! My problems originate in the upper back, traps and neck muscles. I think the years of abuse have left knots so tight that my yoga practise wasn't touching them.


    I have given this a lot of thought recently and I realise that I have been avoiding certain poses that aggravate my neck. Shoulder stand always left dull aches and neck stretches would often start off twinges again, so in the interest of working within a "pain free range" I would often omit these from my routines.


    I am in agreement that all things being equal, a solid yoga practise would be sufficient to alleviate the imbalances of my lifestyle, but in this instance I think the injuries I have been carrying around require more specific attention. I don't think yoga is going to cure them. I don't even think a course of massages is going to complete the job. The masseuse's verdict was that I go and see an osteopath. So while I am still a firm believer in the benefits of yoga, I don't believe it is a miracle cure and I think it has its limits...

    YogaByCandace likes this

  7. So this injury has been quite a journey of discovery for me. The first was right at the start when I discovered codeine :blink:, and the second was today when I treated myself to a massage.

    Part of the problem with having a rib injury is that you have to find 1 comfortable sleeping position and stay in that position for weeks. This led to all kinds of muscular discomfort for me, particularly in the back and neck muscles. I promised myself that when I was fit enough I would treat myself to a massage to get all the lingering knots out. Now, I hadn't had a massage for over 5 years prior to today. Coincidentally this is the exact same period when I started practising yoga regularly. During this time I seem to have conjured up the idea that I didn't need massage because I had yoga. Nobody directly taught me this idea, I seem to have concocted it myself. The reasoning goes something like this; Yoga gives my muscles a full workout in all directions and therefore I don't need to pay someone else to do the same job. It turns out I was wrong.

    I asked for a deep tissue massage. The masseuse pummelled the :23:  out of me. She had all her fingers, hands and elbows going. At one point I think she had her feet up the wall so she could get ALL her weight into a particularly stubborn knot. I actually really enjoyed in a very masochistic kind of way - I felt it was the punishment I deserved for being so ignorant and negligent about my own body.

    I think back to all the exercise I have done in those 5 years, all those occasion where I tweaked a muscle, all the strength work I have done in yoga, all those long distance bike rides, all that time sat at a desk....The masseuse told me my trapezoids were basically one big knot! The discomfort I was feeling as a result of laying in the same position for weeks, was actually the accumulation of 5 years of muscle abuse!


    So that was a very valuable lesson. I have always considered myself someone who was in "good shape", and that would blinker me to the fact that I was carrying around all sorts of unnecessary tension in my body. I also believed that it was the responsibility of yoga to keep my muscles in tip top condition. It is clear to me now that it was a pretty foolish notion. Although the idea may have its origins in some of the claims made by over-zealous yogis I have encountered over the years, the conclusions were all my own. So I am appealing to all other yogis out there that may believe that yoga is all your body needs - go and have a massage, it may surprise you!


    Anyway, the ribs are very much better now. I am going to my first yoga class in 5 weeks on Tuesday and I'm really looking forward to it! :24:

    EricaKaye likes this

  8. However, what I noticed is that people take on yoga and also adopt Hinduism or Buddhism, make shrines, travel to India, become vegetarians, etc. Is that necessary or is it just a natural progression as you get more into yoga? I don't want to do that, I'd feel like I'm 'betraying' my own religion (Islam) in a way so I definitely want to stay away from that.



    Just to echo many of the responses already, but this^ is certainly not true of everyone that does yoga. Some individuals have chosen this path, but in my experience it is actually a small proportion of yogis that experience yoga as a gateway to religion. I have certainly never heard of anyone converting from one faith to another after practising yoga.

    I love yoga because for the most part it is inclusive, non-judgemental, liberating, tolerant and accessible. You are not "betraying" yourself or any faith by practising yoga. Anyone that claims otherwise doesn't understand how personal yoga is.


    I myself am an atheist, a cynic, a sceptic and an all round curmudgeon when it comes to religion, yet I embrace yoga without any fear of hypocrisy. Okay, I sometimes have to consciously stop myself silently mouthing 'wtf' and rolling my eyes with some teachers, but I choose to do those classes because they are great teachers and I don't have to agree with everything they say.


    I have to confess that I do have one small(ish) shrine to David Hasselhoff, but I can't blame yoga for that one.  :blush:

  9. This is an expression I hear a lot in yoga, and I believe it originates in the Yoga Stura itself. Perhaps someone who has done teacher training would be more familiar with the source and the exact quote.

    I think if you modified your signature to "Yoga is breath. Do not allow the posture to damage your breathing" it would be more grammatically correct English.


    I love the mantra though, it is so important.

    Hope that helps :)

    Anahata likes this

  10. The doctor gave a very vague 4 - 6 week healing time so I hope to be back doing handstands in a week!

    Don't worry, I know I've still got a long way to go. I sneezed earlier, yelped like dog whose tail had been stepped on, and nearly blacked out from the, baby steps!

    YogaByCandace likes this

  11. Update on the ribs - Delicious barbecued!  :3: Ahem, sorry.

    Injury +10 days and the pain is really subsiding now. I am balancing the urge to do yoga with a cautionary voice not to push myself and risk relapsing.

    I really didn't expect to have regained so much movement at this stage. I think having a good underlying core strength has really helped with a rapid recovery - thanks yoga!


    I have been experiencing displaced muscle soreness due to other muscles having to take on the work of the intercostals. I have been focusing my yoga on these areas - lots of very slow cat/cows with very deep breathing has helped immensely. Rag doll and sphinx poses and helping keep my spine active without affecting the injured area. 

    How do people who don't practise yoga recovery from injuries? It should be prescribed along with the painkillers.


    Oh, and for the April project I have chosen reclining bound angle pose! That counts right? 

    YogaByCandace likes this

  12. The rib is broken. I have been in a downward spiral of pain for the last 2 days. I've answered my own question really. If I can't put on my own underpants then I'm not fit enough to do yoga.

    I'm so sad about it, I was just starting to catch my balance in handstand

    yogajedi likes this

  13. Having been practising yoga injury free for 3 years, getting quietly smug that every time my yoga teacher would ask, "Any injuries in the class tonight?" I would confidently shake my head No

    But today I bashed my ribs up really badly while go-carting on a stag do (bachelor party) and I am paying the price for it. Should I stay off yoga altogether for a couple of weeks, or can anyone suggest some yoga ideas for having very sore bruised ribs?

  14. Sometimes I'll do a music meditation, use a mantra, or try different mudras because when I have my hands placed a certain way, I can focus on my breath more. As an example, there's this mudra where you cup one hand in the other and then just connect the thumbs. Sometimes I do that and will start breathing and I'll visualize my breath going in a circle from my right thumb to my right shoulder to my left shoulder to my left thumb etc. I know it sounds kind of nuts but it keeps my thoughts from getting in the way, if that makes any sense, and when I really get into it, I swear it feels like electricity through my body. It's crazy


    On the scale of nuts this is only peanuts (with big Brazil nuts at the other end). I could never figure out how the Mudras in isolation could have any bearing on your meditation, but I was never taught to combine them with the breath in this way. Is this something you've been taught or something you've discovered yourself?



    ...... It drives me up a wall because I believe that if you have a major illness, I think you should see a doctor or naturopath. I specifically avoided posting about mudras that are supposed to "heal" depression, because as someone whose family has a very long and painful history of deep depression, the absolute best thing, in my opinion, that someone can do for depression is get help. Sure, meditate with a specific mudra as a complement to the therapy, but first and foremost, get professional help.


    I could not agree with you more. "Complementary medicine" is not the same thing as medicine, if it were, it would also be called medicine.


    As an aside: I will confess that during my teacher training, I was always super skeptical of chakras. (I still sort of am, shh.) And when our teacher would talk about blocked chakras? It just didn't make any sense to me, and I couldn't relate at all.


    Chakras schmakras!


    I do personally enjoy listening to certain types of chanting (om, anything in Sanskrit). It eases occasional anxiety, which I know is weird but don't judge, haha. I remember during training that the chanting did NOT go over well with my class. I actually felt bad for the chanting instructor. She was incredible though. As someone truly "walking the talk," she took nothing personally even though nearly everyone was all :17:  :17:  :17:  :17:  toward her and her chants. So maybe bits and pieces aren't right for everyone? 


    I love all kinds of singing and chanting and I totally get why it is such a big part of yoga and ALL religions for that matter. It is just the quickest way to lift your spirits. I no more feel a Hindu when chanting Om than I do feel a Christian when belting out An American Trilogy, and I get immense joy from both.


    And it's a lot like yoga. The poses are fantastic and people feel great when they practice them. But that's not all yoga is - the meditation, the mudras, and even the dreaded chanting  :3:  - it's all part of the science that is yoga, that began thousands and thousands of years ago. I like the idea of picking and choosing what works for me.




    In response to the feed in general, I had just recently heard mudras are basically like pressure points. I don't know how to feel about the whole negative energy thing either, but as for the mudras helping in meditation, I think they can be effective in the same practical way that pressure points or acupuncture (like you mentioned) can be effective. I haven't tried many but I know a couple really seem to work for me- it's probably just what my body needs in the moment, and others may not work as well. I think it's so individual. I don't think it is necessarily spiritual or religious, although I think things with yoga are what you make it. Anyway, the pressure point thing really helped me understand it better, so I hope it will be a help to you guys too!


    I will remain open minded and give them a go with this idea in mind, thanks

  15. I did realise when starting this topic I was skating dangerously close to a debate on the religious and spiritual side of yoga, and as we all know discussing religion on the internet is about as productive as nailing jam to the wall. Now I love jam, and I also love DIY, but in this instance I am keen to avoid that debate.


    I have actually experienced some tangible benefits to the mystical side of yoga before without necessarily buying into the spiritual explanation that comes with it. I have even enjoyed a bit of chanting in my time, but I think I have found my limit with hand Mudras. It is probably the tipping point for me where yoga topples over the edge of reason into the abyss of superstition.


    So I guess my question should be more specifically; Are the point of hand Mudras entirely rooted in belief, faith and spirituality, or is the benefit of using them as tangible as the benefit of an inversion, or a nice savasana? 

    Maybe I am kidding myself and this really is a debate on "spirituality". Oh well, I do have a jar of apricot preserve around here somewhere....

    EricaKaye and YogaByCandace like this

  16. So this may be a little controversial to post on a yoga forum, but it has been on my mind recently; I don't see the point of hand Mudras.


    In my yoga class last night the teacher was commencing guided meditation and said to place our hands in "A Mudra of our own choosing, depending on what we wanted from the meditation", and I though to myself, I don't know which to choose because I as far as I can tell, the position my hands are in make no difference whatsoever to the quality of my meditation. And then coincidentally today Candace posted a blog about the different Mudras for meditation. So rather than hijack her blog post with my cynical musings I thought I'd start a topic in here instead and see if anyone can offer me some justification.


    Are these hand positions actually doing anything, or are they just yoga's equivalent of throwing up a gang sign? Discuss......!


    katyk, Meugenio, starslight and 2 others like this

  17. I did initially think I would be choosing handstand, but because I am squeezing this project into already very full days, I have found that I'm not getting warmed up properly for handstands. 5 minutes really isn't enough and I feel an injury waiting to happen. So I have changed my best laid plans and am now going to focus on balancing in crow for longer. For some reason I don't feel I need as much of a warm up for crow. I don't know why, because it seems to use similar muscles. If I'm wrong can someone please intervene before I end up in a neck brace  :53:


    YogaByCandace likes this

  18. I always have a bottle of water with me when doing yoga. It first started when I tried dynamic yoga and used to sweat through a t-shirt at every practise, but now I just have one with me during any yoga session out of habit. I've thought nothing more about until I just read, ".... it was a way of looking for an excuse (a.k.a trying to avoid the pose, or trying to spend less time in the pose)" and realised that actually yes, yes I really am guilty of that! 

    YogaByCandace likes this

  19. I have done yoga on and off most of my adult life. I am constantly met with raised eyebrows from other guys when I tell them I do yoga.

    I actually think the Western yoga community is largely to blame for the widespread perception of yoga as "a bunch of ladies dressed in white sitting in lotus position". Every time I see a yoga flyer or groupon they use them same clichéd stock photos. I have just googled "yoga" images and the results are hilarious!



    While that perception persists, men will build a large mental barrier that will be very difficult to break down. It's ironic that yoga is perceived as such soft exercise by guys, because yoga has done more for my strength than any amount of weight training has ever done.


    And then you have those guys with the fairly typical male anatomical tendency to be inflexible in the hamstrings and lower back. They don't see the point in yoga because they think it is all about flexibility, and a lot of the poses they see being practised look unachievable and very intimidating. To my male friends who tell me they are too inflexible do to do yoga, I have the standard reply; You're never too dirty to have a bath...

    KristiSmithYoga, Jasmine and Tibor like this