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Tag Archives: vinyasa yoga

In Praise of Moving More Slowly

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Slow Yoga | Jason Crandell in Urdhva Dhanurasana | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

Choosing to slow down is a radical decision. And, like most things, slowing down and paying attention takes practice. When it comes to yoga, I wholeheartedly believe that different people need to move at different paces in their yoga flow class to feel satisfied. That said, like every other aspect of modern culture, the trend over the past 15 years in asana practices has been to go faster and faster.

Here’s why slowing down your yoga flow can deepen your practice and benefit your students.

Slow Yoga: 4 Reasons to Slow Down Your Flow

YOU’LL BE ABLE TO SYNC BREATH TO MOVEMENT

If you ask 100 vinyasa teachers to identify the most important component of vinyasa yoga, 100 of them will tell you “breathing.” But, strangely, many classes move at a pace that rushes the breath. I have actually seen students become worse breathers through their vinyasa class because they started taking classes that moved so quickly that their breath was chronically rushed. If breathing is truly the priority in vinyasa yoga—and it is—the pace of class should reflect that. The optimal pace of movement in vinyasa yoga allows your breathing to be full, deep, and unrushed.

YOU’LL BUILD MORE STRENGTH

Try this: Spend 3 or 4 breaths moving from Plank to Chaturanga. Hold Chaturanga for 2 breaths. Finally, take 2 breaths to transition into Upward Facing Dog. Compare this using 1 breath to move from Plank to Chaturanga to Upward Facing Dog. It’s obvious that the slower movements and sustained postures in slow yoga create more strength than the faster movements.

YOU CAN FOCUS ON QUALITY OVER QUANITTY

You can do postures extremely well when you move quickly. But, it’s hard. It’s really hard. As a long-time asana practitioner I like working intensely, but I also want to make sure that my postures have physical integrity and provide effective benefits. Although I have limited range of motion in some regions of my body, I consider myself a skillful practitioner. When I move too quickly—and, when I feel the urge to include too many postures in my flows—I notice that the quality of my postures suffers. I see it in my own practice and I see it in my students’ practice. On the other hand, when I allow myself to move more slowly, I pick up details that I otherwise miss. As a student and teacher, I would always choose fewer postures done with clarity than more postures done with urgency.

See also In Praise of the Quiet Yoga Class

IT’S EASIER TO SAVOR THE JOURNEY

How many times have you driven for hours to arrive at a destination and realized that you can’t remember anything about the journey? There’s a pacing “sweet spot” where your body gets an intense workout and your mind fully engages with your experience. If you move too quickly, you may have valuable practice, but your body and mind are less likely to learn and engage with the process along the way.

I originally wrote and published this article for yogaglo’s blog. In case you missed the news flash, yogaglo is really awesome and you should practice and train with me on their streaming service. Please check them out!

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Episode 19: Coral Brown – Geeky Fun With Hindu Deities

Hi everyone,

This week my guest is senior Prana Vinyasa Flow teacher Coral Brown (@coralbrownyoga). In her yoga teaching and in her one-on-one therapy practice, Coral draws on 20 years experience of in yoga, philosophy, and holistic counseling to provide fertile, open space for the processes of healing and transformation. Coral leads teacher trainings, retreats and workshops worldwide, she’s a regular contributor to Yoga Journal and has featured classes on Yoga Vibes and OneOEight.com.

Coral and I talked about one of her passions — the Hindu deity stories. She’s deeply knowledgeable about them and she’s also down-to-earth and practical in her approach, which I appreciate. She also (when appropriate) weaves them into her therapy practice, which I find fascinating. Here are some things we covered:

* How Star Wars is the mythology of our culture
* The comic book approach to teaching the Hindu deities
* Does including the deities in yoga teaching make your yoga class religious?
* The different ways that Coral incorporates the deities into her classes, workshops, and trainings
* Narrative therapy and the power of questioning and possibly rewriting the story that you grew up with
* How you can use the deities as an inroad for self-inquiry and self-discovery

Subscribe via: iTunes | Acast | RSS

RECOMMENDED & RELATED LINKS
Coral’s Web Site
Awakening Shakti, by Sally Kempon
Hinduism: An Introduction, by Dharam Vir Singh

MUSIC
The Polish Ambassador — Tornado ft Matisyahu
Professor Kliq — Bollywood Blades
Josh Spacek — Soul Shaker

WRITE A REVIEW
If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! I’m learning that it really does help others find it and it helps me to know which episodes resonate with you! You can also follow me on Twitter @yogalandpodcast.

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Essential Sequence: Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Back

12 Yoga Poses Sequence to Release Tension in the Shoulders, Neck, & Upper Back | yoga for shoulders and neck | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

WHY THIS SEQUENCE WORKS

Your shoulders have a lot of moving parts. Each shoulder has 4 joints (GH, AC, SC, ST), plus layers and layers of soft tissues that include muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When you add the physical demands that the shoulders undergo on a daily basis to the complexity of the region, you wind up with an unavoidable truth: Your shoulders need regular—if not daily maintenance—if you want your upper-body to be functional and comfortable.

ONE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YOUR SHOULDERS, NECK, AND UPPER-BACK

We frequently take our body for granted. Even as yoga practitioners, we often forget the intricate subtlety and profound majesty of the body. When we take our body for granted, we forget that it needs our attention and care. We forget that our body needs regular—if not daily maintenance—especially as our body ages. I’ve watched my body through my yoga practice for 20 years and it’s finally become clear that my shoulders, neck, and upper-back need a simple, quick, daily practice if I want them to work optimally. I created the following sequence for myself a few months ago and I’ve been extremely consistent with it. It’s usually not the entirety of my practice or training on any given day. Rather, it’s a supplement. It’s simple, basic, and hugely effective. Think about it as the equivalent of brushing your teeth or taking a shower. It’s just basic hygiene that helps you feel better.

My recommendation is to do this sequence several days a week. It’s only going to take 10-15 minutes and it will be worth every moment. If you have a regular yoga practice, sneak this in at the end of your sequence. If you train, run, workout, or ride a desk all-day long, do this sequence in the evening before you go to bed. Just figure out a way to put this into your routine.

Yoga for Shoulders and Neck | Yoga Sequence to Relieve Tension in the Shoulders, Neck and Upper Back

POSES 1-3 :  Child’s Pose and Cat Pose

Child’s Pose and Cat Pose gently round the upper-back and release tension in the muscles that lay between the shoulder-blades. Since the head hangs freely in these postures, the muscles in the neck don’t have to work to support the weight of the head. This creates a nice, much needed rest for these often over-worked muscles.

POSES 3-6: Yoga for Shoulders and Neck Tension

If you practice with me live, online or with these illustrated sequences, you’ll recognize this straightforward, 4-pose shoulder-opening combination. I use this mini-sequence all the time. In fact, you can think about these 4 poses as a “mini shoulder-opening sequence” within a sequence. If you don’t have time to do this entire practice, these 4 poses will knock plenty of the rust off of your shoulders by themselves. These postures will help create mobility in your shoulders by taking them through a significant range of motion. If sitting in Virasana is difficult for you—or, you want a little more movement in your practice—you can do this combination of shoulder openers in Tadasana, Warrior 1 or Warrior 2.

POSES 7-10: Shoulder Opening Lunge and Forward Bends

Poses 7 – 10 are included to get you moving a little bit more. Even though this sequence is mellow, it’s nice to have a few poses where you can feel your body work. If you externally rotate your upper-arms and broaden your shoulder-blades properly, you will release the weight of your head and neck in down dog. This will help stretch the space between your shoulder-blades. Low lunge with your fingers interlaced behind your back will stretch your the front of your shoulders and chest. The two wide-legged standing forward bends will stretch your entire back-body and release tension in your upper-body by letting the weight of your head and neck to drop.

POSE 11: Dolphin Pose with Hands at Wall

Down Dog with the elbows on the floor and the hands on the wall is one of my favorite shoulder openers. It creates the same effect as Down Dog, but it increases the amount of leverage that you can stretch your shoulders with. To do this posture effectively, place your hands on the wall with your fingers pointing away from each other (your thumbs will face the ceiling). Keep your elbows shoulder-width apart. The most common mistake that people make when they’re practicing this pose is to lean their shoulders toward the wall. Instead—just like you do in Down Dog—press your shoulders toward your legs.

POSES 12: Viparita Karani

Legs Up The Wall. Need I say more?

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you free printer-friendly PDF of the sequence above!

AND, if you want to feel more confident and knowledgeable about your sequencing skills, check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. It’s great for yoga teachers and students who want to better understand how the body works and how to stretch and strengthen effectively.

{illustration by MCKIBILLO}

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Episode 18: Jason Crandell – How to Select a Teacher Training Program

Hi everyone!

We’ve gotten many questions recently about teacher training that we decided to do an episode that answers common questions. Doing a yoga teacher training is a huge investment — both financially and in terms of your time. It can be a wonderfully transformative experience, but it’s worth doing your research and thinking about what is going to best meet your needs.

Jason and I talk about:
* Whether you should stick with a local teacher or travel to do a training with a well-known teacher (his answer might surprise you).
* Considerations in terms of format — monthlong intensive? two week modules? six months of weekends?
* How vital it is to continue your education even after completing a foundational 200-hour training
* Are there different things to consider if you just want to deepen your practice vs. wanting to teach?
* Plus, we talk about what types of information and skills an advanced 300-hour training can provide.

Last thing: We are in the midst of content development and would love to know what you’d like to see more of, so we created a super quick 6-question survey. We’d love it if you’d spend a minute of your time offering us feedback! Take the survey here.

Subscribe via: iTunes | Acast | RSS

RECOMMENDED & RELATED LINKS
Jason’s 2017 Teacher Training in San Francisco
Jason’s Art of Yoga Sequencing E-Course
Jason’s Essential Anatomy E-Course

MUSIC
Jahzzar — Siesta
Cory Gray — House Arrest
The Polish Ambassador — Wonder Continental ft. Beatbeat Whisper

WRITE A REVIEW
If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! I’m learning that it really does help others find it and it helps me to know which episodes resonate with you! You can also follow me on Twitter @yogalandpodcast.

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When Students Behave Badly, Part II

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Jason Crandell teaching yoga | yoga teacher etiquette | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

For teachers, yoga classrooms are where we work. It’s where we share our passion for the practice, where we earn our livelihood, and where we help students learn skillful ways to manage the human condition. Of course, the studio is also where students come to learn and practice. Students have the reasonable expectation that they can be themselves and experience a safe and supportive environment. And, they can –if they’re reasonable. And, students are reasonable — usually.

Like all group environments — especially where the general ethos is “do whatever makes you feel good,” and where the stated fire-code allotment for number of humans that can safely fit into a room is regularly ignored — the social etiquette of YogaLand can be open to interpretation. From time-to-time, students go off the rails and it can be challenging to know how to respond. In Part One, I talked about students who “do their own thaaang” and students who are so physically satisfied with their practice that they serenade class with moans and groans that are better suited for more intimate environments.

As teachers, we need to ask ourselves two related questions when we encounter questionable behavior in a class: First, is the behavior truly a problem for the group? And second, do we need to take control of the situation to protect the overall group experience, or do we need to let it ride?

Now, let me paint a few scenes.

See also When Students Behave Badly, Part I

SHIRTLESS, SWEATY, AND PROXIMATE

The first time I taught at Power Yoga Germany in Hamburg, Dirk, the co-owner of the studio, made an announcement before my workshop. After the announcement, he told me in English what he just said to German-speaking students. He said, bluntly, that the studio has two rules and they’re both for men. Number one, he said, “We have two bathrooms and they’re both co-ed, so men need to sit down when they piss because men can never hit the target and women don’t need to put up with such inaccuracies.” Second, he said, “Men, when you get hot and start to sweat, you might want to take your shirt off. But, guess what? This isn’t allowed because the woman next to you doesn’t want to shower in the sweat that will be pouring off your body.”

Just when you thought chivalry was dead, right? I’m not going to expound on the first rule, but as a married man I can assure my male readers that hygiene in a shared bathroom is appreciated. So, take this consideration to heart if you’re a man using shared facilities. When it comes to the “Yoga: men gone wild, edition,” I don’t personally have a problem with men going topless in class. But, heavy-sweaters (men or women), please grab a towel and wipe down the region during and after class. And, teachers, you’ve got to get on your students to mop up their scene. It’s not just basic social etiquette. Students that are sweat on by their neighbor — or slip and slide on someone else’s sweat while walking to the restroom — are much likely to reconsider coming to another public class. So, teachers, if the need arises, simply grab a towel (nearly every studio has them), hand it to sweaty john or sweaty betty, give a quick glance toward their puddle and nicely say, “If you don’t mind.”

SAVASANA? NO THANKS!

I’m going to be honest, I don’t mind when people leave before Savasana. Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s part of the practice. Yes, we live in a vata-deranged culture and everyone needs Savasana. I’m not going to argue against those points. But, some people have children to pick up at an exact time, or they have an incredibly brief window between jobs. Or, they simply can’t handle laying on the ground for 6-10 minutes in a room full of other adults. I genuinely have empathy for all of these situations.

But, I’ve got to tell you, it takes every single second of patience that I’ve accrued in 20 years of practicing yoga, to keep my blood pressure from spiking when someone leaves in the middle of Savasana — or, worse, 10 seconds before Savasana is over! There’s a natural settling-in phase when students are transitioning to Savasana. I don’t think students are disturbed when others leave during the onset of savasana because there’s already plenty of sound and rustling while everyone prepares for their 10-minute rest. When someone leaves in the middle of Savasana it’s a much more significant disturbance. And, it’s almost always made worse by the student leaving because they’re trying to be quiet, which translates to 45 seconds of hearing a mat sloooooowly peeling off the ground, 45 seconds of floor boards creaking while the student walks to the back of the room to collect their belongings, 90 seconds of the belongings shifting around until the student is able to put their handmade eye-bag away, and another 30 seconds of the squeaky studio door being closed.

As teachers, there’s almost no way to guarantee that someone doesn’t occasionally bail half-way through Savasana. And, hey, maybe someone just remembered that they’re needed on a conference call or whatever. We’re all human and this is going to happen. But, there are two things you can do to minimize these incidents. First of all, end your [email protected]#$%^% classes on time!!! Don’t expect that everyone in your class can go over by 5 minutes or more because you took too long to get to your peak pose! We’ve all gone over — I’ve gone over — but I think it’s incredibly important to end class when the schedule says that class is over.

The second thing you can do is make periodic announcements in your class that you’ll be ending on time, that you’d prefer students to stay for Savasana, but if anyone needs to leave early, do so before Savasana begins or when class is over. Namaste.

SHOWER, SOAP, AND DEODORANT? NOPE, I’D RATHER NOT!

We’ve all forgotten to wear deodorant. And, sometimes, the deodorant that we’re wearing is having a bad day and is not up to the task of masking our wild side. Perhaps you believe that deodorant is evil and that it masks your natural pheromones. Fine. All those things are fine. But, attempting to have a body odor that won’t knock a pigeon out of mid-air while it’s cruising past the window of the yoga studio is, I believe, part of the modern social contract.

As a yoga teacher, I’ve never approached someone about their odor. As a studio manager, I have. Fortunately, it’s very rare that someone’s odor rises to level of a necessary conversation. But, it does happen. I can think of three occasions over a 5-year period where, as a yoga director, I had enough complaints from the community about people’s odor that I needed to intervene. It was a high-end fitness facility and the problem was that each of the individuals involved were doing intensive training before coming to class. They’d come to class directly after their training and arrive in a remarkably funky state. This wasn’t once or twice. This was a few classes every week for months. Eventually, in each of the scenarios, I had to address the individuals. It was difficult, but managers have difficult jobs sometimes.

So, if you have a student whose odor is compromising the group experience, take it to your manager and ask them to have a conversation with them. If you prefer to handle it yourself, go for it. Be nice. Of course.

RING-A-DING-DING! ANYBODY THERE????

Cell phones are going to ring, buzz, ding, quack, play questionable ring tones, like “Oops I didn’t again, I played with your heart…” during class. Yes, one Saturday morning during Savasana my class was serenaded with a Britney Spears ringtone. And, yes, I’ve taught yoga for a long time.

I ignore 999 out of 1,000 notifications that I hear during class. This is yoga, so let’s focus even if someone’s bag is chirping. But, on occasion, teachers will realize that either A) the person that’s calling the phone nestled in someone’s purse is not going to give up, or B) it’s not a ringtone making that noise, it’s an alarm. Here’s what I’ll say during class in these situations: “Hey, I know everyone has phones and we all forget to turn them to airplane mode on occasion. But, if this phone is still going off during Savasana, everyone is doing pushups for 10-minutes, okay? So, even if you are 100% sure that it’s not your phone that is making this racket, please go check.”

That gets the job done.

I want to conclude with a reminder that this two-part series is written with love. Seriously. I wouldn’t have a fraction of the life that I have without my students and I know that most teachers feel the same way. At the same time, this is our workplace and it’s important that we have the tools to manage some of challenges that happen while we’re teaching. Be loving, be clear, and have boundaries.

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