Tag Archives: art

A trip to the Northwest yields great bounty

My wife and I just returned from a trip to the Northwest which included stays in Portland and Seattle. I was in Portland to take my Intermediate Junior I assessment. I’ll tell you about that later. My wife and I fell in love with that city. It is very well planned with excellent public transportation options, cutting edge restaurants, and a vibrant culture.

We then took a road trip from there up to Seattle and did the whole tourist bit including the famous fish market where sellers throw whole salmon around like a football. Originally it was to save time from walking the fish from the ice to the counter. But as it became popular, throwing salmon became it’s own attraction.

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More than anything, this was an important trip for me because it was the first time my wife have been able to travel together in about four years since her father started getting ill and then eventually passing away. Since his passing, we have had to work as caregivers for my mother-in-law. Her brother agreed to take care of her mother while we were able to get away.

We drank up the Seattle highlights including the Chihuly exhibit by the Space Needle. My wife and I are inspired by Chihuly’s works which are massive glass sculptures. This exhibit had a glass blowing demonstration where the exhibitor talked about her journey. She said when she was 15 she asked the local glass blowing artist to learn and he agreed to let her sweep the floors. He would teach her new things every time she came in until she was able to safely create glass art on her own. Now she has a degree in glass blowing and makes her own pieces. As she talked about her apprenticeship I reminded me of the Iyengar teaching process.

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Speaking of which, I retook the teaching portion of the assessment that I did not pass last year. After the first meeting I opened up my envelope and it revealed my sequence. I spent the rest of the night and part of the next day mapping out the actions in the sequence and finding links. I conducted the 40 minute class and finished my last pose right at the buzzer. I like to snap pictures of myself after the assessment because the face tells the tale.

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Later the next day I was getting a coffee at the original Starbucks location in Pike’s Place. I got a buzz on my phone indicating an email. The title said Congratulations! After five hard years of training and personal hardship, I passed my Junior Intermediate I certification.

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Developing an eye for correct Yoga postures through drawing

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Illustration by Lior Hikrey

 

I received quite a bit of response from my post “My habit of correcting bad Yoga postures in advertising.” I am not just randomly picking points of poses to criticize. It took years of training and discipline to “see” what a good posture is and what a poor posture is lacking. To fast forward this process, I would advise to do an assignment that was given to me years ago by my mentoring teachers: draw the poses then draw arrows in the direction each limb is going.

This will give you a sense of the base, direction, and correct proportion of each pose. To illustrate, I will do this with Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose).

First, select a good specimen for a posture. I would recommend any of Bobby Clennell’s drawings. She is a long time Iyengar practitioner and teacher and has many books published with her beautiful Asana drawings.

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Then, try to recreate the drawing (sorry Bobby, I’m just a novice)

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Next, try to fill in the base of the drawing so that it is even. I inserted a “block” under the drawing’s hand.

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Then, look at the “base” of the pose. That means whatever is touching the floor or has the “earth element” which is learned later. Draw arrows of the direction the limb is pressing to get a more stable base. In this case the hand and big toe mound press.

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Next, work your self up from the base to the joints. In this case the kneecap presses back and the elbow is fully extended.

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Next, the rotation of the “top” of the limbs. In this case the thigh externally rotates and the upper arm externally rotates.

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Next, I draw the direction of the top leg and the trunk. The top thigh externally rotates and the trunk rotates toward the ceiling.

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Lastly, I draw the top arm action and put a pointy nose to indicate which way the head is turning.

 

 

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This is just a simplified version of this process, but a good way of using other parts of your brain to think about Yoga poses. Drawing the pose makes you slow down and really consider what each limb is doing to create the whole asana. It is also good to do if you are injured and want to still “practice” Yoga.

To give you an example of a more advanced execution of this exercise, practitioner Lior Hikrey offers this level of detail in Utthita Trikonasana:

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I hope you find this exercise enjoyable.