Planning for Yoga!

Rectus Abdominis Muscle!  That’s my focus this past week, not only when I practice, but when I teach too.  I pick this as the energetic idea to focus on this week because it’s a real trouble spot for me.  I also choose to focus on this area because it’s Vata season and Vata resides in the large intestine and by working the rectus abdominis, you’re also working the large intestine.

As much as I like having a plan, life offers up lessons sometimes which requires us alter those plans.  For more than a week now, I notice that my mid and lower back is becoming tighter and tighter.  The more I try to twist, the tighter it gets.  It’s so frustrating as a yoga teacher that I have had so many injuries and I’m supposed to know what I’m doing.  How is it that I experience so many injuries??

Virabradrasana I

As the week progresses, I turn to restorative poses.  Sometimes it’s hard to have the patience for a 30 minute restorative practice, but this week I am fine with it.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more I NEED restoratives!  By the way, you don’t work your rectus abdominis muscle or any muscle while you’re doing restoratives!  Here’s an idea, maybe I should add a restorative sequence to my home practice every week.  Hmmmmm…

The next thing I do is to take a day off.  A day off from yoga and a day off from my power walk – at the same time – unheard of!  But sometimes, you just have to take care of yourself. I focus on my other job and that’s enough to keep me sidetracked for the day.

Next, thinking maybe, just maybe, I’ve given myself enough time to prepare.  I start to plan my sequence for my Friday class.  I’m using last week’s idea because no one showed up to my class so why start over?  The day before I teach, I get a chance to go through the practice myself.  I modify the sequence as I go along making it flow a little better.  I want to make sure I don’t bore my students with the same sequence I’ve done before.  It’s a funny thing, whether you’re teaching or presenting to a group of people, no one but you really knows what you’re supposed to say.  Think about being a bride, and during the wedding, there are a few things that don’t go according to plans.  Nobody knows but you.  The guests don’t have a clue.  It’s the same for your students.  They don’t know if you change-up your plans as you go along, and let’s face it, it’s good to get a little creative while you teach. It’s important to have a sequence planned, even if you don’t exactly follow it and letting go of the idea that you MUST stay on task is a good thing!  Your students don’t really notice if this is a sequence you have taught before, unless you teach something over and over, they will definitely figure that out, so don’t get lazy.  Your students deserve more!

Speaking of plans, here’s my idea.  Teaching the sequence and incorporating the Rectus Abdominis Muscles in all of the poses.  The sequence includes primarily hip openers, and twists.  Twists are great for the Vata season. and the hips are what we’ve been focusing on in teacher training, so with that fresh knowledge I go forward.  I love, love, love to teach with props and this week, it’s chairs.  Since I was using chairs, I incorporated an idea from Sandy Carmellini’s class, Virabhadrasana I with a chair.  The front leg up on the chair, arms overhead and engage the rectus abdominis muscles and as you lean into the pose with a chair, you can really work the psoas muscle as well.

The beautiful anatomy of the abdominal wall

The beautiful anatomy of the abdominal wall

Friday arrives and I start by showing my students a picture from my anatomy book of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle.  I explain that this muscle is considered one muscle but separated by the Tendinous Intersection.  As I teach the sequence, I remind students to incorporate the rectus abdominis muscle in each asana.  Usually I instruct the students to pull the naval back toward the spine, but focusing on the long abdominal muscles is different from just the naval area.

The practice is really about being mindful in the practice, and being mindful of whatever you are doing.  And maybe, just maybe I could avoid injuries if I were more mindful?  Just a thought. And oh by the way, I went to see my chiropractor right after class!

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