At the risk of this turning into Kristin's blog about yoga things, I do feel like telling you about a few yoga resources, new and old, that have really been working for me lately.
I've wanted a yoga chair for quite a while. (I used to have many of them but gave them away when I stopped teaching which was, in truth, short-sighted. I kind of got "chaired out" after years of using this prop. Sometimes, it can feel a bit cumbersome getting into the chair postures and, a few years ago, I was all about freedom and vinyasa (flow poses) and mega-active practice.)
They're not rocket science:
As you can see, a yoga chair is merely a short, backless, metal folding chair. They stabilize weight very well over a wide base and are optimal for doing supported halasana, supported sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and a variety of supported backbends such as viparita dandasana. It goes without saying that these poses can be dangerous to get into and out of, if you don't know what you're doing, so take a few Iyengar classes to learn the ropes first (as it were). Note: This prop, like the head stander, is not an either/or. One can practice shoulder stand and variations at least a dozen different ways. While this removes much of the weight-bearing element of the pose, it intensifies the action of the asana and allows for long holdings (like 10 minutes plus).
Stupidly, this prop costs a lot of money - if you don't find it at a school closing sale. But I sourced one in TO, at a yoga studio, and - while the price was quite reasonable based on the info I've found online (though not the school sale prices, natch) - I managed to spend a bomb on cab fare to-and-from the studio. Sure, I could have taken the subway for 6 bucks, but I really didn't have the appetite for a slog in bad lighting next to a bunch of people coughing. Hell, I could have had it delivered for less (I suspect) but that would have been complicated - the studio staff was entirely unhelpful. This was the easiest way to achieve my goal. Sometimes you spend for leisure.
FWIW, on purchase, my chair had the chair back (that metal piece to support your upper back, not pictured), but I got my husband to smack it off with a hammer/screwdriver combo (breaking the tack welds, if you want the technical story) and then filing it down. Yeah, I spent 100 bucks getting a folding chair to my house and then got my spouse to break it. And now I've got to paint the exposed metal bit so it doesn't rust. Is it wrong to suspect that will be fun?
Maybe I should have ordered this one online...
In order to justify this purchase, which was very easy to do in light of how much use and benefit I get from the head stander, I had to make space in the closet in the sewga room. I abhor clutter but I love organizing stuff, especially when it produces enough space in the closet for the chair and the head stander both! Ah, minimalism, how you thrill me.
In the process of organizing, I found a wealth of yoga books that had been smushed into an inconvenient spot (thereby obscuring their titles). It was just like going to the library but I didn't have to get off my ass and I get to keep all the loot!
A few of these books were faves of mine, at various points, and I hope it wil be helpful to tell you about a couple of them. Really, I've used these Iyengar-based texts to the extent that they're practically falling apart. They provide really good technical information with useful photographs and excellent practice sequences:
Yoga the Iyengar Way:
This book is not overly visually appealing. It's super-1990, but the poses are explained expertly and with information about the impact of each pose. You just have to get past the red outfit. It also gives some very comprehensive info about pranayama (breathing work) which can be done entirely independently of asana (yoga poses) and which falls into the more meditative category of yoga.
This book, though, has captured my heart:
Complete Stretching: A New Exercise Program for Health and Vitality
It's so gorgeous - even after all these years. Sure, the guy wears a ponytail, but this couple is cute and they do beautiful poses that are beautifully photographed. First and foremost, the book is simple (I mean, bare bones) but it is also totally useful. There are many 30 minute sequences, visually explained, to address a whole host of needs from relaxation, to yoga for specific sports (lots of them), to yoga for energizing etc. I can't believe I haven't looked at it in upwards of 5 years.
If you are a beginner and you question how yoga might work for you, read this. The authors are students of Iyengar yoga but the book is geared towards anyone who wants to move his or her body in a conscious and symmetrical way. I love that this book talks about yoga for "enhancing the body". It's not done in that yoga-meets-aerobics and weight-training way of modern books. It's very "London in the early 90s". Really, you'd do well to check it out, if only as an experiment. I've never seen a text that walked this line before or since.
Today's questions: Do you practice yoga? If yes, what kind? Do you know about these books? Do you work with props? Let's talk!