Leslie Kaminoff – The best-selling co-author of Yoga Anatomy. Leslie is a yoga educator inspired by the tradition of T.K.V. Desikachar. An internationally recognized expert with 37 years of experience, Leslie teaches, and does workshops for yoga students and teachers. 2000 people have participated in Leslie’s online Yoga Anatomy workshops.
Outline and Links from our podcast discussion
Quote from Leslie Kaminoff about practicing yoga….
“People can benefit immensely from a process that enables you to think more clearly, breathe more effortlessly and move more efficiently.”
T.K.V. Desikachar – Health Healing and Beyond, written by Desikachar. Leslie was involved in putting this book together. Wonderful stories about Deikachar’s father Krishnamacharya and the healing practices of yoga.
Personal history, background and training
- Sivananda Yoga
- Birth of the yoga and fitness Industry
- Studios in New York. The Breathing Project
The Meaning of Surrender in Yoga
Serenity prayer – Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, American Theologist.
“Grant me the serenity of mind to accept the things which cannot be changed, the courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know one from the other.”
Relationship to yogic philosophy and the surrender connection.
Acknowledging reality in an asana practice – what your body can and cannot do – For example; An Ashtanga jump through can be very difficult if you have a long torso compared to your arms.
Let go of what you cannot do in yoga. Focus on what you can do in yoga. Have the wisdom to know the difference.
Surrender in yoga is an act of will, and does not mean give up or quit.
Not a single correct or “proper” way– Students will react very differently to different forms of yogic breathing.
There are correct breathing “techniques.”
Diaphragmatic breathing is a misnomer because the diaphragm is always part of breathing.
Abdominal or belly breathing – Useful breathing pattern and technique for a student to learn. Many students find it relaxing, and some students will become anxious.
A yoga teacher should be careful to observe and realize that students will react individually and make adjustment and adaptations to help the student benefit.
Understanding the anatomy is important from a teaching perspective, but the terminology can be confusing to students. Many great yoga teachers are not experts in anatomy, and it is most important to be aware and understand how students react and respond to teaching.
Actions of the Spine – Discussion of “Lengthening the Spine.”
Five basic actions of the spine
- Forward bending – flexion
- Back bending – extension
- Axial rotation – twisting
- Lateral bending
- Axial extension – simultaneously reducing the primary and secondary curves in your spine. The thoracic curve and lardotic curves of the cervical and lumbar.
Axial Extension does make you taller. Engage the muscles that flatten all three curves and you will get taller. Axial extension is done in standing postures like the Mountain Pose and sitting postures that include axial extension with a forward bend.
“Lengthening your spine,” is often a universal cue in a yoga class. Not necessarily true for certain postures. Axial extension has become associated with decompressing the spine that is not always true.
In axial extension your spine is less able to articulate in movements and spreads the stress of movement to other body parts. Axial extension deflects movements into places like you hip joints. Over time, doing yoga postures with constant axial extension is less healthy and can lead to a repetitive stress injury in the parts of the body where the stress is deflected and this is often the hips.
For example, a forward fold with strong axial extension puts the stress on your hips, or trying to square your hips in a Warrior-1 posture puts additional stress on hip joints.
Cues of “axial extension” (lengthen your spine) and “squaring your hips” in postures where it is not appropriate can put undue stress on the hips and, over time, can lead to repetitive stress injuries and even hip replacements.
“Lengthened spine” (axial extension) and a “neutral spine” are very different things. A neutral spine is ready to move.
Comfort sitting cross-legged – If uncomfortable, sit up on something so that your hip joints are slightly above your knee joints. Sitting on something puts your spine in a neutral position. Use a folded blanket or a block.
Americans have not grown up sitting cross-legged, while Indians have been sitting cross-legged since childhood. It is a matter of surrendering to what you may not be able to do.
Leslie describes his personal practice – How little can I get away with.
With a busy work schedule it is often not practical or possible have time for an hour plus practice. So it is… as little as possible, or yoga practice on an as needed basis.
Leslie will practice more often when he feels the need. Benefits from the extensive practice he cultivated in his 20’s. His awareness of his health and body enables him to move more efficiently and not build up the tension that requires a long yoga session to remedy.
Advice for a new student
Feel safe in a group class. Be careful not to jump into a posture that is complicated, new or difficult. Notice the atmosphere the teacher creates. Does the yoga teacher give you the option to try a variation or perhaps a less challenging posture?
Seek out a studio or a class that offers a basic or beginner class. Give yourself the freedom to try several styles and approaches to yoga given the wide range of styles. What resonates?
How to Find Leslie Kaminoff
www.yogaanatomy.org – Leslie’s classes are geared to serious students and yoga teachers. Leslie Kaminoff’s teaching and class schedule are posted on his Website.
Online courses at www.yogaanatomy.net are recorded versions of the live seminars Leslie teaches at his studio in New York. More than 2000 people have enrolled in the online courses, a tremendous response worldwide.
Book – Yoga Anatomy by Leslie KanKaminoff and Amy Matthews, 2nd edition. 300,000 copies sold, available online.