I started the Ask a Yoga Question series because yoga is so different from any other class. It's not a fitness class and it's not a spiritual class, yet there are aspects of both. Between the Sanskrit and the breathing exercises, there's lots of room for confusion. So here is a chance to ask whatever yoga related question you want. You can even ask anonymously. Here are this week's questions:
Yoga Question: I learned Bear Pose in a class a while back. I have been practicing yoga for about 14 years. I recently started teaching. When I wanted to learn more about the pose and looked online, I saw very different poses called 'Bear'. I can't find Bear on the Yoga Journal site at all. So, I am confused. I hope you can help. :)
Answer: I wasn't sure what bear pose was, so I googled it, and it looks like what I learned as Upavista Konasana B, or seated angle posture B. It's crazy good for building core strength, and challenges the sense of balance. The other challenge here is the flexibility required in the hamstrings to extend the legs and engage the quads. A great cue I learned for teaching this is to keep the lowest ribs tucked in. I showed it in motion with supta konasana c here - still one of my favorite poses!
Yoga Question: What is the proper etiquette for when someone farts in class? Can I move my mat if the person next to me farts?
Answer: Haha, ohhhh the farting in yoga class. It happens! There's a yoga pose called 'wind relieving pose' so it's pretty much a guaranteed that someone will fart in class, and the best thing to do is....wait for it..... nothing! When you're twisting and compressing the body, the gas has to go somewhere, right? I suppose you could move your mat, but that might bring a lot of unwanted attention, and if the situation were reversed, how would you feel if someone moved their mat to get away from you?
Yoga Question: I'm overweight and would like to start yoga. I have recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and wrist. Where can I go to find instruction suited for a beginner?
Answer: Arthritic pain is brutal. I know first hand because I have a bit in my hands, wrists and knees as a result from Lyme Disease. Each person's individual pain threshold is different, so the most important thing I can suggest is to be really honest with yourself. Never push yourself to the point of pain in the practice.
I suggest checking out your local studio. From there, choose a class based on what you want. A vinyasa class is a little more physically demanding, but it may be tough on your wrists. That being said, if you tell the instructor at the beginning of class what you're working with, he or she should be able to give you modification options as you go through the class. Alternatively, you could try a slower class like a yin, restorative or gentle class. You may even be able to find one that is heated, which would be nice to warm up your joints.
PS- Here's what to expect at your first yoga class.
PPS- Shameless plug: If you decide you'd like a customized yoga dvd tailored to your needs, click here.
Yoga Question: Hi Candace!! My back tends to round, especially in down dog and looking forward in a standing pose. How can I work towards getting a flatter back?
Answer: If the back is rounding in down dog, it may have to do with tight hamstrings. That being said, down dog has so many little components to it, so check out this post to ensure you're doing all the other little things.
For standing poses: First, keep in mind the spine does have a slight natural curve (see it here). Knowing that, if the upper back is rounding a lot, try drawing the shoulder blades toward one another so the collar bones are broad. If the lower back is rounding, try tucking the tailbone slightly so the pelvis is in line with the body, and engage the core. I hope that's helpful!