A Moment on my Soap Box and a Lovely Wrist Stretch.

I am loving living in LA for one fairly obvious reason: yoga. It is everywhere. And although it has required me to stretch my definition of yoga a bit, I am really enjoying being a student. While living out in the country on Oahu, I was left to my personal practice much of the time, and truth be told, what I ask of myself is usually a bit lighter than what a class asks of me, so it feels really good to be told what to do. A heartfelt Mahalo to all the teachers out there who manage to gently, and sometimes not so gently, push me outside of my comfort zone.


That being said, I took a class the other day that started with what felt like 5 minutes in plank, and then followed with repetitive side planks, pushups, chaturanga holds, and then more plank….and all that happened before our first sun salute. Yes, I was sweating and breathing deeply if that was the point, but my wrists hurt. The sequencing was asking slightly more than my wrists wanted to give in the first 10 minutes of class. Maybe I am just old(er), and my body isn’t the same as it used to be, that is certainly an accurate statement, but as I peeked into my peripheral vision a bit, other students seemed to be feeling wrist stress too. So I found myself questioning the intention of the teacher, and I found myself resisting through pretty much the entire class. My ability to trust and go with the flow was overruled by intuition and doubt, harnessing me to my thoughts and removing all the joy out of the experience. Waah. I actually found myself missing Bikram yoga for a moment, which is a funny thought for me considering I stopped practicing Birkram a long time ago. For those of you that don’t know, Bikram consists of a 90 minute heated asana sequence, none of which is spent in weight bearing wrist flexion:-) There is certainly some wisdom there.


I feel like I am breaking some unwritten rule of yoga teachers by publicly expressing my apprehension with this particular teacher’s sequential choices.  I used to feel like all yoga was good yoga, and that as teachers we needed to support each other with compassion and trust. I believed that everything served a purpose to the point that I was almost numb in my ability to respond to life as it happened around me. I just allowed purpose to be served, which it very much was, and I remained an ever grateful student with stars in my eyes and love in my heart. Booooorrrrriiing. When I think about it, I totally get where some non-yogis think that we drink some weird koolaid, or that there is some kind of brainwashing happening. We look similar, we dress the same (which drives me completely nuts), and apparently now we are also circus acrobats…. Which is cool, I guess….I mean I am on that train, too… But really?  I can’t keep up. Modern yoga is about to pass me by, if it hasn’t already.


Ok, I am rambling. I will make my point… not all yoga is good yoga, not all yoga is healthy. Not when we are setting up students for injury.  Not when we are putting ourselves and our creative expression in front of the health and wellbeing of the students. I have heard some suggest karma comes in to play on the mat, and I am sure it does, but I would prefer not to personally deliver a karmic injury to a student. I am in no way ok with that. I understand that as teachers we are learning too, especially as new teachers, and we all make mistakes, but it is crucial that we are aware of our responsibilities. Ahimsa (nonviolence) is the first Yama, the first and most important guideline on the path of yoga. Everything comes after nonviolence. If we don’t teach with ahimsa in our hearts, are we even teaching yoga at all? Think about my experience for example, many people spend their entire day typing away at a computer, and they show up in class with wrists that are already tired and stressed. Is plank the very first thing needed, let alone sustained plank as a heat builder? If you want to build heat, try the breath. Or chair. Or how about an old fashioned sun salutation, it wouldn’t be the first time. When did being a yoga teacher evolve into choreography? When did creative expression lead us to abandon sequencing that wasn’t broken in the first place? Can’t we aim for creative expression that honors the body? I understand that like everything, yoga will evolve…but at what cost?  Whether you are a student or a teacher, a good question to continue to ask yourself is, “What is your intention with yoga” or “Why do you practice?” or “Why do you teach?” There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, but your answer will give you some insight into who is driving your life….your Ego, or your Heart. Be honest.


Anyway, point is, my wrists hurt. Maybe I will be stronger tomorrow because of it, but today, in this moment, I am sore because of it. And I am whining to you about it. So, in light of my recent experience…..here is one of my very favorite wrist stretches. And for those of you typing away on your computer, this is good for you too. And it is so freaking easy. And if you are lazy/busy, you don’t even have to leave your chair:


1.  Push your chair away from your desk. Make sure you are stable, if your chair has wheels you might want to do this on the floor. 

2. Remain seated and put your feet up on the chair.  If you are on the floor, bend your legs, pull your knees into your chest, and put the feet on the floor. 

3. Wrap your arms around your bent legs. 

4. Take your right hand and wrap it around your left wrist at the base of the hand. Hold loosely but firmly.

5. Put energy into your legs and pull your legs away from each other, pressing your legs into your arms.

6. Maintain the grip on your wrist allowing for a decompression in the joint. Hold the stretch, and maybe wiggle the fingers a little if it feels good. 

7. Switch wrists. 


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