Ask a yoga question!
There's no such thing as a stupid question. Ask any yoga-related question you want by submitting it here, or leaving your question in the comments section below. If you're on twitter, you can tweet the question, and tag it #yogaquestion. Here are this week's:
1. Am I flexible enough to teach yoga?
Yoga Question: I want to start off by saying I am so utterly inspired by your videos on youtube and have been wanting to my own for a while. The problem is that I have an intermediate yogi mindset with beginner yogi flexibility. I'm not a certified teacher because you have to be 18 to go for the training and I'm 16. I aspire to be a traveling yogi around the world doing retreats but I need somewhere to start. Can you help?
Answer: First of all, thanks so much for the kind words about my youtube videos. I have a couple ideas for you. First, I'll let you in on a (not so secret) secret. In the US (and most of the countries I've visited), yoga instructors do not need a training. Some studios and gyms require it, but that doesn't mean the untrained teachers can't set up their own yoga business somewhere. My instructor said that some of the best yoga teachers in the world are people we've never heard of who just live and teach in ashrams in India without a conventional training.
So now that that's out of the way, let's talk flexibility. Flexibility simply comes with practice. Lots and lots of consistent practice. Keep up your practice and your flexibility will improve. And don't be hard on yourself - there are plenty of teachers who don't have a ton of flexibility - it doesn't impact their ability to instruct.
As for videos - anyone can contribute to youtube, so upload a video whenever you're ready! If you're uncomfortable teaching, then don't teach. But you could certainly upload a video of your own practice to help inspire others or just to tap into the youtube yoga community.
The other thing you could do is approach a training programs and ask if they'd make an exception on your age. Explain your passion and let them know about your current practice. The worst they can say is no!
The best advice I can give is to practice often. Take as many classes as you can with a variety of teachers. Attend workshops and master classes. Read and explore yogic philosophy, and simply learn as much as you can.
2. I feel sick when I do a backbend
Yoga Question: Hello! I'm very new to yoga and I do it at home. Whenever I do poses that involve bending my back and neck backwards, I get very nauseous and dizzy. It's almost like a migraine. I'm afraid I'm doing something wrong or even dangerous since it involves the spine. Thanks for your help.
Answer: It's great that you're developing a personal practice at home, and that you're listening to your body. That is the sign of a great yogi!
Nothing beats having a yoga instructor live and in person to see what you're doing, so the best bet would be to go to your local studio and take a class. If backbends aren't covered in class that day, just ask the teacher afterward. Any teacher should be happy to watch how you do it, listen to your concerns, and help adjust you.
That aside, back bending poses bring up a lot of emotional stuff for people. Some people cry, some people get angry, some people feel physically sick. For me, it was camel pose. I would get so nauseous and dizzy. A teacher told me it had to do with coming up too fast and advised I go straight into child's pose after. So that's what I tell my students to do because that helped me.
But since you're a beginner, I'd definitely see an instructor in person just to make sure your alignment is where it should be because you the spine and neck and pretty fragile and it's good to be 100% sure of the poses.
3. This pose has me stumped!
Yoga Question: I do a class at my local gym called Body Balance which is a mix of tai chi, yoga and pilates. We do a dancer's pose variation, but we hold the opposite foot. Do you know if this pose should be upright like a regular dancer's pose, or further forward and closer to parallel? The instructor does not have a yoga background, so I'm not sure of the correct posture.
Answer: I gave the pose you described a try (see above), and it kind of hurt my knee. I personally would caution students who do that to be mindful of the knee joint. If you pull the lifted leg and accidentally bring it out to the side, it could hurt the knee. I haven't personally seen this pose often. I would definitely ask the class instructor how the alignment should be.
It might just be a lot like dancer's pose in that there isn't one correct way to do it. I have seen dancer's done so many different ways. Besides full dancer's pose, I most often see dancer's done in one of the three variations shown above. Some people keep the body down, some people keep the upper body upright. It all depends on what works for you.
PS- Last week's ask a yoga question post.