Question 1: When you started to teach yoga, did you feel that it might take away your practice as a student? I'm a beginner yoga student, and would like to eventually maybe teach yoga, but I'm afraid that it might take away my love and such for yoga. I don't want it to become "work".
Answer 1: No, not really. I really believe that there's always time for something I love, even if I'm super busy. It might mean going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier to practice, but I do my best to make time for my personal practice because it not only feels good, but I think it makes me a better teacher.
Teaching yoga, at least to me, does feel like work. But I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I'll spend hours going over playlists and making sure the songs' tempos are in line with the class sequence. I'll play around with various transitions for a full hour before I find the one that I think will work best for the class. I'll pick up new books and magazines and force myself to crack them open so I can stay inspired and up-to-date in my teaching. I'll sign myself up for morning master classes and additional trainings when I'd rather be sleeping in. The commitment to deliver the best class I can forces me to cultivate habits that make me a better teacher and ultimately, I just feel really good about that. I don't think I would feel good about myself if I didn't work hard at it, do you know what I mean? I don't always enjoy every single second (prime example), but I do love it. Does that make any sense?
Question 2: Do you have any tips for illiotibial band syndrome?
Answer 2: Yes! The stretch above is my absolute favorite for the IT band. Before you do it, though, just make sure you have clearance from a doctor. And remember that you never want to overstretch. Ice and rest, and then just do a little bit of stretching.
Question 3: What is the difference between aligning front heel with arch of back foot vs front heel with back heel in warrior 2?
Answer 3: These are just alignment cues to make sure the foundation is set for warrior 1 and warrior 2. For warrior 1, the cue is to have the heels in line. When this happens, the hips can easily face forward. For warrior 2, the cue is to have the front heel in line with the arch of the back foot and this enables the hips to open and face out to the side.
Related Common mistakes in warrior poses.
Question 4: I love yoga, and I really want to start doing it more. The only problem is that I'm fifteen, so I can't drive myself or pay for my own yoga classes. Any tips/advice on how to start yoga at home?
Answer 4: Awesome, good for you! Yes, I would recommend picking up a mat that suits you (here are my favorites), and then a few props. From there, the easiest way to start would be to grab your computer and head to youtube. (Shameless plug: The YBC channel has over 100 yoga videos of varying lengths and levels.) If you can get to a library, the following books are great resources:
The Yoga Bible - Great breakdown of poses.
Yoga Anatomy - Excellent visuals for where you should feel each pose.
The Book of Awakening - Short inspirational reads for meditation or before a practice.
I hope that helps you!
Question 5: I have been doing yoga for a little over a year now and have found it to be an important part of my physical and emotional wellbeing. My family recently moved and I have started getting migraines. I am in the process of getting this issue sorted out medically, but in the mean time, is there any way to continue my practice without making things worse? Are there poses or sequences that help, or should be avoided at all costs? Yoga has become such an important part of my day I would hate to lose it.
Answer 5: Great idea to first take it to a doctor. As for yoga, I would say it's best to avoid all inversions like headstand, shoulder stand, possibly even downward dog. If your personal practice is really athletic and physical, this might be a good opportunity to take it down a notch and focus on a restorative practice. Yoga nidra is also excellent for pain and stress management, and may be beneficial as well. Sending well wishes your way!
Question 6: Hi Candace, I started practicing consistently this past summer. I ran into some neck/shoulder injuries that were also exasperated by stress. My issue is with chaturanga and rounding my shoulders forward that I think also causes me to tense my neck up. I know I need to strengthen other areas consistently to help alleviate the problem but not sure where to start. Can you give me some insight?
Answer 6: Chaturanga is tough. It really is. And what makes it even more difficult is that we see it with such frequency throughout so many different yoga styles. First, I suggest checking your alignment. With chaturanga, we really want to see the hands on the mat in line with about the middle of the rib cage. The biggest mistake I see is that people's hands are too far forward on the mat, like directly under their armpits, and then the shoulders really have no choice but to round.
Provided your hands are in the right place, the next thing to do would be to work on strengthening the upper body. We're talking planks on the forearms, planks in push up position, dolphin pose (that is a killer!), super slow reverse push ups, warrior 2 etc. Don't be too aggressive with it, but just throw in a push up or two in every few vinyasas you do in a class, and toss in one of the other poses here and there. As you build more strength you can add more of the poses or play around with how long you old them. But really listen to your body.
As you're working on building the strength, be sure to modify your current chaturanga so you don't run into injury. Coming down onto the knees is the simplest way. From there, tighten the core and slowly, super slowly, slower than you want to go - lower down.
Another trick you can do is put a bolster underneath your torso as shown above, take chaturanga and just hold. Try not to let your shoulders round. Let the bolster support you if it needs to, but try to engage your muscles until you feel the correct positioning.