Friday, August 25, 2006

Get down, dog

(NOTE: In wrapping up my side job as a yoga teacher on Cruise Ship X, I promised some of my students I would give them some follow-up. This is the easiest way to do it. If this is useful to anyone else, take it for what it's worth. Otherwise, go ahead and scroll down to the snarky stuff below...)

Dear fellow voyagers of the damned,

Thank you again for your time and work in our yoga classes. It was a great joy to teach you, and I can guarantee you that I got as much or more from the experience as you did. Some of you asked me "is it safe to do it on my own?", or "how can I keep going?" The answer is yes, and go. Most of you have enough knowledge to keep a basic practice- sun salutations, warriors, gentle backbends, shoulderstands, shavasana (ALWAYS shavasana, aka corpse pose)- going without help. There are also many great resources out there to help you along. I recommend:

BOOKS:

Journey Into Power, by Baron Baptiste: The practice in this book it the closest to the one I taught in the classes. Baron is, I admit, a little full of himself a lot of the time, but this is an excellent breakdown of both the poses we learn, the flow we do them in, and the structure, both physical and philosophical, being the poses. He has several DVDs out, but I think the live ones are the best.

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, by Eric Schiffman. This is probably my favorite yoga book on the market, mostly for the first four chapters. Eric breaks down, without any fancy words or karmic mumbo-jumbo, the spiritual aspect of yoga, what doing asana (poses) with our body and breath transforms our whole being, if we let it. He has a fluid, approachable writing style, with many easy breathing and meditation exercises. The asana stuff is pretty good also, but if your interested in something beyond the poses, this is the best book I've seen.

Yoga: Poetry of the Body, by Rodney Yee. This was the first yoga book I bought. (and the price on Amazon is down to $7, a good deal) Rodney has a very playful way of explaining poses and a practice, which I try to incorporate into how I teach (and fail most of the time, frankly) The advantage of this book is it gives photos of several modifications for every pose; there's always one you can do.

DVDs:

Yoga Shakti, by Shiva Rea. The most complete DVD on the market, this video lets you customize a practice from over 4 hours of teaching materials, at a variety of levels. It also has several preset classes, which I'd recommend starting with. The photography is beautiful (it's filmed in India), and Shiva's explanations are for the most part very clear.

One WARNING: Shiva is one of the most physically gifted yogis I've ever seen. She is naturally athletic, she's spent twenty years or more studying with some of the great masters of yogasana, and she's both very strong and very bendy. (See the "Shiva flows" excerpt on disc two to see what I'm talking about.) This can be really inspiring for some people, or really deflating for others. More importantly, it can sometimes lead people to try to do to much, in trying to look the way she does on the video. Remember, always go slow and trust what your body says, no matter what you see on the screen or in a class.

CLASSES

The best way to learn yoga is in a class setting, with a good teacher. Yoga Journal online has a huge directory of yoga studios and teachers all over the world. I did a quick search, and found studios in every major cruise port city (except Mobile). If you're porting in Boston, New York, Miami or Vancouver there are some good studios nearby, very worth the $10 or $20 to check out. E-mail me if you want more details.

1 comment:

cDuff said...

no thank you my man.......it was a joy.

Goodluck with the sign off...... Don't let your giant grin stretching for ear to f'n ear get in your way down the gangway!

peace,
chris