Monday, December 31, 2007

I Am Ready!

I am so ready to go! I have been waiting for January first to come around. I am teaching a New Year's Day workshop tomorrow (Taking Your New Year's Resolutions to the Mat). I am going to get up extra early to begin my day with Pranayama and meditation. Mmmm...Delicious!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feel Your Heart

Happy Holidays, everyone! I have a gift for each of you. Here is a visualization I created for consciously feeling your heart and the beautiful love that is there. Have a wonderful holiday!

Love Meditation

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Recycling Old Sticky Mats

I just had to share these great tip from a blog I really enjoy: Total-Health-Yoga. Ideas for recycling your yoga mats! Personally, I have three I could recycle. (All but my very first mat -- very attached to that one sentimentally! :-) )

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


One of the things I love so dearly about yoga is there is so much to learn. I will never be done. I am a frequent studier of the Yoga Sutras, especially the yamas (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, and non-greed) and the niyamas (purity, contentment, discipline, self-study, and surrender). I have spent time on each one, teaching about them and studying them myself. I have decided to spend 2008 exploring the final one: surrender. As a recovering control addict, I am looking forward to this investigation. I will keep you apprised of what I am learning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Funny Zacky Story

I was up early this morning to do my breathing practice before my children were up. I often use the podcasts I have on my website (so my own recordings) to guide me in my breathing. So, here I was in the middle of our living room, listening to my own voice talk myself through a breathing series. My four year old son, Zack, woke up and came to find me. My children know that when I am in the middle of a breathing practice they can’t touch me (it throws off the energy balance). So this little cutie snuggled next to me without touching my body at all and rested his face in his hands to watch my screen saver. There he sat for at least 10 minutes, not saying a single word.

That in itself is a cute story, but it gets better! My daughter, Sierra, (6 ½ years), then woke up and came out to find me. She whispered to Zack, “What is Mommy doing?” He replied in the loud whisper of a child, “Whatever she tells herself to do.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks: And We Get To Eat!

I love Thanksgiving. It is truly my very favorite holiday. A day set aside for us to count our blessings; to realize how wonderful our lives really are. I taught silent classes tonight as a gift to my students. As silent class is one in which I do not speak for the entire class. I demonstrate the pose, then they do them. It is an incredibly power class. Students are drawn into the silence and their minds truly slow down. Savasana in a silent class is deep and wonderful. At the end of class, as we had our palms at our hearts, I spoke of how much I loved the holiday, how much I enjoy a holiday in which the purpose is to feel grateful. Then one of my students piped up with: “And we get to eat!” It was quite amusing. So enjoy your day of gratitude and definitely enjoy the food! Know that I am incredibly grateful that you are out there and reading what I write!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Is Your Practice From Love or Fear?

In my last post, I discussed the difference between motivation (coming from fear) and inspiration (coming from love). When you are doing something with motivation, you are doing it because you are afraid something else will happen if you don’t do it. When you are doing it from inspiration, you are doing it because you are excited about what will happen when you do it. Well, when I learned the difference between the two, I realized my yoga practice was coming from fear. How is that possible, you say? Read on. The genesis of my yoga practice came from all my years of exercising and *eating right* and all the self-discipline that engenders. Goodness! If I went one day without exercise I might get fat or feel depressed or who knows what terrible thing could happen! When I began yoga in earnest, I just transferred all my discipline from exercise to yoga. I think I just didn’ I still loved my yoga practice and thoroughly enjoyed how great I felt throughout it and after, but deep down I knew that I was doing it because I feared what would happen if I did not.

Because my practice was based in fear, it was keeping me from growing. In fact, at that time, I realized my entire personal practice, all the things I was doing in my life for “my own good” were also from fear. If I was going to grow spiritually, my life needed a foundation of love. That was also the time I really got on a deep level that any external control I tried to exert was also from fear and if I was going to release fear in my life, I needed to let go of control. The only way I knew how was to stop doing everything that came from control — my practice. I stopped exercising, doing yoga, meditating, journaling, and watching my food intake. It took me awhile to miss anything. Initially I just felt relief from the time pressure. I had free time and no shoulds for probably the first time in my life. It was incredibly liberating! Then I went through a period of judgment and self-criticism all around the guilt of not doing my practice. I just sat through it and did nothing. I cannot remember how long that stage lasted. I know it was a couple of weeks or so, though. Then I felt done. I was ready to begin inviting things back into my life. I was inspired to take my practice to new places. I only brought in one thing at a time and didn’t do it if the old pattern showed up. I would only do it if it came from an inspired place. Any will power needed and it wasn’t what I wanted for that day.

How did I know it was time? Not sure...I just knew I was ready to pump up my practice and take it to the next level.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Inspiration vs. Motivation

In one of his books, one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, describes the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation comes from the negative. “I must do this or this bad thing will happen.” (Read with enormous weight and negativity to the words.) (I must exercise or I will get out of shape. I must eat right or I will get high cholesterol. I must do my yoga practice or I will have a hard day.) Do you resonate with any of those? Now, inspiration comes from the positive. “If I do this, this wonderful thing will happen.” (Read with lightness and delight.) Coming from inspiration is much more delightful and joy-filled! (I get to exercise today to help my body feel strong. I want to eat right today to feel good. I am so looking forward to my yoga practice. I know I will feel delicious afterward.)

His definitions have affected every part of my life since I read them. I have always been a highly motivated individual – I could will power my way through anything. Changing from the negative to the positive was an incredibly foundational shift for me. Motivation is based in fear and inspiration is based in love. I was shocked at how much of my life was based in fear. In my next post I will discuss what I did with my yoga practice to shift it from fear to love.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Personal Practice Guilt

How is your personal practice? Usually when I ask a student this question the response is riddled with guilt. Rarely is a student able to live up to her own expectations (or what they think mine are). I am always a bit amused because the guilt is causing more harm than not having the practice the student thinks she should have. We need to grow into our habits. We cannot force them on ourselves. Using will power is just a recipe for failure. Whenever we effort for something, we aren’t flowing with what we need in that moment. So, you’re thinking, “Great, Laura, how am I ever going to start a practice then?” I am glad you asked!

Reread my column under “Thoughts from Laura”. Now get excited on two levels. First, the everyday one. You can have more energy! I have heard many things from students. I guarantee I have never heard, “I have enough energy. I don’t need anymore!” Think of how good you can feel every day. Let the excitement of feeling good spur you on.

Second, the life-long one. Begin to be drawn by the excitement that your life can be more, that you can feel better, and then what you do for the world is add to it, not take away. Adding to the world doesn’t mean doing Nobel Peace Prize work (although you may!) Just being a kind person to the clerk at the grocery store adds to the world. Plus, as you feel better and experience more joy in your life, you will be drawn effortlessly to whatever the best thing for you to be doing is, your life purpose, if you will.

Kind of gets you excited to get to the mat, doesn’t it?

Alignment: More Than Just Aligning the Bones

“Good alignment allows you to do more with your life effort,
while poor alignment requires more energy to sustain.”

This quote is a paraphrase by one of my students from something Donna Farhi (an internationally renowned yoga teacher and author) said. It is so powerful. Read it again. Good alignment lets you do more with your life effort. What a thought! We often get caught up in our day-to-day chaos and stress and forget the big picture. Regardless of your belief system, I think we all agree that we can have a life that makes a difference to the world or a life that takes away from the world. Having that choice, we all would choose to make a positive difference, to leave the world a little better than we found it. Good alignment gives you more energy to make a difference. Hmmm...that helps bring more meaning to my yoga practice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Twists with integrity for the inner body

My last entry was about twisting with the spine, or twisting in integrity with the outer body. This entry is about twisting with integrity for the inner body. You have two aspects to the physical body. The outer body consists of what you see, arms and legs and torso, along with what you don’t see, your bones. The inner body consists of your internal organs, the contents of the outer body. When we twist, we often use the outer body to force or leverage ourselves into a twist, frequently going beyond what is truly comfortable for our body, both inner and outer. Outer discomfort is revealed by losing alignment of the spine (see last entry). Inner body discomfort shows up if you feel like you are still twisting for a moment when you return from a twist. That sensation can signal that you are moving beyond what your inner body is ready for as well. When we move into a twist solely from the outer body, using our arms as leverage tools, there is a good chance you are forcing the inner body into a position that is challenging its alignment.

So, what to do? Allow your inner body to guide you. Here is an excellent exercise to help you feel your inner body guiding you. Sit in Sukhasana (Easy Cross-Legged Pose). Feel your sit bones and grow very tall, extending the spine. Without using your arms, begin to twist to the right. It will feel awkward initially, hang in there. Once you have gone as far as you can, take your left hand outside your right knee and your right hand behind you and support yourself as far as you have already turned. Take a breath in and get even longer through the spine. As you exhale, gently draw yourself more deeply into the pose. Now you will come more from the integrity of the inner body. The twist will be softer. See for yourself. Come out of the pose. Feel the body. Now, twist to the left using the hands to “force” the twist. And then come out. The twist from the outer body is harder and the inner body is softer. Ironically, you don’t tend to go any further into a twist by using the leverage of the outer body, although it feels like you should be able to do so. Try it. Compare the two twists.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Be Sure to Twist with the Spine

I am amazed (and admittedly occasionally amused) watching us twist our bodies. We look a bit like contortionists, having lost the alignment of our spines, heads, and often limbs in the attempt of a deeper twist. When we lose the alignment and move into a deeper twist, not only have we lost the integrity of our body, we have lost our energy line as well. At best we don’t get the full benefits of the pose. At worst, we can damage our spine.

You need to view the spine as the axis around which you are twisting. That means keeping the spine long. There are several things your body can do to keep the spine long, although it might mean you won’t twist as far as you are used to twisting.

The first is to keep both sitting bones grounded. Feel both of them as you revolve. We tend to lose the sit bone we are turning away from and tip into our twist. Try a quick twist right where you are sitting. Can you feel the tip? We just tend to put more weight on the sitting bone we are turning toward.

Now an important aspect to keeping the sitting bones grounded is to allow them to shift slightly. I know this direction is contrary to what many teach, but allowing the sitting bones to twist slightly (so the sitting bone you are twisting away from moves forward slightly), keeps the spine in integrity. You are twisting the spine. The spine begins at the coccyx/sacrum which is part of the pelvis. If you don’t twist the hips slightly, you aren’t twisting the entire spine. Moreover, if you twist the spine while you keep the pelvis static, the sacrum may twist within the pelvis, torquing the sacro-iliac joint.

Okay, so you allowed the pelvis to shift slightly and you grounded the far sitting bone so you feel both sitting bones rooted, now you need to lengthen the spine right out of those sitting bones. As you lengthen, be sure to keep the torso aligned so you don’t tip the pelvis forward or back or take the ribs forward.

Now that the spine is long, you can begin to twist. Begin the twist from the base of the spine (the sitting bones) and feel it move up the spine. Visualize the twist occurring at each vertebra, not just your favorite two or three (somewhere in your mid-lower back). Feel long and keep your axis aligned over those sitting bones.

Ahhh…nothing like a good twist. Next, I’ll discuss twisting in integrity with your inner body.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Feeling Complete with a Pose:

Whenever you do a pose, you should feel complete physically. In other words, if you feel you absolutely need to follow a pose to balance your body, or release physical tension from the first pose, something was wrong in your initial pose. If you do a backbend and can’t wait to twist or forward fold to release your lower back, you need to work on the alignment in your backbends. If you forward fold and can’t wait to twist to release the tension in your upper back, you need to work on the alignment in your forward fold. Every time you finish a pose, your body should feel balanced and complete.

I noticed this idea most in Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Every time I came out I couldn’t wait to drop to Balasana (Child’s Pose). I needed to release the tension in my lower back. When I finally realized I was not complete after Ustrasana, I began to work on my alignment. When I went into the pose with more control and didn’t go as deeply into the pose, my lower back didn’t need the release anymore. I still enjoy Balasana after Ustrasana, but I don’t need it to balance me.

I want to add one more point to this thought. You should feel complete physically, that doesn’t mean that energetically you should feel complete. In particular, regarding back bends and headstands. Back bends are incredibly stimulating and need forward folds to follow to calm the nervous system (especially if you are practicing at night and you want to sleep!) Headstands need to be followed by shoulderstand for the same reason.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sensing Your Energy on Your Yoga Mat

Here is a way to easily feel your energy on your yoga mat (and quite dramatically.) We will do it with standing poses so if you use a block, place the block on the outside of your right leg. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Take a moment to really feel your pose. I want you to be able to remember how you feel right now to compare it with how you will feel in a moment.

Now, do this series of standing poses: turn your feet to the right and do Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). Then turn your feet to the left and do Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose). Then to the right do Parsva Konasana (Extended Side Angle Pose). To the left do Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose). To the right, do Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose). Finally, to the left, do Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose). Return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Take a moment and ground your pose (as best you can!) Feel the imbalance? Quite significant. There is a feeling like you are tipping or twisting to one side.

We purposely created an imbalance in the body. The imbalance, though, is mostly energetic. We used all the major muscles on each side of the body so physically we are relatively balanced.

There is no magic to the order of the poses. I organized this series so you don’t need to move your block. All the poses that might need a block are on the right side. Be sure to do the series to the other side to balance yourself out!

Sensing Your Energy on Your Yoga Mat

Here is a way to easily feel your energy on your yoga mat (and quite dramatically.) We will do it with standing poses so if you use a block, place the block on the outside of your right leg. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Take a moment to really feel your pose. I want you to be able to remember how you feel right now to compare it with how you will feel in a moment.

Now, do this series of standing poses: turn your feet to the right and do Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). Then turn your feet to the left and do Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose). Then to the right do Parsva Konasana (Extended Side Angle Pose). To the left do Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose). To the right, do Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose). Finally, to the left, do Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose). Return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Take a moment and ground your pose (as best you can!) Feel the imbalance? Quite significant. There is a feeling like you are tipping or twisting to one side.

We purposely created an imbalance in the body. The imbalance, though, is mostly energetic. We used all the major muscles on each side of the body so physically we are relatively balanced.

There is no magic to the order of the poses. I organized this series so you don’t need to move your block. All the poses that might need a block are on the right side. Be sure to do the series to the other side to balance yourself out!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sensing Your Energy Right Now

Are you aware of you energy yet? Can you feel the prana or chi (or whatever you call it)? Here are two really easy ways to begin to sense it. One you can do while you are sitting here reading this blog entry (although, admittedly, if your workmates can see you they may wonder…)

Put your arms straight out in front of you, chest-height. Turn one palm up and one palm down. Quickly open and close your fists twenty times. Then turn your palms in the opposite direction and repeat opening and closing your palms twenty times. When you finish, you may already feel the *activity* in the palms of your hands. It feels a bit like feathers are touching your hands. That is your energy. To enhance the feel of the energy, bring your elbows to your side with your hands out in front still. Relax your hands so your fingers curl gently (like you are holding a ball). Turn them to face each other and gently move them together (without touching) and further apart. This exercise from Chi Kung is called “Holding an Energy Ball” and it is precisely what you are doing. You will feel the energy between your hands. Pay attention to your hands now. Do you feel even more activity on the surface of your palms? You may even feel many swirls. You have awakened Chakras in your palms. Chakras are intersections of energy channels.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Doing Yoga with the Kids

Yep! I really do yoga with my kids climbing on me – literally. Here are the photos to prove it.

I also want to add that my husband told me Zack (3 years) did his own yoga practice tonight while his sister took a bath. (I was out teaching yoga). He said, “Daddy, can I do yoga?” Then he got out is mat and proceeded to do about 5 minutes of his own yoga (many variations of down dog.) That’s my yoga boy! ☺

Reversing the Cycle of the Breath

Here is a wonderful exercise for letting go. In our culture, we view the cycle of the breath as beginning with an inhalation and ending with an exhalation. There are cultures in which they view it going the other way, beginning with an exhalation and ending with an inhalation. When I need to let go, I use this image of the breath. I first exhale, releasing whatever I am holding on to, creating space in my body, mind, and heart from something new. And then I inhale and bring in wonderful new energy to fill those spaces.

Use this idea in your breathing exercises or during Savasana. I find it particularly helpful when I am feeling stressed and in need of a deep surrender.

Staying Motivated to Practice

How do I stay motivated with my practice? Doing my practice leaves me feeling wonderful! Calm, relaxed, peaceful, kind, loving feelings I crave. If I stray too far from my practice, I begin to feel fears and negativity creep back into my life. I see myself becoming irritable with my children, less grounded and centered. I also find it feeds other negative habits, such as choosing foods that aren’t good for my system, reading books that don’t serve me, watching television. Whereas when I am doing my practice, it feeds wonderful habits, like doing more of my practice!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Detaching from Practice Expectations

In my last entry, I described my practice and the fact that I do something up to four times every day. How do I do it? Frankly, because I don’t have high expectations. It took my years to let go of my high practice expectations. Before kids, I had time for a leisurely practice with a lot of asanas (and time to work into the challenging ones) and hours of quiet for Pranayama and meditation. My life is very different now. Once I had my daughter, I kept waiting to “get back” to my practice. I defined practice as the hours of quiet and uninterrupted focus, quiet and focus that were no longer a part of my life. I put off any type of practice because I felt I needed the “old version” to “count”.

I had to let go of my original expectations and reevaluate what a practice was to me. How did I define it if it wasn’t about time? I realized my practice was about what I was doing to help myself spiritually and vibrationally. I wanted it to lift me up and help me live from a better place. I realized that not doing anything was robbing me of that experience.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I don’t have high expectations. You may have giggled at that statement, as if four practices each day aren’t high expectations. What I mean is I don’t expect perfection in any of my practices. I am okay with not doing some of my practices during the day (and occasionally an entire day goes by with nothing). I don’t expect to fit in all four. I can flow with our family life, with what is happening. In fact, that is one reason I have so many practices, I have options. If we are busy one morning, I can easily skip the meditation because I know I will do something before bed.

I also have low expectations for each practice. I often get my mat out and do a Tadasana and then find myself needed elsewhere, never getting back to my mat. I let myself be grateful for that Tadasana, not the 15 other poses I didn’t get to. If I am interrupted by my children during my meditation, I use the time as an opportunity to practice love and compassion, the point of meditation, not as a source of irritation because my meditation wasn’t perfect. Anything you do, one conscious breath a day, is taking you closer to calm and peace.

I frequently speak to my students about the importance of just doing something, even if it is a single pose. One pose can be considered a practice. Really. It all depends on your attitude around it. Remember why you are doing a practice. Whatever your reasons, I doubt you could argue that even one pose is a waste of time. Once you let go of your expectations, you would be amazed at what opens up for you.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Personal Yoga Practice

My practice changes quite regularly. I would say every six weeks or so, my practice takes on a new look. Right now, on a good day, I do four practices each day. One of the reasons I have so many practice times is it gives me flexibility to go with what is going on in my day. So on most days I only get to 2 or 3 of them.

I start the day with a twenty-minute meditation. I use the term “start” loosely since I don’t do it first thing when I wake up. My children need me in the morning for attention, breakfast, dressing, etc. I normally can escape at some point for twenty-minutes before lunch. And, yes, I usually am interrupted during my time. My son (he is 3 years old) needs to check in with me at least two times during my period (especially when my husband is gone already). They know the time is important to me and respect the quiet very well for young children. I choose to see the interruptions as very sweet (especially because he usually comes in to say, “I love you”), knowing that one day soon I won’t have interruptions and will miss them! This period is my most important practice of the day. I fit this in 6-7 days each week. It sets the tone for the day.

My asana practice happens in the afternoon. If I am teaching a class, I don’t do a practice that day or only do a couple of poses. If I am not teaching, I do around 60 minutes of whatever I am working right now. Of course, “60 minutes” is also loosely used. I do my practice in the kitchen with my children doing crafts or eating right there. We chat and I am regularly interrupted by them to help with something. Although my mat is out for an hour, I do probably 40 minutes of yoga. I always put my mat away after an hour. I want my kids to know that my practice time is only that long – that they can count on it – and I don’t want to feel the pull of the mat being out looking at me when it is time to move on and be with them again. I do not attempt Savasana at this time. I do my asana practice 5-6 days each week.

My last two practices occur at the same time – in the evening, after my children are asleep and right before I go to bed, I do a 20-minute Pranayama session, my Savasana, and a 20-minute meditation. This time is also frequently interrupted by children waking and needing something from me. While the morning meditation sets the tone for the day, this session helps me surrender the day and sets the tone for my sleeping. I sleep more soundly and have better dreams when I have fit this time in. I do the meditation aspect 6-7 nights each week and the Pranayama 5-6 nights each week.

Out of all these practices, the morning meditation is my most sacred time. I rarely miss it, even if it hits in the middle of the afternoon, I work to fit it in. Stay tuned for my next entry when I discuss how I finally found time for four practices with children (one of whom I homeschool) and a business to run. (And, no, it isn’t magic! ☺ )

Effortless Changes

“The single most important tool to being in balance is knowing that you and you alone are responsible for the imbalance between what you dream your life is meant to be, and the daily habits that drain life from that dream.” (Wayne Dyer)

Admittedly, this quote is about manifesting, consciously creating your dream. Yet I also use this quote when I consider making changes in my habits, especially when it comes to my yoga practice. Certain habits support who you want to be, where you are going, and other habits keep you stuck in your current place. I know my yoga practice, meditating, eating well, etc. keep me feeling good and help me grow and evolve. It is much easier to remain committed when I think in those terms.

Normally when we attempt to affect change in our lives we use sheer will power, making ourselves do something, forcing really. Sometimes the new habit takes root and other times it doesn’t only to leave us feeling as if we have failed. This quote changes everything. What is your dream? How do you want to show up in the world? Do your habits support that dream or drain the life from it? I find, with my heart focused on the dream, it is much easier to make changes in my life, to do what I know supports the dream. In fact, I find the changes come about quite joyfully when I connect them to a higher dream.

Do your habits match with who you are and who you are becoming? What do you really want in your life? Begin to be selective and move yourself closer to your dream each minute of your day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hemp Oil

I have had a request to begin sharing some of my own practice, ideas and techniques, around health and wellness. (Please know that just because I do it, doesn’t make it the perfect practice for you.)

Hemp Oil

I am sure you have all heard about the importance of certain fats in your diet, especially the omega 3s and 6s. If you are a vegetarian, these are even more challenging to find in your diet. When I was in my early twenties, I had a severe bout with eczema that covered my body. At the time I knew very little about alternative medicine and spent two years seeing dermatologists who prescribed many a cream that did nothing to abate the itching and discomfort.

Finally, someone recommended a naturopathic physician who, within a thirty-minute visit, realized I did not have enough fat in my diet and my skin was showing the imbalance. She recommended two tablespoons of flax oil each day. Within four days the itching and rash was gone. Ever since that time, I have kept flax oil on hand - any time I feel itching begin, I take a tablespoon.

About six months ago I heard about hemp oil, also a source of omega 3 and 6. Hemp is better than flax because it has omega 3 and 6 in the perfect proportion for our body so it can be use more effectively. This information came to me when I was struggling with another bout of eczema. I began taking two tablespoons each day. It took longer this time to see the benefits, although I think that is merely because my body was more out of balance this time than last time. Now that the eczema has passed, I still take one tablespoon each day and give it to the kids as well. I am amazed at our skin. Normally we use lotion daily. We have hardly used it this year.

You can buy hemp oil in the supplement section of a health food store. It is in the cooler. You can also buy hemp seeds there as well. I use hemp seeds as I would sesame seeds, in biscuits, breads, muffins, sprinkled on salads, etc. They are very tasty!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Finding a Neutral Pelvis

Did you know there are only two positions for the human body in which the pelvis is completely free and not being tugged on by a muscle? The two positions are vajrasana/virasana (sitting on your heals) and table position (being on all fours.) In any other position, sitting, standing, or laying down (whether on your back or front), the pelvis is being pulled by muscles off its neutral position thereby making it nearly impossible for a yoga practitioner, especially a beginner, to find what neutral is for him/her.

So, how do you teach students how to feel a neutral pelvis? Put them in virasana on a block. In Virasana, we sit between our feet. Put the block lengthwise underneath your sit bones. The block will make Virasana comfortable for most students. If a student still feels discomfort in the knee, add a block or place a blanket under the block. The benefit of using a block is the hardest of the block helps the student really feel her sit bones. If the blanket is over the block, that feeling will be lost.

Feel your sit bones on the block. Take a deep breath and close your eyes to bring more awareness inside. Slowly tip the pelvis forward, stop when you begin to feel the lower back harden. Bring the pelvis back to neutral and slowly tip the pelvis back until you feel the abdominals harden. You will not have to go far either way. Your neutral position is somewhere between these two points where both the abdominals and the back are soft and relaxed.

Then have your students lengthen from the sit bones through the top of their head. Have them do it slowly, bringing it up their body from their sit bones. Have them pay attention to maintaining the pelvis in its neutral position, without creating hardness in the abdominals or the back. (We have a tendency to create hardness as we lengthen by lengthening the front or back body faster than the other thereby tipping the pelvis.

Now your students can experience the neutral pelvis, and its effect on the posture of the torso, and can bring that experience into other poses.