Kaiut Yoga Class - Facebook Livestream! it's FREE!
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It will be streamed from the Kathy White Yoga Facebook page - search @kathywhiteyoga or click this link and press LIKE/Follow the page!
This livestream event is FREE and if you would like to make a donation / payment towards your attendance and are not yet a member of Kathy White Yoga - consider joining Go to the membership page to sign up.
The livestream recording will be taken a couple of days after the broadcast and the recording will be found for re-watching in the Kathy White Yoga membership area of this website.
Looking forward to having you join from wherever you are in the world!
Winter 2019 Class Schedule
Mondays 9.30am - 10.30am
Tuesdays 6.30pm - 7.30pm
Wednesdays 9.30am – 10.30am
Thursdays 5pm - 6pm
First 3 classes free to all new students*
Studio Closed from March 7th to March 24th
Cost: Class passes - single $15, 5 classes $60 or 10 classes $100
Tel: (250) 416 9916
Mondays 5.15pm and Fridays 12 noon classes at Fuller Lake Arena call to book (250) 246-3811
*Terms and Conditions Apply - Classes must be taken within one month. Vancouver Island Residents only.
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Kathy White offers individual tailor made yoga retreats 3 - 5 days. With 2 hours of private yoga instruction each day and the rest of the time to read, relax, paint, walk and retreat. On the beautiful Vancouver Island. You can come on your own or with a group of up to four others.
This is the beautiful view to Saltspring Island just a few minutes walk from out home.
You can take the ferry to Saltspring and explore the farmers market, harbour and and other sights of the island.
On your yoga retreat you live in our guest rooms (up to 4 people shared accomodation) or take a room by yourself.
There is a shared bathroom and access to cooking facilities.
A yoga retreat can be a healing time of reflection and connection with your soul. Please contact email@example.com for more information and prices.
When Francisco Kaiut asked Sandra to walk around the room last month in Toronto. We all watched this little wonderwoman strut her stuff. As she walks, her scoliosis (curvature) of the spine is quite obvious. There is a tilting of the hips to one side and she has a kind of uneven gait.
And for 84 years old, it's not bad.
At 84 years old many people her age can't walk around a room. Can't get up and down from sitting or lying on the floor. Can't walk up and down stairs. Many people at that age have lost mobility.
And why do we lose mobility?
We tend to be programmed into thinking that it's because of old age. In our mind, we broad brush stroke our body with fate, karma, genes and inevitability across the later years of our life. It's just what happens.
But actually, we lose mobility because we never face the restrictions in our body. We think once we've lost that movement it has gone. We tighten up our mind, our hearts and our bodies. If we have a fall, or injury, we tighten up in our shoulders or hips, we then start to use that joint differently. We tighten up our mind, saying we no longer can use that joint in the same way. We use other parts of our body to compensate, then they start to be used unevenly. Then because we are not using the injured joint we eventually become unable to use it. Then when we try and use it, it hurts. So we tell ourselves we shouldn't. We do everything we can to avoid the pain. To protect ourselves and to feel safe. And when we are afraid of the pain that comes with the movement, we avoid that movement. This is the cycle that is often a slow but steady decline into old age.
And this is not just with injuries. It comes from sitting in chairs for too much. It comes from using one hand to hold a phone in one position for hours on end. From peering into a computer screen everyday. For any kind of repetative action we do hundreds of thousands of times, over months, years and decades.
Picture Sandra a year ago. September 2017. She started the yoga training age 83. We remembered her well. For a lot of that first module of the training she was in a chair. She was unable to do a lot of the postures. And yet, she was diligent and dedicated to do what she could do. She also believed it was possible.
She then started her own home practice. She now says she does an hour a day every day. What Sandra did was learnt to face her restrictions. She still says "Francisco, I've got a problem..." to which he will reply "Sandra - you have no problems..." you see, he knows the biggest challenge is the mind thinking there might be a problem.
Sandra has overcome her mind. She doesn't believe she can't do things any more. She is more than willing to try. She has stepped firmly away from the woman she arrived at the yoga training in 2017 as the woman who can't, and stepped fully into being the woman who can.
She has learnt to move WITH the restrictions. She has used her intention and will to bring movement into areas of her spine and hips, areas of her shoulders, elbows, neck and ankles and feet that she didn't feel possible.
When Sandra takes a position she doesn't force herself into it. She goes with the restrictions, not against them. She is not trying to straighten her spine. She is just following the simple instructions for each posture that we are given.
Over time, and with repetition (in Sandra's case for over a year) she has allowed her brain to re-wire around her restrictions. The brain no longer has a body map that includes the same restrictions. She has gone deeper and deeper into each posture that she can. Without force or violence, but at the same time with some effort and willingness to face the sensations that are needed to be faced in order to allow the release necessary to get new mobility.
And amazingly, when Sandra takes a full relaxation pose on her front. When her body can meet the ground, what now happens in this position is that the spine curvature doesn't present itself. This is the first step in the journey to release. Sandra may well have a scoliosis of the spine (most of us do to a greater or lesser degree) for the rest of her life. But we can see here that it's not always going to be there in every posture she takes. Indeed when she is fully relaxed there is no visible restriction. This means the energy is flowing in the body unhindered and she can get the full benefits of relaxing and restoring the parasympathetic nervous system.
Sandra's curvature of the spine is no longer a problem that is growing, it is a situation that is diminishing.
Sandra has not aged in the past year of doing Kaiut Yoga. She has not lost any more mobility, in fact she is more mobile now that she was a year ago.
She is a perfect example of a Kaiut Yogi who approaches their body with awareness, kindness, a sense of humour and does her practice every day. I'm very grateful that she gave me permission to share the photos and her story here.
The Work of Byron Katie could be called Yoga for the Mind.
Yoga is a holistic discipline that approaches body and mind with a view to transcend. Meditation, contemplation, stillness and attention brings awareness to the very nature of who we are.
In the yoga tradition we are given four paths for a yogi to take. This could be the path of devotion and love, called Bhakti Yoga, or the path of work and service, called Karma Yoga, the path of self-inquiry and wisdom, called Jyana Yoga or the path of meditation and transcendance called Raja Yoga. In fact non of these paths are separate, and all can be followed by a yoga practitioner.
And when you explore these four paths in some depth, you will come across the description of the 8 limbs of yoga, which include the Yamas and Niyamas (moral codes), Pranayama (breathing) and Asanas (postures and movement) these are followed by practices of withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation and finally bliss or Samadhi all taught as ways to access deeper levels of consciousness.
So while most westerners will equate Yoga with the asanas or mostly to do with some sort of physical activity we can see from this very brief explanation that the asanas are just one eighth of one quarter of the complete practice of yoga.
This is therefore why I call the The Work of Byron Katie Yoga for the Mind. As it is a modern version of an ancient yogic practice called Atma-vichara (Sanskrit) or self - inquiry of the Jyana Yoga path. The Work is also part of the meditation and contemplation of Raja Yoga path, dealing directly with looking at the mind, thoughts and how to transcend them.
The founder of The Work, Byron Katie came upon this version of self-inquiry by accident, when she describes she "woke up". She became liberated from believing her thoughts. She stopped believing she was a separate thinking being. She came to know herself as the Self. Consciousness, awareness, part of the continuum of life. She saw there was no life, nor any death but what our thinking tells us through the stories of the mind.
This awakening became something she shared with others quite freely. She saw how other people suffered from their believing their thoughts and offered them a form of self-inquiry to help them. She called this self-inquiry The Work.
I have been practicing Yoga and The Work concurrently for nearly 20 years. And the two disciplines are both so wonderful for bringing me back to this moment now. They are practices that allow me to meet the incessant chatter and noise of the mind with kindness and awareness.
Aaaah the body breathes out a sigh of relief as it meets the ground. No longer needs to hold itself up by itself.
Aaaaah the mind lets go of the story of fear, danger, anxiety or stress as the question "Is it true?" is asked.
Aaaaah the heart opens with love and gratitude to the lineage of teachers and the practices and the gift of awareness they can bring to me.
Aaaah the pain is met. The physical pain of restriction in a body that has held tension for too many years. The emotional pain of sadness or grief from some loss or trauma or other. The mental pain of trying to figure it all out and striving to do it all. The spiritual pain of feeling lost, alone and without connection to my source.
"Can you absolutely know it's true?" I can ask the question to my body. To my emotions. To my mind, heart or spirit. Is it true this is painful?
And exploring the pain as a witness. Asking myself and exploring how I react. Coming to know it as an old friend. No longer being afraid of it. Seeing the habit I have got myself into in creating it through repetitive thinking. Repetitive behaviours. Repetitive emotions. The wheel of life. The cycle of karma.
And breaking through the pain with the question "Who or what would you be without this?" Being willing to let it go. To step into the unknown. To be fearless. To jump out the aeroplane even without a parachute and still enjoying the ride! Feeling the connection to the deepest question a human being can ask him/herself. "Who am I?"
This is what we are exploring through a yoga practice. The very nature of our existence. And it is why The Work of Byron Katie is so perfectly aligned to yoga. How yoga is aligned to The Work.
Alongside being a yoga teacher, I am a Certified Facilitator of The Work and offer workshops, coaching and events to individuals, businesses and organizations.
Join me for a day of Mindful Inquiry on November 10th 2018. I will be presenting The Work of Byron Katie at O.U.R. ecovillage in Shawingan Lake, Vancouver Island.
For more details about The Work of Byron Katie visit my website www.coachthework.com or the official website for The Work www.thework.com
What does it mean to be in nature?
We often say, in this highly technical and mechanical world, "I need to spend time in nature." So we think of trees, of hilltops, of mountains, rivers and streams. And when faced with cars, highways, buses, coffeeshops on every corner, concrete, glass and rubbish littering the streets we do not see that as nature. We feel like we are in unnatural territory - this is not our land.
And for many who live an urban life - this "lack" of nature can become something to tolerate, to put up with, and it is managed by discovering pockets of nature in parks, pedestrian only zones and flower shops, or trips out of the city.
What if nature is all around us always, no matter what environment we are in?
Years ago I was walking in the desert in California with a teacher of mine - Byron Katie (www.thework.com). A woman on the walk had come across an empty coke can. This woman was outraged. She picked it up to show us all. She raged. How could anyone leave this coke can in the desert, to leave their trash and pollution here and ruin the natural beauty. And Katie said. What is not natural about that coke can? It comes from the earth, it's a product of human activity, and we are part of that movement of nature. There is nothing on earth that is not part of nature. Nature is everything. Katie just could not see any separation. The invitation she gave was for us to question where the mind sees something as not natural and ask "Is it true". I see it The Work as yoga for the mind!
For when we think like that, when we think that the coke can, the concrete building, the car or bus driving by us is not nature, we forget our own nature. We divorce ourselves from the fact that as living breathing human beings our very nature goes with us wherever we go. So whether we are in an busy city street with bustling people and traffic streaming by us, or whether we are standing by the ocean watching the sun go down, we are always in our own body. We are always in nature. We are nature.
Francisco Kaiut (founder of the Kaiut Method also wrote a blog on this topic) he says
"We carry nature inside of us wherever we go. We are nature. It’s just a matter of seeing, understanding, and embracing this new reality, this new nature, that allows us to truly absorb the flow - the flow of life in and around us, the flow of nature in and around us. Always. Wherever we are. Not seeing a big city as a source of separation but instead as a union. Not seeing the woods as a source of separation but also a source of union. And seeing ourselves as our main source of nature, accepting whatever environment we are in as a powerful healing tool."
To absorb the flow, to absorb and abide in the nature of our own body. To be the vessel for all manner of experiences, emotions, thoughts and reactions. That's true nature. And through our yoga practice we can see our nature, that we are as soft, as beautiful, as natural as any landscape or wilderness site. And as constructed, fast and solid as any city scape.
Kaiut Yoga connects us back to our own nature. It becomes a living breathing inquiry into the very nature of being alive. I have learnt to be in postures, that appear to be quite difficult, while relaxing my nervous system, I am basically re-setting the connection to nature and I can trust it again. Just as I can stand on a crowded train - in a busy city, which might appear to be quite difficult and relax my nervous system.
When I move my hips whether by sitting cross legged, or resting your legs up the wall, or any other of the poses the practice can gives me.. each time I am in a new environment, each one as natural as the last. Even though my hips feel different depending on any number of factors, some days they feel hard, difficult and tense. And somedays flowing, soft and open. But each experience of my hips is nature. Each posture as natural as breathing.
Our environment is nature. And nature grows and heals and strives and changes, so too do our bodies. We just need to awaken to all of nature, no matter what the environment. No matter what the state (inner or outer) and see the beauty that is there to be discovered in nature.
When people ask me if Kaiut Yoga is for beginners?
The answer: YES ! It's for everyone.
I have seen people come to Kaiut Yoga from ages 15 to 90.
I have seen people come to Kaiut with 30 years of ashtanga yoga, and those who have never practiced yoga before.
So yes, Kaiut yoga is for beginners and we are all beginners.
And as beginners we don't need fancy poses. My teacher Francisco Kaiut says "I don't care if I can do a handstand. I care if I can put my pants on by myself when I'm 90"
The problem we have with yoga is we are exposed though media, advertising as a kind of yoga fake news..too often we are given the idea that one day we might be practicing with poses like these...
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for this lady that she can achieve this.
But, only a few yoga practictioners would be able, willing, and see it as necessary to do a pose like this. And she maybe damaging herself. She may not be able to put her pants on when she's 90.
For the yoga beginner who is young, relatively flexible and ambitious this kind of yoga image of the "expert" can work. It can successfully trigger responses and concepts that any young fitness person will have. " I could WORK towards that, I could BUILD muscles and strength to do that, I'm sure if I was DISCIPLINED I could do that." they might say.
But if you are not young, relatively flexible and ambitious, the image works against you. "I'll never do that!" and you give up. Yoga images like this are the reason why many people looking for Yoga for Beginners, are very easily put off before they start.
Fortunately, if you are looking at Yoga for Beginners, then I'm happy to tell you that yoga is not about working out, building your body or being disciplined in your practice.
I'm delighted to invite you to Kaiut Yoga where you don't need to be DISCIPLINED to do, as if you do it with the correct frame of mind, your body will crave this yoga and you will continue with it because it just feels right. It feels like nature coming back into your body and mind. That you don't have to do any WORK in the traditional sense of making tremendous effort, to get certain results. You simply increase the mobility in your joints by putting them in certain positions. With increased mobility, the brain knows that you need extra muscle tone and the tone increases. So there is no BUILDING going on that you need to worry about. Nature simply takes it's course.
Francisco Kaiut the founder of this type of Yoga has developed it over the past 25 years, in his practice in Brazil he has seen in the bodies of his students, some of whom started with him in their 60's who are now in their 80's, appear younger in their joints than when they started. And they don't do fancy poses. They are not experts.
So Kaiut Yoga is for beginners, because in a sense we are all beginners in yoga. The beginner's mind is where we approach each pose differently, each day differently and each moment with an aliveness and a sense of beauty at the nature of our own bodies.
I'm happy to welcome you to yoga for beginners.
You can get my free three video classes by registering here
The Different Types of Yoga
If you go to any yoga studio these days, and you’re new to the practice, you may feel incredibly overwhelmed by the variety of names, types and types of yoga. If you are new to yoga, it’s quite normal to ask the question “What are all the different types of yoga, and more importantly – Which type of yoga should I be practicing?”
And you will get a variety of answers.
A quick list of the different types of yoga would include Hatha or classical Yoga, Vinyasa or flow Yoga, Bikram or hot Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga (named after a guru), Sivananda Yoga (named after another guru), Kundalini Yoga (opening the chakras) , Yin, Restorative or Therapeutic Yoga, Jivamukti, Kaiut and Scaravelli …Its the dance of Shiva and the list goes on.
Which is right for you?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to what kind of yoga is right for you. However, if you read on, you’ll discover how to choose.
Firstly, it depends on what you are expecting and thinking about Yoga.
If you are expecting a physical workout, and want to incorporate Yoga as part of a fitness regime you’ll be very disappointed and probably bored if you go to a gentle, calm Yin Class.
Likewise, if you have heard Yoga is a spiritual path, with meditation and subtle energy openings and you go to an athletic Ashtanga class you may even hurt yourself.
If you continue your search, can may find some really zany yoga practices out there - cannabis yoga, co-ed naked yoga, yoga classes for you and your dog, your baby, yoga raves, karaoke yoga where you can recreate scenes from Footloose, and in London UK, there is even a practice called ‘voga,’ where you can do yoga and vogue (a la Madonna) at the same time.
Secondly, beware of anyone who says this or that is not TRUE yoga.
As you can see with this many yoga practices available, when you are asking for advice of which one to do, you may hear the claim that this or that form of yoga is “not true yoga.” And most yogi’s are quite biased and will happily point you to their yoga as “the best”.
While actually, technically what 99% of all yoga practitioners do here in the western world, whatever tradition or practice we are doing, isn’t true yoga either. Regardless of our intentions, despite our claims, the grand majority of yogis today are engaging in a modern hybrid version of this ancient spiritual discipline.
Thirdly, discover a little bit about the background to yoga.
You can read lots and lots on the internet, but briefly, Classical Yoga as an ancient lineage, was written up by a chap called Patanjali a few thousand years ago in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga was not a physical practice with a spiritual suggestion, but rather a spiritual practice with a physical component. There was no yoga on and off the mat (indeed five thousand years ago they wouldn’t have had mats as we know them today). Being a yogi meant for your entire life. Yoga was following the eight limbs of yoga for spiritual enlightenment and one part of the practice (one eighth) included physical asanas (or postures).
Today the general modern understanding is that the asanas, the postures, the physical movements of yoga are it. That the main emphasis is therefore on moving the body. And the movement can be fast, slow, flow, hot etc etc. Hence the different types. With spiritual teachings or meditations that are given as a helpful addition to the postures.
Fourthly, Try before you buy.
One of the best things I did for my own practice in recent years was to become a yoga slut. Before you go judging me harshly, what I mean by that is that I went to every yoga class, studio and teacher I could find while on a three month trip to Hawaii and Canada.
During that trip, I became very self aware. I was interested in my own mind. What was exposed was a rigidity, inflexibility and tightness about what or what isn’t yoga.
“But this isn’t Yoga” I would complain silently.
“Why are we doing this?” I would ask myself grumpily.
“What’s this all about?” I would be confused and blame the teacher, the class or the style.
The biggest discovery that I found to my amazement was that as soon as I let go of the tightness and rightness or wrongness in my mind, the class (whichever class it was) that I was attending became wonderful.
I found my heart opened.
I loved the class, whatever class it was, I loved the teacher, the other students.
Now, when some classes ended I didn’t attend again. And sometimes not just for logistical reasons. If I didn’t return I made sure in my mind I knew it was simply because it wasn’t right for ME… not because it wasn’t right. Who am I to know what is right for other people?
In that experience of exposing myself many different types of yoga, I had discovered in me a kind of zealous yogi. I was shocked to see that although I can be very accepting and open-hearted in other areas of my life, when it comes to MY practice… MY yoga, MY teaching – then there is a danger of being closed and tight.
Fifthly, Is Kaiut Yoga the style for you?
When I shout out for Kaiut Yoga, I need to be very open to the fact that this yoga is better than others FOR ME and my body and my age right now. It may not be right for you. I might be tempted to say Kaiut is the only yoga to try, and yet that dismisses the fact I have tried and trained in other types myself and they were super important for me at the time.
I could tell you passionately why other forms aren’t really yoga. And that’s not true. We have no idea what “real” yoga looks like, it’s all grown, evolved and changed so much from what the ancient yogis were doing.
So, if you are looking for a practice and not sure which to choose from all the different types of yoga on offer I suggest you try them all.
Or at least a few, go with an open mind and an open heart to at least 3 or 4 classes (unless it’s clear not to return after one class) with a teacher before you decide.
It can as much looking for the right teacher as the style. Check what they offer, check if you like the venue. Check the schedule fits yours.
Of all the different types of Yoga, I can honestly claim that Kaiut Yoga is the best yoga…. for me, and I’m really thrilled if you join me in thinking it’s the best for you,
Have fun finding your own perfect yoga style, practice, teacher and studio to rave about (FOR YOU!)
If you would like to experience this type of yoga - and try Kathy’s Kaiut Classes – consider joining as a member for a month for the price of one class in a regular studio you will have access to the audio recordings of over 20 classes to try and some instructional videos to watch.
I used to ride as a child. This is a picture of me on my pony at a show in Anglesey, North Wales in the 1970's. Over the years since then I have been off and on horses, but never had any further instuction. I thought I could ride.
When we moved to Canada, I made a committment to myself that I would start riding again. And I found a teacher who teaches natural horsemanship. Horse Whispering stuff. It's facinating. I have found that yes, I can ride, but also I can't - there are many, many things I have to forget and start to learn a whole new approach to horses, to my body and to the communication between me and the horse.
Part of the natural approach to horses explores the connection that happens between the horse and the rider. I've had to let go of pulling on the reins and kicking the horse to go. I've had to discover what it's really about. About settling into the saddle, into myself, connecting with my own energy and intention and FEELING what I'm doing and what the horse is doing. Once we are in sync with each other magic can happen.
It's truly delightful.
Kaiut yoga has taught me a lot about my hips, so when my riding instuctor starts our class with some horseback yoga by having me put my leg in a half sukhasana, I smile to myself... I know sukasana (cross legged position) on horseback is exactly what I need. What my hips need.
For to be able to drop into the saddle, to truly communicate with the horse, I need to feel and in order to feel I need to have mobility and openess in my joints, especially my hips. And so everytime I feel into my own body and get a bit more aware and alive inside of myself, I have that available to me when I'm on a horse.
The horse I ride is a fine and sensitive creature, he will feel everything I give him. A stiff hip, a sore knee, a troubled heart... all of it he is aware and sensitive to pick it up. And so I want to get on him as if I'm doing my yoga practice on my mat. With the intention to feel. I can hear Francisco Kaiut (founder of Kaiut Yoga) in my ear. FEEL he says. I now know how important that is.
It's horseback Yoga. It's feeling more free.
If you would like to know more about Yoga with Kathy White you can join as a member for access to online videos, photos of postures and audio recordings of classes.
If you listen to or attend one of my yoga classes, you will discover that I often say "Cramps are Good"
As I instruct you to point your toes, or flex your feet and hold the foot in that position for some time, you may start to feel a cramp coming on.
You immediately want to bring your foot down, away, stand on it, rub it, anything but keep it there.
And you're perfectly right to do that... it you only want your foot to stay the same.
If you want your feet to become more alive, more healthy, have more flexibilty, carry you well into your old age, if you want your circulation to improve, your balance to be stable... then my yoga friend, your cramp is your friend.
Don't pull your foot away. Just watch, breath, notice..it can be quite an extraordinary thing to really pay attention and see what the cramp is really doing in the foot.
The science is (and bear with me I'm no scientist) that cramps occur in the muscles of the feet when there is fatigue in the muscle tissue. That's to say if there is not enough energy to do the work which is being demanded of the muscle.
The Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule is the nucleotide known in biochemistry as the "molecular currency" of intracellular energy transfer; that is, ATP is able to store and transport chemical energy within cells.
Yes I just googled that.
So ATP is the fundamental energy unit of aerobic metabolism in the body. Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration both diminish the efficiency of the ATP energy system in the muscle. So can result in earlier onset of muscle fatigue than might otherwise occur.
BUT before you go drinking pints of water and electrolytes, note that it is the actual demand of the workload being placed on the foot muscle that ultimately leads to cramping.
Put it simply a small workload, no cramps. A big workload - bingo! you've got a cramp. And pointing your tippy toes to the ceiling, when you have your legs supported up a wall well - that's a big workload - Who Knew?
Your feet know. If your feet are cramping it's probably because they have been closeted in socks and shoes for so many years that you've probably not really given them a decent workout in decades...
However it is also the demand of the workload (keep those toes pointed) that stimulates the muscle to become stronger, to develop more capacity, so that in the future, the same workload will not lead to muscle fatigue, or in any case will not lead to muscle fatigue so quickly.
So the more you exercise your foot muscles and put your feet in positions that they do not often do the less likely you will be to experience those AAAAAGH moments of foot cramp.
That is why foot cramps are not a bad thing and why I'll often say they are a good sign when they occur during practice.
If you would like to access some instructional videos about foot yoga you can join Kathy White Yoga as a member here
If you would like more instruction from Kathy White - sign up for membership to get access to her online class recordings and instructional videos
5000 or more years ago yoga was developed as a spiritual practice. It was developed to bring people present through working in the body, to bring them closer to God, closer to the divine.
And those ancient yogis of long ago, developed a practice, through use of different forms and positions, that grew out of their bodies, grew out of a culture, grew up in an environment where sitting was not normal.
Sitting in chairs that is.
Those early practioners of Yoga, and those yogis from India who, 1000’s of years later, brought yoga to the west had a very different relationship to sitting. They grew up where, for the most part they would sit crossed legged on the floor or squat. Squat or sit on the floor for everything. Sit cross legged to eat, squat to cook, sit cross legged on the floor to meditate, sit cross-legged to gather and chat, and they would even squat to go to the toilet.
We westerners have grown up on chairs. We strap our babies into push chairs, high chairs, a favourite cry of a parent is for a child to “please sit in your chair”, children for the most part sit in cars or buses to go to school, sit at desks to study with only short periods of physical activity. Then they come home, sit at a table or on a sofa to eat. Sit on a chair to look at a book or screen. And so the western body grows, adapts and is shaped for the chair.
So what happens when this western body tries to practice the postures from the yogis who grew up squatting? Basically the western body is not ready for these asanas. The westerner with their limited hip mobility finds yoga too challenging. This is why many men avoid yoga. It therefore makes sense that the typical yoga practioner in the west is often a woman, and a woman who happens to have a degree of hyper mobility. Or is just more able to bend and stretch because of female hormonal adaptations preparing her pelvis for childbirth ( whether or not she is pregnant).
What we need to do when we practice yoga is to find kindness and patience for the body who never got a chance to open in the hips, for the body that was condemned to sitting in a chair. We can relax and let go of trying to pretend we are an ancient yogi and remember those postures were developed in a different era.
And so Kaiut has been adapted for us, and gives us a practice and helps counterbalance the habits in the hips that come from the chair affect. And as well as practicing regularly, we can sit on the floor to watch television, read a book. We can put our laptop on the floor to surf the internet. We can go out into nature and have more picnics on the ground. We can be mindful to walk rather than take the car. And we can be gentle on our mat in our practice.
If you would like to access the instructional video of how to sit on a bolster and have an antidote for chair sitting - join Kathy White Yoga as a member
Are we just like sheep, being herded into thinking about aging the same way everyone does?
What blueprint do you have about aging? Have you questioned it?
Although I have been practicing Yoga since my 20's, as I moved past the age of 50 I started feeling niggles and pains in my bones and hips and realised that I was just blindly accepting this as part of the aging process.
Although I have pretty good role models for aging - my grandmother was still driving a car at the age of 94. My parents today are 83 and 87 and pretty healthy and active (they are off on a trip to Sri Lanka as I write this)
Yet still I didn't question these physical issues that were arising. I took them as normal.
We don't stop dancing because we get old, we get old because we stop dancing. Anon