Monthly Archives: November 2018

Tricks to Get Past Busy Minds

The other day a new client who is a yoga teacher asked me: Do you have any tricks to get past people’s busy or stressed minds and bring them into their bodies?

Here is part of my response.

I am not sure if this is a trick per se, but I can tell you the most effective technique that I know of, to help people get past their busy and stressed minds. In fact, it’s the foundation for the magic and mystery that is healing. It is what brings trust, hope, and belief that something is possible.

It is Love.

That’s a super-loaded word with endless interpretations. In this case, by Love I mean sitting with another person, meeting them where they are, being present to them, and listening to what they are saying and not saying. It is not judging that something is wrong and needs to be fixed, but seeing that they are truly whole and have symptoms that are trying to get their attention.

By Love I mean listening in a way that is receptive: it’s understanding that your client has hopes and goals that may have been put aside because of the symptoms and sensations they are experiencing.

By Love I mean that when we are present with another person, when we are not just standing in front of them, but truly being with them, we can see and acknowledge them. We see the light that is unique to them, knowing that the person—the energy that is them—has never been on this planet before and when they are gone, will never be here again. It is understanding that we are not taking up square feet, that we are here at this time on purpose. The fact that they are in your space now, means on some level that they are ready to change.

By Love I mean that our job is to cultivate a healing relationship, a healing space that allows for that change to occur. One where the client can feel that they are being seen. When that happens, when someone feels seen—oh man, that is when change happens.

That’s a long definition of a short word, but it’s the most effective thing I have learned in 25 years of helping people out of pain. It far surpasses understanding anatomy, memorizing exercises, learning motivation techniques and other compliance methods. It is a sweet spot of grace and vulnerability, where you meet the humanity of another (and of yourself); you meet their heart, mind, and soul.

You can’t shortcut your way to this very powerful place. It first takes some work on your own self before you can get here. But when you do, you’ll have become very powerful as a teacher.

In fact, you will become known as a healer who cares and who gets results. More importantly you will have helped someone to move through their busy or stressed mind into a quiet place of feeling—not just of their body, but of the gentle whispers guiding them along to the essence of who they are.

Have fun exploring,


Why Yoga Isn’t Dangerous

It makes me sad when I hear people say that yoga poses are not functional movement and that they are dangerous. I believe that most yoga poses are highly functional and not dangerous at all. The trouble is most people push way too far into them, well past, what is truly available in their body. That isn’t the fault of the pose.

I remember an interview I did for the CBC, a national radio show, back in 2004 when my first book, Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries was published. The interviewer asked me why so many people get injured in yoga. My response was that we are attempting to bring a western approach to an eastern-based meditative movement and breathing practice.

When asked for an example, I responded that the movements in yoga are called Asanas, which are to prepare a body to sit for longer times in stillness and meditation. Asana means “sitting comfortably and still. Our western approach had turned Asana into a exercise for a workout, a sweat, a great butt and arms. Pushing to the edge and feeling sore the next day was a badge of honour. It paid little heed to awareness, and was much more about mind over matter.

It therefore doesn’t surprise me that 15 years later, our industry is in the place that it is. I hope that all this injury will make people realize that deep technique matters more than superficial poses. That the quiet sensations telling us to stop should actually be listened to and not be plowed over.

Nonetheless there remains confusion about what to actually do. At a recent Therapeutic Yoga Intensive, I had one very long term yoga teacher shudder in realization of how small her true range of motion and stability actually were. She was horrified as she said to me: “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME; THIS IS WHAT MY BODY CAN DO?”

Then she started to piece it together: her levels of pain, strain, tension, the holding patterns and how it all relates. Her mind was blown wide open as she became aware of her reality, and the possibility of less pain, more function and feeling a whole lot better.

Sometimes gaining awareness can start out a being unsettling, and then something cool happens – The awareness gained opens the door to much less tension, pain, and strain; more ease, lightness, and stillness; more stability, mobility and strength. And, more Asana —of the kind that is sitting comfortably and still.

Have a great time exploring sensation, ease and more Asana.