Set the Foundations (Yoga Teacher Training) – Part 1

Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) is about opening your heart and sharing something that is special to you with others so that they too can feel as good as you do when you practice yoga. While my YTT was Hatha yoga, during our training one of my amazing teachers, Amanda taught us about the Anusara Yoga’s Universal Principles of Alignment:

1. Set the Foundation & Open to Grace

2. Muscle Energy

3. Inner- Expanding Spiral

 4. Outer- Contracting Spiral

5. Organic Energy

I’m not going to pretend that I am now an expert on this topic but I thought that the first principle would be a great place to start as it kind of sums up my yoga journey to become a teacher of yoga- learning how to safely and correctly teach yoga and opening my heart and sharing something that is special to me with others.

Set the foundations

This is part of the first principle because it is most important. Everything else builds from it. Beginning your Hatha yoga practice by building a strong, flexible, and solid foundation is essential. Like any structure- think buildings, bridges, yoga is built from the foundation up and the foundation is rooted firmly to the ground. If you look at an asana the foundation of the pose which is touching the floor affects everything else. Yoga poses either start their foundations in the feet or hands (or, in other words, from the ground up).

If your foot is placed even slightly out of alignment, it translates up to your knee, pelvis, back, and so on. If your hand is turned out or the finger tips are lifted, your wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck may experience unnecessary strain. Therefore, it is essential to begin by building your feet as your solid roots to build upward. If your feet/ hands are fully connected to the earth, they will move energy up correctly through your ankles/wrists, knees/elbows, hips/shoulders and spine, preventing unnecessary injuries and allowing you to practice and master more advanced asanas successfully.

In yoga, you build a firm and level foundation by focusing on your foundations (whether they be your hands or feet), and from it a strong, spacious, and elegant pose will rise. To create a firm foundation, use the strength of your legs or arms to send strong roots into the earth; make the foundation level by contacting the floor evenly with your feet or hands. Building awareness in the feet/hands in each and every pose may sound tedious, and yes, it can take years of practice, but it’s well worth the effort. When building a house, having a solid foundation will determine the viability of the rest of the structure as it goes up, so too will having a solid foundation in your yoga practice ensure that the rest of your body is well supported and protected.

According to my 3rd surgeon, balance and shape of your feet are determined by the shapes of the bones in your feet, the structure of the ligaments that hold the bones together, and the muscles that move and position the bones. Though research I found out that the bones and the structure of the ligaments are hereditary, but you do have the power to change the strength, flexibility, and coordination of your foot muscles. Since doing yoga regularly, I have made significant changes to the shape and balance of my feet- my right toes have spread and my foot is slightly wider. This has allowed me to gain better balance and compensate for the irreparable damage that my foot and ankle have endured.

So what’s the life lesson?

Life is a journey and it’s up to you to set the foundation; to know when to pursue and when to let go. It’s up to you to look after your mind and body through meditation, exercise and healthy eating before you get sick, not just treat it when it is sick. It’s up to you to make choices that will serve you instead of hinder. It’s up to you to monitor and control your thoughts, feelings and actions. It is up to you to love yourself first and foremost so that others can also love you. Change is inevitable but when you set the foundations right, you are anchored and can brave the ‘stormy of high seas’ of life.

 

Whether you are setting the foundation in a yoga class or in your daily life, it is imperative to get the fundamentals right. Please come back tomorrow for the second part of this 2 part blog. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs so far.

Namaste, Natalie

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Without a good foundation I would not been able to achieve this pose. My left foot and my two hands have created a solid foundation even on sinking sand to allow me to rise up into this pose.
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My Philosophy & About Me

Dedicated to my Nanna

I actually began my yoga journey from a very young age when I spent time with my grandma practicing different yoga poses. I have fond memories of her praising my flexibility as I bent and twisted myself into various poses. I cherish these moments dearly in my memories as they helped me build such positive feelings surrounding yoga from such a young age. However, while my yoga journey started long before 2011, I wasn’t really serious about yoga until 2011 when it seemed I had nothing else to lose.

I was initially drawn to the physical aspect to aid my recovery from a serious car accident that left me unable to walk unassisted (see my previous Blog: How did I find yoga?). However over time, with the introduction of pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation to my yoga regime, I began to experience profound peace, healing, grounding and clarity in my life. It was then that I discovered that there was so much more to yoga than just the physical aspect.

The practice of yoga has become an integral part of my life journey and I have studied and practiced many different styles of yoga. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge with gratitude the inspiration and wisdom of my teachers: Marina Frei, Amanda Holmström, Tatijana (Tanya Koriander)- from Marina Yoga in Thailand, and Julie Gargano to name a few.

I teach yoga as a tool for growth, healing, self-empowerment and transformation. I teach a Hatha style of yoga with built in meditation and pranayama work designed to strengthen and challenge the body, while teaching the mind to relax and embrace the path of awakening the heart.

My classes weave movement, alignment, breath work and meditation as a path to discovering each person’s unique beauty, inner light and empowering the individual within, drawing inspiration from my continued lessons with teachers at Prana House and other opportunities to practice yoga under others’ instructions.

I am also an avid traveller, animal lover, food lover, and a holistic therapist (Reiki Level I trained), and am passionate about learning more about and discussing eco-conscious living.

I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about why I chose the name INSPIRE.

 

May your thoughts be of peace, your words of love, and your deed of kindness. – Alexandra Domelle