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Is it Ok to Dip Toe in Different Yoga Pools?

Photo courtesy Salim Fadhley via Flickr

One of the first things people ask you when they find out you do yoga is what style you practice or teach.  I have always found this question to have a long answer.  In reality, there are few styles of yoga I haven’t practiced.  And over the course of time I have shifted in and out of certain styles/methods/and practices.  Can a style or a method be effective if it is only dabbled in?  Or does each style require that you practice it and only it every day for the method to work?

I started with Bikram.  I gained flexibility, focus, and health from this yoga. It is a very specific discipline and after a couple of years I wanted to branch out.  So I tried most everything, or at least what Yogaworks in LA had to offer.  I found vinyasa flow, Iyengar, yin, restorative, and anusara. And since then, Jivamukti, ashtanga, and hot yoga.  And to some of these disciplines I have committed a fair amount of time, mainly vinyasa flow.  And now, more and more, I find myself wanting to blend the styles.  I want to take from all these forms and make a kind of yoga fusion.  Perhaps that is what is so attractive about vinyasa flow.  It is a living style that is being influenced by teachers today. And in fact yin/yang yoga is growing more popular, a blend of vinyasa and yin, deep stretches.

Methods work.  They especially work when followed with discipline.  But since freeing myself of yoga discipleship, it’s hard to go back.   I would like to believe there is room to explore yoga in a broad sense and learn from many different kinds of teachers.  The intensity of what a teacher has to offer is correlative to the integrity they have for their discipline.  Perhaps a fusion of styles can be its own niche, and the blend becomes its own new thing. Or maybe instead of blending the styles together you practice different styles simultaneously.

I say, for the sake of self-expression and personal growth, yoga is to be embraced.  If the style feels right, if it builds you up and softens your edges, then its a good thing.  Branch out, build up, and be blissful.

Downward Facing Tree?

I have always wondered why handstand is referred to as Adho Mukha Vrksasana in yoga, or ‘downward facing tree’.  It certainly doesn’t look like tree pose turned upside down. It is more like upside down utthita tadasana, extended mountain pose.

I have been a real handstand junky as of late.  And it was through this handstand immersion that downward facing tree suddenly had meaning to me.

It is in the architecture of the pose that we mimic a tree.  Rooted down to earth with strength, the tree rises towards the sky.

Handstand is all about preparing the base of support and then building the pose from the ground up.

And they are fun to do anywhere.  Tara Stiles does them in the concrete jungle…where do you do down face tree?