Texas Yoga Conference: A completely fantastic learning experience
“If someone tells me it is not a yoga posture, I say if it works for my students, it is a yoga posture.” —Gudrun Danburg
This quote is from the first instructor I went to on the first day of the Texas Yoga Conference, which was last weekend in Houston. It really spoke to me because I believe in the power of modifications. As long as a student is getting a positive experience out of my class, I am happy (and so are they).
I had the privilege to attend the conference thanks to Aledo Yoga and Kimberly Hardick for hosting a drawing that I won. The conference was two full days of yoga workshops and classes. All of the teachers had something unique to offer and I went away with so much information and so many new ideas I hardly know what to do with it all! Here’s a rundown of the classes I took and how I plan to use some of the information.
1. Yoga for Seniors with Gudrun Danburg — I actually walked into this class on accident, mistaking it for one of the other options on the schedule. I intended to attend a class about therapeutic adjustments (I was running late and had to skip coffee. It was 8 a.m.!). I didn’t realize my mistake until about halfway through, but am so glad I ended up in this class. Gudrun had an amazing teaching style and after a brief lecture about the different physical restrictions some of her clients face, she led us through a lovely practice while explaining how each modification benefitted her students. She teaches senior citizens, many who face restricting arthritis or other ailments. She showed us how to help people in pain to get up off of the floor comfortably with the use of blocks and many warmups for hands — the most imortant warm ups for people with arthritis. I immediately thought of CrossFitters trying to improve their grip strength and realized that they rarely do specific hand and finger warm ups and strength exercises. This is something you will see added to my classes!
2. MC Yogi — This was one of the most fun yoga classes I have taken in a long time. You may know him from this awesome video. He basically led a vinyasa class (to about 100 people in a gym) to his music (which is awesome). His wife came around and made some of the most caring adjustments I have ever experienced. He talked during the class about the meaning of yoga — how it’s more than just poses and classes. And then, towards the end, he pumped the music up and everyone just danced. It was awesome.
3. Alejandro Chaoul, Tibetan Yoga — I took this class because I wanted to try something I had never tried before. It was really interesting. He taught some of the chakras of Tibetan yoga (including crown, throat, heart, naval) and showed us a couple of sequences important to Tibetan practice. It was definitely a new experience.
4. Chris Roy and Malia Scott of Namaste Interactive, Igniting Your Online Marketing — This seminar had so much useful information, especially for a new business like ours. They covered the necessary components to telling your story, some tips on successful web sites, and how to start a successful email marketing campaign. (Note to self: start an email marketing campaign.)
5. Julie Downey, The Shoulder – Functional Yoga Training, Essential Upper Body Techniques for Athletes — I chose to attend this class for obvious reasons…the CrossFit athlete is no stranger to shoulder injuries. Julie took us through some Qi Gong exercises to warm up and the rest of the class consisted of exercises to help prevent shoulder injury in athletes. One of these exercises was really simple (and effective): it was basically childs pose with the hand extended to the opposite side on a block. There were several others that I am working into my classes.
6. Roger and Albina Rippy, “Sun Set” Yoga Groove w/DJ Sun – This was another really fun vinyasa flow class at the end of day one. Roger taught to the music of DJ Sun but he had many instructors from his studios there to help adjust the 50 or more people who attended the class. I’ve never had a class experience with quite so much hands on adjusting — it was a lot of fun. He put together a lot of unique combinations for a very challenging class.
1. Rhia Robinson, Yin Yoga plus lecture: The Eight Limbs in the Real World: What a way to start a Sunday morning. This was one of the deepest, most relaxing Yin classes I’ve taken, and it was made even better by her lecture on the Eight Limbs while we were in poses. She managed to point out some of the ways it is difficult to be our most ethical selves in daily life, and ways to remedy some of those situations. For example, she pointed out that what we may see as a little bit of harmless gossip actually violates Ahisma (to do no harm) simply because it can be hurtful no matter who hears it or not. Even though we all know this on some level, it helps to hear it put into words sometimes.
2. Sadie Nardini, Core Strength – Be a Ninja Flow Yogi: This class was really cool. It was basically all about core strength, and for the first time ever I was able to jump into crow pose during this class. It actually really reminded me of one of Fort Worth’s own Rebecca Butler’s classes. And I felt soreness (the good kind) in parts of my abdomen and core that I didn’t even know existed when I woke up the next day. She also had some really interesting flow combinations that involve moving balances, which I love.
3. Nicole Haagenson, Yoga for Runners: I picked this class because I am a runner and because I hope to get my CrossFit Endurance certification soon. This class was filled with great tips to alleviate and prevent minor running injuries. One of the most useful things she showed us was a way to roll a tennis ball around the sacrum to relax some of the muscles that get used a lot during a run. She also led us in a yin-like class that effectively stretched all the hotspots for runners.
4. Kimberly Hardick, Demystifying the Anatomy of the Breath: This was the last class I took before heading home on Sunday and what a perfect choice — I can’t think of anything more energizing for a long ride home then an hour and a half of breath exercises. Kimberly taught some really interesting exercises that will help me show my students how important the breath is. She showed us different kinds of breath, techniques to lenghthen and deepen the breath, and how breathing affects us in postures such as backbends and childs’ pose. She also showed us the value of the breath while transitioning from one pose to another. She is just down the road a bit in Aledo, so check her out when you get a chance!
This was just a small sampling of the classes offered. I wish I could have taken them all!