Andrew McGonigle: 5 Reasons Why Lotus Might Not be for Your Hip

Andrew McGonigle has been studying anatomy for over twenty years, originally training to become a doctor and then moving away from Western medicine to become a yoga teacher, massage therapist and anatomy teacher. He combines all of his skills and experience to teach anatomy and physiology on Yoga Teacher Training courses internationally and runs his own online Anatomy and Physiology Applied to Yoga courses. His new book, Supporting Yoga Students with Common Injuries and Conditions, is out now. In this article, using our hip joints as an example, Andrew explains why yoga practice and what feels comfortable varies for each of us.

Have you ever wondered why certain yoga postures can feel so easeful in your body while others can feel like such a challenge?

Or why one person can sit cross-legged for hours having never practiced yoga and you still need to sit on four cushions after practicing yoga for years?

The short answer to this is that every body is entirely unique and will express a certain yoga pose in a completely unique way. There are also emotional, psychological and nervous system components that affect how much movement our joints make and the quality of that movement.

Let’s explore some of these factors using our hip joints as an example. Continue reading

Touch is Really Strange: An Interview with Steve Haines

Why can’t we tickle ourselves? How can slow touch convey more powerful emotions than fast touch? How does touch shape our perception of the world? In this short interview, Steve Haines – author of Singing Dragon’s best-selling Really Strange series – discusses the inspiration behind his new book, Touch is Really Strange

When did you start working on the book?

The idea for a book on touch has been around since 2019, but this was definitely a lockdown project. The Really Strange series has been huge fun and continues to get heart-warming feedback. There have been suggestions for books on Depression, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Grief or Breath.

Whilst I have some experience with clients with all those topics, I realised I have far more to say about touch. I use touch everyday in normal work life and teach 2-year courses on being skilful with touch.

What inspired the topic?

In my career I have undergone a paradigm shift in how I understand touch. Continue reading

Yoga Teaching Guides Introduced by Sian O’Neill

Yoga Teaching Guides

Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides is a new series of books, launching in March 2021. Edited by Sian O’Neill and written by renowned experts in the field, the books in the series cover essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from series editor Sian as she introduces some of the upcoming books and talks about her inspiration behind the series. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

As a yoga teacher, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas to help improve my classes for students and I have a feeling I am not alone. It can be challenging to come up with varied, interesting (and safe) classes week after week – so practical tips from highly experienced and inspiring teachers are always appreciated.

Sian O’Neill

Following the successful launch of the Yoga Teaching Handbook, it became clear that there is an interest among yoga teachers and trainees in practical tips to enrich their teaching. So, I was thrilled when Singing Dragon asked me to be editor for a new series aimed at yoga teachers, Yoga Teaching Guides, and we are delighted to be launching a series of volumes on topics ranging from supporting injured students; yoga and qigong; developing a home practice; the art of theming, and yoga and Ayurveda – with more to follow. Continue reading

Announcing our new Yoga Teaching Guides

We are pleased to introduce you to our brand new series of books: Singing Dragon’s Yoga Teaching Guides. This series – written by experts in the field – covers essential skills as well as providing inspiration for creative yoga teaching, both for the new and the experienced yoga teacher. In this short piece, hear from Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon, as she introduces the series and shares a few hints on what is yet to come. Join our mailing list to be kept up to date with new releases!

Back in 2017, Singing Dragon published the Yoga Teaching Handbook, an edited collection which brought together experts sharing their experiences of the day-to-day practicalities of teaching yoga and managing yoga businesses. The handbook was one of the very first yoga books I commissioned, and it was truly wonderful to work with a group of people so passionate about yoga and so committed to sharing knowledge and advice with the wider yoga community.

Sarah Hamlin, Senior Commissioning Editor at Singing Dragon

Four years later we are launching our brand-new series, Yoga Teaching Guides, inspired by the 2017 handbook. Building on the key topics and themes included in the handbook, our series authors are able to share their expertise in greater depth so that yoga teachers everywhere can refine their skillset, be inspired to think creatively about teaching, and ultimately feel confident in sharing a meaningful yoga practice with students. Continue reading

Hypermobile People and Yoga – An Extract from Jess Glenny

Jess Glenny is a Yoga Register Teacher (Elder) and a C-IAYT yoga therapist. She has been practising yoga with hEDS since 1981, and for many years has specialised in working with hypermobile people. She is the author of The Yoga Teacher Mentor: A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes (published in 2020) and her new book, Hypermobility on the Yoga Mat: A Guide to Hypermobility-Aware Yoga Teaching and Practice is available for pre-order now, publishing in February 2021.

In this article, adapted from her new book, Jess discusses why hypermobile people might be drawn towards the practice of yoga.

Yoga teacher Amber Wilds writes:

During my teacher training I was told, you probably won’t see hypermobility in your yoga classes very often, but it became apparent over the duration of our training that many of my fellow students were hypermobile (to varying degrees). While some had been diagnosed, others hadn’t been aware of their hypermobility prior to our training. I therefore began to question whether, rather than being a rarity in a yoga class, hypermobility was actually far more common than initially thought.[i]

Indeed, as we have seen, hypermobile people are one population you are pretty much guaranteed to encounter in significant numbers in any yoga class you teach. Why is this? Why do people whose range of joint motion is so excessive as to be considered pathological flock to an activity with the potential to increase it further? There are a number of reasons. Continue reading

Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain: Posting Exercises to Try

Mount Qingcheng, one of China’s mystical mountains, has been the birth place of discovery, realization and preservation of the recipes that stimulate the deep potential of the human body for generations. Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain, the follow-up book to Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain by Daoist master Wang Yun, simplifies the complex practices of Daoism handed down by generations of accomplished Masters – such as posting, breath practice and meditation – and gifts the reader with its most valuable aspects for a modern world.

In this extract, we share three simple posting exercises to incorporate into everyday life to promote the flow of qi and blood, boost the immune system and help relax the body.

Posting relaxation exercises

[Benefits of posting include: promoting the smooth flow of qi and blood, methodically harmonizing the breath, and clearing the channels of the entire body.]

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, imagine a string hanging straight down from the upper dantian (near the pineal gland) to the huiyin point (the perineum), and landing on the floor between your two feet. Next, imagine your whole body as a bag of air, as if you were completely hollow. At the same time, relax your body; from the hair on your head down to the yongquan points at the bottom of the feet. Everything is totally empty, like a transparent crystal ball. Relax your body in this way and repeat the visualization three times. Continue reading

Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain: Testimonials from Wang Yun’s Students

Immersing the mind with the concepts of the Daoist path of health and immortality, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain – the new book by Daoist master Wang Yun – invokes the sacred birthplace of one of China’s mystical mountains that has stimulated both mind and body for generations.

Whilst the first volume, Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain, invited the reader to travel across time and through the history of China and Daoism, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain is more focused in the book’s purpose. Wang Yun places special focus on relaxation and the breath through five sets of foundational yet all-encompassing practices, such as posting, to deepen both themes. He offers tales from his life and journey, along with accessible tools to strengthen both body and qi.

Bridging the gap between practical experience and philosophical background, Clouds over Qingcheng Mountain simplifies the complex practices of Daoism handed down by generations of accomplished Masters, and gifts the reader with its most valuable aspects for a modern world.

In these videos, students of Wang Yun give testimonials on the master’s teaching, and how they benefited from practising the exercises in the book on a regular basis.

 

Working with Death and Loss in Shiatsu Practice: Knowing What Ki Is

Tamsin Grainger has been a Zen Shiatsu practitioner since 1991 and is the co-founder of The Shiatsu School in Edinburgh, as well as being a prolific writer and teacher. Below, she gives a glimpse of what readers can expect from her new book, Working with Death and Loss in Shiatsu Practice.

Introduction

Working with Death and Loss in Shiatsu Practice is a guide to bodywork in palliative care. It looks at how Shiatsu practitioners sit with their clients when they are grieving, how they listen to the bereaved, what language they use at the end of life, and above all their touch.

Because Shiatsu practitioners can address and hold the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of clients at the same time, as a result of their deep training based on hands-on experience, they are supremely placed to practice in this arena. My book looks at all these levels and provides support for the practitioner who wants to be centred, open-hearted and well primed.

The book contains a wide range of useful and illuminating theory which has been collected together in one volume for the first time. It covers the dying process and the ideas which underly Shiatsu practice as it pertains to loss and palliative care. It looks at the traditional ideas as well as at current teaching, and supports and encourages each individual to find their own confidence.

Knowing what Ki is

Shiatsu practitioners are taught that Ki pervades everything, that everything is made of Ki. Though invisible in its purest form to most human eyes, it may be felt by clients and practitioners alike. Continue reading

Lee Majewski & Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani on Yoga Therapy as a Whole-Person Approach to Health

Lee Majewski and Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani’s new book, Yoga Therapy as a Whole-person Approach to Health, is published in July 2020 – a groundbreaking book that explores yoga and yoga therapy as a multi-faceted approach to wellness.

Lee Majewski C-IAYT is a yoga therapist at Marsden Centre for Integrative Medicine, Vaughn, Canada and visiting senior yoga therapist at Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, India. She is a cancer survivor and since 2006 has worked with cancer and psychosomatic chronic disease patients, including running intensive yogic retreats for cancer patients in Europe, North America, India and Australia.

Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani is Director of the Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research (CYTER) and Professor of Yoga Therapy at Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University. He is also Chairman of the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, India and Yoganjali Natyalayam, the premier institute of Yoga and Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam in Pondicherry.

Together, they created this book for yoga therapists, health professionals and all those interested in this modality to provide a deeper understanding of yoga therapy, carefully clarifying yogic concepts and exploring how deep yogic work can be practically applied to a range of chronic conditions.

Watch an in-depth discussion with the authors, facilitated by Dr Lori Rubenstein Fazzio, clinical professor of yoga and health at Loyola Marymount University, and owner of Mosaic Physical Therapy in Los Angeles.

 

Sarah Scharf: New Opportunities for Yoga Teachers in Lockdown

Sarah Scharf, MFA is a yoga teacher, author of the upcoming book, Holding Space: The Creative Performance and Voice Workbook for Yoga Teachers and theatre artist. She holds an MFA in Physical Theatre and has completed multiple training courses in Yoga of various styles. In London she taught at Triyoga – the largest studio in Europe – and worked as a mentor for the Yogacampus Teacher Training. She runs popular workshops and training on voice work and performance skills for yoga teachers, and works as a movement director and teaching artist for theatre. She is an American currently living in Vienna.

With the onset of regulations that have temporarily closed yoga studios and suspended public gatherings we have seen a rapid change in the yoga industry. Using live streaming video conferencing has become the most common way of teaching. Many of us have been challenged as teachers not only to learn to use the technology, but also to deal with the emotional elements of growing again as teachers. Some feel like they have to start over, especially those that relied heavily on hands on adjustments during their teaching and didn’t develop the language skills to adequately describe detailed movement or actions. This process of shifting online has shown many of us where we need to grow. It’s an opportunity for us to refine our work, to get more comfortable with ourselves and perhaps even create new opportunities.

There are many ways to teach online. I’ll focus on these options in the context of teaching yoga or movement and meditation:

  • interactive livestream classes
  • non-interactive livestream classes
  • online trainings/workshops/courses

Interactive Live stream

Interactive live stream requires conferencing software if you want to control the entry of participants. The main bonus is that you can see your students in real time. This gives you the opportunity to offer verbal adjustments and individualised instruction. This is only possible when you can see your students, which will require a larger screen for bigger groups so you can avoid scrolling. Some teachers use a projector, making sure it is a quiet one so the sound isn’t a problem. Other teachers avoid demonstrating and simply sit close enough to their screen that they can see everyone. Continue reading