Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is your body and it is a process and journey

Recently a dedicated student of mine, Pattie O’Brien, resident of Pagosa Springs, Colorado wrote a blog published on the Parelli Central Blog site entitled: “The Yoga/Riding Connection”. Pattie is 59 years old, which you wouldn’t know, has an arthritic knee and chronic neck pain. She also has a Baker’s Cyst behind her right knee, a malformed pelvic and multiple neck surgeries. Pattie is one of the most devoted students that I have. In the blog she states, “What I like best was that Theresa didn’t critique my positions, just helped me get into the proper posture as best as my body would let me do.”

This took me back to when I started yoga. I was searching for a way to become more flexible and balanced in my riding so I could flow with the horse rather than get in her way. I spent one and a half years doing strength and balance training and it got me far but it was not what I needed to get the additional flexibility in my body. I went to a Yoga class and that was it for me! After only one practice I knew that I had found the answer. But before I could get the result I was looking for - better flexibility with my horse - I had a long journey ahead of me. At the time, however, I did not know that. I attended the yoga classes and really enjoyed them. Nevertheless, I was very self-conscious since others had been doing yoga longer than me and some were much more flexible and balanced than I was. I didn’t know the postures, I didn’t know the sequence. When my instructor would correct me in a posture I would sometimes feel I was doing something wrong or that I wasn’t good enough for my body to get the posture. For several months I struggled. My self-talk went like this: “Downward Dog… What was that again? Where should my hands be? How should my body be positioned?” or “She just told me to inhale but she didn’t tell me to exhale. Am I supposed to exhale or hold my breath?” and “I just fell out of crow 4 times, how embarrassing.”

So on it goes! It took me many practices to feel like I knew the postures, to understand what the Yoga instructor was referring to and to allow myself to just relax. I still remember all my struggles. This is the reason why it is important for me as a yoga instructor to “guide” a student through their practice. To me, yoga helps a student to unfold, unlock the brace in the mind and then in the body. It is truly a process, a journey for the student’s mind, body and spirit. Today’s practice will not look like tomorrow’s which won’t look like next week’s, which won’t look like next month’s and sometimes you go backwards on postures and then forward again. I believe that the student’s job during yoga, their only job is to listen to what their body is telling them. They need to take care of their body and get into alignment the best they can based on where they are at in that very moment. I want the student to unfold as their body is ready. I give specific set-up instructions for each posture and demonstrate along with the students in practice so they have a visual. In my Yoga DVD’s, I have a set-up that I believe really helps the student. They get a booklet with the key postures, so the student can get a visual. Then, in the DVD, I have a module where I help a student get aligned into most postures presented in the practice. Here the student can review the postures or do them along with me and the “video student”. The last segment is the actual practice. I love the idea of the student coming to the mat as prepared as possible so they can just take a posture and see where their body is at in this moment.

Thank you Pattie for your blog> It brought tears to my eyes because I want others to receive from Yoga what I have been able to receive over several years now… and I mean it when I say “YOUR HORSE WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT”. Please go to my FB Fanpage ZennerYoga and “like” it. You can also visit my website: to get a view of the product Fluidity Connection!