Life's falling apart, but teachers gotta teach

Your life as yoga teacher is going wonderfully and so is everything off the mat. You’ve got plenty of love in your life, you own a comfy sofa and your Lulu leggings have never looked better on you. Now, I’m sorry to be Mr Pessimistic, but despite all your positive thinking and no matter how much you've sunbathed your crystals or built a connection with the universe, I’m afraid that easy road is going to become rocky at some point. People will die, relationships will deteriorate, you’ll say something stupid, injuries will happen and that’s just a taster. YTT school didn't tell you how to teach a yoga class, when you’ve ended up at the heart of a maelstrom, did it?

So why I am bringing the ‘bad vibes’ to your day? As yoga teachers we’ve chosen to make, at least a some, of our monies, from teaching yoga. Yoga pays our rent, it feeds us and, lets face it, unless we’re sitting on some gold or have backed ourself up with insurance polices, if we stop teaching, life is about to get problematic. Money, students and regular classes may well begin to disappear, if you do. We need to be equipped to do ‘our thing’, despite perhaps not being in the best place to do so. It's OK to still teach. We’re not superheros, but all of us are simply students who are probably a long way off completely elevating ourselves beyond the affects of the dark valleys and bright mountaintops of everyday life. 

being guilty about being blue and wearing a melancholic face is only going to give you anxiety issues on top of everything else

In the first 3 months of 2017 I’ve had to ‘keep it going’ though quite a few metaphoric, punches in the gut. One of the finest men I’ve met, my father, passed away followed by my globally loved teacher, Michael stone. A relationship came to an final end and a road traffic incident, left me with a severely broken foot with plenty of ligament damage. On the periphery, I had the joys of stitches in my face, house moving, selling the home I grew up in and lots and of other curve balls. Its been borderline ridiculous.  When Charles of Yoga Career Summit heard my sorry little monologue and discovered that I’d only stopped teaching for a week through it, he thought I might just have something useful to share with every other yoga teacher who needs to keep the ‘dollar’ coming in during the bad times.

First step on the ladder, is the acceptance of the situation you find yourself in and the emotions that are coming up from it.  Despite what we read in our glossy magazines and self-help manuals, feeling a little crap is fine and being guilty about being blue and wearing a melancholic face, is only going to give you anxiety issues on top of everything else. I’m not saying indulge in your sad-self via a nightly Adele album & Gin combo, but do acknowledge where you find yourself and seek some help to navigate through it. That might be a counsellor, friend, family member or a taxi driver; they didn't agree to getting involved but are happy to jump on board with some advice. Continuing to teach public classes wont make you an imposter yoga teacher who isn't as enlightened as they should be; you’ll just be a yoga practitioner who is working through a challenging situation, just as you might be working towards that challenging press in to handstand. 

Next, lets talk about the practicalities, especially when it comes to the physical issues. Work out your commitments and break down what happens if you cant fulfil them e.g. loss of money, reputation, future opportunities or just missing a really cool event. Next step is for some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking as you work out how you feasibly could fulfil those commitments. As examples, let me throw some of the problems and conclusions I tried to balance out this year:

 

  • Problem 1 : The London Underground on crutches is not a place that’s fast or sympathetic; how can I get to classes?
  • Solution 1:  Spend money on Uber’s between classes. It will cost a load, but I’ll still make me more net profit than sitting at home

 

  • Problem 2: I don’t want my crutches to land on someones fingers in down dog or groin in savasana; does my insurance cover that?
  • Solution 2: Be open with studios. If I demonstrate my verbal instruction skills, I can persuade studios to let me teach from the luxury of a chair. Its worth a go at least!

 

  • Problem 3: I cant fly to Sweden and teach a  handstand workshop to 100+ people at Yogagames Stockholm can I?
  • Solution 3: Sure I can. Nothing wrong with my hands and I can suck up my pride and ask my mates Marc Hatvani and Celest Pereira to in for support. First to get a Dr’s note, so I can get on the plane, but don't tell them the plan.

 

  • Problem 4: If i don't do strong asana or exercise am I going to put on weight and loose all of my ‘party-trick poses’? 
  • Solution 4: Probably. You can get over that

 

  • Problem 5: The circumstances during and following on from the bereavement, alongside everything else, are requiring lots of time and emotional energy.  
  • Solution 5: See a counsellor, talk it out, have some coffees, eat good food, sleep when you can and accept its going to be a hard slog for a little while. When there an opportunity to do something worlds away from the stresses, even a game of bowling on 1 leg, then grab it.

We’ve got the the stage where you've coped well and your mitigations have helped avoid escalation of drama!  Now time to look forward and work out how you can begin to rebuild and thrive. Before you time travel to the future, look back on the lessons you can take. My ego has certainly taken a useful beating; falling over on wet pavements and crawling around naked in a public shower with a condom around your cast will do that.  My ability to teach for 2 hours sitting down on a spinning stool has done wonders for my verbal skills. I’ve learnt to appreciate that life is ephemeral and anything can be lost in an unexpected moment, so I will savour every second of the life I have and use all the opportunities and gifts available to me. 

So its now time to seize that future and come back to your A game;  which might be a little different to your A game a year ago, but hey-ho, thats life! For me, taking hold of my future mainly involves pistol squats as I strengthen my foot, with the aim of making it so tight, that it doesn't matter that my lisfranc ligament has gone!

the waves will keep throwing you up and down, but eventually you’ll learn to surf ...... or at least paddle

 Good luck with your journey back up to the mountain top. You’ll travel though a valley again. Maybe it will appear from the mist and take you be surprise or maybe you see it from miles away. Either way, that next valley wont seem so deep and the trek out will be less arduous. The waves will keep throwing you up and down, but eventually you’ll be able to surf……. or at least paddle.

Photo Alessandro Sigismondi

Photo Alessandro Sigismondi


 

If you want to hear me talk more about this topic, I’m doing so online at the Yoga Career Summit. If anything evers get too much, give the Samaritains a call on 116 123 (UK) or 1 (800) 273-TALK (USA).

Thanks to the studios and events that gave me the chance to continue teaching, the friend and family that were there and thank you to my teachers Jason Crandell & Michael Stone, for the tools they've give me.

Poses to Unlock the Office Hunch

It been said that ‘sitting’ is the modern-day smoking. We spend our days crouched over our desks, phones, newspapers, G&Ts and even our bikes. Logic would dictate that if we spend a huge amount of time in a particular shape, it's probably going to affect our posture, and maybe give us a few aches and pains along the way. It’s time to mobilise the spine, open the chest, and strengthen the back. Here are my top tips to combat that office hunch...
 
You can do these stretches at home, or even at work (if it won't result in an awkward meeting with management), to help combat your desk-bound daily life.

Open Your Chest

Find a wall and place your hand about 20cm above shoulder height with your fingertips pointing back. Start to turn your chest away from your hand to create opening, especially across the pec minor, and savour for a glorious 20 seconds. For even more joy, bend the knees, or take the opening to new parts of the chest by trying a few different arm angles.

chest opening adam husler

Strengthen Your Back

Weakness in you mid and upper back means your shoulders will tend to slouch forward. You might not enjoy this (!), but bend your legs, take your pecs to your knees then straighten and lift your arms higher than the ears, palms facing in - hold it! Remember the feeling of the muscles engaging when you next sit tall. For an extra challenge, get on to tip toes too.

adam husler back strength

Shoulder Opening

Take one hand over your head and behind you to the spine and the other down past your waist and behind – try to clasp your hands at your back. If they don't meet, hold your top or a strap. Gradually bring your elbows toward the centre line without your back bending, or moving your chin down! Hold for 30 seconds, in any seated position – this is great after a good arm session in the gym too!

adam husler shoulder opener

Spinal Twist

Give yourself some space and stand with your legs wide, so your palms can just about touch the floor when you fold forwards. Try to keep your spine parallel to the edge of your mat as you twist through the spine and raise one arm to the sky, turning chest and arm congruently. Making sure you keep each side of the neck long,  turn you gaze towards your top hand, ensuring you can see it with your bottom eye. 
 

adam husler twist

Reclined Chest Opening

Now for a more enjoyable one. Place something firm but comfortable, like a yoga block or firm pillow between you shoulder blades. Turn you palms up, let your legs release, allow your chest to open and your torso to relax –  call it ‘opening your heart to the universe’ if that’s your thing! For something more subtle, use a rolled up 'cigarette shape' blanket, down the whole spine.

adam husler relax

 

 

YOGA MEDICINE FOR YOUR MARATHON

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Running minds and running feet, whether on the run mentally or physically, yoga can have a positive effect cope with the pace. With the London Marathon fast approaching, what better time to use yoga deal with the mental struggles and the physical aches of running a marathon!

Here, I break down some of the most important stretches to do pre and post run. Who am I to make these suggestions? I was once a long distance runner, and in  fact  once ran 4 marathons and one ultramarathon in 28 days: the below helped me survive!

Pre race 

(take as long in each as you need to wake up)

1. Downward Dog Freestyle -  pedal out your legs and freestyle some movement here, to wake up your legs, spine and upper body.  To engage the whole back of your legs, angle that sacrum up to sky.

2. Crescent lunge - like caffeine for your nervous system, open up the hip flexors, energise the back leg and begin to lengthen the whole spine. 

3.Wide leg adductor opening - push the inside of that bent leg away from you to wake up the area where you’re probably the tightest

Post race  

1. Cow-Face - you don’t need to be these deep; as long as you feel it in outer leg/hip muscles of the top leg, its working. Pull you chest forward and down…not jut down.

2. Cow- face twist - as above but add a twist to make it a little more juicy. Start off with just taking the palms together and the elbow to the knee.

3. Pigeon - To you best to keep the hips square then stay upright for more of a challenge or make restorative by taking your torso down. You hips will thank you tomorrow. 

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4. Forward fold - treat this as a lengthener for the whole back of your body from Achilles tendon to the back of the skull: it's not about head butting your knee.

When you sink and spend your time in all of these post race postures, make the most of it. Take some time to calm your heart rate and try to slow down that internal narrative that has been so wild for the last 24 hours. Begin to notice your breathe, without trying to control it. 

Observe the physical sensations associated with it; from the air flowing across your lips to the movement of your chest. Every time your mind wonders, bring it back to the breathe. 

….

Written by: Jonty Hikmet of Ohmme Clothing and Adam Husler

Adam is featured here wearing Ohmme's Vajra Vest and Dharma Pants