Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yoga Show, Day 3

Today was the last day of the show. I almost didn't go. Outside, the wind was howling (winter doesn't want to let go in Canada - it feels like February). I wondered if I really wanted to ride my bike all the way to the convention centre when I had a good book to read at home. Curiosity won out. I wanted to know if Pilates Guy would be camped out for a third day - he was. I'm glad I showed up. It was a good day.

If yesterday's theme was 'How Not to Teach', today's was 'How to Teach Like a Rockstar'.

The presentation on anatomy totally blew me away. If you're a teacher or a senior practitioner, chances are you've heard of Ray Long's yoga anatomy books. But seeing him in person was mindblowing. The books literally came to life. Right there on the screen sat Mr. Skeleton with his various layers of muscle cheerfully exposed. Mr. Skeleton flexes his rhomboids and voila! His shoulder blades move together! You could observe the movement of the ribcage as Mr. Skeleton took a deep inhalation. What does Mr. Skeleton use his seratus anterior for? Well, let's find out! The audience was rapt.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I went up to ask the guy at the computer which software they used to create this miracle. He said it was standard 3D software that they had jazzed up. My geeky-yoga side was all aflutter.

Natasha Rizopolous was once on the cover of Yoga Journal (and I recall she looked pretty good; she's a gorgeous woman). That magazine cover was the extent of my knowledge of her. Well, she walked up on that stage and *completely* blew me away. She's an incredibly gifted teacher and her teaching style really speaks to me (probably because it's so similar to my own, except better. Much better). The clarity and specificity of her instruction was absolutely stunning. Her approach to various familiar-to-me postures was unique and well-grounded in anatomy and body mechanics. She had an eagle eye on the large group she was teaching. She walked around and gave subtle, but effective adjustments. I walked away from that session with pages of notes.

Many presenters sprinted away after their sessions, but Natasha stuck around afterward to answer specific questions one-on-one. I had a heart-to-heart with her regarding some of the challenges I'm facing as a teacher. Her advice was clear and on-the-money. If I could, I would sign up for her teacher training immediately (it's on my life-list). I'll definitely be on the look-out for any of her workshops I can attend.

Doug Swenson (brother of David Swenson and author of several books, including 'Power Yoga for Dummies') was one of the 'big names' at the conference. As his session grew closer, all the hard-core Astangis started streaming in. ;-) Doug led us through a few sun salutations, then we all sat down for the grand finale: The Yoga Demonstration. You can see these things in books or on a DVD, but there's something very jaw-dropping about seeing an advanced Astanga practitioner in person, doing his thing a few feet away from you. I don't go to a shala, so I don't often have the opportunity to see an advanced practitioner. It was stunning and inspiring!

There were some cancellations in the afternoon, so another session of Journey Dance was slotted in. That's how I ended my day. I enjoyed this hour-long version of Journey Dance just as much as the full two-hour session. I bought Toni Bergin's Journey Dance CD, though I know that it will be a different experience doing it at home. Dancing in a huge group has energetic power. It was actually an interesting experience doing Journey Dance in a public space. Even though I knew people were watching me, I still felt free and uninhibited. This is the power of the group.

My overall impression of the Yoga Show was very positive. I definitely think it's worth the $15 entrance fee to see and experience the instruction of so many advanced practitioners. I would definitely do this again. In fact, having had a chance to look at the pricing structure for the conference workshops, I think I would sign up as early as possible to get into a few key workshops with people I respect (like Natasha Rizopolous or Mark Darby) and then spend the rest of my time at the show, interacting with vendors and catching sessions at the Yoga Garden.

Here's a rundown of my sessions today:
Ray Long - Anatomy
Nathasha Rizopolous - Home Yoga Practice
Jennifer Weinert - Purna Yoga
David Newman - Kirtan
Doug Swenson - Astanga Yoga Demonstration
Toni Bergins - Journey Dance

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