Saturday, April 10, 2010


It’s Kino Weekend! It started last night with chanting and a demonstration (which I couldn’t attend because I was working at the soup kitchen) and continued with Mysore-style practice this morning (which I had to opt out of because I teach on Saturday mornings). But I did make it to the afternoon strength workshop.

I took copious notes during the workshop and I’ve transcribed these, trying to flesh them out with details and some context. I didn’t make any videos or take photographs during this first workshop.

From the opening remarks:

-Strength comes from Shraddha (Sanskrit for faith). Strength is a decision of the mind.
-The hips contain our centre of gravity so when we shift them radically in space, our balance is destablized and that’s where much of the fear comes from.
-You whole body is a network. There is a synergistic effect; the whole body *must* participate

Setting up the structure - building a strong plank

Come into Table Pose (on your hands and knees):

1) Wrists aligned under shoulders, wide fingers ‘clawing’ the floor (rooting down particularly through the mound of the index finger)
2) Creases of the elbows are angled at 45 degrees forward
3) Gaze is at the floor, chin moves away from the chest
4) Broaden the collarbones, pull the shoulders back (the shoulderblades move down the back)
5) Inhale, as you exhale pull the sternum up into the space between the shoulderblades
6) Inhale, as you exhale, pull the lower ribs down and together to close off that space (action of the serratus anterior muscles)
7) Engage Uddiyana Bandha
7) Tuck the tailbone. From this action, step the legs back one at a time to a plank position (you’ll feel a sense of lift through the length of the body)

(From here, we worked with partners. Once the ‘structure’ was set, we leaned onto our partner’s upper back (near the shoulderblades) to test the stability, both in Table Pose and Plank).

‘Up’ happens! (Jump back/through)

The first step is to build a foundation, a structure. Then you can move forward into that foundation and ‘up’ happens!

This is your mantra when moving your pelvis in space: I SEND MY PELVIS FORWARD (she repeated this again and again, and applied it to *everything*, even in some movement where it seemed counterintuitive).

The key to these exercises is taking it very slowly and ‘walking’ the feet in tiny tippy-toe baby-steps instead of actually jumping (even if you already can). The goal is to maintain the ‘structure’ created in Table Pose (above) and initiate movements of the pelvis from this base of strength.

1) Set up the structure (Table to Plank, as above)
2) Walk the feet forward, moving the pelvis forward until the feet bump up to the arms/hands
3) Wiggle the feet through (I found this was the most difficult part!)
4) LIFT, extend the legs forward
5) Lower down with control

1) From Dandasana, bring the hands about one hand-length forward of the hips
2) Shift the weight forward and lift up. Send the pelvis forward, as in, sending the pelvis back and then UP in a circle (as if you would lift into a handstand)
3) Wiggle the feet back through the arms
4) Lift just one foot up (the other can remain on the floor), then bend the arms (as in Chaturanga)
5) Step the feet back one at a time, then straighten the arms

Jumping from Bakasana into Chaturanga: Same principles apply: I SEND MY PELVIS FORWARD. The pelvis moves up and forward (as if to lift into a handstand) but then shoot the feet back.

Sirsasana (Headstand): It was interesting to see Kino’s ‘mantra’ applied there. When I do the pose, I really do ‘send my pelvis forward’. This allows me to shift my centre of gravity towards the floor in front me and my legs float up smoothly. I apply the same technique to coming down. When I teach it, I encourage my students to work with gravity by moving the pelvis forward to offer a counter-weight to the legs, allowing the legs to lift (I guess my mantra is: “Gravity is your friend’. How Newtonian of me!).

Handstand: Same principle as headstand (but it’s SO much harder - at least for me!). Kino explained that it doesn’t matter if you can’t lift up into a handstand right away. Even if you ‘send the pelvis forward’ and keep hovering on your tippy-toes, you’re building the strength that will allow you to eventually lift up. Kino told us that this is what she did this for 5 years before she she was able to lift.

She’s not a fan of using a wall for handstands (or any balances) because the body begins to negotiate balance based on the wall and you can become dependent on it. (I can vouch for this from my experience with headstand). Instead, work in the middle of the room most of the time and perhaps try the support of the wall once a week.


ArkieYogini said...

Awesome notes! It's encouraging to hear that it took Kino 5 years before she could lift up into handstand. She makes it look so effortless. Maybe there's hope for me one day. :)

Kaivalya said...

If there's one thing that Kino emphasized over and over again it's this: There is no 'Pixie Dust', no shortcuts. Time and practice are what it takes to build strength.

susananda said...

OMG, the blogosphere is gripped with Kino fever, and Kevin and I haven't even got to Thailand yet! :)) I'm going to blog there every day!

Great post! (and thanks for yours too Arkie, I haven't watched the videos yet, probably afraid of getting myself over-excited, lol)

LadyRayCello said...

nice!! I so agree about the wall thing.
I went to YJ conference this weekend and took with David Swenson & Richard Freeman! soooooo fun. I would love to take a Kino workshop. :) thanks for the notes!!!

Arturo said...

hi Kai
STPF, good advice. thanks for the notes.

daydreamingmel said...

You took such better notes than I did when I saw Kino last month, thank you soooo much! Am going to read this all at my leisure but loving it so far, thank you Kai :)
p.s. yes thanks too Arkie, need to watch your videos when I'm not reading at work! Loving all the Kino love!

Flo said...

Reminds me of her workshop in Chicago. Such GREAT notes you took and they are truly in her words. Pelvis is her mantra for everything. Oh yes and "up happens" or "Up is a by-product"
So wonderful!

Kaivalya said...

Oh, I'm envious! I actually went to university in the same town as Freeman's Shala and never once did yoga there. Such a waste of a university education, in hindsight! ;-)

I'm a consummate note-taker in workshops. I try not to let my note taking detract from experiencing the workshop, but I really do benefit from the notes afterward. I wouldn't remember much if I didn't have my jots to jog my memory!

Yeah, she goes on and on about the pelvis. Every time she said "I send my pelvis forward" I imagined giving my sacrum a bit of a nudge and whispering "Off you go", like a mother urging her shy child to enter the schoolyard. :-D

Flo said...

LOL!!!! Kai I loved your interpretation of "send my pelvis forward" I will internally giggle tomorrow when I work on that! lol

Danielle said...

She was in SF this past weekend and I went for one day - led Primary and afternoon session on Inversions where she basically covered the same topics as you outlined here. Silly me completely forgot to bring a notebook to take notes, so thank you for publishing this post! I read your other recap of her led Primary and totally agree that her counts are insanely long. I made it through, breath by breath, but I have never been as happy or relieved to arrive at Savasana as I was last Saturday :)