Not everyone can do all yoga poses, but everyone can do all yoga actions.
As you will notice in this book, the journey toward wholeness and completeness is laid out in beginner, intermediate and integration yoga actions and sequences. Yoga Actions for Torso & Spine is the fourth in a five-volume series of print and e-books emphasizing actions in focused areas of our bodies – Feet & Ankles, Legs & Knees, Pelvis & Psoas, Shoulders & Arms. Within every volume, each action is displayed in a six-page layout with the first page describing the action and visually demonstrating the experience through a Pre Pose and a five-pose Peak sequence to further expand your experience. Finally, we follow each sequence with Plus Poses to further develop the action and Post Poses to fully relax the body and integrate the asana experience.
We encourage you to read the action on the first page and then apply it with the Pre Pose. If you do not immediately feel the action in your body, continue using it for the sequence (Peak Poses) on the facing page as well as the Plus Poses. It may take two or three poses or a full practice sequence before you awaken the area of emphasis. Additionally, you may wish to include poses that you know create greater opening for your own body. Gaining awareness and accepting what is true for you are two rewards emerging from the many wonders of a yoga practice. Yoga emphasizes whole-being wellness so continue to incorporate the actions from our previous books that most suit your current needs.
Intimacy Imagination IntegrityREAD MORE
As we apply the finishing touches to this book, we are grateful for the deeper sense of intimacy brought to us from such a powerful learning experience. When we consider what intimacy implies, our best definition is two-fold: 1) in-to-me-see, and 2) to know and to be known. Our individual yoga practices and our collaborative writing of the Yoga Actions book series provide us with both experiences. If you have utilized our previous books, you know that each yoga action learned and practised takes us deeper into an intimate relationship with ourselves. We come to know personal sensations, emotions and thoughts at a depth unlikely with another person. As these personally intimate discoveries continue, a larger realization looms before us—we fall in love with who we are. It is our ability for self-love that leads us to be known and loved by others. We would go so far as to say that self-love attracts others to us. And, as our own yoga teacher asserts, it is through relationships with others that we transform ourselves. Thus, in-to-me-see not only grows us personally but also grows our spiritual community.
Over time and with regular practice, our increasing intimacy or self-awareness frees us from the crippling and distracting obstacles that impede our imagination and creativity. Yoga teaches that any or all of nine obstacles will confront us on our spiritual journey—illness, dullness, doubt, negligence, laziness, cravings, misperceptions, failure and instability. The consequences of these obstacles—mental and physical pain, sadness and frustration, unsteadiness in our body, and irregular breathing—occupy the space where our imagination would live and flourish. When our mind has fallen into the ditch of doubt and delusion, there is no space for imagination to surface our gifts and talents, nor are we confidently expressing our true nature. However, physics teaches that two things, including thoughts or feelings, cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Therefore, with our imagination, we can shift out of negative thinking or feeling into positive emotional expression and experience. In addition, the mental images we create through the use of yoga actions (i.e., visualizing the inner face of the spine) strengthen our concentration in preparation for meditation. Furthermore, taking our imagination, and thus our awareness, into areas where blockages exist allows us to begin the process of releasing buried trauma stored in our bodies. Finally, evidence holds that visualization techniques can be used to gain physical strength in cases of hypermobility and fibromyalgia (Hakim, Kear, & Grahame 2010). Our imagination is our most powerful change agent.
In-to-me-see enhances our capacity to imagine ourselves into healthy integrated states of being. Integrity is defined as 1) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and 2) the state of being whole and complete. In yoga, both definitions apply as we understand integrity to encompass the unification of mind, body and spirit; of both being and doing. The Law of Integrity emphasizes its direct relationship to workability (being) and value creation (doing). To paraphrase, as one’s integrity declines so does one’s ability to work well—mentally, physically and spiritually. As one’s workability declines so does one’s performance, which effectively reduces one’s ability to create and contribute.
Simply put, integrity … provides access to incredible increases in
performance … as well as the personal peace and self-confidence
that comes from being a well-integrated person. Michael Jensen
In essence, every yoga pose we practice has the intention of bringing us into Tadasana alignment, which maintains the natural curves of the spine and a balanced pelvis. This alignment contributes to the lightness and upward movement of the spine—the ability to stand tall. In Yoga Actions for Torso & Spine, you are building the spinal alignment, strength and flexibility necessary for standing tall. When the spine is unable to hold the torso upright, we overuse muscles and ligaments not intended for this purpose, which eventually leads to the many back-related issues prevalent today.
You may be familiar with the expression, “We are only as young as our spine.” Time and again, we witness this truth in mature practitioners who have the strength and confidence to bend over backwards or stand on their hands. By seeding your awareness with single-pointed concentration on each Torso & Spine yoga action, you will stand taller and experience the rebirth of the hero within you.
We gratefully welcome you into our journey and community.
Helen & CandaceCOLLAPSE
Anke Sinclair wrote:
This book is an excellent resource for students wishing to enrich their home practice and for teachers looking for inspirational lesson plans. Full of clearly explained and well-chosen yoga actions paired with sequences for all levels.
Helen and Candace's strong commitment to their yoga practice and the yoga path shine through in this enjoyable and well-rounded manual. The collection of step-by-step instructions in yoga actions and related asana sequences create a concise guide that is easy to understand and follow for beginning practitioners, yet deep enough to benefit advanced practitioners.