Yoga Progressions & Regressions

Yoga Is For Every Body

How to create All-Levels Yoga Classes that offer an inclusive practice environment, so that the beginner feels safe and the advanced student feels challenged… the secret is mastering Yoga Progressions & Regressions.

In my time as a yoga practitioner and teacher, one thing I’ve noticed is this… that no yoga class is attended by an exclusive type of “Yogi”. There is no such thing as One Practice Fits All, or one body type that comes to practice. Physical ability, knowledge of the practice, and style of training differ person to person– and it’s likely that if you’re teaching today, you’re getting students of all different levels attending your classes.

So, as yoga teachers, how can we make ourselves available to each student that joins us?

In my experience, it’s been learning how to master the progressions and regressions of each pose. In doing so, I’ve been able to meet the needs of “all-level” Vinyasa classes, while maintaining the pace and rhythm of the class-flow.

Everyone gets what they need, and the room becomes an inclusive place for practice.

Seems easy enough… but how do we teach progressions and regressions throughout class, without “disrupting the flow” of practice?

Here are a few key notes that have helped me to do just this:

  • In class, I always demonstrate two to three variations of a posture. It is an effective way to meet the needs of all levels in attendance- beginning students will usually stick with the more simple variation, while advanced students will be instructed to enter more complex poses safely, from the foundation.
  • During pre-class announcements, communicate that because there are various levels in the class, each student should be mindful of one’s own body and to choose a level that fits one’s current physical ability. There is no “right” or “wrong” expression of the pose- only “safe” or “unsafe” for each body. Encourage students to make use of props to support their practice (blocks to provide greater stability in balance poses, straps to extend the reach of arms in forward folds, etc.).
  • Encourage students to find & apply for themselves Sthira Sukham Asanam (Sutra 2:46), or a balance steadiness and comfort in each pose. Pushing past edges is imperative to growth, but we don’t want to do so in a way that damages the body or mind. Move in a way that promotes staying clear, conscious and compassionate about what is happening physically- and on every level of your being.

The following is an example of a safe and effective way to teach the progression of a posture:

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Notice that the posture moves from its most simple variation, to most complex. Even if the student chooses to take the most complex variation, have them move progressively through the steps, so that they better understand the basic mechanics and foundation of the pose.

Step One: Stand with feet crossed, side by side. The opposite arm of the “top leg” will cross underneath. If students have tight shoulders, and the forearm bind is not accessible, have them hold around the outer shoulders and draw the elbows away from the heart.

Step Two: Press into the feet firmly so the legs feel a gentle “squeezing” action, lift from the pelvic floor and lengthen the spine. Focus the Gaze toward the thumbs, as you spread across the collar bones and hug in the frontal rib cage.

Step Three: Should you choose to balance on one leg, come to a cross legged “sitting” position. First the foot can act as a kickstand on the opposite side. Perhaps the outer foot can make contact with the base leg’s outer calf. Be mindful of the base knee- it shouldn’t wobble to either side.

Step Four: If you’re able to balance here with ease, and your mobility allows, try the full bind of the foot behind the calf of the base leg. The same actions as in Step Two should still apply!

If anywhere along the line of progression you feel any pain, severe discomfort in body, challenge maintaining breath or balance, simply regress back to a more foundational variation of the pose… and as always, remember to breathe. 

And Remember! Progressions in practice don’t necessarily have to do with how deep you can get into a posture, or whether or not you can stick a handstand, or sit in padmasana (lotus pose). The physical practice of yoga is about challenging our minds and thoughts, so that we may better understand what is going on mentally and spiritually. The body is doorway to our deeper selves, and when we learn to listen to the body, we will make progress naturally. 

With Love,

Stacy McCarthy

@YogaNamaStacy

 

“The Payoff of Discipline in your Yoga Practice”

August tends to be the month when I see a drop in the number of students attending classes & slacking off on the discipline that it takes to get the desired results they want.
You may have notice how quickly the body becomes stiff or weak from a lack of balanced movement that you benefit from in your yoga practie. When you become stiff or weak from a lack of balanced movement the long term result can be a body that starts to store fear & no longer moves freely & without pain.  An unbalanced body can create a cascade of problems from weight gain to no longer having the confidence to do the things you once did.
Read more

Yoga Subs

I love to share success stories about the students who mentor with me &  go on to create thriving, sustainable yoga careers. This is about Tammy Moretti. Tammy graduated from Yogaworks 200 hour Teacher Training & then signed up for the Yoga School of Business Coaching Program with me. She is launching Yogasubs.com a business resource for teachers to sub classes & studio owners to find qualified yoga teachers in San Diego.  She’ll be hosting the  first gathering of Yoga Subs,  Sunday May 2nd, 2010 at HAUTE YOGA.
She will be featuring some local San Diego studios and will have information regarding their  subbing policies and procedures. Below is a partial list of some of the participating studios. Read more

Serenity at the Sea Yoga Class & Beach Clean Up

 

Serenity by the Sea
Sunday March 14th 4-5:15pm

Come join world renowned yoga teachers Tim Miller and Stacy McCarthy this coming Sunday for a free yoga class on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas!!
This class was put together by the staff at Lululemon in Carlsbad as a sincere gesture to unite all the many communities of yoga in the local San Diego area!! This class is donation based and all donations will be given to the Surfrider Foundation! After class there will be an optional beach cleanup with Surfrider providing all the materials, bags, gloves, etc to do so.

So bring your yoga mat, some warm clothes, and an open heart to attend what will hopefully be the largest yoga class ever recorded in San Diego history!! Imagine a huge crowd of people breathing peace together!! We might help shift the earth a bit!!

Yogi Training

Yogi Training

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZGFxhU4NRs]

20 Hours of Comprehensive Yoga Instruction in a small personalized setting taught by Stacy McCarthy & Dennis Dean
Each day includes:
* Daily Asana Practice
* Daily Chanting Practice
* Daily Pranayama Practice
* Daily Meditation Practice
* Yoga Philosophy- 8 Limbs of Yoga
* 3 Techniques of the Krishnamacharya Lineage
* Principles of Sequencing
* Introduction to the Rope Wall
Please contact me with any questions. Click here to register

Cost: $599 for the full week of personalized attention to take your practice to the next level.

Save $100 off your registration if paid in full by Saturday, June 12th.

Mail check to Stacy McCarthy, PO Box 132, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Upcoming Teacher Trainings

Yoga Works Teacher Training 200 & 500 hour Certifications
I am excited to announce what will be the most detailed and comprehensive yoga teacher training program ever to have been offered in San Diego County. I have aligned with Yogaworks, the best of the best when it comes to Yoga Teacher Training, and I’m very proud to be a part of what will be a program with unparalleled guest teacher trainers, lecturers, top- quality materials and ultimate certification which is recognized internationally as being one of, if not the best available. Plus, this certification will be registered with the Yoga Alliance the #1 yoga certification registrars in the world. Along with some of the top Teachers, I will be lending my expertise and experience to these programs for additional depth and local tutorage. Yogaworks is the world’s leading teaching training facilitator. We will be offering not only the 200 hour certification, but for the first time ever in San Diego the more advanced 500 hour professional certification. Teachers must have their 200 hour certification from any recognized Yoga Alliance School to apply for the additional 300 hour advanced certification. For those of you who already have your 200 hr certification and are considering doing a 300 hr program to get your 500 hour certification, I am mentoring for the Yoga Works Professional Program starting this spring. If you are interested in “apprenticing” with me, let me know. For more detailed information regarding pricing and schedule or if you’d like to speak to me about what program will benefit your needs most contact me at stacy@yoganamastacy.com

Core Essentials in Yoga & Life

Feel like you need a breakthrough in moving your yoga practice or life to the next level?
Awakening your core is the key to untapped strength, unlocking your hips & inversions.
We can so easily be knocked off balance by reaching outside ourselves to fulfill the needs of others. In our yoga practice, strengthening our core connects us with balance, stamina, strength, energy & power within – yet we get off our mat and begin grasping for balance by managing our time or juggling priorities. Reconnect with your core & flourish in your yoga practice & in life.
The Core Essentials Workshop is designed to:
* Ignite the Power in Your Core
* Move Beyond Limitations
* Find True Balance from within
* Align with what works for you
* Command Your Energy & presence
* Cultivate the benefits of Yoga with Core Life Practices
This workshop is lead by myself & Cindy Silbert, Author & Transformational Guide.
Date: Saturday, November 21st
Time: 2:30 -4:30pm
Cost: $39 Sign up before November 16th
$49 After November 16th
Email us at Stacy@yoganamastacy.com or Cindy@BringUtoLife.com for more information.