Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kathy Cooper: Practice 1; OR Yoga-the good, the bad, and the 'it doesn't resonate'

This month at my yoga studio, Kathy Cooper is teaching. I plan to blog about the five classes I'm signed up for with her throughout the 'Kathy Cooper Experience'. Tuesdays I practice twice, once at our school's yoga club (new teacher every week) and again at the studio. Yoga club is a unique yoga experience, as we have a smattering of teachers picked and handed down quarter to quarter. This week we had what I must say was flat-out BAD yoga. How do you know bad yoga? When the teacher unrolls their mat and forgets to teach to the students completely. This 'teacher' proceeded to 'teach' a (potentially harmful in my opinion) series of asana that she did not describe 'what part goes where', give them the correct names, and barely gave breath cues. The worst part perhaps was when from revolved extended side angle we were instructed to 'now exhale and fall into my favorite pose and try not to pull your hamstrings'. That was the only instruction...and the pose after I turned to look at her was Hanumanasana completely folded forward! This was bad yoga, in my opinion. After class, she was proud to announce that she had no teacher training...and it showed. Yoga club does offered a varied experience, but not all of it is bad yoga. For example, one teacher came, who clearly understood the point, but was very nontraditional, mixing many calisthenics with asana, but matched it all with breath and was able to teach a lot of philosophy. I like my yoga with a heavy dose of tradition, so he didn't resonate...but he had some good yoga going. GOOD YOGA happened much later in the day at the sweet Mysore studio. This was my first practice with Kathy Cooper. As soon as I entered the studio it was heavy with breath. There was no need for the heater tonight because the place was warm with prana flowing everywhere. A great way to start practice is to arrive to a packed energetic studio. I received two adjustments from Kathy that were super informative. Like Jill Manning, she knows each asana like it were her dearest, oldest friend. Both adjustments came with pointers and small movement that opened up things in a big way. The first in downward dog amped up the energy, the second in Marichyasana C gave me so much more room for breath. As I was preparing to leave she came over to say good-bye and there was something so Manorma-like about the way she interacts with you...and if you know Manorma, maybe you know that feeling that I can't describe in any other way. Good yoga, that resonates with you leaves you feeling light and springy...and makes the world a more beautiful place. I hope that motivates everyone to find the good yoga that works for them no matter what it is and run with it.

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