A yoga workshop is like the express train to advancing your practice. Or you could say it’s like an AP course in high school, but MUCH more fun in my opinion. You may be asking yourself what is a workshop? So let’s start there. People that teach yoga are passionate about teaching but also learning. Yogis are always learning! They learn from their teachers, from their students, and simply through living life of course. When a yoga teacher feels they have studied a principle and learned a lesson that they choose to share, they will put together a class that is 90 minutes to two hours and structured around a theme. This is a workshop. The length of time is in order to breakdown the teaching, work on fundamentals, and of course have some fun. I personally have not taken a lot of workshops but I can say for sure everyone that I have taken has been memorable, well crafted, and allowed me to bring teachings from the workshop to my practice.
Going to a yoga class is not the same as attending a workshop. Getting to the studio and on to your mat as part of your weekly routine or stopping in to your favorite studio once in a while for a nice stretch is all perfect. This is what I’d call a practice; showing up, taking time to move your body, clear your mind, maybe work on a goal or a challenge pose. These are all aspects of our individual evolution. This is your practice.
When you take a workshop it is a little different from daily practice because the teacher has gathered all of their knowledge and crafted a special teaching that targets one or two principals. This is what I LOVE about a workshop! It is a lense with a direct line to what someone has studied and poured their heart into. See in a regular class you are typically getting 60 to 75 minutes of asana that are nicely planned to warm the body, move into shapes that stretch and make space in the body, then restore. So there is a nice fluid arch of movement. A workshop differs in that it’s designed to break movements down thoughtfully in order to learn the fundamentals that the teacher is offering. Then magically somewhere down the road in your practice you will find your body remembers those teachings and starts to integrate them into your practice.
The other wonderful aspect of a workshop is that you don’t really know what you are going to get. I mean let me be fair here, you can read the description that are very thoughtfully crafted in order to give the student attending an idea of what to expect. You can also further research the teacher to learn about their background and their specialties. I am not really that kind of person though. I like to read the description, ask around if anyone knows the teacher, and then if I get general good feed back I just go for it. I find it’s really more exciting that way. There are few surprises left in life, so when you open your mind to the possibility of learning and trust in what they have to offer it is just awesome!!!
Now there are real factors that prevent many of us from taking a workshop. Number one reason may be that they can be pricey and they are a bigger time commitment. I am not sure I have any great wisdom on these factors other than they are a reality. So it just takes a little planning, you can save a little each week from your paycheck and carve out some time. Personally I feel they worth it and for me have always been quite inspiring. This is exactly what I did this weekend and I am so happy I did. It’s one of those saying yes to life moments. The talented Matt Giordano was in town teaching a weekend full of workshops and I attended one called “Therapeutically Advancing Your Practice”. There were too many teachings in this two hour offering to go into all of them, plus I don’t think I could do it justice. Matt is an experienced practitioner and an excellent teacher. The one principle I’d like to share in this post is about how we worked the anterior tilt of the pelvis.
The spine has a natural curve so we worked on exaggerating the anterior tilt so that we can use it correctly to make space in the spine. Many of us suffer from disc compression in the low back and with the correct practice of making space in that area your yoga practice can be the therapy needed to naturally to cure these issues. (or at least lessen this pain) Matt’s lesson and what he has to offer in this workshop, a stable pelvis brings mobility in the spine, is just one way yoga can be used as therapy to cure your body's ailments.
Pictured at the top of the page you will see the pelvic tilt in cow pose, really curving the low back then lifting the tail. Then the teaching was to maintain that tilt while pressing into the hands and feet up in to down dog. (I think I got it...but now as you can see from my photo next I need to drop my head in order to really lengthen and take the correct shape of the cervical spine, that will be my work next.) See everything is in progress.
“Stability in the pelvis brings mobility in the spine” Matt Giordano.
As I mentioned this was just one principle we worked on, I would highly recommend you check him out. He travels a bunch so you can check out his website here maybe he’ll be in your neighborhood. Or maybe there is a workshop at your local studio your not sure about, I say go for it. Say YES to life. Oh also he is on instagram so if you aren’t already, you can follow him here.
Thank you Matt for a wonderful teaching. I’m off to class, can’t wait to integrate your teachings to my daily practice!
Matt Giordano and Myself