Mark's Musings

These writings are informal reflections on practicing and teaching yoga. Click on any title to read the entire piece.

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Stretch Reflex & Playing the Edge

Some movements involving voluntary muscle contraction happen automatically as a reflexive response to intended movements or external stimulation. Here the body is acting before you can think about it. When a muscle contracts in response to stretching within the muscle, this is called a stretch reflex. With eccentric contraction—for example, the hamstrings while folding forward into Uttanasana—it is easy to generate a stretch reflex. In folding forward we ideally relax the hamstrings, allowing them to stretch more easily.

Doing Yoga

Most people are first drawn into the practice to reduce stress, develop flexibility, heal a physical or emotional injury, explore new social connections, or pursue physical fitness. But once in the practice, connecting body-breath-mind, something starts to happen. Students begin to experience a clearer self-awareness, a sense of being more fully alive; they feel better, more in balance, more conscious, clearer.

The Path of the Teacher

Teaching yoga is an extension of practicing yoga. Whether you are just stepping onto the teaching path or have spent many years there maturing into a mentor teacher, as you practice so you discover anew the essence of yoga as a tool for self-transformation. Like in the practice, in teaching there are unlimited opportunities for seeing more clearly, feeling more fully, and living more happily. Teaching is also an extension of your larger life, for how you live is expressed in your teaching. Com

Teaching Warrior Poses

Virabhadra—the fierce spiritual warrior. When Shiva’s consort Shakti was killed by the chief of the gods, Daksha, Shiva tore out his hair in grief and anger, creating the fierce warrior Virabhadra from his locks. With a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and fiery hair, Virabhadra wore a garland of skulls and carried many terrifying weapons. Bowing at Shiva’s feet and asking his will, Virabhadra was directed by Shiva to lead his army against Daksha to avenge Shakti’s death, which he did with immediate success.