Yoga at the Wall Workshop

“I’m tired after working so hard today!”, I told one of my yoga teacher training colleagues.  We had just finished a five hour workshop.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting.  I thought yoga at the wall was going to be a gentle, restorative class,” she replied.

Working at the wall can be restorative but it’s also more than that.  The asanas can be linked into a flowing sequence that incorporates strength and balance.  The intensity can be dialed up or down, just like any other style of yoga.  You need to try Yoga at the Wall with Dianne to understand what I mean by that.  Her practice at the wall is a great way to build strength.

On Sunday at shala, Dianne brought in her teacher Nancy McCaochan for Yoga at the Wall.  Nancy’s ability to verbalize her thoughts and teachings was really a lovely thing to experience.  I appreciated how candid she was about her past and her perceived flaws.  It was so interesting to hear her stories about how she has grown with her yoga through the years.  She is a great example of someone who is trying to live her yoga.

Using the wall is a way of developing stability and alignment in a pose.  That same posture seems so different when there is a wall behind me.  In Tadasana with my back against the wall, I was more aware of how my Kidney Loop should be engaged so that my floating ribs are tucked back rather than sticking out.  Nancy cued us to take reclined double pigeon pose with one foot on the wall then be mindful of hips and sacrum remaining parallel to the floor.  Those were two “aha!” moments for me.

Using the wall is like having another limb.  Warrior poses take on a whole new feeling when I have my hind foot or heel braced against the baseboards of the wall.  Balancing in Tree pose is easier for me when I use the wall for leverage while standing on one leg.  My balance is challenged in Half Moon, when my raised foot is planted on the wall.  Or the wall can act like support in Half Moon when I place my back against it.  I feel like I’m flying!

Adapting poses to the wall is also another element of this practice.  For some people with physical limitations, doing Plank or Downward Facing Dog is easier when hands are planted on the wall.  The possibilities for adaption make yoga available even to those that thought they couldn’t.

So many good ideas.  I couldn’t begin to remember it all.  I’ll have to review her book, Yoga at the Wall, and digest all that information gradually.  Fun.  Fresh.  Logical.  Vinyasa.  Technical.  Supportive.  Challenging.  Gentle.  I’m going to be thinking about this weekend for a while yet.