Month: November 2012

Kate Ellis Yoga Works!

52-year-old Eric is an ideal candidate for me to test the Kate Ellis Yoga teaching skills.

He still nurses an old injury in his left kneecap.

His left knee appears slightly varus and higher than the right, and the left quadriceps above the knee appears larger.

I offered Thai Massage Therapy, which led on to teaching the Warrior I that is particular to the Kate Ellis method.

My thoughts are that the intended concentration on the alignment of hip and knee joints and activation of muscles using the method will help train the weakened muscles due to previous injury.


Day 6 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

The last day of training with Kate Ellis began with a personal choice of meditation/pranayama/contemplation. So I practiced plavini pranayama.

Kate introduced her study in Embodied-Relational Therapy, which involves the study of  the “relational field” (the field of karma that surrounds ātma, and characterizes the socio-dynamic way in which ātma responds against the friction of otherness).

Last day for review and Q&A.

I feel that this course enriched my knowledge of physiology and anatomy. The skills learned in the course are invaluable in any Yoga teacher’s repertoire.

Day 5 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

Head Massage

Engage the parasympathetic nervous system

Lift and cup head in hands, keeping head neutral

Turn head on one side and work pressure down on trigger points. Work around the occiput. Hold down pressure with thumb while slowly turning head.

Craniosacral therapy: Allow the head to rest and tune in to the sensation and flow of the inner rhythm of the movement of cerebral spinal fluid.

Stroke brow from centre out towards the temple, three lines upwards

Form mudra over head by placing thumb on ajna point and a finger tip on a trigger point slightly below the chin bone.

The Profession of the One on One Yoga Therapy Discussion

  • Contract to assign boundaries in the client relationship and changing to meet/address the client
  • Relational field: Check in on the energy level of the person as well as yours
  • Unravel clues about the person by observing tendencies and having a natural curiosity about the person, and be prepared to refer the client to others if the client requests something that is outside of your training or comfort zone, or it becomes difficult to maintain boundaries with the client.

Day 4 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

Thai Massage Practical



Hip Adductor




Rotator Cuff

Trapezius and Levator Scapula




Close all massages with dissipation technique

By commemorating Christmas, you worship a pagan deity called Mithras

All beliefs seemingly arise from an ancient Vedic (Sanskrit) source, and none more so than the tradition of Christmas.

The day of celebration of the Messiah of the New Testament is the very clue that reveals its ancient Vedic origin – a prominent deity of the Rigveda, called Mitra of the Adityas, a group of solar deities.

It is curious to learn that Mark Whitwell’s practice is called The Promise, because mitra literally means “covenant”, “agreement”, or “promise”.

The Avestan deity in Zoroastrianism is called Mithra, whereas the new Persian equivalent is called Mehr.

The Greeks and Romans borrowed the name as Mithras, melded with the solar deity Helios to form a syncretic deity.

In the cult of Mithras, the festival of natalis invicti falls on December 25. Christmas is simply a modern derivative of this pagan celebration of the solar deity on the date of the Roman winter solstice in the Julian calendar.

Since Christmas is around the corner, I am going to acknowledge the ancient Indo-Aryan ancestral origin of the pagan Sun God Christmas festival. Following the event I shall investigate the mysterious Indo-Aryan connection between the hare, the moon and the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah Osiris.


It irks me that the current usage in the Yoga community of the sanskrit term “Haṭha Yoga” (हठयोग) is taken to mean a gentle (sometimes restorative) style of Yoga.

Haṭha means persistence or force. In Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, the author sage Svātmārāma ascribes the traditional methods of persistence or force to the austerities (or self-torture) performed on the physical body in preparation for Yoga.

In Siddhasiddhant Paddhati, Gorakshanath relates the word to the spiritual union of Shakti with Shiv (God Principle), where ha (ह) refers to Shivabija (breathing through the right channel), and ha (ठ) refers to Vahnibija (breathing through the left channel)Haṭha definitely does not mean sun-moon in sanskrit, despite what every Yoga teacher thinks or says!

In modern times, Haṭha Yoga, the post-modern revival of a diasporic culture, popularized by the celebrity appeal of the imagery of body beautiful and of physical culture, presents itself as a lifestyle choice and recreational activity for those who can afford the luxury.

The diverse range of Yoga brands and styles are living testament to the exoteric modernity of the tools of Yoga, no longer provincial to the esoteric few. Without the base of ancient traditions and lineage to ground and direct, Haṭha Yoga educators can choose to separate what they want out of the practice (e.g. health aspect), omit what they do not want (e.g. religious aspect), and draw on inspiration to add new ideas (e.g. Hot Nude Yoga).

Is it any wonder that some people think that Haṭha Yoga is Evil dressed in lambskin?

What are your thoughts?

Thought of the Day

Forget what you know about meditation practices; much of mainstream preoccupation with what constitutes a “meditation” practice is largely based on male doctrine (or dharma) sometimes in the religious ideal for salvation.

Here is the Thought of the Day. I want you to bring an awareness of the trajectory of your own life as your meditation practice, because your life is inseparable from you.

Yoga meditation, like the days and rhythms in your life, takes on the form of mandala (or circles) based on numerology. Your body has the inherent intelligence to regulate hormones. It is a living, breathing miracle of pranayama and meditation in daily life.

Nevertheless, the human body can experience a hormonal deficit or imbalance in the system associated with, for example, menstrual cramps and menopause.

In the pancha mahabhuta model, we can relate these symptoms to a dominance of the aspect of tejas (fire), which describes the living and loving condition of the relationship between the human body and the external environment that supports the body. Furthermore, an ayurvedic therapist must not discount the state of the spousal relationship, which could affect the degree of spaciousness (ākāśa aspect) to help settle down tejas in the relationship.

Let your living meditation practice be your daily choices of what foods to prepare and eat. In terms of Yoga, food consumption is not dissimilar to breath consumption; both are considered pranayama, the hathayoga practice of consciously restricting the intake of acidity by the body. Ayurveda recommends consuming less rajasic foods, also known as acidic foods. Over-consumption of rajasic foods places more stress on the body to bring pH balance to the system, resulting in metabolic depletion and fatigue, associated with conditions such as acne and panic attacks. If you are irritable and not fun to get on with, please avoid coffee and smoking, since these bad habits surely bring more heat into your body. Moreover, do you know that ice cold frappes do not cool down your system, but instead, turns the heat up to regulate the internal body temperature?

The key to longevity, the basis of a regular pranayama practice, is regulating the pH balance in your body. Excess acidity provides an ideal environment for microbes and bacteria, as well as cell degeneration. By reducing the level of acidity in your body, you improve the delivery of oxygen to cells and, as a natural consequence, extends life.

Every one dies eventually, but how often do we make the conscious choice to restrict what we put into our bodies that will eventually kill us?

Thank you for reading my Thought of the Day.

Detailed list of acid/alkaline forming foods

Day 3 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

Further discussion on the biomechanics of the human body and on the blending of physical therapy with yogasana exercises in the nascent Yoga Therapy field, and on how to be free (mukta) from pain (dukkha).

Stretching the Obliques and Quadratus Lumborum: While lateral bending works the obliques, stretching the quadratus lumborum involves a slight twist in the lateral bend as you work to flex the contracted side.

Where the fascia (connective tissue) becomes thick and stuck (a.k.a. adhesion), the muscle becomes weak, and imprisoned in fascia. Injuries commonly occur due to stretching of stiff, immobilized muscles, which pull on ligaments.

Working the fascia bindings around the serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles: Benefits recovery from tight neck and shoulder muscles, locked in a shortened, weakened state by fascia bindings.

Continual, endless massage of those tight muscles and/or continual addiction to pain medications will not help align your body. Only regular, remedial practice based on physiotherapy principles will strengthen the weak, shortened muscles that contribute to the imbalances in the body, which produce pain from trapped and overworked muscle.

Note: Handstand is a good test for stable shoulders. Hand pressing exercises are good for building hand, wrist and forearm muscles for balancing in handstand.

Left or right dominance can lead to greater muscle development on one side of the body.

The body language will tell you when and where it needs something. The challenge is to be sensitive to the language of the body, and to provide what the body needs. In the Yoga tradition, this is not dissimilar to following the way of Sat Guru (True Teacher).

Forward bending over crossed legs

Adjustment/assisting technique: proprioceptive touch on the lumbar marma trigger point

Adjustment/assisting technique: Applying hand to the occiput to adjust cervical spine

Knee tracking exercises to correct varus and valgus knees. (Pictured: Air bench – similar to squats with your back against a swiss ball on the wall, but with more focus on tracking the knees.) The movement must be super-slow to free up the fascia bindings in the legs to support the gluteus maximus.

More knee tracking exercises. The movement must be super-slow to free up the fascia bindings in the legs to support the gluteus maximus. This particular remedial therapy requires the assistance of a trained physiotherapist to guide the unstable knee and muscles into place using proprioception technique.

Back extension

Fish Pose. The movement must be super-slow.

Stabilizing forearms: The active engagement of the muscles to keep the forearms in internal rotation while externally opening the shoulders locks the head of the humeral great tubercle into the socket of the shoulder joint, allowing the structure of the bones to support and balance the muscles. Where you feel the slow burn is where the muscles work to release the fascia bindings. It feels like an intense workout even though it looks like you are doing nothing.

Passive psoas release: This exercise involves resting a bent knee on a chair and the other leg, extended on three blocks. Stay for a few minutes, then lower the extended leg by removing a block after each interval.

Effortless rest: Lock the arms and allow the curve of the lower back to drop as you relax the whole back. Using blocks to raise the height of the knees gently hikes up the coccyx/pubis bone.

Piriformis remedial exercises: Benefits sacroiliac joint (by aligning muscle imbalances, weaknesses between each leg). Work the side that has the weak muscle. Pain (dukkha) is caused by the held tension in other muscle(s) that compensate and overwork for the weak side. To recover fully from pain involves removing the pattern of the individual’s tendencies towards holding tension pain.

Piriformis 1

Day 2 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

A few pictures to show particular techniques.

Tracking movement: Kate Ellis demonstrates eccentric front-loading of the leg in order to free up the fascia bindings along the leg that can prevent all of the muscles in the leg from fully engaging in the moment.

Inner and outer spirals: The interior-rotation of the inner limb and the exterior-rotation of the outer limb, with grounding through the four corners of the feet, create the eccentric contraction in the buttocks (mula bandha). The twist in the greater trochanter of the leg allows the head of the femoral bone to sit more securely in the socket of the hip joint, and prevents stress on ligaments. All of the muscles in the legs and feet are being worked (“cooked”) in the pose.

Hump on the foot indicates that the foot is in a high arch, a.k.a. foot supination. Keep the three middle toes lifted to correct the posture.

Lower back proprioceptive adjustment: Trunk adjustment. Tucking in the ribs.

Banana-back body type: Hyper-flexible body types have “banana back” characteristics, where the back tends to bend further backwards.

Kate Ellis teaches two types of forward bending, because there are two polar extreme types of people who seek physio-therapeutic treatment.

(1) Those who suffer pains from spinal bone protrusion applying pressure on nerves.

(2) The lower vertebral column is supposed to be curved. Those who are born with straight lower backs are more likely to experience herniated spinal disc, because of the additional stress on the lower back. More common in male body.

The two types of forward bending are:

(1) Into flexion: Keeping legs straight, and round the lower back. Benefits curved backs.

(2) Into extension: Keeping legs bent, while extending the back. Benefits straight backs.

In the picture below, I am demonstrating the version of forward bending pose into extension, which involves a partner or assistant to provide the proprioceptive adjustment on the lumbar marma trigger point to allow the muscle to engage to anteriorly tilt the pelvis. Sink the chest to counter the contraction effects of excessive upward facing dogs to allow the upper back also to extend.

Day 1 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

At this stage (Day 1 of 6), I am simply making a brief journal entry of my learning experience of “The Art of Teaching One on One” teacher training course.

In this class, UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis presented anatomy- and alignment-focused adjustments, based on the same concept of inner and outer spirals as Anusara Yoga.

Her alignment strategy aims to correct yogasana by identifying those muscles that are overworking to compensate for the underworking or weaker muscles. The strengthening exercises have physio-therapeutic benefits.

Her variations and adjustments transform what most people might consider an easy yogasana into a pose that involves a lot of muscle engagement. The reasoning is that if you able to fall asleep in yogasana, then you are certainly not mobilizing the myofascial energy current. Her Trikonasana variation is so different from any of the other styles that it should be called Trikonasana II (to avoid confusion).

There were many “hands on” one-on-one adjustment techniques to learn.