Allow me to reintroduce myself, Part One: Asana

Emma so graciously has let me come back as a weekly post-er on one of my favorite yoga blogs - this one!  I love all the inspiration shared here and am excited to return to guest post.  I write a lifestyle/yoga/exercise blog called Blissful Body - the tag line is really what I live by: "Be Fit. Be Well. Be Happy."  I so enjoy finding ways to discover happiness in my own body and what makes other's feel blissful in their bodies.  I love that it's unique to everyone.  I thought I'd share a bit about my personal yoga journey (and why I am contemplating it so greatly at the moment.)

I went through a 220 hour teacher training in 2003 right after graduating college.  I had been taking yoga classes and was inspired to become an instructor.  I had wonderful teachers who have me a fantastic base to begin my journey as a teacher.  I now know that during that time I was encouraged to do asana that probably wasn't the best for my body.  You see, I am a modern dancer and learned at a young age to "fake it til you make it."  Translated as "do the moves, make them look good...regardless of whether you are using the right muscles + proper form.)  The thing was - I looked as if I was strong enough to do the poses...especially when the instructor is looking at a group of fifteen plus people.  I also looked good doing the poses because I am hyper-mobile. (Not that that's a bad thing at all - please know I honor my teachers greatly and appreciate my's all part of my journey!)

I taught and practiced fairly vigorous vinyasa-inspired sessions during that time.  I then began to dance with a professional company whose founders also owned a Pilates studio.  They invited me to take affordable sessions at their studio and I fell in love.  They were pointing out alignment issues to me that no one ever had before.  I realized the right side of my pelvis was elevated and linked it to my work (at that time) as a nanny - I was always holding the babe on that hip.  It was the start of my fascination with anatomy, alignment, and how it all translates into our everyday life.  I also realized that my hyper-mobility also meant instability in most of my joints - Pilates helped me "reel it in" and understand how to bring stability to my body.  I discovered scoliosis patterns in my thoracic spine.  

After several years, I moved and became the fitness director of a country club.  It was a big time, busy gig and I began my comprehensive certification in classical Pilates.  That training solidified my love of movement and that I would be doing this work for a lifetime.  I eventually got a second comprehensive certification in Pilates in a rehab based program.  I instructed mostly private sessions and over time developed a reputation to work with older and post rehab people.  I learned so much from my clients.

During this time, I was still dancing and created a show where I was a siamese twin - it was pretty amazing, but being the twin on the right, I was constantly shifting my ribcage to the left.  This combined with my already existing scoliosis patterns and (what I now believe to be) way too much posterior pelvic tilt (flattening my back into the mat while lying on it) from a lot of Pilates put my body into a tailspin which eventually lead me back to yoga.

I left my oh-so busy director job and opened my own studio space complete with Pilates equipment, yet I found my most profound movement work with clients was yoga based.  I began studying at a local Iyengar-based studio and was asked to instruct a Back Care Yoga class.  I took some privates with a few teachers who helped my understand my scoliosis patterns and hyper-mobility with genuine interest and love.  They helped me develop the home practice I hold to this day and I am ever so grateful.  My practice now consists of personalized asana for my body.  See...I am finding my happy body!

This leads me into the question of the day.  I recently moved to California (for husband's work) and am exploring the yoga scene and trying to find my fit.  It's hard.  Way hard.  I am open to experiencing new classes and new teachers, but finding it challenging to find the right fit.  Any words of wisdom?  I haven't found a good fit yet - to teach or take class.  I'll keep you posted.  

Look for my posts every Tuesday.  I'll bring some sequencing, alignment and other yoga thoughts.  Cheers! 

Katherine Dowdney

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