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Bite-Sized Random Acts of Yoga, Day 1

The first day of Random Acts of Yoga. (Yes, I know there's a missing "a" at the end of Svanasana)

The first day of Bite-Sized Random Acts of Yoga. (Yes, I know there's a missing "a" at the end of Svanasana.)

Sometimes we all need a gimmick, and I think I’ve found mine.

In the third week of January next year, I’m going to sit my Junior Intermediate I assessment.

Part of the assignment is to be able to teach all of the poses of the Intro I and II syllabi, plus the Junior I poses, add a Junior I instruction to each of the Intro poses, to sequence them in a logical, or at least defensible way, and to link them.

I’ll confess I’ve been falling behind. I was practicing and teaching the Junior I poses, but I knew I was neglecting the detailed work on earlier poses.

There are more than 70 of them. I was overwhelmed.

But now I’m making progress, all because I’ve turned it into a game of chance.

This weekend I made a list of all the poses in the first three syllabi, printed them out on glossy photo paper, and got Alan, who is much better with a utility knife and a straight edge than me, to cut them into separate cards.

He picks three cards for me before he comes to bed. When I get up in the morning, there they are: Bite-sized Random Acts of Yoga, ready for me to study.

As I drink my matcha, I place them the sequence I’d teach them in, note three introductory instructions for each pose, add one intermediate instruction, and link them.

When it’s time to practice, I take them to my mat and see how it all works out.

I could, of course, pick the cards by myself. But what makes it genius for me is the absolute lack of choice.

If I were to pick three poses myself, at random, even with the cards face down, there would always be the temptation to throw back something that doesn’t seem to fit.

Chaturanga Dandasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: they go together like bread and jam.  Malasana? Not so much.

And I know I’d have wanted to throw Chaturanga Dandasana back into the pile.  My nemesis pose on the first day? Not likely.

I borrowed this system from Wendy Boyer, who told me about it in August at the Intermediate Intensive at the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre. As I recall, she took the poses and integrated them into a class she was teaching that day.

I might eventually do that too, but for now I’m content just to work my mind every morning in a way I need to work it.

Just for the fun of it, and in case anyone wants to share these Bite-Sized Random Acts of Yoga, I plan to Tweet them, starting today.

If you’re interested, you can follow me at @fiveminuteyoga.

And if you come up with a brilliant idea for linking Chaturanga and Malasana, do let me know.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nina Pileggi October 13, 2010, 8:47 am

    Hi Eve, I was in Pune in August and Guruji’s teaching focused on the feet. How about lengthening from inner ankle to the inner heel – to keep the inner heel down in Malasana, and to activate the inner legs in Chaturanga and UMS? This action will then create stability in all the poses.

    Great website and idea!

    • Eve October 13, 2010, 9:12 am

      Thank you! What a great suggestion!
      I’ll be trying that out in my next practice.

  • YogaSpy October 12, 2010, 9:41 pm

    This is brilliant, not only for assessment practice but to vary one’s home practice. I am a creature of habit; while I routinely do a vigorous practice, I tend to repeat the same poses or sequences. I should create my own little cards and shake up my practice (perhaps once a week) by randomly picking three to five “poses of the day.” Hmm…

    • Eve October 13, 2010, 9:17 am

      Hey YogaSpy,
      Interesting how we fall into routines, isn’t it? Part of it, I think, is “too many poses, too little time,” so the ones that are most important in our practice get attention, and others don’t. But there’s also, at least for me, an avoidance of the poses that don’t yet resonate for me, the ones that I do without finding the sweet spot.
      At the moment, my intention is to just go on and on with this practice, even after assessment, just because it’s fun. My three mystery cards are like a little gift every morning.

  • Kelly Murphy October 11, 2010, 1:49 pm

    chaturanga and malasana..YIKES! How about the rolling in of the thighs and the lengthening of the buttocks to the heels? Or the lift at the base of the abdomen? Or the length of the front body(sternum up/forward)?
    Let us know what you do for this challenging link.

    • Eve October 11, 2010, 3:44 pm

      Yikes is right.
      I like the length of the front body a lot as a link.
      I also think of the moving the shoulder blades away from the ears in order to extend the spine towards the crown of the head.
      I think I need more time for this one.