December 2017 Blog Yin Yang Flow, Yoga Nidra and Shoulder Anatomy Training with Jo Phee
This month I was lucky enough to attend training with world renowned anatomy geek and Yin Yoga Teacher trainer, Jo Phee from Singapore. She is a senior assistant to the creator of Yin (Paul Grilley) and Sarah Powers (who gave Yin yoga its name and helped popularise the style) and who I studied with in 2014. She has 17 years yoga experience and over 10,000 hours teaching yin classes in Singapore before travelling the world to spread her knowledge. She has a in depth knowledge of anatomy from her studies with Paul Grilley, through her full body cadaver dissections in Europe and the USA and studies in anatomy and kinesiology at the Marquette University in Winconsin USA. It was the first yoga teacher training course I’ve done in the city I live in, which made it special too. I feel a lot of gratitude towards people like Jo who are willing to share their knowledge and also come to Australia to make it more accessible to us Aussies and the fact I had the time and funds to do the course. I also made some new yogi friends too which was a bonus!
The anatomy training was very practical which helped us all to absorb and understand it better. Jo has an anatomy dance for the shoulders to remember muscles and what their function is, which was rather fun and a more practical way that how I learned this at Tafe. There were also labs with testing the range of motion in the shoulder joint for all of us students (flexion, extension, internal and external rotation etc). Jo then showed us how this affected how students looked in the pose and how skeletal variation mean that alignment cues should not be universal and there is not just one ‘right’ way for everybody to do a yoga pose. Poses such as Sirsasana (headstand), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), Chaturanga Dandasana (low plank), Prasarita Padottanasana C (standing wide legged forward bend with the arms behind the body with the fingers interlaced were analysed with different ‘specimens’ demonstrating them.
Jo is completely right when she says that is humbling for us teachers when a students says no, I don’t need this prop or I do need this prop and I can’t keep my hands shoulder width apart in down dog as my shoulders feel stuck and I can’t push my shoulders through and therefore I don’t feel it’s safe and need to take my hands wider and/or turn them outwards. We often learn more from our students than at teacher training!
The yin portion of the training gave me new ideas on how to sequence classes, new poses, different ways of using props to deepen the stretch, or make the pose more accessible or change the target area.
The yang flow sequences taught to her by Paul and Suzee Grilley were beautiful and I look forward to incorporating them in to my yang/yin classes.
It was also great receiving constructive feedback on how I teach the Swami Satyananda (original)
version of Yoga Nidra from fellow teachers.
I believe we are all students in life and often the more you learn, the more you learn there is to
learn! I am always thirsty to learn more and like to share what I have learnt.
Stay safe on the roads if you’re travelling during the silly season and I wish you all a wonderful break over the holidays and a fabulous 2018!
‘We cannot teach effectively without some generalizations, but we haven’t reached maturity until we have outgrown generalizations and can competently focus on the unique needs of every student in every pose. This is not an impossible dream – it just takes more time than a TT program can afford.
The onus of continuing growth is on each and every yoga teacher. This is the only way a teacher can reach his or her full potential.”
Paul Grilley September 2015 in Bernie Clarke’s book Your Body, Your Yoga (pictured below).