Hi, I'm Neil Keleher.
When I first started a yoga website my original name for it was Yoga 4 Smart People.
I thought I had something a little bit different to offer rather than just the run of the mill yoga instruction.
Trying to decide what the catch phrase for Sensational Yoga Poses was, I was again drawn back to that name and here's why.
You look at a smart phone, compare it to an old regular mobile phone, and what's the difference? It is sensitive to touch.
The smart phone responds in different ways depending on how you touch it's surface. And it has many different aps that enable it to act in more flexible ways than the old phone.
So what would the equivalent be in a Smart Yogi?
Learning to respond to "sensation".
In the body the sensations are generated by tension that is controlled by muscle (which you can feel activating and contracting) and that is carried in the connective tissue (which you can also learn to feel).
Between the body and either other bodies or the earth, sensations are generated by touch and pressure. Most of us are aware of these things but don't really pay attention to the them.
A smart yogi, however, does.
And the beauty of being able to tune in to sensation, is that this isn't limited to doing yoga poses, hence, smart person.
Since this is a yoga website, the instructions do focus on how to do yoga poses. And in some cases the instruction is limited to what to do to get into the pose. But while following the instructions I encourage you to not just do the pose or the actions "by the numbers." Instead, do the actions slowly, smoothly, and repeat them rhythmically. And tune in to the changes in sensation that occur as you repeat the actions.
For routines designed to better help you feel your body and control it you can check out my ebook courses.
Directly below are links to yoga pose categories while at the bottom of this page is a
linking directly to specific yoga poses. You may also find my Favorite Yoga Poses page helpful for finding specific yoga poses.
Grouped Yoga Poses include poses classified according to action or position. Ideally these groupings of yoga poses make it easier to create a balanced (and reasonably complete) yoga practice.
Improving flexibility is one of the main reasons I got into yoga. An important element of stretching is learning to relax and activate muscles at will.
Even more important is creating a stable foundation. For people new to stretching I'd suggest Stretching for Beginners. But otherwise, for specific body part stretches, Yoga Stretches for flexibility include.
Improving Balance, is one of my favorite topics.
For an overview of balance read Yoga balance poses. As with stretching, an important aspect of balance is creating stability or mobile rigidness. The idea is to be able to control and vary stability so that balance is easy to maintain.
One of the easiest ways to practice balance is by balancing on one foot.
Slightly more advanced is balancing on one leg while binding or connecting parts of the body.
Arm balances are a fun way to practice balancing. One of the simplest arm balances is crow pose. Inverted yoga poses are near the pinnacle of balancing postures. I generally teach poses like headstand, shoulder stand, forearm balance and handstand using a wall first to get students used to being upside down. Then I work at helping them learn to balance.
My current approach to strength yoga poses is minimal muscular effort.
This lazy approach requires awareness and directed effort. Part of this means knowing which parts of the body to stabilize.
In addition I also occasionally play with kettlebells. One movement that I like is the Turkish Get Up.
Sensational Anatomy is about the anatomy that you can learn to feel and control while doing a yoga pose.
So that you can direct your awareness intelligently it helps to understand the bones and muscles of the body and how they relate.
My own understanding of anatomy has been helped by practicing drawing anatomy.
This makes it easier to visualize those structures while meditating and doing yoga or tai ji or any other physical activity with a focus on mindfulness.
In general there is a big difference between what we sense and what we perceive.
A large part of my own training (and what I try to teach my students) is how to calibrate sense information and perception so that there is less of a disparity between sense and perception.
Part of the process of improving both awareness and control involves first isolating body parts so that you can improve your ability to feel and control those body parts. (This is also where we calibrate.)
The next steps are to integrate those body parts so that you can shift the focus of your consciousness easily between the different parts of the body.
The end result is a unification of body and mind otherwise known as yoga.
Note that calibration is a repeated process.
Learning to feel your body is like learning the alphabet. Body Awareness has a very big alphabet but learning it bit-by-bit gives you the building blocks for "spelling" any movement or action.
Dance of Shiva is tool for practicing cognitive flexibility, the skill of learning, and getting into the flow.
Two types of shoulder stretches: Muscle assisted shoulder stretches use the opposite arm to drive the stretch. Gravity assisted shoulder stretches use body weight to help drive the stretch.
Here's both a quick set of stretches for cyclists and a slightly longer set. My assumption is that for cyclists the tight spots are going to be the hamstrings and the hip flexors.
Should you exercise your abs if you've got low back pain? Why work on hip stability while standing instead?
Twisting Triangle pose (prvritta trikonasana) can be an excellent pose for working on hip joint stability and core control. By stabilizing the hips first the abs then have a stable foundation (the pelvis) from which to turn and twist the ribcage.
Active stretching teaches you two basic techniques for adding muscle power to assist your stretches.
You use either the muscles that resist the stretch or you use the muscles that assist the stretch.
In either case you not only improve flexibility, you work on strength and muscle control at the same time.
Now available on Amazon.
Here's a look at how to do mayurasana, including some preparation exercises and also options for balancing in this "arm balancing" yoga pose.
Tips for preparing the shoulders for Dolphin yoga pose.
I've included some standing poses in "Yoga Poses for the Abs." Using the legs you can stabilize the pelvis. Then the abs have a foundation from which to work on moving the ribcage.
If you find yourself lacking cornering confidence while riding a motorbike, the exercises in "Yoga for Motorcyclists" are designed to help you understand what you are trying to do while cornering to make cornering less scary. The exercises are specifically designed to help you better feel your body and control it so that you can better control your bike.
Here's a general "lecture" on basic principles as I see them and how they apply to creating a "sensational" yoga pose (one in which you are as present as possible.)
These standing and seated side stretches are great for stretching the side of the waist.
Here's part 2 of the yoga routine used for active stretching. I use the routine as a whole for teaching my students the muscle actions that make active stretching an effective stretching technique.
Basic instruction for doing a standing meditation. I do meridian, chakra and anatomy meditations all while standing. This video goes over the basic set up for standing with balanced tension (or "tuned tension") throughout the body.
Some slightly different yoga poses to improve balance, including standing, kneeling and rolling.
Here's the first part of the yoga pose sequence used in the Active Stretch ebook.
Here's a quick look at why scapular stability and thoracic stability are important. They allow you to do certain types of yoga poses with greater ease.
Here's my latest video on scapular stability.
Some ankle stretches to make it easier to kneel and also to stretch the backs of the ankles. Learn actions you can do to make these poses more comfortable and more effective.
What can you do while kneeling? How many kneeling yoga posture variations are there?
I can't say that I was happy to have injured my knee recently. After all, I'm a yoga teacher and it's part of my job to be able to show my students what I'm trying to get them to do. And that's when I discovered that perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing after all.