The Third Workshop: “How to Address Common Injuries in the Classroom”

YogaPlus Teachers

The third and final workshop on the agenda was held on May 29 at the Gotanda studio for all of the YogaPlus teachers.  To my surprise there were at least 30 in attendance that morning and when I sat down in front of the room, I broke out into a serious case of nervous perspiration!  In the days leading up to the workshop,  I struggled with how to present this broad topic, “How to Address Common Injuries in the Classroom.”   I had previously asked some of the teachers at the studio what they would like to focus on, some said, “How to use props“,  “How to do chair yoga” or “Back pain.”   Finally, I  decided that it would be best to ask the participants questions at the beginning of the workshop and then work out a sequence based on the most common injuries that came up.  After a brief discussion, questions regarding a common assortment of injuries arose: back pain, shoulder, wrists, etc.  Since most of these injuries are associated with repetitive motions from vinyasa classes, misalignment in standing poses, transitioning in and out of poses or improper set-up for inversions,  I thought it would be best to teach a general sequence to address most if these issues.

The class just flowed as  I wove injuries related to categories of poses into a seamless practice, stopping only to demonstrate or to reiterate a point:  Surya Namaskar A & B, Standing Poses, Inversions, Forward Bends, Twists—all the years of practicing, teaching and now leading a teacher training, seemed to provide an unexpected a wealth of knowledge.  I knew more than I realized—a three hour workshop quickly turned into four followed by an engaging question and answer… “How do you deal with….”What if you don’t have props“…”I have a student“….  we could have gone on at length for a considerable amount of time.  In fact, I thought this could be a series organized into separate topics.  I addressed the issue of class levels, modifications, sequencing, additional study outside of the classroom (anatomy, kinesiology ) and the importance of  a “self-practice.”  As teachers  all of this relates to the niyama svadhaya  “self-study” which is the ongoing process of examining yourself, the body, and literature that helps you to find the answers.  As our discussion was winding down I was starting to feel a strong  emotional connection with these young teachers who have such passion towards learning—it comes through in so many ways.  They embrace each person that visits them in Tokyo and just being with them makes me feel so appreciated. I love this photo of the YogaPlus teachers—it literally seems to vibrate with energy.

Eating in Tokyo: Mame-Maru

A week ago, few of my students, Ahn Eunsun, Yoshiko Okamoto, & Yuka Matsuo, took me to lunch in downtown Tokyo.  Ahn said that we were going to a “Kyoto Japanese Style” restaraunt, called Mame-Maru.  We entered a small place and after taking off our shoes, were guided into our own private room.  The floor was covered in tatami mats and we sat on cushions with our legs placed in a pit under the table which appeared to be hovering above the floor.  This soothing setting overlooked a tranquil garden on a rainy day.   A waitress wearing a warm yellow colored kimono served  us the most beautiful meal and numerous cups of tea.  The meal, “cha-kaiseki” would be considered a more casual form of “Kaiseki” which has its roots in Kyoto.  Visually appealing, kaiseki  is “an art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.” That is certainly true indeed as evidenced from the images taken of the meal.

The Welcome Party

The YogaPlus staff  wanted to host a welcome party for me. It took us a few weeks to coordinate our schedules, but were able to gather last weekend, May 12, at Tofuro—a traditional style resturaunt with “the wabi-sabi ambience of the tea-house world.”  The party was lively with great food—platters of sashimi, soup that was made at the table, varieties of tempura and fresh tofu— and lots of laughs!  Here are a few pictures that captured the moment….

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Eating in Tokyo: Ootoya

Mixed Vegetables with Chicken, Rice, Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing, Miso Soup

Chicken and Rice Baked in a Clay Pot, Tofu and Seaweed Salad, Miso Soup, Pickled Vegetables

Food is a cultural highlight in Japan and much pride is taken in the preparation and presentation of meals. For me, the exposure to different and somewhat exotic dishes has become one of the most intriguing aspects of this trip. If you’re adventurous, you’ll experience real Japanese cuisine which may be some of this most delicious and interesting food you’ll ever have. I know have favorite places that I visit routinely and photograph the meals with unique visual appeal.  Some of  the meals have been disappointing, but some have been real standouts. Ootoya is a place I found during my first few days here.  It was raining and I had no idea where to go for lunch, I then saw a nice sign directing me upstairs. I’ve found this restaurant to offer the best value (large portions) for the price and the interior is comforting. You can also get as much green or barley tea with your meals. Each set photographed cost less than $10.00.

Grilled Mackerel with Horseradish & Seaweed, Mochi-Mochi, Pickled Vegetables, & Miso Soup

Grilled Mackerel with Horseradish & Seaweed, Mochi-Mochi, Pickled Vegetables, Miso Soup

Interior Scene, Ootoya

Counter by the Window, Ootoya