When I was a kid I used to run around on my knees in full lotus, thinking nothing of it.
I think the last time I did that I was 12.... Then as I became a teenager sitting cross legged wasn't cool, so we would constantly be sitting in chairs all hunched with rounded backs, pretending to be all badass.
Then you add all the sports without stretching... Plus all the time spent lifting weights with minimal stretching... And you have the perfect recipe for tight hips, bad lower back, and eventually your knees will start to go.
I moved from Ontario to Whistler in '92 to pursue snowboarding and the mountain lifestyle.
When I moved there I was in my peak physical shape but very inflexible. I left all the Basketball and Pro Beach Volleyball to spin and flip on my snowboard.
We used to make a joke when we were learning a new trick... "Hundred slams a trick!"
Which meant, to really learn a trick off all different take offs, you would probably slam about a hundred times...... And we learned a lot of tricks. So you can imagine the toll it takes on your body!
The pros these days are cross training like crazy, to keep up with the madness of the triple corks and crazy spins. They have foam pits, water jumps, gymnastic harnesses, and coaches... We would just huck ourselves and pray!!
I wish someone would have drilled into me that being mindful to just sit cross legged as much as possible, would benefit me incredibly.
Every year my knees got worse, the tricks got bigger, and the consequences got greater!
Two minor ACL tears, two minor MCL tears, meniscus tears in both knees, and eventually a broken femur.
Although I raced a couple Pro Boardercross races and had some Freestyle Sponsors, I knew that it was in my best interest to move to Van and focus on healing my damaged body.
I found a great Gym ( Fitness Quest ), joined some dance classes, stopped drinking ( Bartended for 17years... 'Nuff said ), and started a new path.
Fitness Quest closed so we moved to Olympic... Which was awesome. I was training heavy with my partner Reed and performed a fair bit as a dancer. I was pretty bulky ( 200lbs ) when I took my first Yoga class on my 40th Birthday at Olympic Gym.
I had to sit on 3 blocks to cross my legs! It was pretty embarrassing, humbling, eye opening, and just what I needed. I started once a week.... Then when I shifted to 3 classes a week, my progress would dramatically improve!
At 42 I began teaching yoga. Because of my strength, the arm balancing became really fun really fast, but my hips and knees were still very tight.
Two meniscus surgeries and a hip replacement changed the game for me!
Although the rehab was very tough, the yoga, specially the Yin yoga was my main healer!
I went from 3 blocks to a chip foam block... Then no blocks. It is still work, but "Practice Makes Progress!" It took me till last year before I could sit for a long period of time, cross legged. So last year I added Meditation into my life. My goal was to sit for 20 minutes without shifting around.... I started with 5 minutes, just counting to 50 breaths in the morning. That quickly moved to 150 breaths.... And eventually 20 minute meditations.
This repetition is how your Practice will grow. In the last couple years I have been visiting half lotus a lot more. The seated sequence in Rocket Yoga's First series, is taken from Ashtanga Yoga... Rocket 1 is basically Rocket's Primary Series... Yoga Chikitsa ( Yoga Therapy )... Also the splits sequence has done wonders for my practice as well... "The more open my hips get, the happier my body is!"
I also swear by Active Yin yoga to heal from injuries/ surgeries. Active Yin combines functional movement with long held Yin poses.
I solely teach these two Practices these days. Rocket Yoga to strengthen, flow, heal and be challenged..... Active Yin get into those cranky spots, and sit with them, so they get less cranky!
I'm very excited to see where these Practices will take me in the coming years.
I'm more excited to share them with my students to help them move through their discomfort, to a more manageable life.
When you see me in Full Lotus in the future, know that it was an amazing journey!
Practice Makes Progress