Monday, July 5, 2010

Healthy Lifestyle - Yoga Part II

To continue with the series on healthy living I interviewed local yoga teacher Tomas Hicks on his practice.

How would you describe Yoga?
Yoga is a way of living, a way of seeing the world, based on the first step of Classical Ashtanga Yoga, Ahimsa or non-violence in mind, body and spirit or breath. How we treat ourselves on the mat is a reflection of how we treat ourselves, others and the world in our every day life; where the real work is. Yoga means Union, we are all inter-connected, we are one, so the only way to be, to live harmoniously is to embrace Ahimsa, particularly in the golden moments when we dont practice Ahimsa, there is the magic.

What style to do teach?

My main method or style of teaching is Ahimsa, which I employ when I teach Hatha, Flow/Vinyasa/Power, Yin, Restorative or Meditation. Ahimsa is the most profound practice of life.

What interested you about yoga initially?

I was initially drawn to the Spiritual side of Yoga due to the death of my Mother and to the Asana or postures of Yoga to increase my physical flexibility.

How long have you been teaching for?

I taught my first year as an apprentice and just completed my first year as a 320 Hour Certified Yoga teacher. It has been an amazing journey.

What are the benefits of a regular practice?

The benefits of a regular and varied Yoga practice, particularly broadening the Yoga practice to more than Asana, are limitless. I have experienced physical, emotional and spiritual well-being I never felt could be possible. I have a deep sense of support from the world and have become a much more open, brave and loving person.

How frequently do people need to practice?

It is good to start of slow and steady and practice once a week on the same day and time and increase over time to once a day with at least one day of a week from Asana. Resting is Yoga as well. We live in a very driven and busy society so we wish to have Yoga reflect a calmer way of life, rather than reflect the hectic society. The peace cultivated from within during Yoga will then flow naturally outwards and calm the world. It is also essential to keep Ahimsa at the front of the mind as much as possbile throughout the day. All beings want Love, even those that annoy you! Be brave and love. As MLK said, "Hate is too great a burden to bear." When your mind calms and becomes peaceful, so will your body and your Asana practice will change profoundly.

Are there any contraindications?

A very important mantra is the Sikh mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, which simply means listen to your inner teacher, your body, your wisdom. There are many contraindications for people with health concerns such as blood pressure issues, back pain and also during menstruation. Please consult a well-trained Yoga teacher before starting your Asana practice. Always err on the side of caution.

Upcoming classes/workshops?

Please visit for my schedule of classes. I am involved in two Summer Retreats, July 16 - 18 through and August 1 - 6 with on Denman Island. I also teach in various studios around Vancouver and take on individuals for personal Yoga Life Coaching.

To Sit comfortably one has to follow these recommendations:
1. Start with a strong foundation in the feet and ankles. To ensure a strong and well protected ankle and consequently a well protected knee, engage the ankle by flexing the ankle and foot such that the toes point straight up to the knee (dorsal flexion) or point straight away from the knee (plantar flexion). Check the inside of the heel on both feet, which should be smooth and free of wrinkles, to guarantee that there is no sickling of the ankle. 2. The knees need to be lower then the hips to maintain a strong and tall spine free of rounding and collapse. Do this by sitting on enough height underneath the buttocks. 3. Check your low back for its inward curvature. If you do not have enough height under the buttocks or the knees are higher than the hips the low back will 'bubble' outwards, resulting in back pain Place your hand on the low back and notice small ridges of muscles on each side of the inwardly curving spine. 4. Slightly hug the belly-button up and in towards your heart. 5. Move the head slightly backwards and bow the chin towards the heart without moving your head forward. 5. Eh voila!

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