Do you read Kate’s Oceanyogi blog? I do. That’s how I met her.I love how the internetz does that: we commented on each other’s blogs, then we struck up an email conversation, then Kate came to one of my workshops when she was about 17 weeks pregnant, as I recall. She invited me to go up to Castlemaine and stay with her & her lovely partner, Dale. And, you know, she actually meant it! I know, because she invited me again when I didn’t take her up on it. So I went. Quite often, actually. One of the things I loved most about those trips, apart from just hanging out with and talking to Kate, was when we practiced our yoga together.
Obviously we were doing quite different things, but it was so wonderful to share a sacred yoga space with someone as deeply honest and in touch with themselves as Kate. She practices her asana from the inside out: it’s like watching a flower unfurl.
She gave me a new viewpoint on many poses I had been avoiding because I couldn’t find a way to practice them without doing Bad Things to my SI joints. I shall talk about two.
First up: Ardha Chandrasana. Practice, said Kate, with your top hand at your sacrum, so you don’t go past your edge (she has SIJ issues too). Um, kind of obvious right? Well, I needed her to show me.
It looked like this:
(And it’s a good thing she didn’t generally lift her arm, because yours truly was too chicken to do that when standing on the beach wall with a piffling three-foot backwards drop onto the beach.)
Starting in trikonasana, as pictured, or, often, with the hand on the hip, opening the side body, and (in my case at least) keeping the pelvis moving as a single unit, so the twist happens at the ribcage.
Then exhaling to look down and bring the top hand to the waist, shifting your weight onto your front foot, and…
Liftoff! the hand at the waist ensure that you don’t crank into your hips in a nasty way, and you still get a super-delicious stretch for legs, waist, chest. And a bit of strength work for the glutes and hamstrings. Which actually helps stabilise hyper-mobile pelvises – and all pregnant ladies have those! You will notice that I still have my pelvis moving as a unit, and the rotation, such as it is, is happening through my waist and ribcage. This protects me from the nasty clicking and pain in the base of my spine that used to be an inevitable consequence of practicing this pose.
Now, not everyone is going to be comfortable doing this without a little bit of help balancing, especially if you are actually pregnant and your belly is starting to shift your centre of gravity. So here is a real-live pregnant lady demonstrating how you can do ardha chandrasana against a wall, like a wonderfully spread out starfish.
The other pose Kate taught me to do in a different way is supta virasana, which, if I practice it with my knees anywhere close to each other, routinely dislocates my SIJ’s. Practice it, said Kate, in the Yin Yoga way (it’s called Saddle then, and it’s delicious). You know, I do both these poses most days now, and they stretch my quads and psoas muscles, which tend to tightness. That tightness, left unchecked, eventually pulls my pelvis out of alignment.
Kate’s a mama now; how lucky her son is to have chosen her. In case you were wondering, she had a home birth, surrounded by loved ones, without complications of any sort. I believe that her deep connection to and awareness of her body facilitated that, at least a bit.
Thank you, Miss Kate!
And thanks to Pip for being the starfish model.