Posts by varenka

Making yoga work for YOU

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Blog, Yoga for You | 0 comments

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    I have always been attracted to read yoga articles regarding yoga poses to improve sleep, or headaches, low back pain, or posture, but I have grown increasingly frustrated with the  pictures and instructions that might not be realistic for what the majority of people can do with their bodies. Articles do mention modifications, but it is a minimal part and it is definitely NOT what is portrayed in the images.

    I believe that a lot of people are discouraged from even trying yoga because they lack the understanding of the goal of the stretch, or the quieting of the mind and they are distracted by the visual image of a very fit or slim woman or in some cases a fit man with tight or little clothing, demonstrating the maximum expression of a pose.

    I want to create a space where we can discuss our different challenges, where we can make the poses work for each one of us, especially when we DO NOT look like the perfect picture but we can be perfectly still with the proper support and understanding of the physical and mental goal of the pose in your own body.

    Consider that a lot of people nowadays have stiffness in the back, problems with neck, shoulders, I know more and more people with hip/knee issues and replacements or injuries that never properly healed. In some cases, even the simplest of poses could be impossible when in injury/surgery is a reality for the yogi. I want to inspire people to not be afraid of modifying, to not be afraid to look different than the teacher or other classmates when you attend a yoga class in your favourite studio. I want you to feel empowered to make the yoga pose work for YOU.

    Let go and take yourself a little bit less seriously!

    Let go and take yourself a little bit less seriously!

    I recently read an article called “End Yoga Porn: Focus on Real People and Stop the Selfies”. I think the visuals and focus on the relative “beauty of the poses or the sexual end of them, is part of what is wrong on the approach towards yoga from a lot of people practicing yoga and posting images. When taking the photo I’m using in this blog post, my husband said “that looks awkward, that’s why no one takes picture from that angle”, but guess what? For a long time, Yoga IS AWKWARD!! The poses are not super comfortable, we struggle, we don’t even know if we’re doing it right, so know that if that’s where you’re at, we have all been there. It does get easier.

    This blog post is the first one in a series of posts where I will depict examples of variations of poses (asanas), with the use of props like bolsters, blocks, blankets, foam rollers, eye pillows, weighted pillows and much more to adapt the poses. I will share the Sanskrit name and the English name (be aware that some poses are called a bit different depending on which school of yoga you are familiar with).

    I encourage you to start practicing these variations in front of a mirror, to have a visual aid of where our bodies are really at, when you can do an HONEST SELF ASSESSMENT of where your body is at when you first get into a pose, you will look, and adjust with different movements to see if you can come closer to the goal of the pose or target muscles, you will develop a greater understanding of what needs to shift to create the pose that works for YOU. Meaning, if you think your back is straight, do a visual check, if it’s not, what do you need to do to get to that or to the closest? We will explore and find what works that day, at that time. ALL WHILE STILL BREATHING.

    If everything else fails, just BREATHE. As long as you are breathing consciously and mindfully, you are doing yoga.

    Caution: The mirror is a great tool, but once you have found where the body goes, close the eyes, take a deep breath and notice how the pose FEELS, which muscles are working, which ones are releasing, are there any struggles? Tweaking until the pose is comfortable and until we can reproduce this sensation without having to resort to the mirror to find that alignment , YOUR alignment, in YOUR body.

    My goal is to create a modifications dictionary. When people find these awesome articles about great yoga poses for life, they can come over to the blog, look for the name of the poses of the sequence and find a wide variety of variations of each pose to make those sequences work for their bodies.

    For my pictures, I will have volunteers, friends and family of all physical abilities, challenges, ages, genders, REAL bodies, doing yoga.


    Not all yoga poses are safe for everybody, if none of the poses that I am offering serve your body, we can arrange a consultation, in person or via Skype and try to find what works for you.

    There are as many modifications as bodies, so I will try to depict several variations, but know that depending on your body type, activities, hobbies, lifestyle, the poses will look different and as long as you are being safe with soft tissue like joints, tendons, ligaments, we can help you gain a better understanding of your body.

    I love feedback, and would love to hear what you have to add. If you have something negative to say, I invite you to propose it as a discussion and keep the conversations civilized. I think we have a lot of room for discussion and growth and I am willing to walk that path with you.

    I DO NOT know it all regarding modifications but I have extensive training and practice, I think my injuries and physical challenges have made me a better teacher, with a greater understanding of the different bodies, capabilities and challenges that affect people physically and mentally. I am excited to share this new endeavour with you.

    Peace, love and props!


    PS – feel free to share your pictures of how YOU look in each pose with #modasana or#name of the pose (english and sanskrit), #realbodiesdoingyoga and/or #vivalavidayoga. You can also email me pictures at

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