Look to the natural world where it reflects/expresses the topography of the body so that we can visualise our inner anatomical places and know them as felt experience, learnt through…
…my experience of EASS-y, an online course exploring the Embodied Anatomy of the Spine in Scoliosis – applied to yoga, developed and conducted by Narelle Carter-Quinlan.
Rhythm & Review
There is a natural rhythm to the online program EASS-y, a meditative quality and fluid movement in the way the course is structured. Perhaps this is a reflection of Narelle’s embodiment of dance. As a yoga teacher I entered the course with some apprehension as I am weak on anatomy and resistant to a perceived dryness in the discipline in comparison with the energetic and philosophical offerings in yoga. Yet EASS-y could not be more fluid, juicy and delicious. This course is beneficial for those inhabiting a scoliotic terrain, for those teaching and for anyone with a spine! Once you begin to harvest the knowledge contained within this course you realise that your own spine has it’s own unique terrain, whilst perhaps not scoliotic, it may well not be text book either – it may ask of you to enquire, reflect in stillness and in practice to move with what ‘you have’ to create or recreate a skeletal body that merges with the energetic. EASS-y takes you on such a pathway of observation into the poetry of fluid, living, changing bones and the terrain they create and inhabit.
The Course Structure
The EASS-y online course is structured in weekly modules with two PowerPoint presentations which are matched to an audio file per week. There is a relevant audio meditation for each week, practice notes to lead you on your exploration and videos of Narelle’s students who present with scoliosis in appropriate asana. Then there are bonus links and photographic images which allow us to imagine our inner embodiment. It was my practice to sit with the Powerpoint and matching audio then proceed to the video and finish with the meditation awakening the next day to begin the practice notes. The first two weeks immerse you in the anatomical structures, an understanding of which is essential for you to understand scoliosis and the following two weeks introduce asana complete with prop assistance and images. There is also a mid course class call where you can ask questions directly. Now here’s the irony, given my resistance to anatomy, whilst I was familiar and alert toward scoliosis when it presented in my yoga classes my familiarity was based on the anatomy without further enquiry.
EASS-y demands enquiry. EASS-y offers you a physical and energetic understanding of scoliosis taking you by the hand and leading you into a world where other structures are compromised doing too much, doing too little, creating too much bone in the wrong places and compromising not just stature but the breath, mind, movement. A scoliotic terrain is tiring to inhabit not only because of the physical counter actions in the body but because your spatial sense is asymmetrical. Your sense of being in space is not marked by the classical centred axis. There is a different rhythm operating and connecting earth to crown. It is a journey off the classical anatomical beaten path. As a yoga teacher I realise (now) that choosing postures for the scoliotic terrain is not only about physical cues to accommodate, but the cues need to be built into an energetic, particularly breath sensitivity. I need to enquire more, visualise more, feel more how each of my students moves and responds. Narelle offers many slides to assist in this and in point of fact they are relevant to building a class for any ‘body’. In writing up a class Narelle suggests we ask more questions ‘Who’ am I teaching, ‘Why’ this asana/this way/in this sequence/with this class at this time – what change or benefit am I trying to illicit. Enquire and experiment in your own spine, know your own terrain, then visualise another – use Narelle’s images from the natural world and explore what it might be like to have a meandering spinal-river i.e a spine without the normal spinal curves within the sagittal plane. If I have a thoracic scoliosis how would this impact my lung volume and what would that then mean for my breath – where should I direct the breath? What could be happening to my transverse abdominis, multifidus? What could I then do? Enquire. Explore. Converse. Feel. Then perhaps you can teach! Perhaps you can even re-create or ease.
• Scoliosis – impact of the scoliotic terrain & Adam’s forward bend test
• ‘Rationale’ for practice developed by Narelle
• Narelle’s ‘Lens of perception’
• Asana, props & the importance of touch
• The course knows when to repeat, consolidate, remind, mesmerise
• Meditation: ‘Hold a vertebra in your hand’
• Narelle’s land photography (also Photograph your own back)
• Use of sanskrit – vibration within sanskrit names resonates in the physical posture
The online aspects of EASS–y are ‘easy’ the production is seamless, flowing with ‘ease’ within the principles of sthira sukha. The progression through the course is meditative, you fall in to the learnings and find that each module is coming to an end before you are ready to leave – which you actually never have to do as the enquiry and practice are ongoing. I urge you to have a look at all that Narelle Carter-Quinlan offers on her website: http://www.embodiedterrain.com. Be brave, plunge in to the felt poetry of knowledge ‘harvested and distilled’ there.
Influences in EASS-y Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen & Amy Matthews
The bonus links were thorough covering: Anatomy, Yoga & Science, Yoga and further links on Embodiment – not fair to divulge everything here!
In this post photographs my own – explore www.embodiedterrain.com for some truly rich land/body resonating photography