yoga for beginners instructor


Since June of 2006, the year I retired from teaching Algebra 1 at Westchester High School, I have taught this class with few changes: every now and then I find a better way of saying the words of the sequences so that students, lying on their mats on the floor with their eyes closed, can follow my instructions exactly, always backing off the pose if there is pain and coming out all together if the pain continues. I am a firm believer in Dr. Robert Klapper’s* admonition: “Pain is your friend; if it hurts, don’t do it!” and he continues, “The elliptical, the bicycle, the pool; yoga and Pilates. The next book I write will be Age-ercise: Adapting As You Age to Movement That Helps and Doesn’t Hurt.” 

If you have been to my class, you know that we begin on our backs on our mats, doing poses to stretch the muscles and oil the joints. Next, we come up to all fours, kneeling on a blanket if necessary, doing poses for flexibility and balance. We use Downward Facing Dog to walk into a standing pose, hanging over. Then, we do Half Sun Salutation, Triangle, and Extended Side Angle Pose on both sides. If there is time, we press each other up against the wall in Half Moon Pose, and then, perhaps, Full Sun Salutation or Pilates Legs. Penultimately, positioned on our mats with our Meditation Stand under the backs of our knees, it is time for Half Belly Twist and Savasana, Deep Relaxation Pose. Finally, we sit upon our Meditation Stands and chant Om three times, after which we come into Prayer Position and bid each other Namaste.

*Dr Klapper is Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Cedars, where he does fifteen surgeries a week. He is a surfer, and a sculptor; he loves the Lakers, food, music—and he loves to talk! He has written two books, Heal Your Knees and Heal Your Hips, full of illustrations of pool exercises. (His proceeds go to the homeless.) He has a radio program, Saturdays, “Weekend Warriors,” on ESPN 710 AM, 7-9 am.