The "Why" of Yoga

SN Michael Hays



1:52 Interest in Thai Yoga – more authentic than yoga as it is currently taught. It is called Ruesri dat ton. The monks in Thailand practice this yoga. Uses the breath, great attention to detail, build pressure and then with poses let the pressure dissipate.

5:57 Michael teaches Thai yoga   principles but  not Thai yoga postures in his classes. Works with the breath, don’t push breath down to the belly but rather keep in thoracic area to stretch out the thoracic area which provides support to the pose. People of size often have large belles which push down and restrict the movement of the rib cage.

8:20 Modification for large-bodied people: Using forward bend as an example, forward bending is difficult because the belly is in the way  and to get fingers to toes requires extensive stretching of the hamstrings. Bend the knees and may feel opening in the thoracic rib cage. Belly will push into diaphragm and back opens more. Belly used as a catalyst to open up rib cage. Child pose as an example, the purpose is to fold the joints and then let the weight of the body sink into the pose. Many (often men) have trouble with flattening the tops of the feet in child pose and need something (blanket, mat) under their ankles to get into the pose. Use Chair for the head. Play with the movement, come out when uncomfortable and then back into the pose.

14:15 Works with students in yoga classes and also as massage therapists. Has yoga teachers coming to him for help with injuries – wrists, lower back, neck and shoulders. Repetitive movement that goes unchecked can lead to injury. Self- practice is for self-exploration, self-relfection, paying attention to the body.

16:50 Is yoga more accessible now? When Michael started 20 years ago, there was little interest in teaching large-bodied students. Only 3 teachers in his area were teaching large bodied students (lives in NYC)  Started his own studio because of the lack of opportunity. Now included in norms of yoga but there is a push back. Mainly a financial concern: large-bodied people need larger exercise clothing, larger mats, and more space to do yoga. So it is not of interest to corporate yoga companies. A grass roots approach is working now and it may not be taken over by big business. It is better as there is more creativity in the grass roots.

19:35 Big business yoga can be very dogmatic, very limited, too financially based, no room for ordinary people. Looking for a “famous” teacher can also be unhealthy. Classes/students look the same, no growth occurring. Teachers limited in the type of students they can teach. Yoga will survive, but growth in yoga teaching/practice is questionable in these circumstances.

Teachers we looked up to 20 years ago are experiencing injuries because of the type of yoga and student they teach. Their students will have the same problems in 20 years.

Individuals must have their own practice – take classes, read, work out what is best for their body in their own practice. Can get too engrossed in the movement without paying attention to how the body feels.

23:00 Why are students attracted to Buddha Body Classes? Students are quirky, funny, talkative curious and often have a lot of fear. Fear can be generated from previous classes where teachers did not know how to teach them and they feel shamed because of their body type.

Michael has started streaming classes on Sat AM – the audience is growing and more and more are interested in these classes. Allows someone to do the class in their own space where they may be more comfortable. Because of Michael’s emphasis on safety, he breaks down the pose as much as he can, give variations, explain why they are doing the pose but emphasize they must pay attention to their own body.

27:20 Play with yoga, pay attention to your own body, ask yourself how you feel and most importantly why you feel that way. Don’t worry about completing a pose. Keep asking yourself why. Teachers are guides not rulers

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