Commentary

Yoga For All….With Marilyn Shoffit

Posted by tbaker |

More Perfect UnionBy Alexander Wayne

Local realtor and yoga practitioner Marilyn Shoffit knows a good investment when she sees one. Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Landlady’ by her colleagues for her expertise in assessing the value of a parcel of land, Marilyn started practicing yoga in the early 1990s when a local teacher began offering weekly classes at her office.

“I’ve never been one to exercise in the traditional sense of the word. Going to the gym was never my thing — such effort for minimal return. I’m an independent woman, always have been, and I’m constantly on the go. I’m usually able to make it to two or three classes per week, but I don’t stress about it when I don’t. I’ve learned enough about myself and my body to be comfortable practicing on my own — a little here, a little there. At the office, in the car. You can literally practice anywhere. And I never feel like I have to — I do it because I want to. Because it makes me feel great. Blissful even! I’m convinced it’s one of the best things a person can do for themselves. And everyone can do it.”

“When you learn about yoga from a qualified teacher — I’ve had great teachers from the start — you learn not just about fitness, but about wellness. I’ve become a bit of an informal yoga advocate to the extent that my doctor calls me ‘the yoga girl.’ He and I are both convinced that my practice has played a large part in keeping me healthy, strong and happy.”

When asked about her favorite pose Ms. Shoffit is quick to respond: Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). It’s the perfect pose to work with reconciling opposites. It’s active and restorative. You can just feel tension release from the shoulders and hips.’

1. Come to hands and knees, knees just below hips, hands a few inches in front of the shoulders. Widen the palms. Bring the index fingers parallel with one another.

2. Tuck the toes under, exhale and lift the knees off the floor by pressing down through the heels and drawing upward through the sits bones. Maintain a micro-bend in the knees and allow the inner thighs to rotate inward.

3. Lightly engage mula bandha — the muscles that regulate urine flow — while lifting the pelvis away from the floor.

4. Firm the base of the thumb and index fingers into the mat while lifting up through the inner arms and shoulders. Broaden across the upper back, press the shoulder blades towards the heart center while simultaneously rolling the shoulders away from the ears.

5. Lengthen through the back of the neck and extend through the crown of the head, bringing the ears parallel with the upper arms.

6. Draw the inhale to the base of the spine while maintaining the engagement of the mula bandha. Bring the belly button towards the backbone with the exhale. Again, the bandha will stay active.

7. Enjoy reconciling opposites as you find balance front to back and side to side.

8. Restore and recalibrate in child’s pose.

Alexander Wayne teaches yoga and meditation at the UofA and Fiddlehead Fern Therapeutics.Contact him at alexander.wayne@gmail.com

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