My last trip to Bologna and to Italy to offer a yoga training was 8 years ago with Anusara yoga’s ‘community of the heart’. In May of 2018, I returned to Bologna with Desi to introduce a radically new alignment and profoundly different yoga practice to about 40 students of modern postural yoga (MPY), who were largely influenced by Anusara yoga and martial arts. We were invited to Italy by Tommaso Patella, a black belt Aikido martial arts and yoga teacher in Bologna, and by his sister, Lucia Patella from Castellaneta, the heel of Italy’s geographical boot. Both Tommaso and Lucia previously trained 3 times with Spanish Bowspring teacher, Montse Fernandez on the basics of the Bowspring, and they wanted to help spread the new alignments by hosting me and Desi in Bologna.
Most of the Italian students, who were brand new to the Bowspring, were sweet, with kind hearts, willing to try a different way of practicing yoga. They didn’t complain in the workshop classes when having trouble with “toes down, glutes up”, “circumferentially expand your ribcage”, instead of ‘melting their hearts’. However, the Anusara UPAs (Universal Principles of Alignment) and the standard model of alignment, which is same for 20th century fitness, yoga, dance, pilates and martial arts were deeply engrained in the students’ postures, and so it was understandably challenging for them to try to go in the opposite directions from what I taught them and the senior teachers for 15 years. Inadvertently, toes and finger tips would lift, and upper backs would deflate. Other default alignments of the standard model of alignments that are unconsciously conditioned and deeply habituated in the experienced yogi include, pressing the shoulders back and down, bending the elbows back and in toward the base ribs, ‘flointing’ the feet (flexing and spreading the toes, while pointing the ankle), disengaging the back of the knee with hyperextension, drawing the chin back and in, and of course, scooping the butt down!
After presenting our first Bowspring class in Bologna on Friday, we asked some of the students what they thought of our new mind-body method. One student replied that Bowspring didn’t seem so new since other international yoga teachers - all former students of mine fr