May 13, 2014

The New Wave of Yoga. ~ Kathryn Bruni-Young


My mom was one of the first female teachers in the country to have her own studio, which means I’ve essentially grown up in the yoga culture.

In high school I started practicing more seriously, not really knowing where I would end up. At the end of 10 years I’ve come full circle with my yoga practice.

I started out as wanting to learn and practice it all and went to perfecting what I was working on. Small injuries prevented me from growing my practice and led me back to the learning stages. I am now moving forward, practicing more yoga rehab and strength work. I’ve been teaching for just over seven years, and what I’m teaching right now is yoga for today.

Yoga has been formally practiced in studios in Toronto for about 20 years. That’s a lot of bodies going through the motions, meaning a lot of bodies we can learn from. I think the biggest truth we, as yogis, need to make peace with is that no one is immune to repetitive strain issues and/or injuries.

What I see the most in my students, friends and my own body is that some muscle groups suffer from over use while others are suffering from under use.

As modern yogis, it’s important that we take the information available to us and use it to better the practice and the bodies that we see in classes every day.

One example of this that I see all the time is the ever-looming hamstring tear. The hamstring tear is something that can happen when we either stretch the muscle too much, too fast or we stretch the muscle too much over the course of years, creating repetitive strain. This is something that happens a lot, though it’s completely preventable, given the right exercises using strength and resistance.

Crossfit is a sport that is hugely popular right now, known for its ridiculously high intensity workouts and heavy lifting. When you look at the schedule for most “boxes” (what they call their gym), there will likely be a class on the menu called mobility, yoga “wod” (workout of the day) or something along those lines.

They have figured out the missing link. Crossfit athletes need yoga. They need to stretch and have better body awareness.

They need a little yin to balance all their yang.

Where am I going with all this?

I think there is a large market within the yoga community for teachers who are involved in strength and resistance work, bringing this invaluable information into studios. As yogis we need to admit that our practice is not 100% complete. As great as it is, there are still a few gaps in the system. Just as Crossfit facilities offer yoga and mobility classes, we as yogis should be offering specific strength and basic resistance classes to fill these gaps.


It’s been my own experience and the experience of many people I know that when we change up our routine and do complimentary training, our yoga practice becomes much stronger. Not only do we get better at yoga, but the lifespan of the practice is lengthened because its not going to be a hamstring tear that takes you out. It will no longer be the wrist pain, the knee injuries or rotator cuff issues.

If we learn to use the right rehab exercises, we will definitely dodge a lot of injury bullets. Not to say that this system is 100% but it’s a big step up from what we have now. Yoga teachers need to get the training they need to properly assist their students with injuries or be willing to send their students to people with this experience.

The important message someone once gave me and I pass to my students in all the different studios and cities I teach is find what you need to complement your practice. Whether simple body weight exercises, movements with small weights or walking up a steep hill, what is your body telling you and what are you doing about it? 

This way of thinking saved my body, definitely saved my hamstrings and continues to ripple through my teaching.

This is the new wave of yoga.


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