[I enjoyed doing the first Behind the Sequence post and thought other yoga teachers might as well, so I'm turning it into an occasional series.]
Lou Asselin discovered Yoga in 1999 at Studio Yoga in Madison-NJ with Theresa Rowland who holds several Iyengar Yoga certifications and with whom she completed her teacher training in 2005. Since 2002 she has been teaching general classes as well as specialty classes. Lou has taught yoga for Athletes (weekend warriors, swimmers, and semi-pro football players), Restorative classes, Power yoga, yoga for Seniors and older adults, Gentle and Prenatal yoga, yoga for kids and teens, Yoga for Backcare, beginners and intermediate classes among others. Her training allowed her to study with many of the great, senior Iyengar teachers from all over the world. Since moving to New York in 2008 she studies with Genny Kapuler.
What style of yoga do you practice and teach?
I practice Lou Yoga! It’s very Iyengar based. Mr. Iyengar says only he can practice Iyengar Yoga and only you can practice Witold Yoga, so I practice Lou Yoga. My main teacher has been Genny Kapuler for the past few years, but I have also studied with Teresa Rowland, Gabriella Giubilaro, Lois Steinberg and Kofi Busia. Deborah Wolk has also been very important to me lately. Iyengar Yoga for me is about understanding the natural order of things in the body. It’s about alignment, where you are in space and how you move your body. It’s about lining ourselves up with the breath, organizing the nervous system and making space inside. Always making more space inside.
Where and to what level students did you teach this class?
It was to a mixed level group of students, beginners up to intermediates, at Yogasana Center in Brooklyn, New York.
What were the primary themes of this class?
It was a restorative class, so it was about how to quiet the body and the senses. We were creating broadness across the pelvis and being spacious in the ribcage. We were also being aware of how the breath moves in and out of the body and how it moves into the ribs and lungs. Being spacious in the trunk and aware of the breath.
Guide us through the sequence of poses.
We started in a quiet manner, in Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose), to calm the nervous system and the brain. After that we went to poses to lengthen the legs and broaden the pelvis, like Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Spread Feet Pose). We did full Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) to create mobility in the joints. After that we did inversions, Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and variations. All this was to prepare for more quiet lying down. Total quiet first, then create mobility, and then quiet again. Then we lay down to do breathing, some short pranayamas. Pranayama is an essential part of restorative. As you get more seasoned in your practice, it’s a way of making pranayama part of it. It’s a way of feeding it in until you can do pranayama on its own. After pranayama in supported Shavasana (Corpse Pose) we did flat Shavasana.
What were your sources of inspiration?
Yoga Praveena Arun is a student of Mr. Iyengar from Bangalore who comes to Studio Yoga to give workshops. Part of the set-ups we did for poses were inspired by him.
How did you set about planning your class?
For this class, I wrote it up and practiced bits and pieces, but not the whole thing. Sometimes I do practice the whole thing beforehand and sometimes I base my classes on combinations of poses I have practiced in the past. Sometimes I just write it up, teach it and make adjustments. In the photo you can see how I initially planned to teach it written up first, then you can see how I changed it as we went along.
How was the class received?
It was very well received. Very often students are buzzing when they first come in, so I was looking for a calming of the nervous system from them. You can see in poses like Viparita Karani where they have their eyes closed how their eyes are rolling under the eyelids. Their brains are still going. I gave them an extended period of time to become comfortable and just be in the positions. It took a little while. After Sarvangasana there was real quiet.