13 December 2010

Backbend breakthrough with David Swenson

When I attended a David Swenson workshop recently entitled somewhere along the lines of “hands on adjustments” I had thought I might pick up a few tips, on assisting, my students into a couple of poses.

David Swenson had been my first yoga teacher many years ago (16 to be precise). A lot of things have happened in my life in those years (and no doubt in his too) and I felt like a different person to the one who was introduced to yoga by this man all those years ago. We chatted briefly after the workshop and I thanked him for introducing me to Ashtanga yoga and, therefore, changing my life direction for ever. Amazing how one chance meeting on a Greek island can open up a whole new dimension!

In fact I had gone to Skyros to attend a workshop called “Creative Change”. I changed my mind and moved to the other side of the island to do yoga and windsurfing. The workshop worked in a funny kind of way.

David Swenson was just as I had remembered him; he had hardly changed at all... A little lighter, a little less hair (sorry David), but still sharing his yoga knowledge in a fun and honest way. We shared a little bit of banter, his ability to tease and be teased shows something about being comfortable in his own skin; something I think we all strive for.

As in many yoga workshops, you are often paired with someone to work on a pose. We had worked on a couple of standing poses and then David said we were going to work on a backbend. I was paired with a French couple who spoke no English and my knowledge of French is counting to ten (so not so useful). We were then very quickly shown how to come to standing from a back bend ( Urdhva Dhanurasana).

I have never done this before and quite frankly had thought it was probably off limits to me (as I’m nearer to 50 than I am to 40). I had set my own limits of what was achievable. No one was more surprised than me to find myself in a standing position from starting in a backbend. It was fantastic! I had a breakthrough not only in the physical sense, but also in the way I view my own limitations.

The other issue that come up for me was a question of trust. I was allowing a couple of strangers to assist me in a pose that I had previously felt fearful of. We did not speak the same language and had met only a minute before, but - hey presto - the three of us were up on our feet for the first time.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to do this pose again? What I do know is that I was given the opportunity to experience something new on many level and for this I am very grateful. It seems David Swenson opens doors and I walk through them. Hopefully it won’t be another 16 years before our paths cross again.


  1. Great story! I love it when a practice takes you to somewhere new.

    I'd love to know how to do this too! Post please. ;)

  2. I will give you a nod Kim when I feel I can post how to do this ;-)

  3. Thanks for sharing :) I'm attending a one day workshop with the man, and have no idea what to expect and am going alone. Your post is awesome :)

  4. Your in for a treat Cory. David is a wonderful teacher and a funny kind hearted man-Let me know how it goes? :-)


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