Have you wanted to join a yoga class, but feel like many others, that you just don’t have the balance? The topic of this article and a book written by local suburban Detroit author and yoga instructor, Nancy McCaochan, 1.”Like Stanzas in a Poem, Yoga at the Wall”, might be just what you need to get started. I met Nancy quite serendipitously on my husband’s birthday, after running the first 3 miles with him of his 50-mile run.
On the run home, I decided to stop at the Karma Yoga Studio at the corner of Lahser and Maple to check out their current schedule of classes. I was excited to see that a local Detroit Kundalini Yoga instructor I’d wanted to interview and write about was teaching a morning session there. Since it was too late to join that session, I decided to run home as quickly as possible and drive back to catch her at the end of class. However, being a slow runner, I didn’t make it in time, so decided to stay for Nancy’s 8:15 Yoga at the Wall class.
The class was very enjoyable, and drew attention to muscles that I’d normally not pay much attention to. It also made me think of how beneficial the class would be for some of my students with balance and other physical limitations. I had an opportunity to speak with her after class, and she agreed to an interview with me. Nancy also graciously gave me a copy of her book, “Like Stanzas in a Poem, Yoga at the Wall”.
Our recent interview started with taking pictures of some of the various yoga postures that can be done with the wall. (see slideshow) We then sat down and talked about how she started teaching yoga, and how she went from practicing and teaching Iyengar, Kripalu, & Ashtanga, to Wall Yoga.
Nancy stated that she started teaching yoga in 1995 at Hocking College, a technical school in a small city near Columbus, Ohio. She attended her first Yoga Association of Greater Detroit “Yoga Day” that following spring, where she met Yoga teacher, Johnny Kest. After moving to the Detroit area and working with Mr. Kest, she eventually took Teacher Training with him. Nancy also became a member of YAGD.
With so many skills and talents as a yoga teacher already under her belt, she began teaching at Karma Yoga. a local suburban Detroit Yoga studio, She started a wall Yoga class upon the request of the owner at the time. Her idea for her book came when she’d asked a friend to substitute a class for her one weekend, and the sub asked if there were any books that she could reference. They found that there were none. According to Nancy, “a door/window” of opportunity opened in her heart and the book, Yoga at the Wall emerged within three years.
Benefits of wall Yoga, according to Nancy, include that using the wall provides additional resistance and support needed to move in and out of postures safely and effectively, while also improving alignment within the postures.. The support of the wall is invaluable for individuals with balance issues, supporting balance postures such as tree pose, half-moon, and warrior 3, among others. There is also less strain on the joints, i.e. doing push-ups and down dog with the wall, puts much less strain on the shoulder and wrist joints.
One of the main benefits of practicing Wall Yoga according to Nancy is improving ones’ spacial orientation. For example, connecting to the wall makes you more aware of where your body is in space.. Nancy states that this is one of the main benefits that her students say that they get from doing Wall Yoga..
What Nancy likes most about teaching Wall Yoga is “her students”. She says that she has a core of students at each of her Wall Yoga classes at Karma Yoga, who come back week after week. She states that there are however, limitations to Wall Yoga, such as in doing some Kundalini movements where the wall may be restrictive.
When asked, who is wall yoga for, Nancy responded: “beginner, intermediate, and advanced students can benefit from wall yoga”. Any one who is rehabilitating from an illness or injury can also benefit. In other words, anyone can practice wall yoga. I noticed people of all ages when I attended her class. Nancy states in her book that wall yoga is like “stanzas in a poem”, which expresses the unlimited possibilities when doing yoga at the wall. As she states, “any postures that you would do without the wall, can be done with the wall”, with added resistance, stability and support.
I recommend Nancy’s book for anyone interested in or are already practicing yoga.. It is an excellent fundamental guide on yoga practice. For the beginner it answers the questions, where, when, how often, how long, and what yoga practices to start with. For the advanced student it offers very specific descriptions of postural anatomy and alignment when you are in the postures; and clear instruction on how to engage the muscles around the joints to gain the most benefit. Many examples of the postures with the wall are pictured in the book as well..
Copies of Nancy’s book are available at AMAZON.com and at the Karma Yoga Studio, 3683 W Maple Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI, where she teaches wall yoga classes on Tuesday and Sunday mornings at 8:15. You can view excerpts from Nancy’s book at her website: www.nancymccaochan.com, where she has a “Yoga at the Wall” page, and/or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also available for speaking engagements and live demonstrations. To contact her by phone, call 248-797-4271.
- Like Stanzas in a poem, Yoga at the Wall, by Nancy MCCaohan