David Regelin: Anglephile

This morning Katelyn and I went to David Regelin‘s second class of a four-part series over at Yoga Downtown Tampa. I’d registered us for two classes because I had a feeling we’d learn a lot, but I was a little skeptical, too.  Well, long story short, we were really impressed with the class (which was called handstands, shoulder openers, and backbending) and decided to stay for his afternoon session (arm balances and hip torture). The man came to teach. I left with that feeling about teaching that I have about writing every time I read something really good: why bother trying? I’ll never get to that level. (But then I get over it, and it’s back to the grindstone.)

Katelyn’s smiling now, but Gomukasana is her “Waterloo.”

Briefly, the guy seems into: technique, form, finding the middle, foundational postures, and, especially, angles (“Ninety degrees is the best angle. The rest are obtuse or acute.”). He is not into long sequences, and he’s definitely not into demonstrating. He didn’t demo so much as a forward fold all day. Instead, he worked on every person in the room, multiple times, showing us how we’d deviated from the middle and what we need to work on to bring ourselves back to something like archetypal form. He showed us different case scenarios on different students. He said everyone needs different cues and adjustments, depending on what’s going on with each person’s body (or head).  So, the very tight-hipped runner dude got much different instructions and adjustments than the strong-backed-no-chest-opening lady. It helped that there were only 12 people in class. When you’ve got 30 folks in a flow class, and 90% of them have their butts sticking out in Warrior 2, it makes some sense to say “tuck your tail.” But what we’re really working toward is a neutral tail, he said. Yoga goes through fads and fashions, and we end up with some generic cues that either apply to most people or became popular to prevent a certain kind of injury. But there’s no universal cue for every body. He is big into doing the thing you don’t normally do. So if you’re always a tail tucker (flattening your lumbar curve) try tipping the pelvis. Make sense?

Trying to get me into a good half-lotus fold. Alas, no “miracle” happened.

His adjustments were intense. “Now you’re having an experience,” he would say, to someone he’d trussed up in a strap, pushing them well beyond their normal comfort levels in a stretch. WELL BEYOND, in both measurable physical length and length of time (eternity) holding it. There were whimpers. There was belabored breathing. There was some fear. It was awesome.

I know David has wicked chops from his videos, but he didn’t show off a single one. I wonder if he always came off so ego-minimal, or if that shitty article about him humbled him a little bit. I’d never taken his class before, so I’m just conjecturing here. He was very confident in his methods, very generous with his time, and very patient with questions. So, if he was a jerk before, he showed zero evidence of it.

“You get what you deserve,” he said, and talked a lot about karma, a lot about how your technique catches up with you, how your life catches up with you. The way you live, the way you walk, how you practice, which hand you favor, will all eventually show up. In the same way you wear out your favorite t-shirt first, what used to be your good shoulder becomes your bad shoulder, he said. The antidote is to rethink the way you’ve always done things, and therefore to use your mind to fix your body. “Your mind can’t fix itself,” he said. Neither can your body fix itself. But your mind can fix your body, and then your body can fix your mind. That’s some yoga talk, and I dig it.

He likened Jade and her practice to a Ferrari that requires fine-tuning and smart maintenance.

He compared the way we wear and tear our bodies down to many things (he employs a lot of amusing metaphors). Like, how he used to ride a brakeless track bike through Manhattan with earbuds in, and then was surprised when he was consistently nearly flattened by cars he couldn’t hear. So, he decided he had to change the way he did this thing. Nothing just happens, was the lesson there. A pedestrian doesn’t just suddenly jump at your car out of nowhere if you habitually drive while you’re distracted. And you don’t just suddenly tear a ligament while you’re running: over time your particular technique gets that ligament stressed to a breaking point, and then the proverbial straw lands on your back, and then you’re broken.

Helping tight-hipped runner guy and talking after class.

In the “handstanding” class we only did one kind of handstand, one way (and not even kicking up on both sides), and we that for less than ten minutes. We worked on forearm balance even less. And he didn’t spend the time leading up to those inversions wearing us out with chaturangas, either. Instead, he had us working on all the little techniques in easier poses, all of which would lead up to a handstand. “It’s not fair to yell at you about your technique when you’re already up and just trying to hold it.” Same in the arm balancing class: we did one Bakasana, one Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and one Eka Pada Koundinyasana II. That’s it. And we spent a lot of time in Gomukasana, bound side angle, reverse prayer, Garudasana arms, and plow.

This chick was game.

Katelyn and I go to a lot of workshops, and we always find a little something we can use. Even when it’s really no more than a $60 flow class taught by some Famous Teacher Type, we manage to glean a new cue or idea or sequence. But for bang for the buck, this David Regelin series was easily the most usefully edifying time we’ve spent with a visiting teacher. He taught and taught and taught. Double thumbs up from Beerasana for Mr. David Regelin, and a big thanks to Francine Messano and Yoga Downtown Tampa for hosting.


6 responses to “David Regelin: Anglephile”

  1. brightlea says :

    and he’s beautiful. *sigh*

  2. David says :

    Thanks for the nice piece! It was great having the two of you in class.
    Its true that I rarely demo, I dont know if it says anything about my ego, I just find it to be a poor teaching tool, and after ten years of teaching, a job hazard. That and the fact that I find yoga demos, including my own, so so boring to watch.

    Advanced class are rarely taught by teachers with an advanced understanding …..or attended by practitioners with an advanced level of skill. Arm balances (which people take to believe are the ultimate poses) are rarely related to their prerequisite seated counterparts which are often taught as cool downs poses, whereas in more classical practices, such as Ashtanga, the seated poses “asanas” are the main course. For example, most of the students from these workshops could not sit in Dandasana- a seated right angle. Typically, a woman who was shaking in her handstand at the wall and complaining about wrist pain asked me to teach her to press into a handstand. Jump up all you want, desire all you want, watch someone demo till your jaw drops off, if you can’t sit at a right angle, don’t expect to magically jump or float into a right angle “L” handstand.
    Ok that’s my bit, I had a great time with the Tampa crowd,wonderful, intelligent folks, a pleasure to teach.

    • beerasana says :

      David, thanks for your bit! Yeah, that makes sense. I’m definitely incorporating more seated postures mid-class and relating them better to the arm balances they support. As well as squats and arm binds. Thanks again, we hope to get to a training in new york as soon as your schedule is up.

  3. liquidearthyoga says :

    Reblogged this on LiquidEarthYoga and commented:
    That’s it. I never could have said it in that way. Thank you beerasana for this wonderful written article!

  4. Francine says :

    Thank you very much Katelyn and Jenny for coming. I am thrilled you enjoyed it. Those who want to understand what I want to do with my studio will, those who don’t.. will just miss out on great teachers and a great experience.

  5. Carolina Cardona Smith says :

    This article was very nice and interesting to read. I thank you so much for sharing your experience in the workshop with D R . I could not make it but definately your article had provided amazing information and curiosity to hopefully one day be able to take some workshops w him…I loved the fact that the class as you described was not only showing demos, but instead helping and teaching attendees in their postures. Nice ! Thank you again for sharing! 🙂

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