Contact me

Use the form on the right to send me an email!

Austin, Texas




Jawahar 11/6

Melissa Hagen

After three days of classes with Jawahar I am reminded that even poses that I have done one thousand times can be new again. He refined and refined us, and I feel like I received so much high quality information from those few moments. It always astounds me how long we hold the postures and how a good teacher can keep speaking while holding us there, taking our awareness to all these different points in our bodies, and before we know it, we are recruiting all of these parts to act at the same time, in unison, like all the members of a band working together to create an incredible song! 

One thing I noticed was that when he prepared us to chant was that he almost put us in a seated savansana. "Separate the outer ears from the inner ears" and make the mind passive to prepare to chant.

We did lots of backbends, lots of shoulder work, moving the shoulder blades into the back ribs, opening the chest. Lots of rope wall and chair stuff.


I think I understand a little more clearly what I mentioned yesterday about Chair Sarvangasana. With the legs resting on the chair back, the part of the body that carries the most weight is the legs and sacrum on the chair. The cervical spine should lift up away from the blankets as the outer shoulders ground. We should not compress the neck, we have to learn to lift the cervical even when the legs are up in supported viparita karani (which is what he called it, but I thought it was just normal chair sarvangasan?) I experimented taking my legs back and forth and its true, legs rest, cervical lifts. Legs come up and I have to dig my sacrum in to keep my cervical lifting. Not sure if it's explained well, but try it, you'll see! 

I'm honored to be a beacon of Iyengar Yoga for my students! 


Jawahar Workshop 11/5

Melissa Hagen

Hello! I wanted to write out a little bit of what I took away from my first two days with Jawahar. He is teaching the most basic poses with the finest attention to detail! I've had so many aha! moments and there is still one more day! 

What stood out the first day: 

In Adho Mukha Svanasana;

  • align the outer shoulder to inner wrist and outer hip to inner ankle which is wider in the arms than some are used to and maybe narrower in the feet also
  • Develop sensitivity in the skin of the thumb and index finger thats pressing into the ground
  • "grip the elbows"
  • move the top of the shoulder blades to the collarbones 
  • don't shorten neck- take upper middle spine IN

The back of the body is the subconscious, we have to learn to move from our skin when we can't see with our eyes. 

Gupta Padangustasana; heels on block, strap foot, take leg to 90 degrees and check that knee is not rolling in or out, open back of knee of down leg and develop back leg sensitivity

Later we did Setu Bandha with two blocks creating a wide, tall support for the buttocks. Once my legs were straight I was astounded to realize how much my legs felt like the down leg in S. Pada and how CRAZY HARD they had to work. My inner right groin kept cramping in both poses! Ended in a long Viparita Karini, which he called something else, I can't recall.

Those are my main takeaways from yesterday, now lets discuss today.

I rushed to make it on time from work and once I settled in our first pose; Supta Bahada Konasana, I was cooking from literally running to make it on time. I cooled, we breathed. He kept our minds focused as we did Ujjayi 1. He had us focus on taking the breath to the sides of the torso, explaining that often the breath is a thin channel in the torso, and we must learn to make it more three dimensional. I got an image of an empty vessel, we can imagine a glass with a straw down the center, and normally we breath in and out taking up the space of only the straw, but we must learn to pour the breath down the straw and teach it to flow out to the sides as it fills up to the top.

I have to take time to think of the order but I recall doing rope AMSvan then walking forward to hanging Uttanasana with the feet back a little, learning to come up with STRAIGHT LEGS and straight arms, or else it is not Iyengar Yoga

Sirsasana; the main two things that go wrong with Sirsasana are wrong placement of arms (should be a TRIANGLE, wrists in line) and wrong placement of head, ears should be perpendicular, and DESCEND THE BASE OF THE SKULL DOWN AS YOU LIFT THE INNER SHOULDERS UP, create space in the neck. If the fingers become loose and get squished then the top wrists turn out. 

Dwi Pada in chair, bent knees, feet on floor, we hooked the bottom of the shoulder blades on the edge of the chair to release the neck after Sirsasana, head hangs back, long hold, didn't straighten legs and kept arms extended straight out to the sides from shoulders to get broad chest opening for pranayama, which was actually a difficult arm position. 

Sarvangasana in the chair; legs resting over the back bar which i didn't love. Long hold, and I found I had to almost curl my sacrum into the chair to get my thoracic spine to lift in the way I thought he wanted, which I'm uncertain is correct. Came down, laid with legs in chair.

Then Pranayam! We asked him to show us supported Savasana, then did Viloma, again taking the breath to the sides of the torso. 

Points of Savasana; never lay back with straight legs. Lay with bent knees, feet on floor. Lift and tuck buttocks first. Extend one leg at a time forward through inner heels then let the feet turn out as you relax the legs. Use hands to hold occiput, extending base of skull away from top shoulders, then finally dig elbows in to ground, lift shoulder blades into back rib as you roll the outer corners of the shoulders back and down and extend arms out to sides palm up. If the pointer finger knuckle is not grounded, learn to turn more the upper inner arm out. 

This is not everything, but it's a good start! Looking forward to tomorrow! More notes to come. 


Introductory 2 Assessment

Melissa Hagen

I'm itching to get some words written here, so let us see, where to start. 

I had my Introductory 2 assessment this last weekend and just like my first, it was an exhilarating and uplifting experience. Nothing like it to teach you which parts you have yet to learn. I loved getting to visit Constance's studio in Houston, getting to meet my peers who flew in from all over, getting to invoke together, soothed by the few familiar things, my sharp as a tack study buddy Mary, whom I was so thankful for, my Moon Mat. I prepared my pranayama setup so carefully, knowing that any slightly incorrect prop placement could make my neck or upper back complain during the half an hour or so we would be laying for. My poses felt strong, my balance steady. My forty minute teaching demonstration passed so quickly, and before I knew it the whirlwind weekend was over.

It feels good. To relax. To work consistently, over a long period of time towards a distant goal and then to achieve it and then to be able to relax. Savasana. 

I'm looking forward to the halloween workshop for George Purvis. I managed to get a rare Saturday off and I'll take notes to post on the sequence.