by Lisa Walford
"As an Iyengar teacher of over twenty years, I own many different props. Rarely do I find one as versatile as the SHIVA pillow. I use it to support my neck and head when practicing supine supported pranayama, Viparita Karani and Setu-Bandha . The mild Jalandhara bandha in the later quiets my eyes and temples, especially at the end of a long day.
In forward bends, the SHIVA rests easily on my shins, is much more practical then a blanket to support my head, and helps me keep the throat open and relaxced. In any Padmasana oriented posture, including Bharadvajasana 2, the support of the SHIVA pillow beneath the knee helps me keep the pelvis balanced. For students with stiff knees, I place the pillow behind the knee in Virasana. The conforming material in the SHIVA pillow mushes down perfectly to allow for flexion, while maintaining space in the knee.
On a more pedestrian level, the SHIVA pillow fits nicely into my lower back when I travel, in car seats and airplanes. I even use it to prop my head up if I have a window seat.
The SHIVA pillow makes a great gift. It is personal, and encourages friends to practice. Perhaps a pillow is a small iconographic reminder that support comes in many ways. It symbolizes giving up the need to control everything, and it invites me to accept support, an idea that took me a long time to embrace. As I write this, my SHIVA pillow is waiting for my morning Pranayama practice, welcoming me forward on the journey inward."
LISA WALFORD holds a senior Iyengar teaching certificate and has been teaching yoga in Los Angeles since 1982. She continues her studies annually with the Iyengars. She is also the curriculum director for the Teacher Training Program at YogaWorks and was instrumental in its development. She is on the advisory board of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the Yoga Studies program at Loyola Marymount University.