Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When I Practice, I am Strong

Practice, Practice, Practice
All is coming ~K. Pattabhi Jois

Day 2 of our Ashtanga journey

Today we moved into the first few standing postures of the series after going through Surya Namasakar A and B 5 times each on our own. Just flowing through the salutations that many times, conscious of my drishti and my breath, was work. Half way through I realized while I have come to the understanding of engaging mula bandha...I'm not always sure about when to disengage. :/

I did find some new found freedom in my downward facing dog simply by remembering my drishti. My head knew I should be looking at my navel but I don't always remember that!

We worked through triangle, revolved triangle, side angle and revolved side angle... we worked through them a lot.
I felt invigorated, I felt strong, I felt focused...

That focused feeling lasted ALL day.
I worked a 9 hour shift at work and managed to do so with energy and a positive attitude all day long. I don't care who you are...9 hours is a LONG day stuck in a cubicle...today was a good day :)

My finishing sequence this morning included wheel ...the braid worked :) Utplutih
I've always had trouble with Utplutih but I'll get there with practice, practice practice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

AHHHH Ashtanga

Typically February has me taking a peek to see what new challenge Christine has for us. In addition to that, this month the hub and I have signed up for a month-long beginner's course in Ashtanga yoga at the Yoga Shala. I have practiced Ashtanga before and have the great fortune of having studied under some amazing teachers so when I noticed one of my favorite mentors and teachers actually owns the studio, we were there!
Today, day 1
6:30am at the Shala
Yoga Shala teaches traditional Ashtanga in the Mysore method and it was absoluely awesome walking into the studio where other yogis were moving through their individual practice flowing with inhale and exhale. Mysore encourages each person to go at his or her own pace, you learn the poses one at a time, as your teacher deems you ready. You progress at your own pace and develop a personal practice.
So Awesome.

We were up at 5:10am (admittedly, I was up before the alarm...excited to go!)
This morning's lesson took us through Surya Namaskar A and B series, bridge, wheel...my pony-tail got in the way :(

Tomorrow we add some call and return, standing poses ...and I wear my hair in a braid!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let it Flow, Let yourself Go...what the heck is a yoga flow and why am I crying?

2011 brought me back to my yoga mat (yay!) as a practitioner and instructor. I teach in the beautifully quaint downtown center of Winter Garden at Ananda Yoga and Massage. Downtown Winter Garden offers a cluster of family owned business in a nostalgic setting and Ananda fits in perfectly; the vibe in the studio is very welcoming.

2012 launched a bunch of new and exciting things for the Studio and I'm so excited to see the hustle and bustle that will be happening there. We have great teachers throughout the week, several massage therapists and exciting specialty classes like guided meditation, candlelight yoga and even Crystal Singing Bowl meditations!

I started out teaching a yoga basics class on Saturday mornings. It's a class where we focus on technique, form, alignment and phases of different asanas or groups of asanas (think twists or backbends) and it's good for any one from a baby to a seasoned yogi. I love teaching this class because it brings ME back to basics. Sometimes it's just easy to fly right through a sun salutation without even thinking about it...but then later wonder why my neck is out of whack :\

This month I added a Funk and Flow class ...yes I said FUNK :)
It's set to great music, including rock, reggae, hip hop, blues and world beats, and is geared to the student who likes to sweat and be challenged both physically and mentally. A strong emphasis on linking breath to movement creates a steady and consistent flow from pose to pose, encouraging a meditation in motion.

It's amazing how physically and emotionally cleansing a flow class can be. Not only can you be motivated by the music, which usually follows a theme (even if that theme is just to DANCE), the process of the flow actually acts as a physical and emotional scrub brush so it's not unheard of to find yourself in tears as you find your inner warrior or while you rest in savasana.

Why is this?

For starters, we'll discuss the class format.
As I mentioned, the class is set to an eclectic mix of music ...last week included the Beastie Boys, Eurythmics, Sting, Jack Johnson, Steve Ross and Camille ... you're welcome to sing along, tap your toe or just flat out dance, after all ...it's your mat, it's your space.

We start out with a warm up that leads into an invigorating round of Sun Salutations to warm the body. Then we BOUNCE...yes Bounce (more on that later)
Once we're good and warm we move into the work phase. This includes more challenging standing poses incorporated in a vinyasa flow...think "Inhale-move, Exhale-move" and definitely SWEAT.
We take it to the floor for some core work and move into seated poses that are held longer for a deeper stretch to the muscles now that they are good and warm. Class will always end in an inversion and a deeply relaxing savasana to seal in the benefits of the class.

There's no doubt this is a physically challenging class and you should have at least 6 months of prior yoga experience or a teacher recommendation before attending. But what about that emotional scrubber part I mentioned?

Well, this has to do with the lymphatic system and the way we "work it" in this class.
Stop and think of every emotion you had in the past 24 hours
Did you yell?
Did you laugh?
Stub your toe?
Did your heart gush with love?
Were you frustrated?
Were you relaxed?
Each and every one of those feelings...and ones you don't even realize, release hormones into your system. Once you're done "using" those hormones in the moment, they "sit" in your lymphatic system. This system is the only one in the body without it's own pumping system (Respiratory - lungs, Circulatory - heart, etc.) So what happens to all these used up emotes? They sit in your body...sometimes they cause pain...either way they are "toxic" and need your help to let them out.
THIS is why we bounce...we get warm, we bounce (creating an internal pump to release toxins from the lymphatic system), then we work...to sweat out all those toxins. Sometimes, sweat just isn't enough and our eyes leak too. Sometimes you feel that original emotion all over again...this is why we slow down, allow our selves to go deeper into our stretches, cool down the body with inversions and seal in the benefits of our practice through savasana.

Call it Invigorxhausting
Awesome :)
(but I'm biased)

There's lots of other great stuff happening at the studio this year!
We continue to offer Crystal Singing Bowl meditations once a month and monthly guided meditations are back too! New this year is a monthly Candlelight Yoga class and exciting new Sunday workshops are on the  planning boards too!
Stop by and visit. Ananda has a wonderful and caring yoga and massage staff with several teachers and massage therapists; you're sure to find a place to fit right in/

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lessons from the mat

The best thing I did for myself in 2011 was get back on my mat.
faith like a child
Yoga is my favorite form of everything: physical movement, emotional release, mental training, personal satisfaction, personal growth, sharing and receiving. Yoga completes me.

I have increased my personal practice and, by the grace and flow of all that is right in the Universe, I am teaching again...taking my sense of honoring my being and purpose to a whole new level.

Today's lesson from the mat came during the practice of my life, rather than the practice of asana.
I decided to put a bit of "poetry" on my mat. My hub got a new mat for Christmas so we had one to spare where I could try the medium (permanent marker) and my technique (my own handwriting).
I measured, I spaced out my words, I picked the right colors, measured again, counted letters per line, taped, and measured again just to be sure...and then I put pen to mat.

This is the year. My year. 
I will dream big, grow ideas and take leaps of faith. I will do yoga everyday.
I will rest when I'm tired. I will run, jump and play when I need to be re-energized. 
I will continue to open my heart, lead from that place and allow it to be my guiding force. 
I will get grounded when I feel uprooted and expansive when I feel stuck. 
I will nurture myself with nature in a way that supports my health and energy. 
I will embrace the dark times with love and gentle grace, enjoy and rejoice the bright times with love and laughter, and do my best to be grateful for both. I will say yes more and soften my face. 
I will let others in without losing myself. I will drink deeply from the well and offer back freely and fully. 
I will forgive those who've hurt me and I will forgive myself. I will speak my truth out loud and often. 
I will look for the good in others and in myself. I will dance. I will sparkle. I will cry freely. 
I will revel. I will fly. I will sit quietly. I will live out loud. I will laugh. I will teach and I will learn. 
I will allow myself to be as I am.

It only took a few lines in for me to have a write-o (I wasn't typing...couldn't be a typo)
It gnawed at me
I brooded
I furrowed my brow
I sighed...and not a relaxing let everything that no longer serves you go kind of sigh...
Then I kept going
and had another
The first one obviously still eating at an edge of a thought somewhere...
And then came the lesson, my practice is about accepting where I am and understanding that while I'll never be perfect, in the same breath I already am perfect.
Perhaps it wasn't a write-o but a riiight...ohhhh!

Now, I still haven't competed the entire mat
In my self-ed-ness, I am still wrestling with whether or not the error, which would line up with my drishti in downward facing dog, will be a humble reminder of my not perfect/perfect revelation in a positive way, or in a negative way...
So for now, I haven't thrown it away...as I threatened to do through furrowed brow
But I know today, I cannot work on it any more.
It's a process
Like me
Like my practice

Good lesson, mat!
I Heard An Owl