Thursday, September 26, 2013

Desert Botanical Garden's 75th anniversary

In honor of Desert Botanical Garden's 75th anniversary, admission will be free Saturday, Sept. 28.

The It's a Garden Party is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to free admission, get into the Monarch Butterfly Exhibit for free and take home a free Greenaid seedbomb.

Cooling temps mean it's a perfect time to visit the garden!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 3

As I sit here with sore muscles and a stomach full of pasta, it's hard for me to believe I've made it through three weeks of yoga-teacher training. My body sure believes it though.


The week's lecture focused on the yamas and niyamas. I've been applying what we've learned in my life, especially satya, truthfulness, and ahimsa, non-violence. For instance, if I don't want to do something that I was invited to do, I am trying to be honest about how I really feel and honoring myself by not forcing myself to do it. I'm trying to practice ahimsa by being aware of the negative thoughts I have about myself and reminding myself not to believe everything I think.


Saturday began with Brad's class. I was excited to debut my new yoga mat. I liked how he made a point to introduce himself to every student before class. That's something I'd like to do.
The next four hours were spent learning the art of teaching. We must have gone over Sun Salutation A 100 times. But we all seem a lot more comfortable with it. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to volunteer for overtime at work that night, so I dragged my sore body to work until 10 p.m. afterward. Not my best idea, and I was definitely not practicing ahimsa toward myself that day.


Heather's class was a "block party" in which we used a block for the entire class to keep us in alignment. It also helped in our core workouts, but I'll definitely feel it tomorrow. Ouch! The final four hours of training were spent discussing the fundamental elements of a basic class. We each led a section of a basic flow class. I was tasked with leading the class to plank pose, locust (in three different variations), child's pose, bridge (in three different variations), pigeon pose and baddha konasana, bound angle pose. This was difficult for me because we also had to suggest props and cues for alignment. I also wasn't comfortable with these poses because we have yet to discuss them in detail in class. I think I did an OK job for one of my first times leading the class. I need to work on varying my tone and being more animated, but I think that will come with practice and confidence in knowing the material. Being in front of the room was intimidating; I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. Next time will be better -- I hope!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

D.C. recap: My first Washington Nationals game

I remember watching Bryce Harper play with the Scottsdale Scorpions during Arizona Fall League games three years ago. Crowds would gather near the dugout in hopes of getting an autograph from the then-18-year-old player, yelling out "Mr. Harper! Mr. Harper!"

The memories of Fall League games with a dear friend were on my mind as I watched him play with the Washington Nationals over Labor Day weekend. We created new memories that night.

The Diamondbacks have their Legends, and the Nationals have the Presidents. They race around the field, too, only one of them was in cahoots with the grounds crew, who held the other presidents back so he could win.

As we walked away, Abraham Lincoln came up from behind us, breaking us apart with his body as he hurried away. I wonder where he was going in such a rush ...

We sat in the upper level so we can catch a glimpse of the Capitol from the stadium. Our seats didn't exactly have a view of the Capitol, but we didn't have to walk far to see it.

It was a little hard at first to cheer for a team that's not the D-Backs, but like my home team often did this season, the Nationals rallied to beat the Mets, rewarding fans who stayed. Also, kudos to the Nationals players for great at-bat songs.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rooftop yoga at Hotel Palomar

My view from rooftop, poolside yoga Monday night with Sutra Midtown. A free flow class is held every Monday in September, National Yoga Month. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 2

Exhaling out.

It's been quite the week.

It started Tuesday with a lecture on the history of yoga, which I thoroughly enjoyed. On my to-do list is to read the Bhagavad Gita as well as a book by Iyengar. A few insights stayed with me from the reading, one being:

"Self-possessed, resolute, act
without any thought of results,
open to success or failure.
This equanimity is the path."

I relate to this quote in that it's how I need to view this yoga-teacher training. I need to detach from the result and instead focus on being present and doing the best I can do.


Saturday started with a lecture on vital anatomy in which we tried to pinpoint various landmarks on our bodies. Then came a two-hour Ashtanga workshop with Lisa Cohen, whose energy emanates. It was my first experience practicing Ashtanga, the basis for power flow. Just holding poses like chaturanga dandasana for extended periods of time has me sore still. The class also may have included the longest time I've held downward-facing dog. 

One insight Lisa shared that stuck: FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Another: Being present is a gift you give yourself. That's why it's called the present.

I'd love to try an Ashtanga class again soon, especially with Lisa. My favorite part of the class, though it was uncomfortable at first, was having us adjust each other in down dog. It was my first time adjusting someone! I also liked that our mats were set up in two rows facing each other. "Look across the river of love," Lisa would say.

After the workshop was asana method practice in which I led the class through Surya Namaskar A counting in Sanskrit. I appreciated the practice in finding my voice.


Sunday started with a discussion of creative visualization, or manifesting our dreams. I was not expecting it to be the first time I would cry during this training. Talking about what I want to manifest made me feel vulnerable. It was good to let it out along with my doubts about whether I have made the right decisions.

Next was the chakras and meditation workshop. It was my first experience learning about the chakras and their corresponding chants. I felt noticeably relaxed afterward, and I want to try the meditation more in my daily life. A lot of emotions continued to surface throughout the workshop. The vibrations of the chants carried away the nervousness about the next session of the day, which was asana method practice. I think the more I practice the cues and leading people into the poses with simple instructions, the more confident I will become. The week ended with a 30-minute flow that incorporated all the standing asanas we've learned so far, which is a lot! 

And just like that: two weeks are down and 10 more to go.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Memorial Healing Field at Tempe Beach Park

I visited the Healing Field at Tempe Beach Park today to reflect on the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks. Each of the nearly 3,000 American flags represents a victim. It's an emotional experience to walk amid the rows of flags. Each has a card attached with the name of the victim and notes on the person's life, as well as where the person died.

Healing Field is hosted by the Exchange Club of Tempe and the city of Tempe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yoga Training: Week 1

I survived my first week of yoga teacher training. It wasn't easy, and I've already learned a lot about myself. Here's how it went:


Yoga-teacher training orientation fell on the same day I flew back from the East Coast. I had woken up at 5:30 a.m. Eastern to get to Baltimore from Alexandria. I then had a four-hour layover in Detroit before finally landing around 4:15 p.m. Needless to say, by the time I had it to yoga training at 6 p.m. I was exhausted. 
Luckily the first day was a rundown of the program and introductions. Our YTT program has 7 students, all of them inspiring women. I can't wait to get to know them better. We've already discussed an outing to the Yard and creating a Facebook group. I feel relieved that I have such warm-hearted fellow students to go through this with me. We were given journals to document the program, so it'll be interesting to see the transformation I undergo. 

I love that my journal is red.

Day 1

The first day started with an overview of anatomy from Dr. Natalie Wiggins. She went over the cell and systems of the body. After an hour and a half lecture, it was time for studio time with Angie. We went through various basic poses, including virabhradasana, utkatasana, uttanasana and tadasana in depth, giving us cues for each one. For some poses, like virabhradasana 2, we each went into the pose in front of the class and had everyone call out adjustments to correct our alignment. This was eye-opening, as you never in class have an instructor make sure every aspect of your pose is in the correct alignment. They usually make one or two adjustments on a couple of students. My assignment for next week in class is to lead the class through a Sun Salutation A using Sanskrit. How nerve-racking! I went home mentally and physically exhausted — and starving! I was in bed by 9:30 p.m.

Day 2

We started our Sunday discussing the Power of Intention with Rebecca Fritz. I had never considered the difference between goals and intentions, so it was enlightening to see a new way of looking at things. Goals are more limiting and reasonable, while intentions are limitless. You have to "believe in the magic." Intentions are appealing to me because I'm working on being a more positive person and changing my thoughts. This is one of the most important concepts I want to incorporate off the mat.

We then moved into the big studio for time with Debra applying the anatomy concepts to yoga. We talked others into various poses using anatomy terms such as internal rotation, adduction, abduction and flexion. It was difficult to think in those terms but I know it will be beneficial. Also, having to explain poses to the class gave us practice in public speaking. We got more of that in our time with Roz, who had us lead the class into poses. Initially the class would give out small adjustments without actually giving the major instructions that get someone into a pose. This was a good exercise to learn that it's important first to talk someone into the pose and then adjust. Next time we'll have to know the cues for the poses we went over so that we can talk others into them without notes.

Again, I went home exhausted. Yoga has consumed my thoughts all weekend. And it likely will for the next 11 weeks. On to Week 2 ...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013