Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 8

First, some thoughts: The yoga studio is becoming my second home. I’m there 4-5 times a week, so I see more and more familiar smiles and have tried out new classes. It's nice to be part of this little community. 


I loved our Tuesday night session on the yogi lifestyle. We talked about the yamas and niyamas again and how they apply in our lives. It was part girl talk, part discussion. We learn so much about each other – maybe even more than we want to know – and about ourselves.


I had to stick out my tongue during the ayurvedic science lecture. ... I was waiting for our teacher to say how I was deficient in this or that, but he actually said I have a healthy tongue, though it’s apparently evident that I am a Vata dosha because of my nervous movements. Maybe it’s my general state of being or perhaps it was the slight nervousness of spotting people in our inversion workshop later that day. I was fearful of not being able to hold someone’s legs up and having the person suffer an injury. It was all “borrowing trouble from the future." I was indeed able to hold someone’s legs in both handstand and forearm balance. (Someone closer to my size, of course.)  Most people seemed to know what they were doing. I only spotted two people, so I was able to work on my own practice. Angie spotted me in pincha mayurasana and I did it away from the wall! After the workshop I even answered some questions from a woman who is thinking about signing up for yoga-teacher training. It felt amazing to inspire someone to (maybe) sign up! Our arms were pretty much jelly after the workshop, but we still discussed and attempted more arm balances in our final two hours. I went home with rather tight muscles that night.


The first part of Sunday was all about juicing and how to do it. It’s something I’ve been interested in, but I haven’t made the commitment to buy a juicer. I would consider a cleanse for maybe a day, but I don’t know about any longer than that. We took home from recipes and lots of knowledge about how to cleanse safely if we choose to. Again I went home thinking that I seriously need to take a look at my diet and treat my body better. That night I signed up for a FarmBox subscription from a farm in Willcox so I can start eating organic vegetables. I also want to stay away from processed foods as much as possible, though I’ll try not to beat myself up about it if I give in every once in a while. It’s all about Brahmacharya (moderation), right?

The latter part of Sunday was for review and more teaching practice. I led the class from Hero to Half Hero to Lord of the Fish pose. I also was supposed to teach Revolved Half Moon but instead led them to Half Moon – all because I wasn’t actually doing the pose and mixed up my right and left. Oops! In a regular class the students would have never known, but I need more practice in leading without doing the poses. I felt a lot better about how I did as a teacher, though I didn’t really get any specific feedback. I’ll take that as a job well done. J

That leaves four more weeks of yoga-teacher training!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back to Arizona Fall League

Going to a Fall League game this month brought back some fond memories of games at Scottsdale Stadium a couple of years ago. This year I went to Camelback Ranch Glendale to see the Glendale Desert Dogs play the Peoria Javelinas.  It was a perfect fall evening, with temperatures in the 60s. I was even a bit “cold” as I sipped my iced tea. It wasn’t the same without Sue yelling out “Best in the universe” at all the players, but it was still a good time watching baseball.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 7


Tuesday was a practicum class at Sutra. Highlights of the class were different transitions and the guided visualization of bright light passing through the body at the end. I’m filing these away for future use. Afterward the girls and I went to Main Ingredient for dinner and drinks. I enjoy my time with my yoga buddies!


Our lecture on Ayuvedic Science taught me I may have a Vata imbalance and some of what that entails. After we went over Pitta I suspected I could have a Pitta imbalance as well. I wished the teacher would tell me what he thinks I have but sadly he would not. I guess he wants me to figure it out for myself.(I later took a quiz on finding out  your dosha, and just as I suspected, my results said Vata and Pitta.)

My pre-yoga Saturday had included running 6 miles as part of my training for the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon in December, so I was hoping we wouldn’t have too much movement during yoga. But our next two hours were spent working on Side Plank, Head Stand, Hand Stand and other poses. (Boy, was I sore the next day.) I first tried Head Stand next to a wall, but my teacher encouraged me to try it once away from the wall. She was there to catch me if needed, which reduced my fear. Doing it by myself the first time was such a cool moment;  I felt so accomplished. She then asked me to try it again and I did it! No more using the wall. (A few days later I tried Head Stand at home to see if I could do it again and I was able to four more times away from the wall!)

Later that day, we tried more arm balances, including Side Crow and Forearm Balance. I learned that I have been reinforcing bad habits by using the wall to practice. First I wasn’t activating my lower ab muscles, which was causing me to go into my back. I felt it in my abs the next day after doing it correctly. I’m so grateful for my encouraging and supportive yoga teachers for helping me improve and grow.


The lecture on Nutritional Science taught me I need to take a good look at my eating habits. (Don’t we all?) After that we spent the next two hours discussing the shoulder muscles and pinpointing them on each other’s bodies. It’s not my strong suit. We then went over and demonstrated twisting poses, which felt so nice after Saturday. For teaching practice I led the class to Head Stand, which I transitioned to from Malasana. An extra step to place the knees on the triceps would have made more sense, but I didn’t think about it in the moment.  You live and you learn. 

Now I need to persuade more people to let me teach them my sequences. …

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lunar Flow at the Clarendon

Sutra's Lunar Flow at the Clarendon Hotel was back on the roof this month. When I walked into the hotel Sunday night I initially thought I had the wrong day, but then I spotted some other yogis and followed them to the roof, which has been remodeled and now has more room for yoga. The skies were clear and the temperature was 74 degrees when I left. Couldn't have asked for a more perfect end to the weekend!

A highlight of the class: The community aspect was emphasized throughout. We were asked to hold hands with our neighbors in Tree Pose and into Warrior C. We contemplated how grateful we were to be able to come together with our community to practice yoga. Such a beautiful sentiment!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 6


We spent our last Roots of Yoga session discussing and practicing meditation styles. We started by trying to meditate for about 10 minutes. I could not get into it. It turned out some of the other girls couldn't either. First, I couldn’t stop replaying conversations from throughout the day (or thinking about things I should have said). And then it was the music. I loved the songs and kept thinking about how I’d like to Shazam them. But maybe that’s not what meditation music should do. That was probably done to show us how we should try to pick instrumental meditation music. Wordless music helps quiet the mind!

We also did a moving meditation. We were led through a sequence, one breath per movement, that we repeated twice at our own pace with our eyes closed. Closing the eyes makes a big difference. There’s no looking around, no comparing yourself with other students, no looking at yourself in the mirror to check out your alignment. It throws you a little off balance, but that just forces you to move slowly and mindfully. Closing your eyes helps you look inward and let everything else go.

We even practiced guiding each other through meditation. For my part I guided the other girls through a garden, with bees buzzing about from flower to flower, greenery everywhere, butterflies floating throughout. I asked them to visual bright red roses, and that's where I stopped. I felt like I could/should have said more, but that may just be me being hard on myself. I got a few compliments on my part of the meditation, which I appreciated. My yoga sisters are so kind!


Before class I met with my sister to give her the first yoga lesson she's ever had. What an honor! She seemed to enjoy her first yoga experience, and I hope she tries it again. She even said she felt sore the next day. Yay!

In our practicum class I noticed a few things the instructor did that I liked. First, the creative transitions. I am not used to going directly from Parsvakonasana to Trikonasana, but it makes sense! All you do is straighten your front leg. I'm used to going from Side Angle to Reverse Triangle and then Triangle. Another nice transition is full splits to Pigeon. I also liked how the instructor greets every person before class, either shaking hands or waving. And I liked how he gave the option to use any mudra you connect with in the initial seated meditation. I love options!

The next four hours were an informal Q&A about teaching in general, music, setting the tone of a class, how to demo at a studio, and sequencing. I took home so many insights and even a few book recommendations. I ordered "Happy Yoga" that night.


After our practicum came the four hours of training that many of us seemed a little stressed about. Our homework had been to put together an all-levels sequence. We were told we'd teach a part of class, and it's a little scary not knowing exactly what you'll be asked to do. I ended up leading the class through the initial centering, twists, cat/cows, Balasana, Downward-facing Dog, Forward Folds, and Sun Salutations. I actually wasn't nervous, which was shocking! I felt confident that I knew the cues. I just need to inject more of my personality into it. Easier said than done, but I am proud of how I did. I am proud of how we all did, actually. On my to-do list now: Finalize my first playlist and practice my all-levels flow to it.

And just like that, the first half of our yoga-teacher training is done!

Maybe one day ...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yoga on my mind

Thoughts on yoga, meditation

As one of our yoga teachers keeps reminding us, the 200-hour yoga-teacher training just scratches the surface, and it’s up to us to research more on our own. So I’ve been looking up meditation techniques and scripts online that I’d like to personalize. I ordered the book "Happy Yoga," which at least two people have recommended recently. I’m also trying to practice at home every day and as often as possible in the studio.  

I have committed to try a few minutes of meditation each day, but I've had mixed results. We were told we might see a difference after 30 or more days of doing it. I am finding that it helps to immediately meditate when you wake up, sitting up (not in bed), before you think to do anything else. If I start doing other things, like cleaning, eating breakfast, or watching TV, I probably won’t get to meditating. On one of the days I meditated and practiced yoga at home last week I noticed that I had a smile on my face for the entire day. I was more likely to say hi to strangers and ask how they were doing. And I was more chatty than my usually introverted self. It'll be interesting to see if that continues to happen.

When I practice at home, I told myself I need to be doing at least 20 minutes. Lately it’s been more like 30-40, but some days I wake up late and have to skip it before work. (Keep me accountable!)  I just flow in whatever way feels good. I’m working on hand stand against a wall, too. I’m hoping daily practice will help me release my fear and build core strength. Besides confidence in my public speaking those are the areas I most want to work on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 5

Last week flew by, mostly because of everything going on outside of yoga. I noticed that the concepts we're studying in yoga I'm reminded of every day off the mat.


Our lecture and yoga practice centered on vibration as a tool and the chakras. I seemed to have the most difficulty in getting out the seed syllable Hum, for my throat chakra. This might be a hint that I am holding back on saying things, which makes sense. I tend to think a lot before I say anything, so much so that I often don't say anything at all. I found it difficult to be present during lecture that night because I had plans afterward. Those plans were to go to the Lumineers concert at Comerica Theatre. I thought for sure I'd miss the first part of the concert because yoga didn't end until 9 p.m., but luckily the band didn't go on until at least 9:30 p.m., so Graham and I had plenty of time to get there. That didn't stop me from stressing out about it beforehand. As Graham would say, I was borrowing trouble from the future.

During the concert as the band started to play "Ho Hey." Wesley, the lead singer, asked everyone to put their phones away so they could truly experience the moment. It was the reminder I needed earlier that night at teacher training and then again at that moment. From then I kept my phone put away until the band was set to leave the stage. I tried to really feel the music. I could feel it vibrating through my body. It was an incredible show!


I missed Saturday's class, including a workshop on yin flow, because I was in Flagstaff for a good friend's wedding. Luckily I was back to Phoenix around 11:10 a.m. Sunday, just in time to change and get ready for yoga teacher training. It was a fun but late night Saturday, so I felt grateful that we started the day off with a yoga nidra workshop (yogic sleep). It was so relaxing that I felt as though I had slept for a few moments, because at one point I couldn't recall what the instructor had just said. I opened my eyes briefly just to make sure everyone wasn't up and waiting for me to wake up. 

After lunch we a had a meditation workshop. (I really lucked out after a night of celebrating.) Again, I felt as thought I had fallen asleep, especially as we used creative visualization with our legs stretched up the wall. I came back when one of my legs started to slip down the wall. I pictured the green of Hawaii and its beaches with Graham and the dogs. The word happiness came to mind.

The last two hours were for going through cues for more poses and practicing them. After practicing Chaturanga Dandasana and realizing some of us need to go down to our knees until we can do it correctly, we tried Bakasana (which I found out I've been doing wrong), Side Crow, head stand, forearm balance, hand stand, among others. Forearm stand is my favorite so I appreciated the practice. One day I'll do it away from the wall --- I just need to release my fear.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yoga-Teacher Training: Week 4


Last week was a practicum week, meaning that instead of lectures we attended a class at Sutra. Tuesday’s class was over at 7, so the girls decided to meet up at The Yard for some bonding over dinner. It was nice to spend time together outside of the yoga setting and learn even more about them.


Lecture centered on vital anatomy, specifically the types of muscle stretching in yoga. I then grabbed a quick lunch at Wy Not Café before our studio time. The next four hours were spent adjusting each other in seated poses. We did so many forward folds that we felt euphoric afterward. It was nice to both practice adjustments and have adjustments done on us. There was a portion of the class during which we warmed ourselves up by flowing in whatever way we wanted, which I looked at as good practice in coming up with my own sequences and seeing what feels natural to do after each pose.


Our lecture on meditation styles including practice various techniques. Meditation is not only sitting meditation but can be other things we enjoy, like hiking, running, working, anything. For me it’s being outdoors, especially when Graham and I are camping and hiking.

During our studio time I discovered that something in me had changed. Yes, I was a little nervous, but I had a lot more confidence. I led the class from downward-facing dog through a warrior sequence on the right side, and I felt great about it. When I was done I received some positive feedback that made me feel like a million bucks. I then led the class from Warrior 2 to Ardha Chandrasana, which was a little more difficult to do the first time. When I tried it again I focused on what my body was doing first and then gave out cues. That made leading much easier. Now I need to hang on to this confidence!