Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why they call it present...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flowing with Grace

We started with a discussion about assets and perils. How can we benefit from something, and what are the risks of the decisions we make. Is what I’m doing making me happy? Am I missing out on something more? Will I regret this decision in the future? Or will this be the best decision I’ve ever made?
We talked about this in relation to practicing yoga. When we're getting into a pose, what are the assets and perils of this pose? Do we push it to the extreme so we can "GET" the pose flawlessly, or do we do only go as far as what we can do for that day? Everyone's different, and everyone will have a different set of asset and perils, so every situation…and posture.

Once we started our class we worked a LOT of shoulder integration and expansion. Starting in down dog, moving our shoulders up, down our back and inwards, keeping it there coming into plank, cobra/up dog, and then back into down dog. You wouldn't believe HOW much of a difference it makes when your shoulders are integrated. It's a lot harder (because I’m not use to it) but so much more beneficial. This is the perfect example of what I meant by assets and perils. The perils being that I couldn’t move my back and shoulders for two days, but WOW what a feeling!
We talked about the different between integration and expansion, and what they both have to offer. When we're in a pose and we're not integrated or expanding like we're suppose to, depending on the pose, there’s a chance we could loose the possibility of what the pose has to offer.

We discussed some of the things mentioned in our textbook chapters we were supposed to read. We discussed the focal points in our bodies. Where were some of the focal points in some of the poses we do?

Downward dog=heart
Standing= pelvis
Side Plank= could be heart or pelvis
During our next practice, we should always be aware of what our focal point is

Colin spoke about “Mula Bunda” aka root lock. The first of three interior body “locks” used in anasura practice to control the flow of energy. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.

At the end of our practice we met with out groups and quickly went over how many times we went to yoga that week and if it matched our goals that we had set for ourselves.
We spoke about our Hindu God Ganesha. This is what found out...I’m so happy that we got this Hindu God. I think it works perfectly along with our journey.

Ganesha: He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. Ganesha is also the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various magnificent manifestations.

I’ve already developed my first Anasura practice. I need to work through it, make sure it flows, and is well balanced. I look forward to practicing with some of my friends, developing my skills as student so I can work towards my goals of becoming a teacher.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“Who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying”

So many people come in and out of our life every day. Some help us, and we’re appreciative! Then there are those who leave footprints on our heart, and we’re forever grateful. I feel very blessed to have had these people apart of my life so far. I’ve also found certain things in those who have been in my life the entire time, and have learned to value them in a whole new light.

As I go through my journey of becoming an instructor, I’m learning more about myself. Who I am and who I want to be. Present, future, work and play. I strive to have Kinndli’s energy and passion, Colin’s dedication and poise, Adams strength and flexibility and Chris’ focus and mindset.

I talked to my close friends and family about doing this; I wanted advice, support, and a little reassurance. Everyone said as long as I gave it my all and it didn’t interfere with what was happening in my life right now, but instead complimented and added to it...”do it with pride” I was told. My cousin Adam who I haven’t ever talked to about yoga, but knew he practiced and was amazing by his photos on face book. I asked if he could give me any advice, and he wrote me this amazing email. I read it almost every day.

“Yoga is like a gift. As an instructor, you become the gift-giver. Remember that everyone is in a different place, in need of something different. My favorite yoga instructors are those that find a way to push each student in the direction that is right for them. One single asana feels differently for each of us. That said, keep your feet on the ground... enjoy your journey. Embrace how it makes you feel - good or bad, strong or weak! Take the journey with open arms... I think that is the key to yoga: find the place (the physical place often represents an emotional equivalent) that makes you uncomfortable and work at it until it feels familiar and ultimately until it feels good. I always say that yoga is just like life- you find yourself in a hard position, you work through it with breath and determination and the chaos transforms into stability. Once you reach that stability, you are ready to teach it to others.
Remember that when it comes to instructing, you become the guide for others' journeys- it no longer becomes just about your own.”

I look forward to becoming that instructor that enlightens and strengthens your yoga practice. I’ll be there for you mentally to guide you through a tough pose. I’ll be there for you physically to help align you so you can strengthen your own practice. I’ll be there for you spiritually and support you whatever your intentions may be.


“Is Asana about getting the pose? Or getting the pose to work for you?”

Asana (Sanskrit-sitting down- to sit down) is a body position, typically associated with the practice of Yoga, intended primarily to restore and maintain a practitioner's well-being, improve the body's flexibility and vitality, and promote the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods.

In the past, I’ve spent my practice watching others and trying to GET IT all while trying to concentrate on breathing, softening and strength. Obviously...I wasn’t getting IT! I was also very exhausted afterwards, physically and mentally (I usually blamed the heat). I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t able to do some of the things others could...the competitive ARIES in me always showed up. Through the last few weeks I’ve gotten more flexible, stronger and more aware. I’m determined to be more appropriate during my practice which meant making sure I wasn’t being counterproductive either. By appropriate, I mean a few things. Being more aware of where MY body and mind is THAT day. How far I can push my boundaries, but still maintain my focus and be present. I’ve learned to look at my practice as an entire process rather than a goal. Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait until I am able to balance a pose for longer, stretch deeper and YES do dancers pose effortlessly, but if I only consider those things, I feel I’m going to miss out on some vital aspects of yoga.

Learning to be appropriate is something I going to reflect on before each practice. Accepting that that’s where I am RIGHT NOW...and knowing that I’ll be further along down the road. As long as I’m strong, focused and present each time I come to my mat, I’ll reap the benefits, mentally, physically and spiritually.

I did my first HAND STAND today. Not head stand...arms straight, hand flat on the floor. WOW, that takes a lot of strength. It also takes a lot of trust. Trust in yourself to know that you’ll be able to actually do it, and hold yourself up, and then trust in the partner I had helping me the first time. I know I was a little us easy...but she was scared! She was only 5’4 and had to catch and hold me...who is 5,9
Nonetheless she caught my legs and helped make sure I was balanced before letting go. It’s a lot harder than it looks...and I’m nowhere near perfect...but at least I tried it. I’m not sure if it was being upside down and supporting myself on only my hands that creates a sense of power, or all the blood rushing to my head. It felt great either way!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another step the ground!

I was in yoga today. It was only a 60 minute class. For me it’s too short, and definitely wasn’t hot enough. I’ve moved up to the second row from the front, also second hottest place in the room. Today, it wasn’t hot enough!
Yesterday’s (Monday) class is always 90 minutes. Sometimes, that’s too long depending on how my weekend, and Monday workday went. I can only see this getting easier as I continue getting stronger in my practice. My Thursday classes are 4 hours long and two of it is done practicing…but it’s done in a regular temperature room, so it’s a little easier.

Even though my Tuesday classes aren’t enough for me, I realized today it’s a good way to extend from my Mondays class. I’m stronger, more flexible, more awake and more focused. I use this to my advantage and push myself a little harder.

Today, we were in a forward bend, focusing on hollowing our stomach, lengthening from our neck and back and folding at the waist. As I was concentrating on my breathing and trying to let go of the days events, when I just happen to look down at my hands.
THEY WERE PALMS FLAT ON THE GROUND! I looked at my knees to see if I was bending them instead of keeping them straight. NOPE…they were straight! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been able to do that.
This is only my tenth class so far this month. I’ve come a long way; in what I feel a short period of time. I’m excited to see where my practice can go after one year of training.

I am so excited for this Thursday’s class. Getting to know everyone, and learn more about yoga. Not only that, but afterward I’m going to watch the New Moon midnight screening!

Yoga, Twilight, Edward, best friends, dinner, movies... “its not easy being me” ;-)

(Thanks for letting me steal your FB status Tessa!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Obsession with fish...

I attended my first day of my Anasura yoga instructor course. It was held at a rock climbing gym as the studio isn’t ready yet. It was upstairs in what looked like a big empty classroom. It actually felt like the first day of school all over again. When I walked in, Colin the owner of Kula, and one of my teachers was blessing the room with incense. It smelled wonderful. There were a total of 28 of us. 25 women, and only 3 men. One of them looked exactly like Napoleon Dynamite! The rest of the people were a mix of different ages from 18 to 55 and different races. One thing that stood out to me was the majority of people’s names were very unique. Good thing I have a great memory.

We sat “fireplace style” (as he calls it) in front of Colin as he explained the outline of the class, today, during the weeks ahead and towards the end of the course. I was really excited to learn all about alignments, different styles of yoga, and especially the prenatal course. We then moved in to “campfire style” arranging ourselves into a BIG circle. Colin asked us to introduce ourselves, how long we’ve been practicing, why we wanted to take the course, our intention and a defining moment. The first woman to spoke (unfortunately I don’t remember her name) was very outgoing, comfortable and spoke for about 10 minutes....and probably could of kept going if we had more time. The third woman I believe started something very special. She let go, completely! As she was speaking about her life and yoga she started to cry. It was very touching. She seemed like she had a very tough life, but felt comfortable enough with us, and herself to let go and share. From then on...EVERY single person cried. We all seemed to have something in common. All of us were seeking some sort of change in our life, after some sort of trauma/misfortune whether big or small (the meaning is different to everyone) happened in our life. For some it was something that happened 10 years ago, and others it was merely days ago. No matter what or when, we were all there for the same reason...the timing was right!

I’ve never been in a room where everyone has just let go like that. No doubt we were all nervous, but felt that it was ok, we already trusted each other. As we passed along the “talking stick” which became a box of Kleenex, we learned a lot about each other. Although we did cry, we also laughed a lot too. Especially when Colin quickly mentioned that if we accidently signed up for YOGA instead of the “Self help group”...we were in the wrong class.
At one point closer to the end of the circle, one of the woman started her introduction with “I want to tell you something about me...I’m obsessed with fish! All kinds! Guppies to sharks.” Of course my head popped up and looked right at her! I also have a slight obsession with fish, mostly Great White Sharks! She talked about how she admires them and how they’re able to be calm, relaxed, graceful, and able adapt so easily to their surroundings. This is something the both of us would love to accomplish.

2 hours went by and the circle was finished. We all took a deep breath. We were all very excited to get to know one another more. Colin mentioned that we take a 10 minute break. I needed to stretch. I regret not following the email and bringing something to sit on. My yoga mat just wasn’t enough. It was very interesting to see everyone get up and race to those they felt a strong connection or something they had in common with. I of course walked over to the fish obsessed girl. We talked, laughed and found we had a lot of other things in common. I got around to talking to a few other people. It was nice...definitely not like first day of school.
After the break Colin started getting into some of the teachings. We talked about the definition of Alchemy, and how it relates to yoga; being the path of transformation. We talked about being uncomfortable in our boundaries, and how that’s a positive thing. My favourite part was when he mentioned this quote. “It’s not why me, it’s why of me?” I’m going to try to think of this everyday when put into a difficult situation, or something negative happens in my life.

From there we began our practice. It was only about an hour and 45 minutes opposed to the 2 hours I was afraid of. So far I haven’t practiced in a regular temperature room. I’ve always done hot yoga. It was harder. My muscles weren’t warm yet making it more difficult to soften my postures...this is where I thought about being uncomfortable in my boundaries, and pushed myself a little harder. My hot yoga towel that covered my mat was useless, not to mention very slippery. On a positive note, I didn’t have to ring out my clothes at the end of the night. As we were practicing I (like everyone) noticed where everyone’s level of yoga was at. Some were amazing and I thought to myself, why are they taking this course...they should already be teaching, and some were a little less flexible than me which made me feel...normal.

I’m not attending this class for anyone but myself. I also realized that I’m not only doing it to become a yoga instructor, live healthier, stronger and fit. I’m doing it to learn more about me, what I can accomplish, and then what I can offer to others. By the time I’m finished this course and I haven’t learned how to do dancers pose without falling over, but I’m a little more calm present and aware during my everyday life, I will know I have achieved greatness, and I’m on the road to success, fulfilment, and happiness.

Homework for next class: Start reading “Anatomy of the Spirit”
Write about what kind of student I use to be, what kind of student I want to be, and find one word to describe my intention for taking this class.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Breath is enough

I draw sweet air
Deeply and long,
As pure as prayer,
As sweet as song.
Where lilies glow
And roses wreath,
Heart-joy I know
Is just to breathe.

Ah, so I think
By shore or sea,
As deep I drink
Of purity.
This brave machine,
Bare to the buff,
I keep ice-clean,
Breath is enough.

From mountain stream
To covert cool
The world, I deem,
Is wonderful;
The great, the small,
The smooth, the rough,
I love it all,--
Breath is enough.

Breath: To inhale and exhale air, especially when naturally and freely.

“especially ???”

It’s a little ironic that the most important thing to ones yoga practice also happens to be the hardest thing to achieve. It’s also the one thing when you’re born; you already know how to do.

So when placed in an uncomfortable and sometimes painful posture…it just stops?

I walked into my yoga practice today. A little sore from yesterday, but felt great. I placed my mat and towel down, and walked over to the opposite side of the room to grab two blocks and a strap. Right away I noticed I was holding my breath. It didn’t smell, I wasn’t nervous, it was about 38 degrees, but I love the heat, so I knew that wasn’t it.

I decided right away that I would direct my focus today on my breath, during my postures, and right through my flows. I needed to make sure I was breathing into my sides, deep, hollowing my stomach, in and out through my nose, all while trying to make that noise that everyone makes. I’m trying to do all of this and balance in reverse warrior…why am I getting dizzy?

Oh...I’m holding my breath!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

“Equal qualities of both steadiness and joy…at least I have the joyful down!”

For those who don’t know me, or those who do, and just haven’t heard yet. I will be training for the next year to become a yoga instructor at Kula Yoga. I have been thinking about this for a little over 2 years now, since the first time I went to my first yoga class. Actually, that’s a lie! The first time I went to a hot yoga class, I came home, called my brother, who was my inspiration for going, and told him I would never go back! It was too hot, and too hard! He told me to give it one more chance. I did…and I’ve continued to go back to hot yoga for over two years now.

I have decided to blog about my journey over the next year so I can learn more about myself, and share my journey with the people I love. Recently I have been strongly moved by a close friend’s mother whose blog became part of my daily routine. Although at times it was hard to read as she was dealing with some very tough situations, her stories always made me smile, as she has a way of finding strength and light in her struggles. I know this will be hard…and I hope to also find my strength and light.

You might have noticed that odd looking language as my title for my blog. It’s Sanskrit, and means “The apprentice”

My brother wasn’t the only one who inspired me. It was also two instructors at Kula names Kinndli and Joanna. Two very different people, two very different styles of teaching. I learned a lot from them, and they both planted the thought in my head of setting out on a journey of my own, and becoming a part of the Kula yoga family.

This is a pretty intense course. Every Thursday from 6-10, then one weekend a month which consist of 25 hrs of yoga/learning, spread out from Friday to Sunday. I will not mention the RIDICULOUS cost for this course…but know that the capital letters represent!

The course is 8 months long and requires me to practice on my own apart from my classes at least 3 times a week. If I don’t have a killer body by the end of 8 months…I have NO idea what it will take.

That is not the reason I’ve decided to go on this journey. Although I know it will end of being very beneficial for me physically, I’m looking forward to how beneficial it will be for me mentally and spiritually.

I’m looking forward most to finding my balance, my center…myself.

Today I went for my first class again in almost 7 months. Once I moved back from BC, purchasing a pass to hot yoga was the first thing I did as it was much needed. I went hard and strong attending classes 4 times a week, always mornings, for 90 minutes. My passes…and money ran out, as I didn’t have a job yet. I had to give up Yoga, and continue my exercise somewhere a little less expensive. I joined the gym…along with all my friends. I enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun…very social! I noticed my body transforming, differently than my already flexible yoga body. After 10 months at the gym, I noticed today in my hot yoga class…I am no longer flexible. I am tight in my hips, shoulders, even my savasana (laying flat on the ground aka Corpse Pose) was off.

I lay there in my savasana at the end of my 90 minute class, listening to what I think is Robert Pattinson playing the guitar. I smile. Not because of “Edward” but because I realize what a journey this will be for myself! I have a LONG way to go, and a lot of work to do!

I am READY! Mentally I am so excited, physically I can still touch my toes…so I’m on the right path, and spiritually I am alive…and also VERY HOT! I miss sweating!