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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yoga STUDENT Etiquette

There have been many blogs about what annoys students about yoga/yoga teachers so I've decided to address the other half.

1. Grooming while in a posture- nails, hair, picking your teeth...really!?!
2. Tapping your foot/fingers like you’re bored.
3. Trying to guess what my next posture is by already moving into it
5. Chewing gum
6. Students adjusting other students
7. Arriving late for class
8. Leaving early
9. Doing your own flow
10. Heavy breathing or moaning
11. Turn your cell phone OFF
13. Leaving your socks and/or shoes on
14. Not coming prepared
15. Being disrespectful toward my beliefs, others and the practice

Monday, February 14, 2011

♥LOVE & Yoga♥

Why do you L♥VE yoga? Is it the way it makes you feel during, or after your practice? Is it the tranquillity and relaxation it provides? Is it because of the studio, the students and/or the teacher that guides you? During and after your practice I advise you all to tune in and ask yourself WHY do I love yoga?

Celebrating everything to do with LOVE today I thought I would share with you why LOVE & YOGA go hand in hand.

Prevents fatigue: It’s doesn’t matter what yoga you practice whether it be Hatha, Vinyasa, Anusara or Yin all yoga will help you feel energetic like any exercise will. This will help with the sensations in your body and awaken the internal organs. Coming home from a long day at work and going straight to the couch will not help your love life. This will only increase the sluggishness and sometimes even cause insomnia. Yoga is a great way to improve your sleeping habits and make sure you wake up feeling well rested.

Promotes Confidence: Everyone who has done yoga can vouch for the amazing workout you receive. Yoga helps build muscle, trim the body of fat and helps lengthen the body by improving posture. When you look good, you feel good both inside and out therefore making you shine brighter, increase confidence and more attractive to the opposite sex.

Intimacy kick-start: When you feel better physically and more in tune with your body mentally you’re more likely to connect better with your partner. Communication is key not just with your partner but with yourself; that automatically translates to a better love life for the both of you.

Appreciate life: Yoga helps promote good vibes in all aspects of yourself; mentally physically, spiritually, and emotionally. When people feel good about themselves, they’ll reap the positive benefits that yoga has to offer they are less likely to abuse their bodies with drugs, alcohol and foods that aren’t good for you. Keeping the body and mind in good shape will result in a better mental state and overall feeling of happiness.

LOVE for YOU: Yoga increases your awareness within. Being happy will ultimately assist in getting rid of the negative things in life like negative banter, draining relationship, careers without passion and purpose, tension in body, stress, and unhealthy habits and/or addictions. You will feel better about setting goals and taking the steps to achieve them. ALL of this results in better love life with the partner too and you can work on reaching your goals together and making sure you support each other as well.

Love for yourself, others and the world we share, Happy♥Valentines♥Day & Namaste.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What doesn't kill me...

Recently I've unexpectedly encountered a road block in my life (another one). I was shoveling the snow on my driveway for the 3rd time... When suddenly my back spasmed and gave out. This was all new to me considering I'm a 27, fit, flexible yoga teacher. How does THIS happen to ME? I have been practically bed ridden for the last 4 days not being able to move or really do anything for myself and THAT'S frustrating since I'm a very independent woman, or it could be the fact I hate asking for help.

Over the last 3 days I've been on crazy medications containing ridiculous amounts of muscle relaxers since the regular drug store stuff did nothing for me. I've had to take more time off work as well as cancel all my yoga classes for the week. The insecure part of me only wonders what my students must think of me hurting myself. I was able to relax a little more when I received countless emails from them containing LOTS of well wishes and positive vibes.
Then there’s the ego part of me. Everyone has one...and it's not a bad thing, It just depends how BIG yours is. Mine...well let's just say I'm learning to not let it get the best of me or be TOO big.
Being a yoga teacher and a yogi of 6 years myself I am more flexible than most. I'm not trying to sound conceited or toot my own horn, it's just the truth. The asanas or poses is just a small part of what yoga is, but being an instructor it's one of the things I value most. After this unfortunate accident I went from being able to put my legs over my head and doing the splits to not even being able to touch my toes. It's frustrating to say the least. I was getting angry, upset and pushing myself and nothing was helping. I had to tune in and really think about what was happening and what wasn't happening too. I had to become my own yoga teacher.
I thought about some of my students and what they've gone through in the past. I've shared a lot of stories with my students and they've shared a lot with me which led me to deepen our practice together because I understood what they needed.
I had to ask myself- What do I need right now?
I focused in on my body, listening to the breath, feeling the tense muscles and moving step by step welcoming the positive and negative reactions. It was my lower back that was the big concern but NOT what needed the most stretch. It was my hamstrings (its ALWAYS those guys) that were taking most of the beating. I was able to lie down and stand up with minimal pain, but sitting was unbearable. When I was standing I would banana back to take the pressure off. This was actually narrowing my sacrum and the muscle surrounding it and shortening my IT band and hip flexors. Having to lay on my back most of the day was not helping this situation whatsoever.
When I first started to stretch I was frustrated and angry with myself (for ultimately putting myself in this position and not listening to those who told me "lift with your legs") I had to stop, reflect, and suppress the ego. What a great opportunity life is presenting me I told myself. I'm able to teach myself how to stretch breath and surrender all over again. Feel what some of my new students were feeling and maybe even discovering new ways to stretch and teach my class. Connecting with each of my students was one of the things I loved most about my job and being able to relate as much as possible to their feelings and frustrations was important to me. As a yoga teacher already being flexible I had felt I was sort of loosing my ability to "feel" and relate to those certain things again. Maybe this was a test or what felt more like a slap in the face... A BIG wakeup call to really appreciate the little things, and definitely welcome the progress not matter how big or small.

The first thing I focused on was my breath. Using the breath to help move through the moments of insecurity, instability and sometimes pain and discomfort. It was proven to me all over again that the breath is an amazing tool to keep calm, relaxed and really does help in those situations.
I then focused on the stretch. Moving myself into a pose. If it was too much I came out of it a little bit. I found that sweet spot between neutral and pain. It was the uncomfortable boundary that I played with and surrendered to. Overall I needed to be careful and remind myself that although I wasn't in that much pain anymore, it could be the meds masking it and still had to take it slow.
Today was day two of physio and noticed how much more I can do and how much further I can reach. I really was proud of myself and was thankful my body was responding so well. That was the biggest lesson through all this. Be thankful for even the littlest progression you make with your body. It doesn't matter how fast or how far you go, you're still moving forward and that's the wonderful part. I know I'll be back to where I left off sooner than later, and maybe even more advanced but for now I'm just working with how my body is today... in this moment... cause that's all that matters.

I’m just going to add that after all of this happened, my computer broke so I blogged this entire entry on my iphone. If you have an iphone you know how annoying the touch screen is and how WRONG predictive texts are. Anyways, I’m pretty proud of myself, in more ways than one :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Props to Props!

I never really thought about props THIS much until I became a yoga instructor. Being a student myself it’s natural for me to walk into the yoga studio, place my mat on the floor, walk over and grab two blocks and a strap. Sometimes, depending on whose class I’m taking I might even grab a wedge board too. I don’t think I could get through my flow without these things. My body is different EVERY day. Some days I don’t have to use them, and other days I can’t let go of them. Do you use props? What are your thoughts on them? Blessing? Supportive? Training wheels? Security blanket?
As an instructor I have encourage the use of props during all my classes. In forward fold when my students can’t touch the ground with their hands, or in some restorative postures to aid in a deeper release. Either way I look at props being an asset rather than a peril; though some of my students don’t see it the same way, and refuse to use them. As I spoke to some of my students asking them why they thought props would hinder their practice, they told me they wanted to become more flexible and the props would be a roadblock for advancement.
I completely understood what they meant by this and really appreciated the fact that they wanted to move forward with their bodies and really see what they could achieve. I explained to them to look at props as a tool rather than a setback. Using them to get the full benefits of the pose from basic all the way to the advanced. It didn’t matter what stage you were at within your practice, props will always be the extra hand, assist and even pillow throughout your journey. I assured them that they would actually help them move forward with their practice and gain the flexibility they sought after quicker than without them. By using props you’re able to explore the deeper stretches, strengthen the muscles in balancing postures and even cross the threshold to more advance postures by taking baby steps with the props as your safety net.
When I look back at my own journey with yoga and using props I think of Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon. I always used a block on the highest side to prop my body to align myself with my extended leg. It made it easier to balance, and hold myself up there while in the pose. Without the thought of me falling over I was able to think more about the engagements of muscles, the spirals of my inner thighs, lengthening of my entire body and finally my gaze. It wasn’t until almost a year later I tried it without the blocks one day...after a few attempts, falls, and adjustments I was at the same place, but without the use of my blocks to support me. I felt a sense of greater accomplishment and ultimately a deeper sense of the pose. I was able to strengthen deeper muscles now and work on different goals within the same pose.
Have fun and try using props during your practice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your instructor like WHY you are using this prop in this way. Be creative with your props; find new ways to get the best possible release, stretch and ultimate relaxation during your practice. Most of all do what YOU feel works best for your body and enjoy EVERY minute of it!