Observing & Assisting yoga teachers

Part of my yoga teacher training is to do 25 hours of observing and assisting various yoga teachers.

I have set up dates and times with four yoga teachers in the Deep Yoga program, essentially working with one teacher each week for one class over the next four months.

I observed my first class last Thursday with Vickie.

Vickie and I met briefly before class so she could let me know what she wanted me to look for and observe. Essentially my first observation was an open observation.

Many times in a class there will be a theme. The practice may also be gearing up to a particular pose, such as an inversion, like, Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) or a backbend, such as Ustrasana (Camel Pose).

As I observed for the hour and a half I was slightly jealous that they were all getting a practice in and I wasn’t. I so much wanted to join when the class started in a heart opener. I felt peace and tranquility when the class was in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

I took pages and pages of notes. I jotted down the sequence Vickie taught and practiced it later on my … Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone.

A new year is always exciting. A clean state. A new start. Or maybe just a continuation of things already forming and molding and becoming.

I have known for some time that January is going to be a challenging month for me. And I am trying to not freak out about it and go with the flow (which is not typical for me and may not last passed today).

Work will be a new adventure as our teams/staff are changing; yoga teacher training is ramping up with new projects and tasks along with the continuation of classes and an intensive weekend at the end of the month; a visit to Tucson mid-month to see family and a few friends.

Yea, it will be busy. But nothing I can’t handle. Right?

I have decided for at least the temporary to discontinue the Go Fit Girl! Monthly Challenges. I know many of you really like them. But there is little participation (at least with the posting on the blog and Facebook page), myself included, and they are rather time-consuming. And with school time increasing in 2014 I have to reevaluate and alter things in my life.

But there … Continue reading

Taking an inward journey

On Saturday in my all-day teacher training class we focused on meditation.

I think meditation is an important part of yoga practice and frankly, life. But I don’t have a regular mediation practice on my own. I can barely get in my 30-minute home yoga practice five times a week.

Mary, who taught class on Saturday, told us that meditation is an inward dark journey. A regular meditation practice is about showing inner kindness to ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to listen to what our body needs and wants.

One of our assignments was to pair up with a  classmate and schedule 10 days where we meditate on the same day. On Day 5 we check in. And after Day 10 we answer a few questions.

If I remember correctly we are asked to meditate 20-30 minutes each day. My eyes nearly fell out of my head. I was like, how am I gonna fit that in, too???

My buddy and I scheduled a time when I will be on my work winter break. But part of that time I will also be out of town. So that will be a challenge to get my meditation in and my … Continue reading

A yoga breakthrough

Last night in yoga teacher training class Richard taught us about inversions and teaching beginners inversions.

At one point we practiced Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand) against the wall. (Which is not a beginner pose.)

I prepared myself to go into the pose. But I didn’t invert like most of the class did.

I have been practicing yoga for about six years and have never felt comfortable completely inverting. Frankly, I am scared. Sacred that I am gonna hurt myself, scared that I am gonna topple over, scared that my bum shoulder is gonna give out, scared that I am gonna break my neck.

As we were discussing the pose I told Richard that I did not go up because I am scared. He asked me what I am scared of. I told him pretty much everything in the paragraph above. He asked me if I would be willing to try something and he wouldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to.

He asked me to go to the corner. I used the corner to support my hands and shoulders. And I almost got up. My fellow students cheered for me. Many told me how close I was. They were … Continue reading

Curbing sadness with yoga practice

Someone I care about has been sad lately. I want to help him. And anyone else who could benefit from this post.

So I did some research on yoga poses to help with sadness and mild depression.

In yoga teacher training on Thursday night we focused on forward bends. Forward bends bring your energetic level to calm and take your attention inward. The mind is quieted while in forward bends.

There are some forward bends in my Curbing Sadness practice.

And, of note, you don’t have to sad to do this practice.

Yoga poses have contraindications. So if you have health issues, please inquire before practicing.

And remember if something hurts or just feels wrong, don’t do it. Sensation is different than pain.

I did this practice myself. And I have to say it was very calming and relaxing. I felt well-rested after practicing.

From doing a little research, here is a practice I have written up to curb sadness/mild depression, which can be done by beginners (and all levels):

  • Sukhasana (Easy Pose) Sit on folded blanket. Start with right leg in front and hold for 10 breaths. (If that’s too long, try five.) Switch to  left leg in … Continue reading
  • Practicing Sun Salutations

    In yoga teacher training class on Thursday night we worked on Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations).

    There are a variety of ways to practice Sun Salutations (aka sun salutes). The one linked here is basically what we worked on Thursday night.

    We built on the sequence in class. The idea was, how do you teach a beginner student sun salutes? We worked with the idea of starting with Sun Salutations as easy and moving toward difficult.

    In class on Thursday we “attacked” sun salutes as a beginner. How would a beginner practice? What modifications need to be made for a beginner?

    As we continued with the sun salutes we tried the flow with a little more difficulty each time around.

    Ann reminded us that the sun is the bestower of life. The sun salute is is a circular Vinyasa flow. Sun salutes are about flow, methodical thinking, building and deliberate Vinyasa sequence.

    The original idea behind practicing sun salutes was to salute the bestower of life. The Vinyasa flow is typically done in the morning facing East.

    But for many of us life doesn’t allow for yoga practice in the morning and for many of us yogis and yoginis we … Continue reading

    Yoga practice for low back pain

    In the last all-day Saturday yoga teacher training there was a huge focus on standing poses. The second half we worked on chanting, which meant a lot of sitting.

    The next day my low back hurt.

    Standing and sitting are both hard on my lower back.

    Normally on Sundays I attend a rather active Vinyasa yoga class.  I decided for that day that practice was not appropriate for my body.

    I did a little research on yoga for back pain. Baxter, who is one of my yoga teachers and the director and a teacher of my yoga teacher training, specializes in back care. He writes for the Yoga Journal blog. You can find one of his back care posts right here.

    Baxter also has a blog where he writes with others called Yoga for Healthy Aging. I decided to search that blog and came upon a sequence Baxter put together for low back care.

    I decided to go with a gentle approach for my back care home practice:

    Just Breathe

    Breathing practice is a refuge.

    ~Richard (paraphrased) in last night’s yoga teacher training.

    In yoga teacher training class last night the first part of class was on back bends (baby back bends) and the second half was on Pranayama.

    Breathing.

    We focused on Ujjayi Pranayama.

    Over my years of practicing yoga I have learned how to breathe … differently.

    We all know how to breathe. But do we breathe in the best way? In the most healthy way? Most of us shorten our exhale.

    When in a stressful or uncomfortable situation one of the things we can control is our breathing. I call that practicing yoga off the mat.

    In class, the mind is constantly wandering. And it is natural for our minds to wander.

    A good way to get back to the present and back to your yoga practice is to focus on your breathing.

    You must come back to the breath.

    I try different things to do that, such as:

    Getting grounded in my feet

    Active legs, calm mind. … Feet are made for standing on. 

    ~Ann in yoga teacher training last night

    In yesterday’s Saturday yoga teacher training the first half of class we worked on standing poses, which was taught by Ann.

    Standing poses are structural and energetic. What happens in life if those are lacking?

    We really focused on grounding our feet and legs.

    You have to go down to go up. It’s true in life and in yoga. In order for the spine to go up, the feet and legs have to go down.

    Tightness and weakness in our legs and feet transfer to the neck and shoulders. And where do most of us hold our stress? I know I hold mine in my neck and shoulders most certainly.

    We should be constantly asking ourselves how we can move through our yoga practice and life with less effort and more ease?

    Did you know that insomnia is a result of being ungrounded? Ann told us that. And I wanted to find something that said that for certain. I found information (MayoClinic Insomnia Causes) that talked about insomnia causes, which to me sound like an ungrounded person but … Continue reading

    Committing to your good health

    I have been thinking a lot about priorities lately. About what is important for me and to me. And what makes me happy. (Don’t forget about Do you want to be happy?)

    One of my friends/co-workers told me that something I said to her lately really hit a chord. And she suggested this be a Monthly Challenge.

    I love ideas, suggestions and questions that lead to posts of any kind. So let’s try this for Go Fit Girl’s October Monthly Challenge.

    What is a priority in your life? What is important? If something is really important you will make a commitment to it.

    We all have excuses for why we don’t have time for something, right?

    Choose a focus/commitment for the month. You, of course, can choose more than one. But don’t overwhelm yourself.

    You can make a commitment to eat healthier; eat at least one fruit and one vegetable a day; get to the gym at least three times a week; do something that makes you happy (don’t forget about that theme we are working on for the rest of the year and was part of September’s Monthly Challenge); learn a new craft; get back into … Continue reading