Here is one from the vault…
Tonight I was teaching a Relax and Renew class and I noticed a few challenges within my own self arise. This was my night to guide my students into a deep state of relaxation. A practice that would allow them the space to be still, quiet and mindful of the their breath. As I put them in meditation, reminding them to tune into a place within that would quiet their minds, I noticed a student twirling her hair. I couldn’t understand why, but told myself to stop wondering and to just accept her neurosis.
I continued to teach a few gentle poses, which then lead into the restorative part of the practice. A part that would still their minds and bodies allowing them the space to transform and let go. This part of the practice directed them inward to the place of peace within their own heart and body. It slowed them down from their busy lives where they are living in an outer-directed way, which then leads them to stress. Restorative yoga poses heal stress and leads the yogi to a feeling of grace and deep relaxation.
Unfortunately, few people understand how to relax. Most people are achievement oriented. Living for the future, they become anxious and exhausted in trying to reach their goals. True relaxation means letting go of striving and anxiety about the future and coming fully into the present moment.
Tonight in class, while my students were in Supta Badha Konasana, I noticed that the girl who twirls her hair also chews gum. As I encouraged them each to breathe deeply, I noticed her chewing away at her gum. She was having a difficult time relaxing just as she was while seated in a still position. I heard her laughing a bit and looking over at her friend until her friend would eventually look over at her.
There was a moment where I started to take it all personally, but then my own wisdom came in to remind me that she was the student and that I was teacher.
As I sit with it and reflect, I realize she was only mirroring something that I needed to awaken in myself and my teaching. She was reflecting a lesson that I needed to understand.
Laying in legs up the wall is the perfect opportunity to enjoy rest. The legs hang up the wall as blood travels from the tips of the toes, into the shins, calves through the thighs down to the sit bones back into the ground. Your back lays still as arms rest out to the side and palms rest on the belly. Close your eyes and go with the flow.
Once again, there is the challenge for some to let go. I noticed my student crossing her arms and looking over at her friend. I saw that her friend was deeply relaxed and enjoying this position. I felt that the other 7 students in the room were all relaxing and gaining the benefits of the pose. I often intertwine poetry into my teachings, especially a restorative class. I read poems that are related to the pose and allows the yogi to go within and visualize something amazing for themselves. I encourage them to notice each space between the breath. Each feeling and sensation becomes transformed by the breath.
Restorative yoga allows the yogi to release effort while also allowing themselves to be fully supported and trusting that the practice is holding them. This practice is a nurturing practice and it embraces the more receptive, feminine aspects of yoga, which allows one to be soft and vulnerable. Restorative poses challenge the goal oriented minds and when those minds surrender they learn how to compassionately care for themselves.
My student eventually slowed down as I continued to hold them in more restorative postures. However, she still crossed her arms in relaxation. As we ended with yoga nidra, I noticed she was barely chewing her gum and her fingers were away from her hair. I could see the reflection of my own subtle teaching and wisdom help calm her into her sacred space. My own lessons were learned and I saw where I had been the student. I saw that my own insecurities didn’t need to come into my teaching. I noticed that it’s always wisdom in the heart that creates the space for inner growth in accepting that we are one.
When practicing vinyasa yoga, the first thing that I keep in mind is what I am going to wear. I always want to be sure that I am both comfortable and supported. It is such a flowing and dynamic practice that I want to be sure that I am wearing the right bra support and that my pants fit good in both the waist and the length. As someone who is petite, thin and with an athletic build, wearing clothes that fit perfectly for my needs can be a challenge. I am either dissatisfied with the bagginess of a top or the length of the pants. I found myself a few years ago shopping for my yoga pants in the kids section of Target. I continued to shop there and Gap Kids because I needed clothes that would fit exactly the way I needed them to. Recently I discovered a great website that would sure fit my needs.
ActivewearUsa offers over 110 top brands in women’s active wear. Their selection fits everybody. I say that literally. Some of these brands include Prana, Beyond Yoga, Patagonia, Hard Tail Forever, Margarita and more.
Recently, while practicing yoga I was wearing my Prana Sabina Chakara Tank and Beyond Yoga Original Pant. I felt the comfort of the wide racer back on my body and the support of the internal shelf bra, which also added flatter to my bust. This high quality fabric felt comfortable for my skin and the added detail around the front left me feeling stylish while at the same time feeling comfortable.
I felt like my Beyond Yoga Original Pant was made perfectly for my height. They felt neither to long or to short. I often times avoid buying long yoga pants because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting them hemmed. I usually wear my Capri’s and bundle up with boots in the winter to keep my legs warm while going outdoors on a cold autumn day. This time I went for the long pant because it was the perfect length. I could still slip on my TOMS and rush to a vinyasa class without my pants dragging on the concrete. The Beyond Yoga Original Pant feels soft on my legs and doesn’t leave me feeling itchy like some of those other pants I was wearing previous to these. The soft Supplex/Lycra is both flattering and enhancing to my thin petite frame. It is fitted through the hips and thighs, and slightly flared from the knee. These qualities help to add form to my thin, but athletic frame.
I am beyond satisfied with the quality and fit of both these items and revved up to keep finding awesome brands for my yogic needs.
The hype of yoga is constantly growing in this culture and is not just a practice for men who dwell in caves and fast for days on end. It has become more and more popular for women, but not just women looking for a new exercise. Anyone who has practiced knows how much more of a total body workout it is. It’s not just about toning the abs or sculpting a hard core booty, but a deep practice that allows one to breathe and tune inward.
One of the classes that women are turning to is prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga is a great way to prepare a woman for birth. It prepares her for labor by giving her the tools to breathe and calm the mind. The expecting mother also learns to connect with the miracle growing inside of her by simply showing up on the mat and nurturing both she and baby. Classes are centered around connecting mom and baby through both the physical and mental aspects of yoga. A balanced prenatal class consists of meditation, pranayama (breath), asana (posture) and deep relaxation.
An expecting mother can find herself sitting in meditation while breathing life into the womb. This allows her an opportunity to embrace the pregnancy as well as to become mindful of the new life that is growing inside of her. Meditation also allows the mother to create the space between she and baby to begin the bonding process. Mothers also find benefit in chanting ‘Om Shanti’ because it calms not only the mother, but baby as well. When the woman becomes relaxed then the atmosphere in the womb becomes relaxed. One of my yoga friends claims that her prenatal practice has benefited her child even at the age of four. She claims that her child handles emotional situations in a more calm way than other children. She also mentioned that when her child is upset she chants ‘Om Shanti’ to her and within seconds she is calm and quiet. My friend believes that her child remembers this beautiful sound from the womb and how it connected them as one.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic have found that prenatal yoga is “a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing.”
Prenatal yoga provides the strength and stability for a woman to deliver her baby. The postures tone, strengthen and stretch the body. It also helps to release tension and stiffness in the muscles. The end result is an improved sense of wellbeing on the physical level, less fatigue and an enhanced emotional being.
Prenatal Yoga is not just for the second trimester. All expecting mothers in all trimesters can benefit from the practice. In fact, I was taught a specific sequence that is geared towards all trimesters. Expecting mothers can expect to stretch and lengthen in a challenging, grounding way. It is not fast paced and it is not totally slow. In fact, if you’ve ever taken a slow flow class or a deep stretch class you may find that my prenatal class is all of that in one.
Please join me on Thursday evenings at Mint Hill Yoga from 6:45 til 8:00 pm.
After going through an abrupt transformation earlier this week, it has gotten me in a self reflective mode that has me sifting through old piles and collections of my past. I’ve also been getting over a cold, which has lead me into the kitchen where I have put the medicine woman in me to work. It’s also the week before my 37th birthday and astrologically I am a scorpio, which makes sense as to why all of these transformations are happening. Scorpio’s like to go deep into the depths where some fear to ever go. Scorpio’s are all about death, rebirth and transformation. They are even known to be healers. Even as I write these sentences, things begin to make sense.
I am not going to get into the petty details of my abrupt transformation, but I will say it’s been one of the greatest blessings of 2012. It’s easy for me to find the treasure hidden in the darkness. I’ve been wandering around my apartment today looking through old journal entries, old articles I’ve saved since 2004 and even old vision boards that I created that same year. I think I am starting to find those treasures. I think everything is getting clear and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I wipe the dust off of those treasures, other treasures show up. One in which I’d like to share. I came across an old affirmation card that someone close to me must have given to me back in the day. It reads ‘I am safe; it’s only change. I cross all bridges with joy and ease. The ”old” unfolds into wonderful new experiences. My life gets better all the time.”
I haven’t been feeling 100% in the last few days. I started feeling a little weak after my hour long lunch break this past wednesday. I thought at first that it was a figment of my imagination because I had just read an email from a friend that another friend had a pneumonia. Perhaps it was just the start of my own weakness. It’s odd timing too because this is the first month I didn’t pay my health insurance because I am not working as many hours between my 4 jobs to pay for it.
Anyway, the last two days I have tried everything. I have put dabs of coconut oil in my ears and nose because they felt dry. I have practiced slow flow yoga, restorative yoga, walked in the fresh air as well as sat on my couch for longer periods of time. I even had my maintenance guy come change my air filter. This is not all that I’ve done. I even popped some western over the counter meds because I still believe they can work on occasion. However, what it comes down to is the food that I have eaten, the fresh spring water that I have drank and the yoga that I have practiced. More importantly, the food is what has helped me. Today I have had two freshly made green drinks, oranges, a clove of garlic, an egg and some hot soup. The nutrients in my food have given me the power to start bouncing back and allow me to feel more like myself. I am still glued to my couch (not my idea of fun) but I am feeling the power of my food choices heal me. It’s a fact (google it if you don’t believe me) FOOD IS MEDICINE (and so is yoga).
Halloween yoga is one of my favorite yoga themes to teach. It is so fitting for children because they can wear their halloween costumes and act out different animals and various other forms.
This year we took on a fun halloween adventure. It was taken
from a theme I found last year by ‘Child Light Yoga’. It’s brilliant. I enjoy using it in my classes around Halloween. I highly suggest you trying this too.
This class was not ‘scary’ but it was very exciting and a bit mysterious.
It went like this….
We sat in circle and talked about what each kid is dressed as for halloween. Some kids wore their costumes and others didn’t. The kids who dressed up were wearing costumes such as a Cupcake, batman, a zombie, a feisty cat and other really great costumes.
Next we extended our breath by making a ‘Booooooooo’ sound. This BOO BREATH was done by standing tall in mountain as we let out air with the ‘boo’ sound. We did this 3 times.
After booing, we warmed up our bodies to a halloween themed SHAKE FREEZE song. You can do this while having the kids pretend to get dressed in their costumes while shaking and then calling out freeze.
From here we pretended to head outside to salute to the FULL MOON. We did a half sun salute and then waved to the moon in Half moon pose. This was so appropriate for this years halloween considering it falls near a full moon.
As we walked around our imaginary neighborhood and stopped at each house to ‘trick or treat’ we sang the WALKING, WALKING SONG. Walking, walking, walking, walking-Hop Hop Hop-Hop Hop Hop-Running Running Running Running Running Running-Now let’s stop. We repeated this song a few times and each time we stopped we would ‘trick or treat.’ I handed out healthy snacks and told them they had to wait until the party to eat the snacks.
After ‘trick or treat’ we stopped to look at the STARS and TREES. We came into star pose and tree pose.
What is up in that tree? A BLACK CAT: Cat/Cow….hissss….meow!
As we kept walking we came to a BRIDGE-let’s cross (bridge pose)
On the other side of the bridge we saw 4 scary creatures:
A LION (Lions breath)
A FLYING WICKED WITCH (Warrior 3)
A SPIDER (Come up on tips of fingers and watch your spiders crawl)
And finally we see a GHOST– repeat BOO BREATH
As we all laughed and carried on, we began to notice that we were gathered with friends and each friend has their own unique costume. It’s another way to teach kids of the unique differences between one another.
When friends enjoy each others company, then parties happen and excitement rises.
We took a CANOE across the river to the party! (Boat pose). (Some kids sang row row row your boat while paddling)
Once we arrived, we came to an old creaky GATE (kneeling side bend). We opened the gate and each let out a squeeky sound.
As we walked through the dark yard we saw small trees. (kids come into tree by lowering down on the ground). We also saw a pumpkin patch and children came into PUMPKIN (ball roll).
Once we arrived at the party we started BOBBING FOR APPLES (downward dog to updog and repeat a few times).
By now the kids were waiting to eat their snacks. Before we ate we played YOGI SAYS as a way to review the poses then had savasana. Finally, we sat in our circle and ate snacks. Each kid went around and described their pumpkins…
Happy Halloween Yogi’s!