Posts Tagged ‘asana’

I frequently get asked if there are DVDs and/or books that I’d recommend for new students (or even experienced students). I just got an email from Yoga Journal offering a discount on the DVDs I like best.

The Step By Step series is a great introduction to yoga or even as a way to fine-tune your asana and breath practice. The coupon is 20% an individual DVD or something like 45% off for all three.  Enter coupon code SBS2 at checkout and click “Redeem Coupon” to receive your discount or call 1-800-I-DO-YOGA (436-9642).

I don’t plug a lot of yoga ‘stuff’ here, just the things I use and love myself. I highly recommend getting all three discs.

In related news, my recommendating for practicing with a DVD (whether you’ve practiced yoga previously or not) is to watch the DVD at LEAST once to make sure you’re familiar with the positions. If there’s anything that sounds confusing, make notes on a sheet of paper that you can keep next to your mat during practice. You should NOT be looking up at the DVD while you’re practicing – it’s bad for your body and negates all the good work you’re trying to do!


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I packed two additional boxes of food (no, I’m not done). I created my WTF H$lidays mix. I also ripped 3 mix CDs for my cross-country drive. Luckily my CR-V has a tape player and I’m armed with mix tapes from college. Fie on thee, bad radio reception!

Crippling my packing effort has been the usa network. Yesterday it was Bring it On and today, Stick It. I love those movies with most of my heart and, yes, I’m easily distracted.

Today Cheryl is coming over to pick up a spare bedroom set. In retrospect it was possibly a bad idea to get rid of it, what with (yanno) the spare bedrooms. On the other hand, we don’t have to move it and it’s not like we get that many overnight visitors anyhow.

I’m in the laundry proces, will pack the last of all clothing materials except what I need for the next four days, pack the food and bathroom necessities. I’ll tape up the remaining boxes and I think Shane is coming over to help me do a trial run on packing the car. With any luck, I’ll get to a yoga class tonight.

Speaking of yoga, I was doing side plank in a class the other night and noticed that my shoulders and arms are looking pretty ripped. Nice. I don’t generally notice my body from an aethetic standpoint (I’m more of a ‘function’ kind of girl) so it usually takes a pretty dramatic change/visual to grab my attention, but it was kind of cool. I don’t think my arms have gotten dramatically bigger/stronger, I just haven’t had occasion to look at myself in side plank for a while.

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But feel confused or intimidated – or you just aren’t sure how to practice on your own without a teacher – I’d highly recommend this special issue of Yoga Journal. It gives great descriptions of the asanas, some example ‘flows’ that you can work through on your own, and it talks about modification. Most importantly, it talks about inversions in terms of safety and strength, with none of the ‘reverse the flow of blood’ asshattery. You can order it from the site, either in hard copy or digital.

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I have mentioned previously that I am not cute when I work out. I don’t ‘glow’ or ‘shine’. I sweat like an NFL linebacker – or, more accurately, like any member of the Detroit Lions offensive line. ;) As a result, I’ve never been a huge fan of hot yoga.

I took a great class in Boston (Hip Hop Yoga) that was in a heated room – 80 degrees, not the Bikram 100-110 range (which I still think is crazy). I liked the class but when I was in my triangle position, I had to mop off my face with the leg of my pants. All of the other dancers in the room (what you get when you take a class near a conservatory) looked lily white and perfectly cool, while I appeared to have inhaled Chinese Five Spice and chased it with jalepenos.

This is apropos of the classes I’ve been taking lately, which are also heated at about 75-80 degrees. As the weather has turned colder, I’ve got a better appreciation for the warm room. You still have to warm up your muscles, but the base temp makes that much easier. It also helps to loosen the muscles sooner, so that you can get deeper into asana earlier in the practice. I’ve been enjoying the classes but I’m still not loving that sweat drips off of my face and onto my mat. Not because I’m sweat-phobic but because it’s a distraction when there’s sweat running up my nose or down into my eyes. Having to mop down with a towel is a distraction, too.

I’m not sure what a good compromise woud be. 70 degrees, maybe? Warm but not hot? I’m going to keep on with the classes because it’s so refreshing to follow someone else’s directions. I also really do like the classes, I’m just not entirely convinced to the hot side. I *can* say that I don’t hate it and that it won’t keep me from trying other hot classes, I just probably won’t make it a regular part of my own practice.

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It’s unusual for me to get into yoga diatribes very often. Most people I know do not practice yoga regularly and I don’t generally talk about my teaching philosophy unless I’m talking about classes. When most of the people you know don’t practice, it doesn’t come up in conversation that frequently.  This weekend, though, my mom and I were talking about the move and whether or not I’d teach yoga in Colorado.

I’d love to keep teaching. I enjoy it SO much and it would be great if I could keep on doing it. At the same time, I’m going to be in a new place setting up a new life and starting out is hard. As evidence, it’s taken me two years to get a serious following of students.

I teach to all levels and there are a few reasons for that. Most importantly, it’s because you never REALLY know what kind of limitations people are working with. Sometimes they’ll tell you if they’ve got an injury, more often than not they don’t. Second, people need to feel like they can choose their own workout. Providing modifications lets them do that. Third, when I’m doing my own asana practice I run through a checklist of things – foot placement, which muscles are active and how, how I can change the position. If it’s valuable to me after my years of practice, I’ve got to believe it’s valuable to others.

When I teach, I typically use the modified asana. It’s simple – given an option a) or harder option b), most people feel pressure to go with the harder option. By taking the modified version a) myself, I’m eliminating a competitive element in the class. It’s not about MY workout, it’s about the students. And the fact is that most students feel more comfortable using a modification if the instructor does.

This is all apropos, by the way, of my classes this week. In every single class this week, my students made their own modifications. Students who were relatively new and students who have been in my class for a while, relative beginners and folks with prior experience. In every. Single. Class. someone (or more than one someone) modified down to where they needed to be.

I don’t get all new-age catchphrase about yoga. I’m pretty pragmatic about practicing and its benefits. I don’t utilize chanting in my classes. But I’m going to tell you that it actually gladdened my heart to see my students do their own thing. It was like it filled me up with light each time. I thought, “I’ve done my job.” Because with yoga, you’re SUPPOSED to go at your own pace. You’re supposed to listen to your body and adjust your concentration. And by listening to your body you IMPROVE your concentration. You improve the connection between your body and your brain.

I’m incredibly sad to be leaving my students. I feel guilty about leaving them with limited options to find instruction. But this week, I thought “They can do this. I’ve done a good enough job. They can adjust in any classes they take.” My shoulders felt lighter. I felt accomplished.

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It’s hard to teach other yoga teachers.

Everyone comes to yoga with their own baggage (flexibility, health, stress, et cetera). Teachers have a little extra something, in that they’ve got a way of doing things that they’re used to and may think is the only ‘right’ way. In my experience, most teachers are pretty good about being able to pick and choose what they’re going to use and adapt themselves. It’s challenging though because you’re never quite sure how they feel about the class.

In the class I attended today, there was a beginning student and two teachers (me and another). It was a really good class, in terms of pacing and difficulty. I only had a couple of quibbles – and those come from my own experiences attending and teaching classes.

First, teach the modifications first. It’s difficult (especially for beginning students) to ‘drop down’. Everyone has a certain level of competiton in their nature and if you start with Hard and go to Easy, people almost never take the Easy option. If you start with Easy, more students are likely to stay there when they should. For this reason I also teach that even if your teacher doesn’t offer a modification, if there’s a mod that you like or use – use it anyhow. A good teacher won’t make you feel bad about that.

Second, make sure you’re balancing out the right and left side equally. We worked the right side a little longer in most positions. It happens pretty easily because you start describing what you’re doing and the students are holding the asana while that happens. Then you switch to the other side and don’t stay there as long because you don’t have to explain anything. This is why I wear a digital watch. I can time – to the second – how long we are where we are and make sure it equals out. Not sexy, but effective.

I really did enjoy the class and will probably be going back for more. I’m going to try all the classes to see if they’d be applicable for all or most of my students. The teacher was very nice and approachable and I got a nice solid workout.

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First, I cannot believe this blog has gotten over 4,000 hits. I’m just shocked. I believe that it happened on the backs of Ariel Tweto, Naked Family, and True Blood. Whatever. I have no idea how many people actually read this regularly and I suspect that most people trip over it on accident.

I should be packing a computer tower, a stereo receiver, and loading computer monitors into the back of my car. Obviously I am doing none of those things. My couch is feeling very comfy and I was even considering a nap.

My yoga class this morning was small but nice. My schedule changes this week and I’m picking up a set of out of town sessions on Wednesday nights. I am continuing my search to locate a replacement teacher for my classes in this area.

True Blood was awesome again this week. I’m loving the sort-of reformed Jason, his new crazy girlfriend, and the super-chipper Sookie. Tara also makes my head hurt because I like her so much and she’s so incredibly broken. Lafayette continues to be my favorite. There is something about Bill (possibly his bad accent) that really prevents me from liking him as a character. I don’t know if they’re telling him to play it stoic, but I have a hard time buying him invested in any of the drama that’s currently ongoing. I WILL say that I’m STOKED about Alexander Skaarsgard. Love him!

I’m trying to avoid political talk here because, well, I don’t generally talk politics with complete strangers unless they bring it up. Same goes with religion. Maybe I’ll change that policy once the election is over. I’m not sure (feel free to weigh in, if you care).

Today we didn’t do a single sun salutation in class. I had a request for ‘gentle’. It was more like ‘mellow’, though I gave my usual admonitions about how you can work harder but don’t have to. The class was pretty well-received. I think after Thursday evening’s class, my students are going to take my ‘make requests’ policy seriously. If they ask for something, I do my best to deliver. Most of them don’t ask. Since Thursday was almost all plank, all the time, I think I’ll get more suggestions this week.

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