Week 154: Yoga Flora and Fauna
Fun yoga adventures this week led me to a parent and tot yoga session hosted by our local Mommy Connections group, Nirvana Hot Yoga and West Edmonton Mall.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.
Recall, I’ve done yoga with both of my sons up until they were mobile. After that, well, it wasn’t really feasible. It wasn’t easy for me and it wasn’t fun for them.
But this session was different.
Maybe because we were on Centre Stage at the West Edmonton Mall. Or maybe because we were under a huge sky light. Or maybe because the teacher did an excellent job engaging with the kids. Or maybe because my three and a half year old has matured and can have an attention span for 20 minutes! Or maybe it was just all things combined!
Note: My youngest was happily leading his grandma around the mall so I wasn’t trying to practice AND contain a toddler!
As I said, the teacher did a wonderful job of taking common poses and turning them into animals and flowers and all sorts of things.
Okay - let’s be honest - some yoga poses already have animal names (dog, anyone?) so it was a natural fit.
Here are some of the offerings…
We were bumble bees…breath in…exhale and buzz! In cross legged position we brought our pointer fingers to our ears and made circles with our torsos while buzzing!
Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)
We were butterflies! First moving our wings slowly then picking up the pace to fly higher in the sky.
Need I say more? We meowed with our mad cats and mooed with our cows. Funny enough…I joke with adults to add the sounds to this pose. It’s not just for adults. The funny thing with kids though (who are not afraid to speak their minds) was one kid shouted out “let’s be wolves instead of cows”. Needless to say, we were howling on our next cows!
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Again, a no-brainer. We were slithering snakes who hissed in the upright position.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Making our bodies as tiny as possible, we morphed into tiny bugs…I was a lady bug by choice!
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
We moved from a crouched position into growing flowers (I was surprised we weren’t trees). But flowers were a nice option too!
To be honest, the teacher did such a great job with so many “kid-friendly" poses, I’ve forgotten them all. There was an airplane in there and a bridge too!
It just goes to show that yoga is for all ages! The kids had a blast. We even played a game “Yogi Says” and finished with namaste.
It was refreshing to share my yoga practice this week with my son. He knows I creep away to the basement or to the odd class to practice, so it was nice to share some yoga with him. He likely has no memory of the earlier classes we did and I would like him to consider yoga as something he can try and participate in. It is all about giving him options and seeing if he wants to try. He has no preconceived ideas about yoga either.
Teaching kids yoga in the future. Yes - I think I’d like that! The class was full of smiles, jumps, wiggles and laughs. Who wouldn’t want to teach yoga that way anyhow. Something to keep in mind for the future.
And hey wait a minute - I’ve never got to play “Yogi Says” at a class before! To be continued...
Week 153: Sanskrit Stumber
This pesky low back pain has finally given me some relief this week. I’ve been super conscious with releasing the lateral left body but boy, I’m shocked how tight it is. What caused this - who knows!
I was delighted to practice another Do Yoga With Me session this week and it supported the gentle pace I so needed. I was instructed to complete many of the "regular poses” I do but in an unique way with a new teacher, Nicky. “Old” poses turned new with her gentle self-love approach.
One pose that stood out this week was belly twist (Jathara Parivrtti), which I’ve done many times over the years. But to be honest, this pose seems to get played as second fiddle. I rarely take the time to really think about this pose. For whatever reason, Nicky’s cues made me more aware of this pose and how I haven’t really explored it in much detail.
I didn’t really know the pose’s proper name. Initially, when I slotted into Google what I thought it was called, it initially spit back "supine/reclined spinal twist" or Supta Matsyendrasana. If one didn’t look closely at all the images of the pose, one would think this was the one I was looking for.
Yet, it wasn’t.
Supine spinal twist requires more twisting action at the lumbar spine as the top leg is only bent and is placed over the bottom straight leg as you twist. The pose I was looking for had two flexed knees and hips stacked one on top of the other, yet the action was similar in nature.
After having trouble finding the pose’s real name. I got confused (ok - I’m still confused) on the actual Sanskrit name. In one place it is listed as Jathara Parivrtti and in another it is Jathara Parivartanasana. After a further look, I realized the second sanskrit word is similar but different. “Parivrtti” meaning “turning, rolling” versus “parivartana" meaning “turning round, revolving”. I have no answer to this one other than the two words are slight variations on each other and mean essentially the same thing.
With all my sanskrit searching this week. I did learn something new, which wasn’t confusing to me!
“Supta” can be used as a noun or adjective meaning “to lay down”. Hence, Supta Matsyendrasana is a supine twist. Matsyendra means “king of fish”. I have no idea how that factors in other than in my readings this week I found that this pose was developed by a renowned teacher of yoga, Sage Matsyenda.
“Ardha” means “half”. So the seated version, Ardha Matsyendrasana is considered half lord of the fishes (fish?)
Okay. Maybe I don’t totally understand Sanskrit yet!
Alas, belly twist as it was, was the perfect asana to release my achey back and melt myself into the floor. The passive lengthening of the obliques, intercostals, transversopinalis and parts of the erector spinae was a reprieve from all the upright work these tense muscles have been dealing with lately.
Boy, I need more time (and understanding) of the unique language of yoga.
Do you ever have this nagging pain and you just don't know where it came from? No incident. No accident. No obvious reason to be in pain.
That's been me for the past couple months.
I've always had back and hip pain of some sort but lately, *Gawd* it's been painful. It's not the normal chronic pain in the butt, literally. But this stiff and sore low back. I can barely look at my toes without pain. Thank goodness for physio because I'm at my wits end with trying to stretch it out.
Last week's practice was about self-love; yet, my body wasn't loving me back after my yoga practice! Ouch!
Well, we continue on and get a treatment or two and I think we (mostly my physio) have figured it to be my left fascia line down the leg. My heartless IT band, my sad tensor fascia lata and grouchy left foot have made their mark!
With last week's trouble, I was hesitant to do another hip sequence but have no fear, I was ready to take on my left leg!!!
And it paid off!
Fishing the Internet for another yoga practice, I stumbled onto Do Yoga With Me. I clicked on the video, Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings and Lower Back, and away I went.
The practice, essentially was all on the floor. It was a nice change from the many sun salutations I have been doing lately. My favourite (and most helpful) portion of the session was the supine hip abductor and hip adductor stretches with the strap. I love this version of extended hand to toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana) because a) I can’t do the standing version very well, b) the ground supports the body and c) the strap cradles the foot/leg in its range of motion and allows you to stop to the point of deepest stretch (which may not be the full abduction of the hip).
Since my back is flaring up due to my lateral left leg, the abductors also benefited from the stretch when the leg crossed the mid-line of the body. The cue to “turn the foot in” was essential! That movement got me without even moving the leg across the body. Yikes!
In past practices, I have done this sequence before but never really considered it a version of hand to toe pose. It continues to amaze me all the different variations there are to the asanas.
Miraculously, after practice, my back felt the best its felt in over a couple months.
I’m so happy to have found another great [Canadian!] website for my home practice.
Keep on moving and learning and one day be a teacher,
I can't tell you how many people over the duration of my career who've told me they want to lose weight. It is almost a given when talking about exercise. Or is it?
Research doesn't necessarily support that exercise alone will help you lose weight. Yet, the fitness industry rants and raves it as the (only) benefit of being physically active.
Even this past week, I had a women who's sole purpose talking to me was about her losing 30 pounds. Unfortunately, each time she spoke of her weight, it was like her weight was a personal failure and she wasn't a deserving human being.
I know that feeling. I hate to admit it but there were many years of body hate. I recall taking scissors to my inner thigh and considering to cut. Of course, I knew enough (at lets say the age of eight) that that wasn't going to work. But the feeling of disgust with my body was all encompassing.
Full Disclosure: I still struggle from time to time about my body image. It is easy to fall back into old thoughts and self-talk.
Is this common? I hate to know the stats as I think it is more common than we know.
Slot in yoga...
A practice that is for oneself and within oneself. Not just the physicality of asanas but the breath work and mental meditation it includes.
I would argue yoga is the ultimate in self-love.
This week's practice drove that point home.
Initially, when I read the video title, I slightly cringed - "Yoga for Weight Loss - Hips & Hammies ". Oh no, not this message again. The expectation that yoga will cause weight loss. But as I got into the video sequence, I soon realized I was the one with the expectations.
Okay - exercise science doesn't support exercise (yoga) as a weight loss tool (unless you do many, many, many minutes a week) but taking care of oneself likely does. Now I don't have the science to back this one up but if you spend time taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, it can only make you better...and take you to a healthy weight.
I missed interpreted the video title to only be about the physical. Weight status is multifactorial. There are many reasons why people weigh what they weigh. From my experience, it is when your practice self-love, you become the best (healthy) self, no matter what your weight.
A major reason I started my passion project, The Why I Move Project, was to make society become more mindful about their physical activity AND see that being physically active is much more that just your weight.
I am blessed each week to practice yoga. It is my gift to myself.
Will you give yourself some love this week?
Week 150: Insight With Ajna
After a long day of rumbling kids and many points of discipline, this mom needed a time out.
I was quite content to have all little ones under the age of five, down for a nap.
*Sigh* - A quiet house.
I could have sat in exhaustion and ran every crying/whining/screaming scenario through my head but instead I rushed to my mat!
The best cure for a timed out mom is yoga!
Adriene delivered once again. Her "Yoga for When You're In a Bad Mood" was aptly titled and it delivered.
The practice hit on one thing I have great interest in understanding; yet have not fully taken the time to comprehend (note: I still don't completely understand!).
That one thing is the yogic chakras.
From the reading I got to this week (thanks, Wikipedia and others), I see that there are many versions of chakras. For my purposes, I'm going to focus on the ones that fall under the umbrella that is yoga.
In practice, we worked on our "third eye chakra" or the sixth charkra. It is also known was Ajna, meaning “Command Post” as it is the seat of intuition located at the brow point. This momma needed to recalibrate at the command post after multiple scenarios of frustration and anger. I assume like me that most people feel physically and mentally awful when they have many points of exasperation.
Working on the sixth charka provided an opportunity to
see the deeper meaning of the situation as it allows seeing everything as it is from a point of "witness" or "observer".
Was it really THAT bad of a day?
How could I handle competing demands of multiple children under five?
How can I be more gentle with them?
Time for contemplation and trying not to think too much allowed my physical self to calm my mental and intuitive self.
Now how did we do it?
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.