Reflection: It is hard to believe a year has past and I feel I've barely scratch the surface of yoga. It has become clear to me that yoga might just be a life long endeavour, which I am happy to explore. I have learned a lot over the past year and have tried many poses out of my comfort zone. I also dabbled into some yoga philosophy that seems very intriguing.
Intention: Every week, incorporate yoga wherever it may fit. Practice at least one pose and purposeful breathing. Dig deeper into my understanding of how the body moves in each pose and how it impacts the physiology of the body.
Practicing yoga is for me, and me alone.
As my practice grows, my ability to be a teacher will expand and one day I will be a yoga teacher.
To many more weeks of yoga practice,
Do you ever feel like life is rocking you out of control one minute than its smooth sailing on peaceful waters the next?
In this week's practice, one pose stood out from the rest, which represented this exact feeling - bow pose.
Bow pose ( Dhanurasana) is a prone back bending pose. I have been doing this pose for years and can remember the "early days" of this pose as challenging. As with downward facing dog, I had an early distaste for this pose...maybe just because it was hard!
I was quite excited to realize bow pose was part of the sequence of practice in Rodney Yee's Power Up Yoga DVD. The practice was what I would say on the faster side for me but when I realized we were heading into bow pose, I thought things must be slowing down for a moment.
I came tummy down onto my mat ready for a great back extension hold. Clasping my ankles, I lifted my chest and thighs off the mat and began to steady myself into the strength and calm of the pose. I had just balanced myself via my ribs and front of my pelvis (read: "smooth sailing") when he cued to role to the right.
I'm going to role in bow pose. Really?
Okay - I let go of my balance and tipped to my right (I may note, still holding my ankles!) Whoa - what a sensation of imbalance and some strain (read: "rocking out of control"). I was pleasantly surprised that I "fell" into a wonderful, releasing chest stretch for the right pectoral muscle.
When cued to roll to the left, I was eager to move and get the equally beneficial stretch for the left pectoral.
Once I rolled back into upright bow pose, I thought to myself, that just wasn't that bad.
Moving past status quo, in anything, can actually be good and even beneficial.
Oh yoga, you teach me so many lessons beyond the physical.
Over the past 50 weeks, I've barely touched on one of the essential components of yoga, breath or pranayama (the art of breath control). As I write this week's post, I'm actually very surprised that I haven't put much time and investigation into the breath. Well, better late than never!
This week's practice was with a new instructor, Edie Cassidy, who is a well-known local teacher and yoga therapist. The session was fortuitous because I was looking at my week and was wondering where yoga was going to fit. At my part-time job at the Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network, we offered sampler classes such yoga sessions to our patient population over the summer months. It just so happened that I was working while one of the classes was being offered.
What a blessing!
I alway enjoy listening to teachers' cueing especially when it is my first class with him or her. Edie did not let me down. She had many words of wisdom and advice for our patient population and I too gained from her experience and expertise as I situated myself in the back corner of the room.
The primary message that Edie relayed was to "lead with the breath". I stopped for a moment and thought - wow, I've been missing this cue for a while not only in yoga but also in day to day life. I instantly focused on my breathing for the duration of the class. It was amazing to move with ease but with great concentration.
Inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale.
She continued to say, and I'm paraphrasing, "You can do anything as long as you breath". How true is that?!? I hope the patients present were able to receive and contemplate Edie's message. I was inspired.
I love getting gems of wisdom particularly when it relates to yoga. The concept of breathing or pranayama will take may posts but my practice this week has refocused my attention.
I was fortunate to be on vacation this past week and travel to Saskatchewan, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. I have to admit, I tried quite hard to actually "vacation" and leave the normal hum drum of life (including this blog) behind.
Photo: Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Yet, I had to try at least one yoga class at a new location while away!
My yoga class journey was interesting to say the least. Living in a large city, a yoga studio is relatively easy to find. In smaller cities, not so much. I tried two locations with no success so I ended up with the option of a hot yoga class. Yikes! No preparation with the necessities (i.e., towel, water) and the mental prep it takes for me to do a hot class!
The class was called Hot 26 which I think it related to the number of poses we did during practice. Each pose was completed two times and I enjoyed the repetition. Overall, the session was intimate and challenging.
What struck me the most was that the teacher taught by only using her voice. We were placed in front of a panel of mirrors and watched ourselves throughout. She did not demonstrate any of the poses. I have rarely used a mirror in practice and typically fix my gaze on the floor in front of my mat or at the teacher. So this was a new way to practice.
The teacher's voice was exquisite as she used tone to help guide us through the poses. Instead of using my eyes, as in typical practice, I actually just focused on using my ears for guidance. Interesting new perspective on practice.
It got me thinking on how I would like to teach. It takes a lot of experience and skill to only teach using your voice. The teacher spoke during most of the class (with the exception of savansa) and if I were to do this, I would need to speak eloquently, concise and detailed all at the same time. Cueing every single aspect of the pose was essential for the teacher. Lots of work to be done to get to that point!
As always, I have been shown another way to practice and another way to teach.
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.