I was treated to a lovely practice at a studio this week!
Cue the applause!
I actually made it to a studio to practice with other people! And LOTS of other people.
Of course the studio was packed with people, being the week between Christmas and New Years. Naive me, I thought it would be empty with barely a soul. People - not a problem with me! I even chatted with a lady who had only just started her own journey of yoga two weeks ago!
Note: I love hearing people’s stories about their physical activity! Did you know that?
The beauty of a studio class is that I have VERY LIMITED control. And that is one of the best things for me!
I attended a hip opening class at Yoga Central. It is one of my favourite places to attend in Edmonton as the studio is super clean and the owner Sheila, knows everyone’s (I mean, everyone’s) name! I lucked out and she was subbing the full house class.
The practice was in Yoga Central’s warm room which as an additional treat as I don’t usually crank the heat in my basement to practice. I settled into the warmth of the room and was ready to go.
I felt good and glided through the poses that were perfect for my *always* tight hips! But, one thing got me…
Let me just say, I feel like I’ve covered a lot of ground over 176 weeks of yoga. Have I done all possible asana…well, almost. But today was a day for a new one!
I love a good forward fold. I fully admit to love all the variations as well. From the forward rag doll, to the holding the elbows, to the placing the hands on the ground or maybe under the feet (okay - that’s my favourite) to taking the peace sign fingers around the big toe. Love, love. love it all! Yet, one version still remained.
Cupping my hands/palms under my heels!
It was like adding a kitten heel to my forward fold. You know I like fashion, right?
The amazing thing about this position is that the heels are in a lifted position which releases the tension though the calf and possibly through the hamstrings. This elicits a healthy release to two muscles that can be pretty darn tight!
Further, as most hand placements during forward fold are in front of the body, this pose gives the shoulders a chance to externally rotate. This gives some movement through the upper back and scapula/shoulder blades region whereby the trapezius seems to get a nice stretch as the head is hanging downward.
Well, I am continually amazed how yoga rocks my world with new and wonderful poses!
It’s 6 a.m.
It has been dark for over 12 hours and it feels like I haven’t seen the sun in a while.
Did I really sleep? Or is this a dream?
It’s my early morning yoga practice….to.fit.it.in!
With this week’s early morning mat time, it got me to thinking about what is the best time to do yoga. Two things came to mind…
When I took an academic yoga class in my undergraduate degree, I recall that we were not suppose to eat prior to practice. Or at least this is was the professor asked of my 21 year old self. Did I follow that “rule”? Not exactly. But it begs the question, should I be doing yoga first thing in the morning before eating anything?
Which leads me to my world of exercise physiology and working with registered dietitians where not eating before exercise (particularly when first rising) is pretty close to a complete no-no. Breakfast is about “breaking the fast” so having something, small as it may be, is recommended.
So the timing with food idea may have some flaws. And maybe something to explore at a later date.
As for the second thing, it too stems from my exercise physiologist self. When is the best time to exercise? Old thought is first thing in the morning to rev up the metabolism but today’s research doesn’t support a specific time of day. What I do recommend is to pick a time that works best for you…or the individual.
I guess that is what I had to do for practice this week. It was at 6 a.m. that worked best.
But I have to say, waking up during practice - because that was what was happening - was absolutely lovely first thing in the morning. I made it to my mat in the dark with not much difficultly and I found a gentle morning video from Adriene that slowly led me into practice.
At that hour, my best intention to set was all about self-love. Being kind to myself throughout the practice as my body came to life.
The practice ended with no savasana which allowed the energy from the practice to continue to flow into my day. I loved how energized I felt and was keen to get going to the day. Missing savasana was a small price to pay for the peaceful and tension-free way to start my day.
To be sure I had a bit more insight into the timing of practice, I went to my go to Google search which took me to a great article by Yoga Journal. It said,
Since an important part of yoga practice is getting to know yourself and how you change from moment to moment, it makes sense to let your energy inform you about how to practice according to the season or time of day.
What a great idea!
Sometime practice just has to fit in. Other times, I can dictate when it fits best for me. Although, I am thinking the early morning might be something I’d like to try. It provided a calm and quiet time that I so need in my life.
Morning yoga, maybe see you again soon,
Do you ever have those days when things just don’t go well? I’m sure you do. Mine showed up in the oh-so-welcomed come in threes - not just one thing but three!
#1 - Sick Kid
Unfortunately my youngest was up at 1:30 a.m., 2:30 a.m., and 3 a.m. with cries and whimpers. In the end, Tylenol, cuddles and mom (me) sleeping on his bedroom floor was what soothed him. Poor little man.
#2 - Dead Car Battery
Hard to believe that anything could add to this but taking the oldest one off to pre-school (thank goodness for a loving grandma to stay with the youngest), I put the keys in the ignition and nothing. Not even a murmur. Well, there we have it. A useless car with my useful carseat attached. Quick, grab the hearty stroller and book it with my oldest to preschool (thank goodness we live not too far away from school).
#3 - No Snack
After my dash away, I realized that I forgot my oldest's snack in the useless car. Bah! Mom fail. But of course, thank goodness for an understanding preschool teacher who stashes extra snacks for days when moms just can’t catch a break.
That was all before 9 a.m. in the morning. What else could go wrong?
Well, nothing. And quite frankly, it was annoying and tiring but I had to get to my yoga.
As the dust settled and the kids were napping, I was able to find a simple yogic breathing video by Adriene. As I started, who do I hear but my youngest crying out. Well, I guess he gets to join me with some Taco Breath.
Yes. This is why I love Yoga with Adriene so much is her humour and approach to yoga (hopefully I’m as cool of a teacher as she is one day).
Technically, it is Sitali breathing or cooling breath.
This fired up momma needed a cooling off!
My youngest sat peacefully on my lap as I ran through the yogic breathing technique. I have never tried this before and had an interesting time feeling the sensation of air flowing into my mouth like it was going through a straw. It was almost as if the tongue was the gatekeeper of the inhalation as I found it challenging to keep a balanced breath.
With further searching I found that Sitali breathing or pranayama, can improve focus; reduce agitation, anger, and anxiety; and pacify excess heat in the system. It was the yoga elixir that I needed.
My moveBALL challenge was on a recovery/flexibility day so my breath work fit perfectly into the challenge. Thank GOODNESS!
Next time I have a sick kid, a dead car battery and forget snacks, I’ll be sure to turn to my taco breath. And maybe sooner if need be!
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.