This week I am in Barcelona, Spain competing in Life Fitness' Global Personal Trainers to Watch competition.
Since I am in the learning phase of my yoga training, yoga is always on my brain. Being in Spain made no difference. Thus, in the wee hours of the morning, jet-legged and all, I was up writing a yoga sequence that I could do on the Life Fitness Synrgy BlueSky.
Here is what I came up with!
Monkey Bar (Long)
Dip/Leg Raise Station
Traverse Bar (Long)
Cargo Net (Long)
Having a chance to "play" on a new piece of equipment is always fun for me. This event was an experience of a lifetime and my yoga teacher in training came along for the ride too!
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?
As any new mom can attest, after the baby is born, life has changed! Whether it be your first, second, or third (hold up, I just have two!), your lifestyle shifts into a whole other dimension.
Juggling a newborn and toddler is a feat in itself but add the physical recovery after delivery and the lack of sleep. The mind and body just craves attention.
I am of the personality to never stop. I rarely slow down. I love challenges and this one is probably one of the biggest of my life. In regular circumstances I bustle through and crash one Friday night but since this is a sort of "long haul" endeavour, I look to my yoga practice for reprieve and rejuvenation.
To be frank, short walks and some gentle stretching was my extent this week. I dropped back into child's pose for 30 seconds here and there. Closing my eyes, pressing my hips back for a delightful stretch in my back.
It was in these fews moments that I got my recharge, to help cope with little sleep and the chance to get back to my pre-pregnancy self. My back also appreciated the stretch too.
Small steps for calm in this hectic time. It will only get better from here,
I sort of feel "behind the times". This is sometimes the case - if you only knew I just recently got my first ever cell phone and considered staying with a film camera. Hot yoga has been a craze for some time and for whatever reason I've stayed away.
I wonder if I have not done a hot yoga class because of the preconceived notion that it would totally suck...for the lack of better words. The heat and intensity would be awful and I saw myself needing to leave the room for reprieve from the heat.
This is so not the case!
I entered the room at Yoga Central and the first things that jumped out to me was the warmth (not heat) and the red floor! I settled on to my mat and waited for the class to begin. I did some initial low back stretching with child's pose (balasana) and let my body (and mind) get use to the warmth. I have to admit that I panicked a little bit and my breath shortened. But then class began...
It was a practice much similar to a regular Hatha class. I anticipated that the poses would be rapid fast and my body would be drenched within the first five minutes. Not at all. The pace was perfect and I was, let's say, glowing in the first five minutes. We practiced many downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) poses and I felt I finally could get the release in my calf muscles that I so needed. I felt strong and stretched all at the same time.
The other real benefit beyond what a normal class provides for me is the focus on the breath. It wasn't emphasized to a great extent but for me it was how I coped with the extra warmth of the room and my body. It was something I could control in an environment I couldn't control. Interesting...
At the end of class, I felt little rushes of cool air over my body as I lay in corpse pose (savasana). Was it my mind playing tricks on me or did the teacher lower the temperature in the room? I'm not sure but it was the most refreshing end to a class I'd been avoiding for years!
Curiously, after class, I wanted to know why the class was not referred to as a Bikram class. It seems that hot and Bikram are not necessarily one in the same (kinda like all Catholics are Christian but not necessarily all Christians are Catholic). Bikram yoga has a specific prescription whereby the temperature is standardize as well as the poses, 26 of them, are completed every class. Who knew? So many things to learn!
Hot in Edmonton and ready to try it again,
From as far back as I can remember, I really have enjoyed (and benefited) from child's pose (balasana). Having a chronic back/hip injury and the associated pain, it was a position that I could stretch my back out even as an awkward tween. Yoga came into my life because of my back injury. Hard to believe how long I've be practicing child's pose!
Child's pose is a kneeling forward bend pose. It releases the low back and spine by letting gravity pull the torso down towards the ground. I even read how some yoga teachers encourage this pose to help energy move through the chakras (I barely know and understand chakras at this point!) All I know is that the prone position (very common) and the similar supine position (think flipped on your back with your knees to your chest) is such a relaxing pose!
In recent practice session with a DVD, Shiva Rea Flow Yoga for Beginners, the yoga teacher provided a real unique way to look at child's pose. The teacher called it wisdom pose because "it is the wisdom of knowing when to relax and come back to yourself. It is the wisdom of knowing when you need to take a break for your body...". What a great way to think of this restful pose.
Recently a friend was commenting on a class she attended where she was doing child's pose the way she was taught, arms outstretched overhead, and the teacher told her that child's pose is suppose to be done with the arms and hands at the side of the body. This made me wonder - what is the actual way to do it? And, like with many poses, there must be modifications and/or variations on how to do it. I dove into my books and the Internet and this is what I found:
1. In most publications it shows arms resting at the side with the palms in the pronated (facing up) position. Forehead is resting on the floor.
2. An upper body option is arms stretched above the head ( in shoulder flexion). So, yes , my friend was still doing child's pose but a variation.
3. Alternatives for the lower body include opening the hips (abduction) and allowing the belly closer to the floor. This variation is something I am very familiar with. It was the only way I could do child's pose while pregnant!
4. The head positioning can also be varied. Forehead can be placed on stacked hands or fists. But also the head can be turned to one side as well.
5. The final variation that I could find was the arms by the side of the body but the hands clasping the heels. For whatever reason, I find this version the most relaxing and least taxing on the body.
So there you have it. The many faces of child's/wisdom pose. My back is better for it. So grateful for this pose!
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.