Its a bit of a mind flip

Heres a little honesty to start off Friday. Teaching yoga looks/sounds like a lot of fun…and guess what?  It is! But it’s also a lot of work. And sometimes no matter how prepared you are for class, how much effort you put in to planning and practicing your sequences, how hard you try during class to be clear and succinct with your cues (but also funny and engaging) or how badly you want to stay on track, not skip postures and finish at the same time as your killer playlist…it just doesn’t happen. AND THATS OK 👌🏻.

I’ve taught a total of 8 classes so far. That’s all by myself, open the front door, turn on the lights, heat and music and guide students through a one hour class solo – not including the free co unity round robin classes I taught during training. I’ve forgotten whole postures (extended side angle in Sun B and Pigeon seem to be my kryptonite), I’ve been challenged by right and left (teaching at different studios make directions difficult), I didn’t set an intention (once) and I’ve been told that I get a little monotone in certain portions. AND THAT’S ALL OK! 👌🏻

This week, I taught a class at my home studio and a couple of my fellow teachers attended. As is the Corepower practice, after class we ask for feedback, which i’m all for…how else can you be expected to grow, right? But the problem for someone who’s as thin skinned as I am and who’s emotions are always right at the surface is sometimes positive, offered with the best intensions yet constructive criticism, still stings a little bit. As I left class that night, George was waiting for me and asked how it went. My  response (based on the criticism) was not so great 😪. But then, a guy who had been in that class and was walking just behind us said, “It was great for me! I made it through and I just started taking yoga.”

So, I’ve been harboring a little self doubt and I admit I brought some of those “stories I tell myself” into my class last night. Guess what? It wasn’t awful, it was actually pretty good. My students got a good 1 hour practice, were challenged and perhaps most importantly enjoyed themselves. AND THATS OK! 👌🏻

In a bizarre mash up of two of my favorite movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Pirates of the Caribbean, my intention for today’s 2 classes is a bit of a mind flip…The problem isn’t the problem, the problem is your reaction to the problem.

I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Riff Raff and Capt. Jack Sparrow in the same sentence before, but when you’re right, your right! 🙏🏻

 

 

 

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Boogie…Do You Wanna Do Doga?

So evidently, Doga is a thing. No, seriously, I found Yoga Postures to do With Your Dog  and More Doga on Pinterest (the greatest time sink of all time, maybe even bigger than Facebook). There are actually several books available on Amazon, but Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog  looks to be the leading resource! I can’t wait to practice with Boogie!

I’ve been thinking a lot about yoga and professionalism. Coming from 30+ years in the corporate and non profit world, I’ve found one of my biggest challenges has been relaxing into the laid back (transient?) life of  a yogi. Namaste?

I found  The Yoga Teacher Manifesto (on Pinterest, of course). Here are a few of the points that really spoke to me, but the whole article is a worthwhile read for all yogis, new or seasoned.

1. Be prepared – demonstrate competency by being organized and professional.

2. Serve your students – it’s about them. Maintain student confidentiality and appropriate professional boundaries.

3. Make yourself available – connect with students after class, return emails and phone calls in a timely way.

4. Keep it real – Be a positive example of authenticity. Don’t just pretend to be a yoga teacher. Instead be yourself.

5. Remember this is not a popularity contest – stop competing with fellow teachers and avoid the humble brag or other ways of comparison.

6. Show up and be present – put aside your drama and tune in to those students in front of you.

In other news…The yoga goddesses had my back today! I started this journey last spring with the goal in mind that I would be a Sculpt teacher –  combo strength + conditioning with yoga. Well, long story short – the YS Teacher Training wasn’t being offered, so I took the full on 200-hour PYTT thinking I’d still be able to teach Sculpt. Unfortunately that’s not how it works at CPY and I just couldn’t  justify the expense of a second teacher training. I was teetering on the edge today of just begging George to let me take the course. With all of the YS sub requests, I’d more than make back the investment. And then, it happened…a weekend Intensive for YS teachers in Baltimore! Proof positive, if you put it ou there the universe takes care of you. Excited! Can’t wait to hear my “hooah” teacher voice!

Namaste for now 🙏🏻

 

I’m back – and thinking about yoga and frogs and soup

Today’s the day that I realized what’s missing. I haven’t been blogging since PYTT ended in August and I miss the outlet of putting my thoughts to paper.

I’m sitting in my brand new “zen den” listening to music and working on sequences for my upcoming classes, in my favorite comfy chair that’s been buried under stuffed animals, abandoned blankets and once favorite, but not so much anymore t-shirts for almost 2 years. Ok, the zen den is really just the second bedroom, cleaned out, minus the lumpy mattress with the split box springs that I had to buy to fit up the stairs of the townhouse in Baldwinsville in 2011. It has a nice open space for me to practice, my comfy chair for reading and writing and all of our comforters folded in the corner that make a perfect nest for Boogie to keep an eye on me. It’s not the perfect home studio, but my little temporary zen den is perfect for now – it’s all mine and it holds the promise of a future zen den. A zen den that will have soothing earth tone walls with stenciled woo woo yogi quotes, a meditation pillow and blankets and a giant Manduka yoga mat. My future zen den will smell like essential oils, have lots of light and hardwood floors. I can’t wait.

So, I graduated from PYTT (and completed Extensions) and it was hard. Much harder than I expected; especially teaching the free community classes. Not so much because I wasn’t capable of teaching, but I put so much pressure on myself to compete with the other yogis2b (my OMies), that every class, every coaching session, every partner teach became an anxiety ridden practice in self doubt. Argh. I need to work on the stories I tell myself.

Nonetheless, I began teaching for real this week! Two classes at Vita and one C1 at CPY under my belt. I also have an audition/practice teach at Feels Like OM this Sunday. Right now, permanent schedule looks to be:

Sunday 2:30 Open Flow at Feels Like OM
Monday 7pm Vita
Friday 4:45 C1 at CPY Fairfax Corner
Saturday 8:30a Vita

Saturday – my first class at Vita – was a complete newbie. I can’t say I FAILED, but clearly I could have done more for her, especially since it was just us. What I did was power through the C1 practice. In hindsight, I should have just picked out the Sun A and Sun B postures and had a posture clinic. If she had mastered those she most likely would’ve felt more accomplished and empowered. I hope she comes back this week. Monday’s Vita class was better – 2 experienced yogis and a newbie. We got through C1. Then the real teat, I subbed C1 at Merrifield for Kimberly. I read a quote by Mark Twain once; “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day!” Merrifield was my live frog…Friday, my first class at Fairfax Corner can only get better!

I just made the most unbelievable pot of soup! I forgot to suspend the From the Farmer basket and ended up with leeks, potatoes and cabbage. Fortunately, I still had the leftovers and carcass from Monday’s “go to chicken!” Voila…homemade stock and a delicious pot of chicken/veggie/rice soup for dinner! I love being creative in the kitchen (and Boogie loves chicken).

Upcoming goals…just 4 more weeks till the Annapolis Half. Training runs need to be a priority, the Army 10 Miler was tough! I also want to test in to teach C2 at CPY; lots more opportunity to sub in C2. Designing sequences that I can practice with the Vita clients.

 

Bringing it all together

This week, in C1.5 and C1, Diana introduced the concept of Stirrha and Sukha.  When to be strong and when to have ease. Sirrah and Sukha refer to the ability to find the strength and power (stirrha) or the softness and relaxation (sukha) within our practice. It is the balance that we try to achieve by finding “the edge” within a posture as we push ourselves to our furthest line of comfort. If out of balance, stirrha can make us too rigid; while sukha can mean that we do not have strength, stability or focus.

It all comes down to finding balance.

In just a few days, Power Yoga Teacher Training will be complete and (if everything goes as planned), I will be RYT-200 certified. Next week, we will teach our first community class, take our final written and oral exams and in 11 days, we will graduate.

In preparation, I’ve been practicing my teaching, reviewing flash cards and readings and finishing up the last of my written assignments. I’ve also been reflecting on the journey. In truth, it’s a little mind blowing how much I’ve learned so much this summer, physically, academically and about myself.

Thanks to an amazing group of yogis, I can gracefully and forcefully teach an entire level 1 Vinyasa yoga class. I can articulate the philosophy and teachings of yogis from the earliest inception of yoga to present day. I know the physical anatomy of the body and how our bones and muscles come together to perform asanas. I’ve learned adjustments and assists to help students reach deeper and experience their practice more fully. I’ve embraced the idea that our chakras can control the mind-body-spirit connection. I even learned a little Sanskrit.

But the most profound thing I’ve learned is the importance of living my life in balance. I’ve learned how to better manage the high and lows, the reactions and the responses; when I need to be strong and when its better to bend and go with the flow. I’ve learned where my grounding comes from and how to ask for help. I’ve learned how to express my gratitude.

The journey doesn’t end with graduation, of course. The learning will continue; there’s still several steps until I can officially be hired as a yoga instructor. Extensions, Sculpt Yoga Teacher Training, 30 hours of student teaching, auditions.

And, I am sure, so will the lessons learned .🙏🏼

 

Does it get any better than this?

Today is August 2, the day I use as my annual reality check.

Two years ago today in the picture on the left, I ran my first official 5K (my first “first” 5K 2 months earlier was a spontaneous burst of energy that was actually the catalyst for change). I weighed about 143.5 pounds and had been working with a strength coach and following the Couch25K app for 8 weeks. And, I had just quit smoking (a filthy habit I gave up over 30 years ago and picked up again when I moved in with George).

I was on my way after havimg pretty much given up on yoga and regular exercise the previous Fall, after a bout with frozen shoulder and the woes that come along with menopause.

Fast forward to today. I am a transformed “work in progress.”

On the right was my 54th birthday (July 11, 2016). Transformed through two long years of basically recreating the wheel in terms of diet and exercise. Today, I weighed 108.3, I have a daily yoga practice and am in the last 2 weeks of becoming a RYT-200 certified yoga instructor. I run a 5K in just under 30 minutes and am training for the Army 10 Miler in October and the Annapolis Half Marathon in November. I watch my caloric intake very carefully, one might say obsessively.

Work in progress because I don’t know where I go from here. I no longer need to lose weight or put on additional muscle. So, my challenge is how to motivate myself without a weight related or physical goal.

After I had started to write this morning, I went to practice – 2 different classes, 2 different teachers, 2 different studios and 2 different intentions. Ironically, both classes helped me to work through my goals for the next year. The first class (C1 at Merrifield with Lynn) offered the intention of pride. I am enormously proud of how much I have accomplished over the past two years. Not only my physical changes, but how these changes have effected me emotionally and psychologically. I need to remember to celebrate this success every day, by living life to its fullest. During the second class (C1.5 at Fairfax Corner), Diana offered finding the strength and the beauty in our practice; where do you need more strength, where do you need more beauty. Taking both of these messages in, I have come up with the following goals for next year….

Strive to be less dependent (obsessive) about monitoring; use fewer apps and wearables;

Continue to deepen my personal yoga practice as I transition from trainee to teacher;

Use the good habits I’ve learned to continue eating with good health and nutrition in mind;

Set a weekly running goal rather than training for the next distance race;

Accept that I am not perfect and that every day is different;

and perhaps most importantly,

If I don’t hit my goals today than tomorrow will be better!🙏🏼

I got this

Five more classes. Four more opportunities to round robin practice teach. Final exams (written and oral). Graduation and RYT-200 Certification. That’s all that’s standing between me and my dream.

Time to start “doubting the doubts” instead of myself. If I’ve put in the time (I have) and work (I have) and effort (I have), then all that’s between me and the dream are a few deep breaths, a healthy dose of self confidence and a sense of humor.

Yesterday was our third round robin practice. Coincidentally, Diana called my name at the exact sequence I had been practicing all morning. “phew…I got this,” I thought. Then I promptly skipped over pigeon pose, called baby cobra by the wrong name (bow pose), paced back and forth, realized I called baby crow pose by the wrong name, didn’t offer any adjustments, paced a few times and ran over time before bridge. OK…I get to try again on Tuesday. Bless and release and keep practicing. In truth, if I had been teaching a real class of C1 newbies, they probably wouldn’t have noticed any of those “mistakes.” And there in lies my new reality. You’re a brand new teacher, you’re going to make mistakes and as long as you smile, laugh and keep composed, no one will ever notice! Fake it till you make it, right?

I was also the designated “closer” yesterday, while I was looking through my Pinterest board of quotes and sayings I had saved for my future classes, I came across an old favorite from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s not the one I ended up using for the class, but just as they have in the past, Helena’s words spoke to me…

She is brave, she is strong.
She will get up whenever she falls.
She knows herself inside and out.
And though she may face challenges
she will face them with courage and hope.
And though she be but little,
she is fierce.

This week’s goal is to use my pratyahara to focus for our first big challenge,“Bring a Beginner Day” next Sunday. I suspect I got tossed a softball to be teaching the Core series – Supta Bonda Konnasa Crunches, Yogi Bicycles and Navasana (Boat Pose) – but man, it’s made a world of difference to my confidence level. I know the Sanskrit, I know the series, I know the modifications and assists. Its 3 minutes long.

I got this.🙏🏼

ps – George, In case you were wondering, I would love the “She is Fierce” MantraBand bracelet 🙋🏻

Goodbye Queen Cersei. Hello Princess Leia.

I’ve been reflecting on my pratayahara this morning. Since Wednesday, I have been devoting my practice to pratayahara – withdrawing from the senses – specifically to mentally focus on eliminating the negative self talk that I allow in and to physically focus on my spine and hip alignment.

Observation #1: Pratyahara is much harder when faced with a new practice. On Thursday, I finally got to Diana’s C1.5 class that I’ve been wanting to take for weeks. Just like the name suggests, C1.5 bridges the experience gap between C1 and C2. Diana even specifically said that at the start of class – you’re expected to have the base knowledge of the postures, but not necessarily the proficiency. I came to my mat ready for the challenge and planned to continue pratyahara as my intention from the day before. What I learned was that my mental focus was just as challenged as my physical focus; especially towards the middle of the sequence when the postures were completely brand new to me! Equestrian?

Observation #2: Chakras. In the spirit of fair disclosure, the “woowoo” mind-body-spirit aspect of yoga was not really my jam when I began this journey, but I loved everything about last nights PYTT Chakras class. We started the evening with a practice that moved through each of the seven chakras – postures that were essentially beneficial to balancing each. I’m not sure whether Liv ranked the heat in the studio or I was exerting more effort than a normal C1 class, but I was sweating like crazy! And then, when we reached the third chakra – Manipura – I had one of those “it happened” moments I talk about frequently.

Stay with me here….I had made stuffed poblano peppers earlier in the day for dinner. Whenever I make these, I’m super careful with the seeds because they burn (its the capsicum) and I know I was that day because up until that moment, I had not felt any burning sensation on my hands or in my eyes. As I began to sweat during core, suddenly my index finger on my right hand, the skin around my mouth and my eyes and forehead began to burn and itch as if I had just touch the seeds in the last few minutes and rubbed my eyes or eaten them. The more I sweat the more it burned. After practice, I mentioned the feeling to Trish who agreed it was “a thing.” Later on, as we studied each chakra, here’s what I learned…

Manipura is physically connected to the detox organs – stomach. liver. spleen and pancreas – and when this chakra is unbalanced it is associated with digestive and intestinal disorder, indigestion and food allergies. Hmmmm, that kind of makes sense that my body could have been detoxing the capsicum and it was coming out through my pores. But remember, the chakras are a mind – body – spirit connection. Manipura governs self confidence, self esteem personal power, relationship with ego and how we are seen by others. The words connected with Manipura include strengthen, empowerment and transformation. Well now, I’m a little freaked out because these are all the personal “self” issues I’ve been working on the past few months. The final “coincidence,” the posture said to calm this imbalance? You guessed it, prayer twist! Exactly the posture I’ve been focusing my pratyahara on throughout the week. So, now I have the key. I am worthy of this and I am just as good as every one else, I just needed to focus my energy correctly. I need to be the bridge between dark and light.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson.

Boom. Mic Drop. 🎤