“I teach yoga.”

So I just told someone, for the very first time, when they asked “what I do” that “I teach yoga”!!!

It felt really crazy to me because leading up to this weekend I felt so awkward even mentioning the fact that I was doing this training. I mean, it was even really weird when I had to talk with the other teachers at the Y to arrange times next month for me to shadow their classes. It felt almost presumptuous, like I was claiming to be a yoga expert by saying that I wanted to teach it.

Obviously, at my two 8hr days of training this weekend I did not learn anything about yoga that was earth shattering. I’ve been practicing yoga for three years now and—being the avid learner that I am—I’ve constantly worked to absorb anything and everything related to yoga that I came across. I’ve read books, learned the lingo, consciously observed/reflected, and delved into the culture as much as I possibly could. So while I picked up plenty of new ideas and tips this weekend, it was a small amount in comparison to my accumulated mountain (or, more accurately, my mole-hill) of yogish knowledge (no I don’t know if that’s really a word lol).

And yet, at the same time I still know I added something huge to my mole hill this weekend. I think the best word to sum it up would be “confidence”.

There were a lot of people at my training who had more experience than I do with teaching (though not necessarily with yoga) and at first I felt like I sounded so jumbled and shaky compared to them when I cued. I’ve always had a little bit of nervousness when it comes to public speaking, sometimes I start to shake and sometimes my voice does too. But as the time went on, with encouragement from my peers and the simple act of practicing speaking to a group, I definitely made so much progress in a short amount of time.

I still don’t feel like I’m “ready”, but I know that with time to prepare myself and practice (both alone and in a group co-teaching) that when the time comes I’m going to be able to stand up at the front and lead a class with clarity and confidence. I can tell because when someone asks me “what I do” I tell them with clarity and confidence that “I teach yoga.”

If I wanted to do pushups, I’d go to the gym.

809369e98d06e8897fb1eb33bee1aa4eWhile I like running and lifting and other forms of working out, I LOVE yoga (especially hot yoga) because it is so much MORE than just a workout.

I love sweating and having to control my breath to deal with the heat, it makes me feel so much more present because I am forced to focus all of my energy on the here and now or risk falling down or passing out. It leads me directly into a meditative state without struggling to shut my inner-chatter up (which I always struggle with otherwise). I love nothing more than zeroing in on a challenging pose and working through the heat, exhaustion, and my own hang-ups to succeed at it.

What I’m saying is that I’m not opposed to getting a workout in yoga, in fact I’m usually disappointed if I’m not tired and sore at the end of it. But there is an almost ineffable difference between just working out and working hard at yoga.

A lot of people think yoga is easy. They think it’s just “stretching”. They think it’s a “girly” exercise. While the truth is, it can be as gentle or as challenging as you make it.

But then… there are those people who think you can only make it difficult by tacking on situps, pushups, weights, Pilates, and other western exercises to the traditional asanas–which drives me insane.

I know that many people enjoy westernized classes that cut out the hippie bullshit. But I, for one, LOVE the hippie bullshit. It’s that yoga-high that keeps me coming back to my mat every single day. So when the instructor starts counting out situps or having us do Pilates kicks while standing in Tree Pose, I almost always immediately fall out of that meditative yoga high, because now I’m just working out. I’m counting down to the end of the reps, looking ahead for time to pass instead of staying in the present moment. I stop feeling my body and actively take my mind elsewhere so that I can work through the burn of a mindless, repetitive exercise.

And the thing is, it’s completely unnecessary.

You can work out your abs in boat pose or Bikram’s half moon. You can do sun salutations instead of push-ups. You can work on getting up into crow or flying pigeon and be utterly exhausted from head to foot. There are limitless poses and challenging variations in yoga  that are inspiring to reach for and exhilarating to accomplish–so why on earth would you tack on boring pushups to make a yoga class challenging?

Does anyone else feel the same? =/

So… I Finally Taught my 1st Yoga Class…

afd7133c347004d406454c3f3de787b5…at home…to just my boyfriend…and our dog. So obviously it doesn’t “really” count, but it’s a start! Without a studio here in Iowa to call “ours” yet and our hectic work/life schedules, I offered a few months ago to lead some yoga sessions at home between studio sessions… and was too timid to ever follow through with it.

But when I registered for YogaFit Level 1 last week I knew that it was now or never, if I couldn’t instruct my own partner through yoga poses in the privacy of our own house then how the hell was I going to do it in front of a class of strangers?! (Or worse–in front of the other trainees at YogaFit who will obviously notice if I’m acting lame!!)

So last Tuesday, I finally pulled out my special leather notebook (that I have been intermittently jotting yoga sequencing notes in for about a year now–I knew I’d need it eventually) and put it to good use. It was bedtime and had been a stressful month for us, so I just turned to a restorative bedtime sequence I copied out of Om Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine.

It was weird leading a yoga session for my boyfriend because he had no problem ignoring my cues and  doing things like dropping into child’s pose unprompted (I was going there next already, I swear!!!) and I also knew he would pick up on all of the lines that I clearly “recycled” from some of our past yoga teachers (imitation is the highest form of flattery–right?). But honestly as soon as we got through that first “class” I felt a wall break down inside, and the next session I was inspired to create my own original sequence and my voice was so much clearer. My boyfriend agreed that he even liked the new sequence better than the first one I taught (success!!).

I know have a lot to work on to refine my OWN voice and my own style of teaching, but I’m definitely making progress. And I am so thankful that I am able to practice like this before actually going through teacher training, I’m not sure what I would do without the love and support (and feedback) from my wonderful boyfriend!!

So I guess the next step: let our roommate participate in my private yoga sessions? lol =)

So… I’m going to teach yoga..

2d8e7f45a114bced03206683252fc149This emoji, with the big dots for eyes and all of his teeth showing in a wide grimace (a face that seems to say “yikes”), is definitely my favorite and most used emotive. It’s useful in texts where you want to convey that you have a sense of nervousness, awkwardness, or apprehension about what you’re saying.

And of course all three of those apply here. Because while yoga is a huge part of my life and I have absolutely dreamed of taking it that huge step further, I’m nervous that I’m awkward and apprehensive about my abilities.

I mean, who wants to learn yoga from someone who can’t even get into flying pigeon or bird of paradise?

Obviously that’s ridiculous because I have had many beloved teachers who had limitations and were still developing in their own practice.. Yet when it comes to myself I tend to want perfection. I don’t want to do anything dumb, misinform anyone, give anyone the wrong idea or experience… and I want people to like taking my classes the way that I look forward to classes with my own favorite instructors. I’m worried that my voice is too quiet and shaky and that I will ramble and jumble up my words. I’m worried that I’ll fall trying to demonstrate a balancing pose or forget to keep my own hips level in three legged dog. The list of fears goes on and on..

But last night, with the support of my boyfriend, I have decided to take the necessary steps in order to teach yoga at the gym where I work at the front desk. While this is equal parts exciting and terrifying, I think the biggest hurdle will be getting over worrying about what people will think about me teaching yoga.. So I thought a good place to start would be to announce it semi-publicly here.

(*yikes*)

So I Can Sorta Do a Headstand…

headstandThe title really says it all… Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana–technically “supported headstand” because my arms/hands are still touching the ground) was my new years intention for 2013.

Obviously we’re already into the fourth month of 2014, so talk of last years new years resolutions seems a little too late…

But! I actually could “sorta do a headstand” in 2013 too!!

Sometime in late December I finally understood what Chandra meant when she said “and maybe someday you’re feet will start to feel light.” I could definitely get my feet off the ground just fine, and I could pretty much stay balanced with them raising upwards… but I couldn’t get them straight up in the air–not even sort of. So technically I was still balancing on my head for a few seconds, and could stay there balancing–but just not with my feet all the way up.

I was really hoping that I could put off writing about this long enough to get rid of that “sort of” part so I could say definitely, definitely that I CAN do a headstand… but I haven’t made enough time for yoga over the past few months… so sadly I’m still dragging around that “sort of” with me.

So why give in and write about it now? Well, at the beginning of 2013 Headstand wasn’t even close to being a sort of, and there’s a reason for that–a reason that I learned even by only being able to “sort of” do a headstand.

When I first started trying–back around 2012 when I was practicing with Chandra in the back of a bookstore every Monday–I put all of my focus and my energy and my determination into making my feet “feel light” to get up into the air.

The reason I couldn’t do a headstand, and probably the reason I can’t do a lot of things, is that sometimes I focus too much on the goal itself instead of how to get there.

This became instantly clear when instead of focusing on my feet I finally focused on making sure my back and body was perfectly aligned and supported by my head…

…and then I finally (sort of) did a headstand.

 

**UPDATE**

4/21: i CAN do a headstand!!!!

“I don’t have time…”

72dd0d181ffa3de6ef5d35f67dccd514This quote has been me over the past few months (you may have noticed my last post was from way back in October–yikes!) But with my partner moving out of state and then me moving out of state with him shorty after my life has been absolutely crazy… and it’s been a great excuse. Over the past few months not only have I slacked at blogging, I’ve slacked at writing in general, at reading, at doing everyday chores like keeping up with dishes or laundry, and even at doing yoga–which is so not okay.

So I have decided I am going to make myself make time for these things that are important to me, because the things that I love don’t take time.. they give time and make life worthwhile.

…This is a really short and simple revelation so I don’t think  I have anything else to add…

Talk to you soon.

I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Written About Crow Pose Yet

ImageI guess I thought I’d already written a post specifically about Crow Pose (Bakasana) because it’s always been one of my favorite poses for a lot of different reasons. For this post I suppose I’ll start with the beginning to explain why.

Three summers ago a very manly friend from Texas invited me to go to yoga with him. I was very surprised when I first learned that he went to yoga regularly and I was very interested to check it out.

He did warn me that I should probably bring a towel because I would want to shower after, however, he did NOT tell me that it was a level two class and heated to 95 degrees!

Despite the intensity of the class and an instructor who was unwilling to wait for an obvious beginner, I enjoyed the heat and the movement as I trailed behind in drooping Chatarangas and rounded down dogs.

Through the entire class the instructor slowed down enough to demonstrate only a single pose: Bakasana–Crow pose. She moved into a crouch with her fingers spread wide and reached for the mat before smoothly rocking right onto her hands and lifting her feet lightly into the air. It hardly seemed like the weight of her knees was even resting on her upper arms, she was just floating. For a brief moment she paused suspended like this to demonstrate her steady balance in the pose, but quickly rolled out and encouraged the students to follow her example–OR, with a glance in my direction, to simply rest in Childs Pose (Balasana) if they preferred. I smiled shying at the suggestion as I watched those around me take flight, and then sunk into a sloppy Childs Pose.

I specifically remember thinking “I will NEVER be able to do that.”

Less than a year later (but not that much less) I made it into Crow Pose for the very first time. I realized by then just how many incredible and simply baffling poses there are to get into in yoga that can make Crow Pose seem bland in comparison. But every time I discover a new challenging pose I try to remember what I learned from my journey to and beyond Crow Pose; I remind myself what it was like when I thought of Bakasana in that unattainable way–and also what it was like when I finally accomplished something that I once thought impossible.

Shower Solutions

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Ever since I began practicing hot yoga I’ve struggled with the issue of showering. I LOVE to take showers and take one basically everyday, but because of hot and bikram yoga I did let it get my number of daily showers get out of control for a little while there.

The problem is that my hair gets very greasy even just overnight so I had to shower every morning so that I didn’t look too much like a dirty hippie but if I went to a night class I had to shower after that too so I didn’t FEEL too much like a dirty hippie. Lets not even go into how many showers I’d take when doing “doubles”.

At first it was great because I love feeling clean, but after awhile I started to feel like too much of my day was spent in the shower and that I was wasting far too much water. Skipping showers except for after sweaty yoga classes had just one major hang up: my greasy, grimy hair.

I tried a few no wash hairsprays and many of them worked okay but they all seemed to get used up quite quickly and they were quite expensive so I was hoping for a more economic solution..

What did I eventually figure out with the help of a friend? The active ingredient in dry shampoo sprays is baby powder! You can puff a little in your hair and work it through with your fingers to get rid of that “greasy” look between showers. Too much leaves you with skunk stripes or staticky hair but with a little experimenting you can find the right technique for your hair. And the good news is that it’s cheap so you don’t have to worry about going through it too fast!

Any other showering solution suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well :)

This is not lying down; this is Savasana.

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How many times have you heard a friend tell you how tired they are from their vacation or their weekend off? Does it seem to you that in our society that many of us have lost the ability to truly relax and refuel? With my own hectic life I definitely feel that way sometimes, but it also seems to me that yoga is definitely helping with that…

Most yoga classes start and almost all end with the same pose: Savasana (corpse pose). It seems like the easiest part when you first start out, you just lay there–right? And yet I feel like most yogis would agree that that is dead wrong (pun very much intended, hehe).

Savasana is actually one of the more difficult poses to master because you’re not just laying there, (when you’re doing it right) you’re actively putting your intention towards practicing stillness and relaxation–because when you do it too passively your mind begins to wander and the pose looses a lot of its benefit.

Savasana is about learning how to slow down and utilize the time you are given to rest. This is especially clear in a Bikram class; his style of yoga is made to be physically challenging and a big part of succeeding in Bikram yoga is to learn how to make the transition from 100% effort to 100% relaxation as quickly as possible in order to make the most of every Savasana–no matter how short it is.

Practicing Savasana in your yoga practice can teach you how to really unwind and make the most of any opportunity to recharge, no matter how short or long you have to relax between poses (or any of your other activities off the mat).

I Definitely didn’t Spend Way too Long Watching Funny Yoga Videos on YouTube Today…

Okay, or maybe I did.

Here are some of the awesomely hilarious things that I found! This first video is a new web series so be sure to check out the second episode as well and keep your eye out for more eps soon!

These are also quite entertaining as well:

Hahaha way too funny. I love these, please share some more funny yoga videos in the comments if you’ve got em!!!