Monday, April 25, 2011

Long Weekend

Four days off to do nothing....  As soon as I have any time off, my mind goes into overload of possibilities.  So, on Friday V and I took the dogs on a brisk walk down Cootes (the marsh).  I wasn't expecting it to be so cold and windy though.  My intention was to shoot the last few photos on my holga with the use of various lens filters, so I could develop my first roll this week to see how my pictures turned out.  I need to find out how much my camera leaks light, and if I'm using the correct light settings/shutter speeds.  The walk worked up an appetite, so we headed off to the Indian buffet before going to a yin yang yoga class.

I woke up on saturday with the intention of going to yoga, but ended up doing a primary practice on my own at home.  I'm trying to learn all the sanskrit names of the poses, and remember various cues so I can eventually teach the series.  We then took the dogs for another quick walk because the weather was awesome today.  Windy, but so warm.  No coat needed.  We headed to the Horn of Plenty so I could pick up some supplies (chia seeds, kefir start kit, coconut milk, coconut water, humus), then off to my dad's show him the photos from Jamaica and give him his wood carving of a hibiscus.  Finally we drove to my favourite antique store where I picked up two records (Cat Stevens and Klaatu).  The photography store pulled its blinds down as we reached it, so I wasn't able to develop my 120 film.  I spent my Saturday night prepping my coconut kefir and watching Supernatural (season 2 on dvd).

Sunday morning I went to an early hot yin yang yoga class and sweated my butt off.  Then we headed off to V's parents house for an Easter get together.  Did some more dog walking after we stuffed ourselves then watched Game of Thrones!  Today's monday-so far my plans are to still try to develop my 120 film, book a hotel in Canmore for my sister's wedding in June, and call the Y to arrange our free yoga classes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yoga Teacher Training Comes to an End... or Beginning?

I can't believe it's over!  Cliche maybe-but somehow I never expected it to come to a close.  There were so many moments when I was frustrated with myself, with the instructors, my body, my inability to verbally cue effectively.  After my community class that I taught a few weeks ago, everything seemed to come together for me.  I knew for about 6 months that I was going to be teaching a yoga class, and be evaluated on my language, sequence, adjustments, and personality.  I was so anxious for all of these 6 months thinking about 'performing.'  Anyway, as I stood in front of the class I just took a deep breath and told myself to take control over my nerves and get through it.  And I did!  (this seems so easy to talk about now-but try to imagine a profusely sweating, heart racing, dry mouthed spaz) I got such fabulous feedback-I was waiting for a slaughterfest to occur, but the criticism I received I was already aware of the areas that I needed to work on so it didn't upset me.  These areas are timing (making sure I don't speed up, and that both sides are equally timed), and more ease (which will come with experience).

The theme of my class was evoking your inner child, so I tried to sequence playful, fun poses.  At moments though, I had 4-5 people down in child's pose, because apparently my sequence was challenging.  It still gives me the warm fuzzies knowing that it was well received.  At other critiques I listened to people being told they lacked confidence, ability to use direct language, lack of instruction, quiet voices, and lack of personality.  It's a good feeling to know that people will remember something you taught.


I have sooo much time on my hands now.  That 14 plus hours every two weeks that I was training is over.  WOW.  So, my plans are to really embrace my own practice.  I love my ashtanga primary series, so I'm still going full steam ahead with that.  I have 2 weeks to use up my free class pass, so this long weekend I plan on hitting up 4 classes.  I've also been in touch with the YMCA, and I'm going to be volunteering once a week teaching a yoga class to get some experience.  The Y is desperate for teachers.  In the summer I'll be attending a David Swenson weekend workshop, and I really want to learn more about yin yoga and Iyengar.  There's so many more workshop and teachings to embrace.  A few weekends ago I went to a Simon Park workshop in Toronto at Downward Dog, and was amazed at the Prana Flow technique. 

Who would have known 9 years ago, that after my first hatha yoga class that yoga would have influenced my life so much. 



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get Your Tush to the Cush

Last night was my final series of friday night yoga TT (teacher training).  I attended 7 months of alternating friday night classes, half of were yoga philosophy and then meditation.  I have interests in both, and have intentions on continuing my research and development in those areas.  However, I'd like to comment on meditation since it's still fresh on my mind.  I learned a set of skills called BFIT (body, mind, image, talk).  Basically, you find a place to sit and meditate (preferably without distractions).  Try to sit in an erect position; something that is comfortable and yet keeps you alert.  Your eyes can be open or closed. I have been meditating with my eyes open lately, because I have been so tired that if I close them I will start to nod off.  This leads into things you don't want to do doing while meditating-'dozing,' 'frozen,' and 'pose-in-'which means if your sleeping, white knuckling, and pretending that you are meditating-get up and do something else!  Perhaps you need to sit for a shorter period then-because you will not have any benefits from sitting with frustration or exhaustion.    Anyway, back to sitting with your eyes open.  We learned a technique called full field focus.  My understanding of it, is that you take in your environment and its details in an almost hypersensitive manner, but then soften your gaze (dristi for us yogis).  I keep my gaze on one spot and don't allow it to move all over the place to distract me. 

When we have been meditating in class, we've usually started by listening to the sounds of a bell the teacher has brought in.  We focus on the ringing, and try to pick out distinct tones.  Then we begin to bring our awareness to our bodies and do a mental check like savasana in a way.  Sometimes I will bring my inner gaze to parts of my body.  We learned to mentally follow our body like a figure 8, starting with our right hip and moving up and to the left.  This helps your focus and keeps your mind off of (what's for dinner-when is this over-I feel gasy etc...).  We also brought our awareness to what was called breath home base and focused our mind on the centre of our chests, and then our nostrils.

Now enters the mind.  I always think of this as a contradiction.  Meditation doesn't necessarily ask you to think of nothing.  But it does ask you to acknowledge what's going on in your head, and then let those thoughts go.  The BFIT technique invites you to label your thoughts, so for example when you start to think about what to make for dinner, it might take you a few seconds to remember that your shouldn't be dwelling on those thoughts, so then you label it in your head 'talk.'  If you have a still moment in your head, you can label that 'quiet,' and if you have any images (usually if you are meditating with your eyes closed), you can label them 'image.'

Anyway, I have to admit I struggled with these techniques for that past few weeks (and still do).  I have learned another meditation technique called IAM, which is much more direct in timing, thoughts, breath, and movement, and found that I did resonate with that more because it gave me something to do.  However, why should we always be concerned about doing something?  I think this is a result of our fast paced, media bombarded, consumer world where we no longer know how to just sit.  So, not that the IAM technique is bad (I still really like its concepts), but its helping me realize why I struggle with BFIT and I acknowledge that these struggles are good for me.

Meditation is so beneficial, because it makes us mindful in our everyday lives.  It helps us recover from emotional hijacks faster, makes us more empathetic to people, lessens our emotional or physical pain ...  The list is long!  I'm really only scrapping the surface on both how to meditate, and what it can do for you (and the people around you).  But I wanted to share to others that it is very beneficial to your mental and physical health.  Even now, I have had moments (driving for instance) when I previously would react harsher and dwell on something longer-but I find myself softer.

My instructor suggested that a mindful meditation practice of 20 minutes for 4 times a week would significantly make a difference in our lives and relationships within a year from now.  I am not too sure if that goal is too unrealistic for me, but I think I am going to set a goal for myself that looks like this:  4 days a week X 20 minutes meditation, and 3 days a week primary yoga sequence (mostly individual practice and not led).  

Mindful Meditation

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yoga Weekends

jamaica 226 by Tea Time on the High Wire
jamaica 226, a photo by Tea Time on the High Wire on Flickr.

For the past six months it seems like I never accomplish anything on the weekends.  No elaborate shopping trips, hikes, dog walks, cleaning, excessive zombie game playing...  The reason behind this, is because I have been partaking in a 200 hour hatha-vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training program.  So, every second weekend I spend 14 hours at my favourite yoga studio learning about asanas (poses), breath awareness, meditation, philosophy, nutrition, anatomy, sequencing... Don't worry-we don't learn this all at once!  Throughout the week we are expected to also visit the studio and keep up with our own yoga practice, and glean incites from the experienced teachers.
There has definitely been an ebb in flow in the process.  Moments when I love what I am learning and doing, and other times when I feel disappointed, terrified, or burnt out.  I have to admit, I am feeling stronger in my yoga practice now, and I'm really looking forward to having the spare time to get back into my own yoga practice again.  Four weekends ago, Vytas and I went on a yoga retreat with Jamie Lee  from Montreal in Jamaica.  The week long retreat cemented my goals and desire to keep up a Mysore primary series yoga practice.  I simply loved going through the sequence on my own, without waiting for the teacher to tell me to move.  Unfortunately, my local yoga studios do not currently offer Mysore style yoga (unless I drive to TO, which is a big fat NO).

Today is Sunday, so I have another 5 hours of yoga TT (teacher training).  After of course, Vytas makes blueberry-banana vegan pancakes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

32 of my Favourite Things

  1. Yoga (ashtanga and yin)
  2. Vegan food
  3. Analogue cameras (specifically my holga)
  4. typewriters
  5. Mountains
  6. Ukulele
  7. Station wagons
  8. Colour brown
  9. Rainboots
  10. Fire dancing
  11. Hula hoops
  12. Terminator movies (specially T2)
  13. Hillybilly movies like Texas Chainsaw remakes, Cabin fever, Rob Zombie flicks
  14. Solitude
  15. Poetry
  16. Luna Lovegood
  17. Writing letters to friends
  18. Watching Roller Derby
  19. Richard Linklater flicks
  20. Zombies
  21. Walking my dogs
  22. Traveling
  23. List making
  24. Vegetable gardens
  25. Feeding the geese
  26. Weaner dogs
  27. Grunge
  28. Ballet
  29. Chai lattes
  30. Yarn bombing
  31. Vintage records
  32. Dancing