Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Year Has Come to a Close!

Well, my year of yoga is over.

Did I succeed in practicing yoga and blogging about yoga every day? No.
But I did succeed on a far more relevant level. I lived yoga every day this year. There was not a single day that yoga didn't help me change my thoughts, my actions, my posture, my breath.

I also learned a very valuable lesson. It doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. A year ago, I would have considered this outcome a failure. Not today though. Today, I consider it to be beyond success. It became so much more than a goal on a calendar.

I accomplished so much in this year, and for that I am so grateful.

I finished my 200 hour yoga teacher training. I made wonderful new friends. I met people who inspire me. I became part of a 'kula' - a word I didn't even know existed last August. I changed my body. I changed my mind. I changed my heart.

And though the year is over, yoga is not. I am pulled toward thinking about the future, and all that my journey with yoga may bring, but I've learned instead to shift focus to the present. Today, I feel strong and vibrant and in love with yoga. And that is more than good enough for me!



Saturday, February 27, 2010

For Jan 29

Back to class!

I was really starting to feel the buildup of exercise in the space between my shoulder blades. While doing a partner exercise in wheel pose, it felt like something was going to snap in my back - not a feeling I liked! It's a heavy pressure, very uncomfortable, borderline on painful depending on the force being applied. So when my partner used the belt to draw my hips away from my shoulders, it was not a good thing for me.

All in all though, I felt like practice was exhilarating, minus that one pose of course! They say back bends should typically be avoided at night because they compress your adrenal glands and cause an increase in adrenaline that will keep you up. But for me, they are such hard work that I find them energizing at first, and then I'm just wiped out. I slept heavy that night, so I guess exertion won the battle against adrenaline.


For Jan 28

Feeling guilty for skipping the day prior, but still not feeling 100%, I chose a light practice - a series of sun salutations while the dogs were out for their walk with my husband. Quiet house, quiet practice, quiet mind.


For Jan 27

This was a true sick day for me. My blood sugar levels were through the roof, I was dizzy, and I felt like walking was an effort.

I skipped my teacher training class, and spent the afternoon and evening on the couch, curled up under a blanket, watching tv.

One thing about diabetes - exercise is key to control of your sugar, but when your sugars are too high, you're not supposed to exercise. Diabolical, isn't it?


For Jan 26

On this day, for my homework practice, I chose a series that focused on Chaturanga, because I felt I needed the strength and the fine tuning on my form. Evidently, I was dipping too much, which can cause shoulder damage in the long run.

Part of the series had me practicing the pose with the soles of my feet pressed against a wall for support. I did not like tat! It felt very limiting... but maybe it was just limiting my bad habits! ;)

I did gain an increased awareness in the power of my legs though, once I came away from the wall and valued my ability to engage them more.


Friday, February 26, 2010

For Jan 25

In my 'homework' practice, I played with the relationship between centering my lower ribs, and opening my chest, while in downward dog. I felt like I found a good space there, with a little less arch in my lower back than I normally have, and a little more lightness in my upper back - and that's where I really have to pay attention. Flexibility, proper alignment, and awareness do not come naturally for me in that area.

I *think* I finally made the correction on my own that my teacher makes for me in class. That's a sign of progress!

Playing with that position of the ribs seemed to create a space for me that allowed me to feel the difference between my normal, and the correct alignment. My teacher talks about the butterfly effect on the upper back, where the lower ends of the scapulae fan outward like the wings of a butterfly, and the spine stands alone, centered, like the body of a butterfly.

After feeling like I made that correction, I couldn't recreate it. But at least now I think I know what feeling I'm looking for, and I can keep trying!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

For Jan 24

Ok, I'm starting to see a pattern here. I was struggling through class again! I was literally dripping with sweat, and trying to find a balance between the will to stay in the pose, and my body's needs since my muscles were still feeling the work from the day before.

This is where I find a personal obstacle - dealing with diabetes in conjunction with so much exercise. I don't know what's normal fatigue, and what is pushing too far for me personally.

More than anything, I am learning that just because I do yoga (almost) every day, and just because I've been doing it for years, I'm not automatically ready for every pose, or even for the final stages of some of the more basic poses. At least not when I'm actually in right alignment!

Meditation was excellent though. I couldn't feel the lightness of the body in my back during class, but that lightness was tangible while seated in meditation. Tangible and wonderful! Our meditation practice was one where we guided the breath in one nostril, while visualizing it, and then exhaled out the opposite nostril, but without the hand mudra actually closing one nostril off.

At the beginning of this instructor program, I worried about the meditation portions, since it's not something I've enjoyed before. But now I'm finding that I look forward to it every class!


For Jan 23

I came into class on the 23rd with a lackluster attitude. I recognized that, gave myself a few minutes to respect the fact that that was where I was. I questioned why I was feeling that way, and then I resolved to change my attitude through my practice.

The mini lecture that we started practice with was about right attitudes - ha! We were encouraged to start with the right attitude, but I couldn't, even though I tried. So I stuck to my original resolution, that I would use practice to work through my bad attitude. And I did! Especially with the part where we breathed in a sequence - beginning, middle, and end... matching it to the beginning, middle, and end of each movement in our sun salutations.

I found that toward the end of practice, I was actually looking forward to meditation! And when we were done, I wanted to sit longer!

Talk about a change in attitude - and it was a great feeling. :)


For Jan 22

This day we started to really study meditation. I learned that you have to be willing to sit, and be open to what surfaces in the mind. Most importantly, I learned that when you start to get uncomfortable, THAT is the time to keep sitting, because then you will start to work through things, or at least recognize what issues need attention. If you always get up when you start to feel agitated, it will take much longer to work out your issues.

Practice was challenging, and towards the end, my muscles felt super tired - weak, but good. I find that with the harder practices, my breathing speeds up, making it hard to keep my movements slow and steady. If breath leads and movement follows, it's difficult to keep a smooth, slow pace. Then, when I'm trying to focus on slowing down my breathing, I have trouble fine tuning the poses.

All of this makes me feel like I am moving to fast, but yet I need to keep up with the class. It makes it hard to know what I should prioritize.


Blog for Jan 20

I think January 20th was actually the day I started to slide, and give in the idea that maybe I had overcommitted myself.

I was late to class. I left work late, and once I realized I was going to be late anyway, I decided to lay down for a few minutes and relax in the quiet. Then I felt naughty, so I booked it down to Chinatown, and actually wasn't as late as I expected.

But that feeling of just wanting to lay down had taken root, and that's when the struggle really started!

In class, we learned about the legend of Patanjali, and then we practiced. After practice, we did a kriya meditation, which is when you try to control the flow of prana. It was a wonderful exercise, and though I was tired after class, my mind felt at ease.


Facing the Music

So, it's been over a month since I blogged. So much for a daily commitment! And, I'm sad to say I took a break from doing yoga every day.

When I started this commitment, I wasn't sure if or when I would enroll in teacher training, and let me tell you, teacher training is intense!

Towards the end of my first month, I took a day off of yoga. And when we reached the break in month 2, I caught a cold and decided to give myself a body vacation. Then I geared back up, started doing yoga again, and BAM. Another cold. What's up with that?

BUT, I did journal some by hand, so I will convert those entries to blog entries. For the days I didn't practice, I'll just tally up a total, and own it. I won't hit 365 days of practice in a year, but I will finish the year!!! And I'll be a certified instructor when I'm done. I think that kind of makes up for a few missed days here and there. ;)


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Naps are Important

So, when you're working 40 hours a week, spending 17 hours a week in yoga teacher training, and then practicing at home as well, while trying to cook as much as possible and not eat out... grabbing a nap when you can is important!

Today, after getting home from work, I did just that. Paul wasn't home yet, the house was quiet, and I was wiped. So I climbed in bed and fell sound asleep. I woke up refreshed, and ready to take on the rest of my to do list for the day, which included practice.

I don't want to lose the arm strength I've been building, while we focus on standing poses in class, so I spent a lot of time flowing, getting in as many chutarungas as I could. It felt good to use a different set of muscles after several days of really focusing on the root of the standing poses. I'm sure that when we get to chutarunga in class, and I have to hover for what will probably seem like forever, I'll be wishing for the days of standing poses. But when that day comes, I want to still have at least the arm strength I've got now - no less, and hopefully more. Without it, I don't know if I'd survive!


3rd Day of Teacher Training

On my third day of teacher training, I was worried. The week was already wearing me out, I didn't get to leave work right on the dot like I'd hoped, and I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed with the anatomy reading. Then, a lightbulb when off in my head, and I remembered that anatomy wasn't due until Saturday! So I went back to being excited about class. ;)

One of the books we are using in class is a Rodney Yee guide to starting a home practice. It's divided into 8 weeks, and it focuses on a different aspect of the mental component of yoga every week, while integrating the poses that help achieve that aspect. Within the week, there is an initial practice that teaches the poses, with three stages within each pose. Then there are five more days of practice that builds on the initial one, and a day for meditation and rest. In class, we practice day 1 of each week together, learning the three stages of each pose so that we can teach to all levels.

So that's what we did on Wednesday - Day 1, Week 1. I've said it before - I'm becoming a broken record. But every time I say it, it's true. I am continually amazed at how vigorous a basic practice can be when you are really fine tuning each pose.

What I'm learning more and more is that it is much harder, and much more rewarding, to constantly move within the pose. I used to think the goal was to hold a pose, to be still, but still breathing. I'm learning now that this isn't the case. There should be constant movement in the pose, no matter how minute, as you check in with each part of the body, scanning from toes to the top of the head, and realigning. And even beyond that, with the inhale and exhale, there should be two movements one opening, one deepening.

If you do that, it doesn't matter how basic the practice is, you'll be working hard, and reaping the rewards.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Another confession.

So for Tuesday, I worked, came home, ran errands, and then sat down to watch some tv to chill out. I made a mental list of what I needed to do before bed, including yoga. And then I did everything, and went to bed. Except, when I woke up Wednesday morning, I realized I completely forgot the yoga!!! Darn it! So that is the third day in almost 6 months that I didn't practice. I was so angry at myself Wednesday, but I let it go. What's the point of daily yoga if you're going to beat yourself up over it?


Time to Play Catch Up Again!

Wow, it's amazing how fast a week can go by!
So last Monday, my body was worn out from the first two days of Teacher Training. I chose to do a breath practice instead, all on my back, and then go to bed!
I wasn't really sore, but I was just so tired. And after a long day at work, and then trying to play catch up at home, I didn't want to push too hard.
The breathing practice was just what I needed, and I went to sleep feeling much better.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Second Day of Yoga Teacher Training

Today was even better! With the introductions aside, we got right to the nitty gritty. We chanted an opening invocation, and then practiced. I was soaked in sweat, even though much of what we were doing was based in the basics. But we held the poses for what seemed like an eternity, tweaked the poses, and moved dynamically within the poses. There were times that I thought I couldn't do it, but I reconnected with my breath, and breathed through it... always just about to give in when it was finally time to release the pose.

I learned so much about the lineage of yoga, and got the answers to some questions I've had for a while.

I'm studying Hatha Yoga. Much of today's popular yoga styles fall under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga, including Anusara, Jivamukti, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, and more. Each of the three teachers comes from a different background within Hatha, so they bring different aspects to the class and blend them all together for a wonderfully incorporative experience.

I am humbled by their knowledge, and super excited by the prospect of becoming a better yogi under their tutelage!


It's Official!

I am a Yoga Teacher in Training!!!

Today was my first day as a 200 Hr Yoga Alliance student at my favorite studio here on Oahu. Class will be 4 days a week - 5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays, and 3.5 hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. So 4 days a week, my practice will get pushed to its limits. Two days a week will be dedicated to homework - home practice, meditation, and reading. One day is given for rest, but to stick to my commitment, on that day I'll probably just do an easy, restorative practice, and mabye spend a lot of time in shivasana.

The first class was exciting. We spent a good chunk of time getting to know the teachers and each other, we practiced, and then we had an anatomy lesson focusing on the feet.

There is so much to learn, and I am so happy to start!


Friday, the 8th

Friday was a good day. As a full time worker bee, I have found new appreciation for Fridays that I had lost when I was a homemaker. I was truly jubilant when I left the office that afternoon, and excited about the prospect of the weekend ahead.

That excitement carried into my yoga practice. I felt like I was rising up out of my legs while I stood in Warrior Two and Triangle. Chutarungas felt empowering, and upward dog felt energizing.

Friday was the kind of day that makes you addicted to yoga.


Thursday, Jan 7th

Thursday found me feeling a little icky. I came home from work and pretty much hit the sack. The hubster made me dinner, and I did a light practice of poses lying on my back. I love that yoga is something I can do no matter what. If I'm feeling great, feeling strong, I can challenge myself. If I'm feeling creative, I can make up my practice as I go. If I'm feeling good, but not inspired, I can do a standard practice. And if I'm very tired, sick, or injured, I can do a restorative practice, even laying in bed. Yoga can be anything you need it to be, or want it to be. As long as you keep it balanced, you're good!


Wed. Jan 6th

Wednesday was my husband's first day back to work after a few weeks off for the holidays. When I got home, I was ready to enjoy some solitude, but also realized I had to take care of everything myself again - I had gotten spoiled quickly!

So while the dogs noshed on their dinner, I hit the mat. I went back to side plank again, still feeling a flabbier than usual. I certainly didn't fit in a long practice though, because soon enough the furry monsters were nudging me, demanding a walk. So off we went!


Tuesday, the 5th

On Tuesday, I remember that I was feeling very behind in my study of yoga, even though I was keeping up with practicing. Before bed, I pulled out my Meditations from the Mat book to do some catching, but soon found myself dozing off. Not only did I not catch up, but I didn't even blog! Pathetic! ;)

So, that was an easy day of practice. It had been a long day, and I was sleepy, so I did a short practice before climbing in bed with my book.

Working is definitely making time fly, and I'm having a little trouble with not falling asleep super early. I need to make a definitive effort to get things done sooner, so I can doze off without feeling guilty later in the night!


How did I go a week without blogging?

Oh my goodness. Well, I kept up the daily yoga, but boy did I let the blog slip. Every day when I was finished with my practice, I thought I'd update the blog the next day. And I guess each next day turned into another next day! Yikes!

So let me try and remember what I did each day.

For Monday, January 4th, I remember that I practiced at home while my husband took the dogs for a walk, and I had some peace and quiet. I remember I did sun salutations, and then added in some side planks because I was feeling like my tummy was looking pudgy. Side plank can firm up your obliques super fast!

But that is about all I remember from Monday, considering it was almost a week ago!


Sunday, January 3, 2010


Sun salutations are like my staple items in the pantry. When I don't have the time, the energy, or the ingredients to come up with a gourmet meal, my staple pantry items and basic recipes get me through.

And on days like today, where I went non-stop from start to finish, sun salutations are there for me to help me keep my commitment to daily practice, to help me come back to center, but without a lot of mental or physical exertion.

I love sun salutations.


Power Yoga, My Way (Jan 2)

As I've posted before, I love to do my own sequences. This practice was one of my better ones. I was still feeling good from my hip opening practice the day before, and I channeled that goodness into a strong power yoga session full of chutarunga, side plank, and warrior II's. Good stuff!

It has been a busy holiday season, and I'm happy that I kept up the yoga throughout, with the exception of Christmas Day. With so much going on every day for the Holidays, my new job, and all the other things daily life brings, it's hard not to get lost in the hubbub of activity. This quote reminds me of why I feel so good doing yoga.

"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose."

What I learn in yoga helps me stay steady throughout the day (not that I *always* succeed, but I'm making progress). And when I come to the mat, most days I feel energized knowing that I will spending the next 20, 40, 60 or 80 minutes on this one small rectangle. And when I step off the mat, I'm ready to truly relax and recharge, which allows me to start again the next day, from a neutral place.


New Years Day

Like most people (at least those who didn't get smashed the night before) I was feeling energetic about the New Year, so I pulled out my "Advanced Yoga" by Rodney Yee DVD. This DVD is far out of my league still... considering his Intermediate Yoga still kicks my butt. But I wanted inspiration, and a window into what I hope the New Year will bring!

What I didn't know was that there is a short hip opening practice on the second DVD of the set. And if there is one thing that naturally comes to my body, it's hip openers, so I went for it. It was awesome!

It was definitely more challenging than most hip opening sequences I've done in the past, but I was up to the challenge, and felt fantastic after completing the practice.

A great start to a New Year!

New Year's Eve Yoga

My New Year's Eve Practice did not go as planned! I had a couple of beers in the afternoon and my first ever shot of tequila, and I was not up to par by the time I got around to my practice. So I laid on my back, since balance had left me for the evening, and did spinal twists, restorative rest poses, and a few breathing exercises. And then promptly fell asleep and missed the ball drop! ;) Not a bad way to send out the old year though!