Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ho hum....

I did a lovely water-free class yesterday. I drank about two liters of water beforehand so I knew I was juicy enough to not even bring water into the room. Right front and center. I was pouring sweat during the breathing! It felt like just when I got back from training, when the humidity and sweat of the east coast felt really foreign to me.

Standing head to knee was not wonderful yesterday - I have such a hard time with the initial set up of that posture. Because of the length of my arms / the size of my chest / the size of my thigh getting the initial grip around the foot is so very difficult. However, yesterday, when I kicked out on one side, I quickly readjusted my hands into the fully interlocked grip and it felt great.

I know the point is to have that grip the whole time but my arms do not reach at the beginning. I'm not sure what to do with that. Just keep trying, I guess. I don't want to be moving my hands a lot in class, setting a bad example... but it's much better form to have the full grip as I kick out. Thoughts?

Standing bow is coming along. My flexibility is there. I need to take a pic from the side to see how close the leg is to straight. I'm sure there's some ways to go but I'm completely abdomen and chest parallel to the floor. I know what it means to come DOWN in that pose. So many people spend so long (like years) not coming down! Come down! Fall out! Join me! Fling forward! I do it a couple times a class, but I know it's the right thing to do. Keeping the standing thigh burningly tight squeezed to the bone is the name of the game in this posture for me. I try try try. I'm one of those people who can easily get the leg straight (because I'm flexible) but it's more of a challenge to keep the thigh burning tight to the bone. I'm working on it.

Some postures that were awesome yesterday
- Standing separate leg stretching second set legs close... felt good.
- Separate leg head to knee did almost all of both sets with both legs locked out, hands in prayer. Where did THAT come from!
- locust - for some reason my body is loving this pose again. Haven't since training. Finally getting the leg back up to 45 degrees and getting a little more height and strength with both legs.
- full locust - a teacher came into our studio to practice on Sunday and the teacher had her demo this posture. Thank you - it has changed my idea of what it's supposed to look like going in, being in, and coming out of this posture. Love it.
pretty much the rest of the floor series felt great too.

I think my body is healed from training. I can't explain how much better things feel this week than... any time since I was at training. Whoopie!

I got some feedback on my energetic class from Monday night... participant (not teacher) said - great class - amazing energy! Then said that there was too much energy in triangle. !??!?! I know I have to take all feedback lightly which I'm trying to do. I need all the energy I can get in triangle, and I figure most people do too. The line that was the most energetic was "reach up, reach up, reach up, touch the ceiling!"

I liked what I did with it. There. I said it. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Last night - practice: room just did not feel hot. Standing balancing series not as good as Sunday but all in all things felt good and I worked hard. I got about 80% back into my first backbend - 80% of my max. It has been two weeks since I've been able to go back to any kind of depth.

My body is changing. Half Tortoise and Rabbit poses are my gauge for that. I did an awesome rabbit feet together good grip hips high for about the first time ever last night. Very exciting. Had one of those days where energy built and built and by separate leg head to knee with stretching on the floor at the end, I was flexing so hard my heel was inches off the ground.

Also (thanks dancingdj) I tried to create CRAMP ON TOP OF THE THIGH in standing head to knee pose. Didn't succeed, but remembered to try!

I came out of class feeling good, ready to turn around and teach. The class I taught last night was SO HIGH IN ENERGY. I mean I wasn't pepping them to death - I was managing my voice volume in the small room, micromanaging the heat. But I was so enthused and energized from my own last two classes I was really bringing the energy. It was a challenging class but a class with a really good clip - nice pace - and I killed them. But we had fun. Had some newbies in the room as well.

I can't speak highly enough of my Monday night practice then teach. The only problem is how to sleep afterward! I could not sleep last night.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday morning - perfection

I had the best practice yesterday.

I have been undergoing the most hellish pre- "time of the month" for the last two weeks. It affected my practice so much on Friday that I had to lie on my back the last quarter of class - I almost puked from the pain of being on my belly. Might be TMI for some but there aren't that many people reading this... so I'll take my chances.

Friday night and Saturday I slept. I was an emotional wreck. Exhausted.

Saturday I was reading between naps from my favorite new book, Moving into Stillness, by yogi Erich Schiffman (the title of which has inspired the title of my blog). He's not a Bikram guy. Pretty far from it. In fact most of my non-Bikram yoga influences are about as far from Bikram as you can get. I think that's because my yoga is a lot about mitigating the type A nature of my personality, not reinforcing it.

I was reading about all the things that drew me to yoga in the first place - the internal nature of exploration of the body with kindness and mindfulness, the playful and fun nature of yoga, working with lines of energy... really there is so much in the book. I was just dipping a toe into it and see many many more hours of study to come.

I arrived early on Sunday, the full 30 minutes before class began, and did a bit of restorative and yin yoga - to open the joints in the hot room before working on the muscles in class. Very important for me as I've been feeling so wrecked recently. As class began in pranayama I was snuggling my feet into the ground, working my leg line, stretching through the spine... and tuning out the teacher completely. I don't usually do that but I gave myself permission to play that class.

One thing that struck me in the book was to honor the minimum edge ALONG with the maximum edge. So much is made of getting to your max, extending your max, pushing the edge in Bikram. What a wonderful and joyous thing it was to appreciate my minimum edge - the point of first stretch, and move with grace from there! Extending and expanding in half moon with the breath, not pushing right to the max. The upshoot was that I wanted to stay in every pose (well maybe except triangle) for much longer than the bang bang bang sequence of bikram allows.

My standing balancing poses were way way more effortless than I have experienced for two weeks. I stopped at the beginning of the second set of sep. leg head to knee to continue breathing easily and calmly because it felt so good. I didn't want to get into an elevated breathing pattern yesterday. It didn't feel right. I still made it into the pose before the first side of that set was done, but I did it when I was ready.

Ah. What wondrous fun I had playing yoga in the studio yesterday. Light and refreshing.

Good other things are happening in my yoga life - I'm teaching a seven class series of yoga and meditative breathing to one of my clients this year. One visit a month now through August! That's just the beginning - other clients are asking for visits as well. I don't meditate regularly - sometimes I do, but that and yoga is a little too monk-y for me. I have meditation training and have gone on retreats, and I love working with this stuff so I know it's going to feel expansive and wholesome and right... The curriculum I developed is:

Tune into the body
Tune into the breath
Wake up - Springtime Stretching 1
Wake up - Springtime Stretching 2
Summer Stretching Warriors
Ergonomics - stretch at work for safety

Working with an employee population with total beginners and people who inevitably have injuries is an interesting situation. I've done wellness programming for worksites for years so I'm familiar with this. Each visit will be two 30 minute sessions back to back open to all employees. The first two sessions will not even be on mats. We'll start doing seated breathing, some gentle chair stretching and standing stretching for the first two.

Then Springtime stretching we'll move onto the floor and the mats. Still, it will be very gentle - bringing the seated stretching onto the floor (cross legged on blankets), cat cow to wake up the spine, of course some half moon like poses, and the most basic sun salutation (with no jumping back, lunges, etc.) along with some supine twisting and a nice restorative rest at the end.

Second Springtime stretching will introduce down dog. Imagine! Four sessions in before a downward dog! But it's a must, you have to identify people with tendonitis and wrist issues, scoliosis, that kind of stuff - down dog is a serious weight bearing pose (which is why Bikram is such a good beginners series.)

Summer warriors will introduce warrior 1 and the full sun salutation. If I can I'm hoping to make that one long session, because you just can't do that much in 30 minutes. We'll see.

The ergonomic stuff is so essential and there's so many great resources for this kind of work that it's a no brainer to add at the end.

Anyway... lots in the percolator!

Friday, February 5, 2010

You don't have to believe everything you think.

Anna - you don't have to believe everything you think!
Love, your blogging alterego, Ariella.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Practicing recently has been a struggle. Of course I'm happy when I'm done, but I have found myself in that spot where I want to say nasty stuff to myself and not acknowledge gains I've made in my practice. Sure they're small, but really, it's been mentally tough on the mat for the last week.

Teaching last night was my most difficult class yet. I had some distractions, a new person specifically, who I knew from the gitgo was going to be a challenge to me in class. I wanted to laugh at one point, I wanted to clench my teeth and scream at another. Of course I held it together and taught. One of my other students noted my "strong dialogue" tonight. I felt at certain points that I was being perhaps a little harsh in tone but since I worked on that at training I know instinctively to manage that during class.

I struggled to keep the newbies doing the right thing while teaching the whole class, not just the newbies. You really do have to teach to the lowest common denominator. The newbie came out of class smiling and talking to everyone, first yoga experience ever, smiling and talking about coming back, etc. That was a good feeling. I think some hormonal swings are going on for me right now and it's that one week a month or so where I'm on edge and little things seem HUGE to me. I'm like 80% closer to the edge to begin with at this time and have to be mindful of that urge to blow my top.

In food musings... I promised my husband I'd blog something. We had a 15 bean soup kit - basically a bag of beans and a "ham packet" (do not even begin to ask me what the hell is in a ham packet - powdered ham???? powdered delicious?) and I had soaked the beans. Saturday night I was out like a light and my husband, an extremely good cook - he has worked as a line cook in restaurants before - started in on the soup. When I awoke he said that he had given up and it was in my hands now. He went off to the gym while I did some housework and fixed the soup. Various spices, more water, boil off some of the tomato paste... just a few tricks up these here sleeves!

This week we have an exciting week of menus for dinner on our low carb kick.

Monday - Salmon with pesto and tomatoes broiled in foil with salad
Tuesday - zucchini cups with tomato and ground beef and stirfry broccoli raab
Wednesday - Chili Lime pork chops with salad
Thursday - Roasted Tilapia with napa cabbage and shitake mushrooms
Friday - chickpeas ground beef and cilantro

Lunch chicken peanut butter chicken skewers (light on the pb of course!)

I have been tracking the weekend shopping lists and when this week is complete we'll have four weekly shopping lists "in the can." We'll have tried all the recipes. It's sad that hubby doesn't like salmon - I thought last night's dinner was divine but he was all about fish-as-vehicle-for-bringing-me-more-pesto. Tilapia, however, does work for us to enjoy once a week, it's mild and cheap and easy.

We seem to have a system down. It's quite fun what's going on these days in the kitchen. It's cool to have a sticky note posted of the meals for the week and recipes standing by so either of us can get to work in the kitchen any day of the week. We try to keep light prep loads for the nights when we both get home late.