Graduation Day!

Sun, Oct 21

Well, it is official! I am a certified yoga teacher! 200 hours and lots, and lots of support from my family, awesome teachers and an amazing teacher training class and it is here!

Today was a really nice final day together. We met at Hudson Springs Park for a hike around the lake. What a beautiful afternoon! It was fun just to spend some time outside of the yoga room with my class. Next we met by the stage area of First and Main and had a final session together. We shared what types of personal breakthroughs we had during the process. I got a lump in the throat right before it was my turn to talk so I just shared that I learned that yoga teachers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I did learn that, but so much more. I was just overwhelmed by emotion and could not share right then. As I listened to my classmates share I shed some tears right along with them. Such wonderful, giving people – all of them. As I listened I also had my own little aha moment and yet another personal breakthrough. Ever since we learned that Zach has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis not even two weeks ago, I’ve been wondering if maybe this is the reason that I have been led to yoga and eventually the teacher training program. Perhaps there was some way I could help Zach with exercise along the way through yoga!! Sounds good, right?! That is all well and good, but as I was sitting there on this beautiful sunshiny October day I realized that maybe this yoga stuff was actually all to help me be able to handle this diagnosis! I mean it is sort of weird how the timing all worked – I teach my class with the theme “Be Where Your Feet Are” on a Sunday night, using my son as an example, and the very next Wednesday I’m in a doctor’s office hearing that I have to give my son a drug that is given to kids who have cancer? Talk about needing to breathe! Yes, I am putting my yoga into practice and truly living every day at a time, not knowing how the drugs will affect him and what the future will hold. Thinking about all of this makes me even more grateful for my mat, the Yoga Lounge, my wonderful teachers and my new teacher-friends.

Next Kari gave us each little note cards (just like the ones we used so much learning the sequence) with a pose on them that reminded her of us. Mine is wheel and her note said that she is reminded that she can accomplish anything with support around us (referring to me going into wheel from flip the dog). So cool and definitely a keeper! Then I gave everyone the cards I made from my plethora of Creative Memory materials. I used stickers on the front that reminded me of them and on the inside I included the poem I wrote about “My Practice” and wrote a personal note. I just felt I wanted to give some of myself to each and every one.

Here is my poem:
My Practice
It is early and still dark. Chilly air hits my face and I remember the cold is temporary.
Armed with my magic carpet of rubber I quicken my pace to that sacred space.
A sweet smile and sleepy dogs greet me as I hear that familiar “beep”.
My passport to bliss has been cleared. Shedding my keys and ego at the door
Warm air and quiet envelope me as I enter. Just walking in relaxes me.
Quickly I arrange myself in a familiar space, a creature of habit, eyes closed.
My intention is to pay attention.
Body outstretched, beginning to notice my breathing
Amazed again at how most of the time it happens unnoticed.
More enter and prepare
All on a different journey, but yet still all the same.
Soon the breath deepens and grows louder, awakening my body.
The beautiful dance begins.
As the flow continues, sweat comes to cool the body.
Eyes closed, turning inward
Conscious of the room just enough to hear the cues.
The space pulses with a symphony of breath
A community of support all around me.
The movements flow, connecting mind, body and spirit. So amazing.
There is nothing else like it.
Hesitation comes with balancing; my nemesis on the mat and in life.
How will I react today?
Notice and observe. Feel without judging. Breathe.
Finding space is what matters. Space to stretch; Space to grow; Space to be.
Winding down now. Lights low. Practicing not reacting to discomfort.
“You are right where you are supposed to be”.
Breath slowing. Lengthening and twisting.
Body outstretched once again.
Soaking up the stillness. Falling into the earth.
Cells alive. Mind calm. Heart grateful.
And I realize, I am home. This is me.

Amy, Charry and Michelle all shared with us too – it was a really special moment. Finally we headed over to Solaire and had a wonderful, relaxing dinner. We were all presented with our certificates and a copy of Meditations from the Mat with some very nice comments from Amy :-). We then presented the teachers with keepsake books containing our profiles and comments about what we learned in teacher training. Sandee did such a great job of collecting stuff from all of us and getting the books printed. I hope to order my own copy – they turned out really nice! I think all the teachers were really touched. This was what I included as my “comment” (yeah, it is a little long, but I never said I was good at being brief!!)

What teacher training has meant to me?

It is hard to find the words to answer this question…which is saying a lot for me! What has teacher training meant to me? Well, I have never had so much fun in my bare feet that is for sure!! Ha! Seriously, I think the best way for me to share what teacher training has meant to me, without writing a novel that is, is probably in a top ten list format. I mean, why not?!

10. Amazing teachers – I thoroughly enjoyed all three of our teachers. Michelle, Charry and Amy all brought different strengths and varied perspectives that really reflected from their different backgrounds.
9. Awesome class – The group of teacher trainees was great! I loved how different we all were too with a vast array of experiences and ages.
8. Increased my confidence – I had some hesitation starting the training at first, thinking only young, thin, blonds in their twenties could be yoga teachers. But I have learned that even a mom in her 40’s can do this!
7. Asanas – I have enjoyed learning the nuts and bolts of the sequence, the poses, and the modifications to use when teaching.
6. Yamas & Niyamas – I loved learning about the foundation and philosophy that is behind the yoga poses. I also loved the oming and the chanting!!
5. Assisting – I had no idea how much I would enjoy learning how to assist. I absolutely loved the assisting workshop. I was also really surprised how much I liked learning about the massage techniques at Walden. The “me” before teacher training would not have guessed that I would enjoy touching people so much! I just like making people feel good – I think that is what it is!
4. Be authentic – One of the first things we talked about in training was bringing ourselves to our classes; that we needed to be genuine to connect with people. I was so relieved after that because I find it hard in life to be anything else, but me – the good, bad and the ugly!
3. Be present – I have learned how precious it is to experience life right now and enjoy each and every moment.
2. Yoga is a family affair! It has meant so much to me to not only have the support of my family during my training, but to be able to share what I’m learning with them as well. My yoga “off the mat” has spread to my husband (although he was always probably more yogi than me!) and son. Plus my hubby was a good mock student for all my practicing!
1. How much I still have and want to learn! I understand what everyone meant when they said, “200 hours just scrapes the surface”. While I feel like I have learned so much during these ten weeks I also feel there is so much more I want and need to learn. But that is how I look at life anyways – one big classroom!! Bring it on!!

So yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It is an ending of a journey, but yet just the beginning. What is next? Not exactly sure, but chances are I’ll let you know about it!!

Last Class!

Tues, Oct 16
Last class!!

It was hard to believe that it was time for our last class already tonight! Our practice tonight was really, really fun because of a couple of things. First, I was next to Tiffany and we laughed at a few things throughout the class. With Amy’s encouragement we also grabbed on and helped each other during Bird of Paradise pose which was so fun!

Also, I finally got the courage to go from flip dog to wheel tonight for the first time. I wanted to do it on the first side, but didn’t. Then on the other side, Amy was assisting me and it gave me just the amount of support I needed to plant my other hand on the floor and go for it. Amy was just as surprised at this as I was and said, “whoa, I did not not know that was going to happen, did you , Miss Lisa?” I just shook my head and felt on top of the world that I did it!! Here is a video of what I’m talking about.

Our teacher training class tonight started with a review of the weekend workshop with Yiannis. People shared their perspectives about what they liked and didn’t like about the weekend. It was interesting to hear a variety of viewpoints about this. Next we talked about the agenda for graduation day which is this Sunday! We will meet for a hike, if it doesn’t rain, come back to the Yoga Lounge for a special practice and then go to dinner together. I’m looking forward to it!

Lastly we talked about the topic of “getting a job”!! Amy shared that we should create a yoga resume that should include the following:

  • That we have completed a 200 hour program certified by the Yoga Alliance
  • Who we are certified through
  • That we have CPR training (apparently we need this – news to me!)
  • That we have insurance
  • How long we have practiced and where
  • Who we have studied with
  • Other hobbies

She also shared that it is a good idea to actually get officially certified (and get a number) from Yoga Alliance.  It is $80 and gives a little more credibility. We then went over the possible places that employ yoga teachers such as Health Clubs, Summa, Akron General Wellness Center, Corporate locations and yoga studios. We also talked a bit about what to charge. Amy also shared that we should not just call a studio we have never been to asking for a job. It only makes sense to practice somewhere for awhile and become a part of the community before doing that. Lastly (and what I was waiting for), she shared what we need to do if we would like to teach at the Yoga Lounge. They are going to be offering a Mentor Program for our class and will take on 2 people at a time. We need to apply and if selected will work with either Amy or Michelle as mentors (assist 2 classes a week and take 3 classes a week – and I think there was some teaching involved in there too) for a month and then we can audition to teach! I’m definitely interested in this option and have already asked for an application! Whatever will be, will be, however. I will be open to all the possibilities. But first, we have graduation day to look forward to!

Yogathon!

Oct 12 – Oct 14
Yiannis Andritsos immersion weekend

So what did you do this weekend? Did you spend 15 hours in practice and workshop in a yoga studio?!!! I did!! Ahhhhhh!!! Although I learned a lot, I’m glad to be done, showered and home. This was our last full weekend of teacher training stuff, but it was jam packed and a lot of it was very deep so I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Yiannis, our leaders for the weekend sessions specializes in Dharma Yoga, which is a Hatha-Raja inspired practice passed in authentic tradition by Sri Dharma Mittra.

Friday evening’s practice was crazy! It was different than what I’m used to so I was a little resistant to that. In other words, Hatha yoga does not have the flow that Baron’s sequence does so that was different. I felt frustrated because he did a lot of work with headstands and handstands without warming up and I’m just not there yet. Plus I was towards the back, which I never usually am. There were some cool challenging poses for us to try and that was cool. We did a lot of different pranayama exercises, some I liked and some were just okay. I also liked the aum’ing and all the chanting, but overall I just was out of sorts on Friday night. He was very hard to hear when he was talking to us so that was difficult and a bit stressful too. Plus, I had my review of my class right before the workshop so I was feeling a bit rushed. The review went fine, but I was just rushed.

Saturday morning was focused a lot on pranayama (breathing exercises) before practicing. I am starting to really like and learn the Mantra for Purification – it is supposed to be passed on verbally and is not written down. So, trying to learn it just takes repetition and practice. This chant is usually done before the practice in order to remove obstacles that would get in the way and it is supposed to cleanse the space. I was still not crazy about Hatha yoga at this point. I just need my power and want to sweat!

The afternoon session was a great session! We practiced and there was a little more sweat and some more challenging poses. I was working on “leg behind the head pose” and was getting close!! Yahoo!

The evening session was a lecture on the Yamas. I enjoyed this a lot after I stationed myself really close to Yiannis at the front of the room so I could hear well! Ahimas is the most important of the Yamas…if you follow this one, the rest will follow. The last thing we did that night was a deep relaxation exercise. It lasted probably 40 minutes all together. It was awesome! So much so that I totally fell asleep during it and my teacher training friends all heard me snoring (well, they called it deep breathing!!!). Too funny!

Then today, Sunday, the first session was the one I had been waiting for! It was challenging, a little bit more of a flow and I was finally sweating!! Woohoo! I probably was less resistant too, which is probably why I enjoyed it more. I had some success in challenging poses which felt good too. I liked how Yiannis encouraged us to concentrate and relax in the poses. For example, rather than going into shoulder stand, holding it for like 10 seconds and getting out of it, Hatha yoga teaches, to hold the poses for a little longer, relax into the pose and concentrate on the space between the eyebrows. At first it seems contradictory to both relax and concentrate at the same time, but it really is possible and cool. I found I could go deeper when I did this, plus it just helps develop concentration.

The afternoon session was a lecture focused on psychic development. This is a technique that involves a number of techniques in a certain order. There is the Mantra for Purification (purity – removing obstacles) and the Mantra for Unification (I am You, You are Me). Then there are 3 techniques for the aura. All three are different pranayamas (breathing technqiues) that were cool involving alternate nostril breathing and other various techniques. Then there is the closed circuit pranayama, chakra breathing technique and then ending in the visualization exercise.

The evening session was a lecture focused mostly on the koshas of yoga. These are the five different layers of the self. This I found facinating. I took some notes from the sesion, but I found a website that described it even better here (plus the words are spelled correctly here!)

In the yoga framework, these levels are referred to as the five sheaths of our being, or the Five Koshas. To understand the Five Koshas and the role they play in yoga, it’s easiest to think of the Koshas as a series of Russian dolls, each embedded within the others. Starting from the outermost layer and moving towards the core, the Five Koshas proceed from outer to inner in greater and greater levels of subtlety:

Annamayakosha-The Physical body. This sheath represents the physical body, the ‘regular’ gross expression of our body that we can see, touch and feel. The Sanskrit word Anna means food, and the word maya means appearance. This is the sheath of food, nourished by and created by our daily intake of food. The Annamayakosha is our physical body, the most familiar aspect of our being. As we practice yoga asanas, the physical body is the starting point of our experience.

Pranamayakosha-The Energy body. According to yoga therapy traditions, this is the second layer of our being. Prana means energy, but not energy in the usual Western meaning of the word. Rather, prana is the life-force, the vital energy which flows through and enlivens all our physical systems. The breath is the most physical expression of prana, and prana is closely related to the breath. Breath awareness and breathing practices, called pranayama, increase and facilitate the flow of prana in the body and balance the flow of the life force to all the physical systems.

Manamayakosha-The Mental-Emotional body. Manas means mind, and the Manamayakosha is the layer of our being expressed as mind, emotions, and feelings. These are the mental faculties with which we absorb, process, and interpret input from our life (presented through the senses of the physical body). It is like a supervisor in a factory, which unfortunately often mistakenly takes on the role as manager.

Vijnanamayakosha-The Wisdom body. The fourth Kosha is considered part of the subtle body. Vijnana means knowing, and this sheath represents the higher mind, the faculty of wisdom, which lies underneath the processing, thinking, reactive mind. This is the level of our being, that has the higher wisdom to guide us through life and lead us to higher and higher levels of truth and integration. It represents the reflective aspects of our consciousness, which allow us to experience a deeper insight into ourselves and the world around us.

Anandamayakosha-The Bliss body. This is the fifth and final sheath of our being. Ananda means bliss, not bliss in the sense of emotions, such as happiness or pleasure, but an expanded, unbounded experience of reality. The ancients viewed the experience of the Bliss body as an experience of the deepest level of our being, an unbounded, blissful state of peace, joy, and love.

The Koshas are viewed as different, beautiful manifestations of our essential universal nature. According to yoga philosophy, this is known as Atman-the unbounded, universal Oneness of all that exists. These koshas do not act separately, but interact with each other, as well.

Yiannis talked a lot about the supreme teacher, relying on the supreme teacher for help and guidance and needing to have faith in your life. I liked all of this and realized this weekend yet again how connected all the religions and philosophies are. Yes, we are indeed all the same – on different journeys, but searching for the same thing.

What’s Next?

Tues, Oct 9
Week 8?

Today we had a great practice. Michelle taught the class and while it was a great workout with lots of sweat it was very non-stressful at the same time. I enjoyed it a lot!

Then during our teacher training class we talked about what we liked and disliked about the assisting workshop the Sunday before. I shared that I really loved the whole thing and wondered if people could get a job just assisting! Amy did say that if we want to help assist in a class let the teachers know that. They also may start a mentoring/assisting program of sorts.

Next two of our teacher trainees shared their research about opening a yoga studio. It was very interesting and definitely got me thinking (okay daydreaming!) about how cool it would be to have my own yoga studio someday! Who knows, right? Amy shared a bit about things to think about too.

We then talked about modifications to make for pregnant yogis. This was interesting and helpful to know that some women, especially if they have had an active practice before pregnancy, can continue to practice with modifications right up until delivery. Making sure their doctor has cleared them to practice is an important first step. The basic things to avoid for a pregnant woman doing yoga are:1) no lying on the back, 2) no lying on the belly, 3) no abs, and 4) no twisting.

Our homework is to write down what we want next in terms of yoga like 6 months out, 1 year out and 3 years out. Gulp. This should be interesting. I’m not sure I know any of those answers right now. I’m already thinking about the training being over in a week or so and while I’ll be glad to get some weekend time back I’m not good with endings of things and will be sad. The one thing I know for sure is that I want to keep learning and practicing. I would like to gain some experience teaching and also perhaps assisting. Who knows. I’m open to the possibilities out there and will have to just do some thinking about it. Now, I have some other things to pay attention to with my family, so that will take precedence, I think. One thing at a time, and one breath at a time…for sure.

My First Class!

Sun, Oct 7

I was so glad the afternoon before my first class (my final project for the teacher training program!) was filled with the assisting workshop. I already blogged about the workshop – it was totally awesome in its own right, but it also helped to keep my mind off of the fact that my class was mere hours away. I was in the middle of shavasana and getting a great assist from my partner when someone said, “oh, my gosh it is 6:20pm!” My shavasana mood was immediately over and I started getting nervous! My class was to start at 6:45pm!! We finished up the workshop and quickly cleaned up the room and I went out to get ready to greet my attendees! It was so fun to see so many friendly faces come in the door. With each person that arrived I felt more at ease, realizing that there was so much love and support for me in the room. I felt confident and ready to share myself and my love of yoga with everyone.

We turned the music off and I began with telling the class about the Hudson Food Pantry (the agency who the class was for) and how it has been meeting the communities needs since April. In September , 33 distributions were given, providing food for 89 people!! Very cool. I then began the class and shared the theme of the class while the class was in Child’s Pose. The theme was “Be Where Your Feet Are”. I shared a story about our whitewater rafting trip this summer and how Zach had a difficult time enjoying the moment. I shared how he yelled over the noise of the rapids, “what are we going to do next?” We continued on through the sequence and I continued to feel good about my cuing and direction. I assisted just a tad for fear I would lose my place in the sequence. I tried to weave the theme into the class at a couple points that made sense. In Gorilla pose I asked the class to notice, as they were looking at their feet, if they were being where their feet are or if they were thinking about what they were going to do after class. Then again in Boat pose (which can be a killer ab workout!) I asked the class if they were in the boat in the rapids wondering what comes next or if they were being here and just working the pose. At the end of the class I read one of my favorite meditations while the class was on their right side – in between shavasana and coming up to sit. I like this time in the practice. It just feels meditative for me. Overall I felt good about it and relieved that it was over. I got some great feedback from my family and friends who were there. There were 21 people there in total (not counting Shelly, my assisting partner, and Charry who was observing in the back), 9 of which were my teacher trainee friends. I was so thankful for them all coming and supporting me!! I look forward to getting my official review feedback from the teachers this weekend!

Connection vs. Correction

Sun, Oct 7
Assisting Workshop!

So today our teacher training session was focused on assisting. Assisting is what teachers can do to help students better experience a pose during class. While a teacher is teaching class and walking around the room, typically he/she will assist students gently through touch and breath. Sometimes it is hardly a touch at all, but just being there energetically for the student, offering support for him/her. It is one of the ways a teacher can really connect with her students too. At the beginning of the workshop we had a discussion about assisting in general. Assisting really involves trust at the core. It is not a good idea for someone to do a lot of assisting with someone who is new to yoga because there is no trust established yet. The new yoga student is taking on so much when they are first at the studio: new place, poses, music, connecting to their body, etc. The last thing they may want to have to take in is the touching!! The other thing that Amy warned us about is that as new teachers we may not want to touch very much at all. It is overwhelming for us too just teaching the basic sequence! The other tricky thing about assisting is that everyone is different and sometimes different from day to day. There will be times when people do not want to be touched (they are sick, or just not into it) and other times when people really dig it. It is important for the teacher to watch how the student is practicing and take clues from that. Also, the teacher should ask about injuries at the beginning of class and take note of that. Finally, the teacher can ask things like, “is that too much?” while they are starting an assist so the student can respond. In the same way that students may have days that they don’t want to be touched, the same can be said for teachers too. There might be days when we don’t really feel like it. The advice is DON’T ASSIST when that happens! The student can feel that the touch is forced or not genuine and that is not a good experience for anyonel. Amy underscored throughout the workshop that the assist is not a correction, but a connection which is a big difference. Our approach needs to be gentle and supportive not forceful or depending. We should also try to remind students that an assist is a caring, supportive gesture, not a correction or a “fixing”.

We then went around the room and each of us shared an example of a bad assist that we have had in the past. There were comments made about bad assists with:
Crescent Lounge
Balancing Poses
Floor Bow
Pigeon
Crow
Child’s Pose
Upward facing dog
Forward Fold
Balancing Half Moon
Wide Leg Forward Fold
Bridge
Wheel

There were quite a variety expressed and the interesting thing was that some of the assists that were identified as “bad” for one person was claimed as “good” for others in the group. This is a tricky business!

The last part of the workshop was my favorite! We partnered up one-on-one with someone else and took turns assisting him/her as they went through a majority of poses in the sequenced and learned the assisting options that there are out there for us. I loved this! We watched Amy as she assisted Charri in the front of the room and we tried to copy her. It was so fun to do it and I really enjoyed doing it and helping my partner get more open and “experience the pose better”. She also told me that the assists felt really good to her and that made me feel really good too. I almost felt like it was along the same lines as giving someone a massage. I actually got sweaty assisting (of course), which I found out is a good thing! I loved the way Amy described assisting. She said it was like seeing a work of art. I think this is so true. I actually asked if people can just get jobs assisting!! And yes, they can! I think the other reason why I liked it is because when you don’t have any teaching responsibilities and can just assist, you can give more of your all to the student. I hope to volunteer to assist at the Yoga Lounge sometime after I graduate the teacher training program so I can continue to grow and learn about assisting. It is so cool. Of course, as I mentioned before, we also did learn that there are a number of non-touching ways to connect with students too and are important. Charri reminded us that we are already all connected and we do not have to be limited to just using touch. We can connect through eye contact, words, compassion and caring about students. Indeed.

Weekly Activity
M – Rest
T – Teach at noon at JCU; 6:30pm power class and TT
W – Run 3 miles; Practice teach with Shelly
Th – 6 am power
F – 6am Stretch; Run 3 miles
S – rest (Homecoming weekend!!)
S – TT class; My first class to teach!; Carl’s class (45 min)
M – 6am Power; Run 3 miles

The Sequence Quiz – no pencil and paper needed!

Tues, Oct 2
Week 8??

So today’s class was another good one! First we practiced, as always, and it was another great workout. Next we talked a bit about voice in the yoga room and identified the pros and cons of using music, microphones and just general comments about voice.

Next we had a yoga sequence quiz! Yes, I actually thought it was going to be a paper and pencil quiz (duh). No. We went through the sequence and people were randomly picked to jump up and teach a section. It was a little nerve racking. I found myself trying to remember the section coming next until my name got called. I was also just hoping that I wouldn’t get balancing poses. They are not my favorite poses, really. I find myself cringing most classes when it is heavy on the balancing poses. This probably means that I need to do them more, of course. So, I wasn’t too shocked when my name was called for part of the balancing series! Thanks, Universe! We were in the middle of it, so all I had to teach was dancer’s pose and tree. I actually had fun with it and even added my own flair. It was a tiring night, however, since we had already practiced a 75 class (and very hot, I might add!!) and then basically did another 60 minutes – from like 9:15pm – 10:15pm. Good though.

In other news, I taught today at JCU at noon (60 minute class) and it went really well!! I am so appreciative of my yoga teacher, Lisa, who has been so generous with her support and feedback. I wasn’t planning on teaching, but she twisted my arm on the spot and I did it! There were probably between 12-15 people there so it was very cool. There were some brand new women (students) in the front so that was helpful to me, reminding me to cue well. The highlight for me was at the end of class. One woman who practices frequently at JCU came up to me and said that she had successfully done crow for the first time today! Totally made my day!! She thanked me and said she looked forward to another class! It is interesting because I don’t have any teaching gigs yet. I’m not even sure how that works. We have to finish first! First things first! I need to teach my yoga lounge class first too which is this Sunday! I’m a bit nervous. I will practice tomorrow with Shelly and Mike so we’ll see how that goes. Cross your fingers!!!

“The Lounge is Alive with the sound of OMing…”

Sun, Sept 30

Today was a long day at the Yoga Lounge! Most of us were there from 12:30pm – 8:30pm! In addition to our normal teacher training class (12:30pm – 6:30pm), we also had two of our classmates final project classes scheduled after class – one at 6:45pm and one at 7:45pm.

The teacher training part of the day was really interesting. We focused on sound and rhythm in yoga and all of the things we talked about fit into that theme. Michelle was our only teacher and she rocked the class! We started the class in a very cool way. We OM’d as a group for 15 minutes! For those who do not know OM is a mantra, or vibration, that is sometimes chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes and is the sound of the universe.

Here is a little background on OM: “Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.”

For me this experience was very cool. The 15 minutes went by really fast and I felt energized when we were finished. It was neat to feel the vibration both in me as I OM’d, but then also amongst the group when I was quiet.

Next we went over the Sanskrit pronunciation of all the poses. It is a beautiful language with the “ahh” sound throughout the alphabet.

Next we talked more about the 7 chakras (energy sources in the body) and learned about the meaning, the syllable (vibration) and color that goes with each one and the poses that can activate each one. There are lessons associated with each chakra as well as physical dysfunctions associated with each one based on that part of the body. This was so interesting. I just summarized it here.

1. Base (Mulahdhara) – syllable – LAM; Color – Red; Base of spine, legs, bones, feet, rectum, immune system
“I am a part of the living universe. I acknowledge my connection with all living beings”
Poses: Mountain, boat, seated poses

2. Sacrum (Svadhistana) – syllable – VAM; Color – Orange; Reproductive system, hip area, lower back
“I have the power to create. i am able to bring something new into this life”
Poses: Child’s Pose, Triangle, Pigeon, Hero, Forward ben

3. Solar Plexis (Manipura) – RAM; Color – Yellow; Abdomen, stomach
” I am in control of my own power. i am able to make my own decisions.”
Poses: Twisting poses, wheel

4. Heart (Anahata) – YAM; Color – Green; Heart, lungs, shoulders and arms
“I feel compassion for all living beings.”
Poses: Bow, Upward Dog

5. Throat (Vishuddha) – HAM; Color – Blue; Throat
“I express my deepest thoughts and feelings with clarity.”
Poses: Camel, Fish, Shoulder Stand, Bridge, Wheel

6. Third Eye (Ajna) – OM; Color – Indigo/Purple; Brain
“I am in tune with an infinite source of guidance.”
Poses: Inversions

7. Crown (Sahasrara) – Silence; Color – White; Beyond physical – union with God
“I am what I am.”
Poses: Shavasana

Next we did an exercise about pacing for a class. We practiced doing a few rounds of Sun A and Sun B with two different types of pacing – one was slow and the other was double time. Our challenge was to breathe a full round of 4 count breath to last through each pose. It was interesting hearing what people preferred. I like the faster one more because I enjoy faster paced classes, but not everyone agreed. It made us think about pacing for the classes we will be teaching.

Our restorative class was only okay for me today. I realized when I got horizontal that I was really congested. I had been sneezing on and off through class and am finally coming to terms with the fact that I actually DO have a cold. Yuck – not time for that!

After restorative we had some specials guests come in to talk about chanting with us. I enjoyed this the most! We learned and practiced a few of the most common chants used before or after a yoga class. They are used to set a tone or to invoke a feeling or message. Then one of the women played guitar and another instrument called the quitar (sp???) and taught us some other chants of devotion or celebration. These were call and response chants so they were really easy to learn and fun to sing.

The last part of the evening consisted of both Shelly’s class (my partner so I assisted!) and then Jillian’s class. They both did great! I think we were all happy to have the evening finished!

Going Deeper

Tues, Sept 25

Tonight’s class was another fave! First we had a very crazy and fun practice with Amy! She was in a kookie mood and was really funny throughout the class. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a power class (with a great workout to boot!).

Then our teacher training class started out with our feelings check-in around the circle. Then we went around and commented on what we liked about Sunday’s class and what we didn’t. Many of us said that it had been our most favorite session so far – largely in part because we learned some more about each other. I thought the same thing and I actually could not think of anything I didn’t like about Sunday. Then we went around and each shared what we felt we were doing well (yogically speaking) in our life and what we were working on. It was a little bit deeper of sharing and I loved it! It was a great sharing and connecting activity for our group. While I won’t share what the rest of the group said, I can share what I said. I said that I was doing better at living in the present moment and shared an example from vacation this summer. I said I was still working on not reacting. I seem to do well for a time or a certain situation, but then at the next react the way I normally would. I notice that if I’m worn down or tired I tend to go back to my default mode. Like I keep saying, it is a work in progress. It was really neat to hear everyone share. I think we have focused on practicing the sequence so much that we needed to spend some time connecting with each other. Both Sunday and tonight really cemented that and it felt good. That conversation took most of the time. The last hour we spent talking about concerns or problems we had about our class project. Amy and Michelle helped us by giving us great suggestions about cutting down sequences and helpful cues to use for beginners. We also talked a little bit about the role of themes/stories in the class. I feel a little better about how to construct my sequence and have a better direction about what I will share during my class. I have 13 people who have RSVP’d “yes” so hopefully they can all still come on Oct 7! I will email them reminders a few days before just in case. And there are other people who may just come that didn’t RSVP and that is great! I’m a bit nervous just because I feel like this is my only yoga class to teach. I mean, I hope I will have more in the future, but right now – it is all about this class!! So, no practice teaching again tonight, but that is okay. I’m practicing with my partner on Thursday night so we should be in good shape for her class on Sunday!

This week’s activity:
Tuesday – noon yoga at JCU, Teacher Training class – 75 minute power and class
Wednesday – Home practice
Thursday – 6am Power; noon – teach at JCU
Friday – 6am Stretch; Run 3 miles; Brian’s class (45 min); Practice teach and practice – 60 min
Saturday – 90 minute power; Observe Anya’s class
Sunday – Yoga Stretch, Teacher Training class; Restorative

Re-Connecting

Sun, Sept 23

During today’s class there was no practice teaching at all! It was a nice break, actually! We spent most of the time in discussion. First we talked about the homework we had turned in – the review of all different types of yoga. Then we talked about the various yoga workshops people attend and the pros and cons of opening a yoga studio. It was interesting to hear Amy’s perspective and how it has changed from where she started 4 1/2 years ago when she opened.

We then reviewed the Yamas and Niyamas and journaled about how we have incorporated them into our lives. This was cool and it was nice to reflect on how I do feel like I’m incorporating them into my life! I’ll refrain from sharing it all here. Suffice it to say it was a good exercise to journal about.

Next we talked a little bit about Brian’s class. Amy and Michelle gave him feedback and then the class (those who were there) gave some feedback too. We were reminded about the following things for our own classes: greet people, and make a donation jar if we are doing a donation class. We also were reminded to keep promoting the class! I think I have about 13 who have said they will come, so hopefully they will all come! I think I’ll send them all reminders too!

Next we did this cool partner strap exercise. We took turns in certain poses and our partner used the strap to lift us into better alignment. We did this in downward facing dog, warrior 2 and triangle. Then we practiced chanting for the first time and that was fun. We did call and response with about 3 different chants in Sanskrit. Next it was time for restorative which was majorly relaxing today!! I almost fell asleep again! At the end we did this cool partner exercise sitting back to back. Very cool and a cool connection.

We ended with ohms and that just like the right place to end.

Homework:
1. Research all the triangle variations we can find. Explain the different styles and variations and compare it to the Baron version.
2. What the six deep external rotaters and how are they all opened up in all the poses?
3. Sutra book: page 84, number 3