Monday, July 23, 2012

Gypsy Yoga

Oh how strange the journey has been. As part of my "homework" for Yoga Teacher Training, I am required to practice teach 6 yoga classes.
Fortunately, my friends and close acquaintances have been so supportive and many students signed up to attend my yoga classes.

As I was making arrangement for students, a friend (and now student) told me of a great space that he could provide for the classes! Amazing.

The space is an old building near downtown that used to be a mailing business. My friend rents the bottom floor of the building, and the top floor stood untouched.


With the help from Jonathan and my nephew Taylor (I had to bribe him with cash and ice cream :) we were able to clear the room and clean the floor.

This is Jonathan with an oil based floor sweep that we used to collect and pick up the thick layer of dust on the floor. It worked wonderfully!

After sweeping the dust I spent a few hours moping the floor with a natural lavender scented cleaner. I burned incense and one of the students brought beautiful plants and a lamp to warm the space.

The 6 class series has been deemed "Gypsy Yoga" due to the natural and earthy feel of the space. And like gypsies, the students, will travel to this strange location to engage in shared energy and to practice yoga collectively.

I scheduled the first class for last Saturday. I attended a class of my own bright and early on Saturday morning at the Yoga Bean, Lubbock's newest yoga studio. One of my favorite instructors taught the class and afterward I was excited and inspired to teach my Gypsy Yoga class. 
Class #1 had only 3 students, none of which had ever stepped on a yoga mat. The class was wonderful! I felt like every word came out just as I planned in my head. And the students seemed to respond well to the instruction. I was even able to make a few adjustments to help the students in their poses. And I felt elated as I saw one student flowing through the class with the biggest grin on his face. I couldn't have asked for a better first time teaching experience.

Class #2 was not quite the same..
The class was scheduled for Monday evening. I worked all day at my office and somehow went home with a raging headache :(
I tried my best to collect myself before the class. I rolled out my mat at home and practiced the sequence that I was going to teach. I started feeling fatigued and tired, so  took an asprin and set myself straight.. or I thought I had.
The class started late. And 8 students came!
My throat started to ache as soon as I began to talk. None of the words in my head were actually coming out of my mouth. I totally forgot one of the most important parts of my class (and yoga for that matter) -- the explanation of BREATH & MOVEMENT! Ugh, by the time I realized my eggregious mistake the students were in full on Sun Salutations and 20 minutes into the class. For the sake of progress, I let it be. By this point I started to work up a sweat. I was frustrated with myself and realized that I was in control and I had no choice but to continue. More mistakes and missteps were made along the way, all I could do was keep going. Keep teaching. Keep the students safe.
The remaining 30 minutes, felt like an eternity. During the 5 minute relaxation, Savasana pose, I took the opportunity to set myself straight. I collected my thoughts and slowly began to awaken the students from their relaxation. I tried to finish the class strong and open the floor for feedback..

One student recommended that I talk more about breath work.. and another "green" student asked about breathing techniques. So OBVIOUSLY, the explanation of breath and movement would have helped the class!

I totally beat myself up after the class and almost cried on the way home. I felt like a failure and I was disappointed with myself.
I started to think of the number of yoga classes that I have attended and how many of the class I can remember, even if they were bad. I couldn't recall memory of very many bad classes. So I made myself feel better by just chalking up this experience as a learning lesson.

I pray that my classes will get better over time and that I can redeem myself during the 4 remaining Gypsy Yoga classes.

Yoga is the path. Practice (teaching) is the journey.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Module #2

Module #2 of Yoga Yoga Teacher training is finished and life is more beautiful than ever.

The experience of last week, Module #2, was dramatically different than that of Module #1. Thankfully.

I now know, that in June when I endured 7 days of YYTT -- physically I was prepared.. mentally I was not.

I thought that because I had a great yoga practice and was physically fit and healthy, that I was ready for Yoga Teacher training. However, in hindsight, I realized that mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation.

During Module #1, my mind was resisting the changes that were happening to my life. I didn't eat enough, I didn't sleep enough, and I went to Austin thinking that my life could resume as normal.
However, my mind traveled far ahead, and my body is just now catching up.

During Module #2, I mentally prepared myself for the worse. But was comforted within the first few days as I began to feel and inner peace and relaxation that had abandoned my body years ago.

I attended 2 Restorative Yoga classes while I was in Austin and left with an overall feeling of happiness. My body felt rested, peaceful, healthy, and strong.
The past 3 years, I have avoided Restorative and Yin Yoga classes simply because I thought they were boring, not "fast enough", and "not challenging enough". But that was just my ego obstructing the true path. With my ego under control, I was really able to let go and see the path.
I have a high-stress, high adrenaline, fast career and lifestyle -- so my yoga practice should be anything but that.
Now, I am not revoking my Ashtanga yoga practice by any means -- but rather adding an new element of restoration into the equation.
Restoration for my body and most importantly my mind. Yoga is beautiful path in which to connect the body and mind.

"Strong" was the word that resonated with me all week. Before the journey I prayed for "strength" and during the journey I prayed for a "strong" mind and body. The intention that I set each time I returned to my mat was "strength". And I am happy to report that my body and mind did in fact receive strength and I was able to endure the entire journey with sound body and sound mind.

During the next month, I will teach 6 beginner yoga classes as well as attend 11 public yoga classes (including Yin Yoga!) and then I will travel back to Yoga Yoga Austin for 1 final week of teacher training and GRADUATION!
And, just as those before me, I will work to spread the beautiful practice that is yoga.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

before & after

These photos were taken 10 months and 20 pounds apart.

The before and after need no explanation. I have been strength training for 10 months. Once a week with a trainer and 2 times on my own. Each session I work on either back and biceps, chest and triceps, or legs. 1 hour of muscle training and 30 minutes of cardio -- I love running!

These 3 days a week topped off with at least 2 yoga classes a week ;)

The road was tough but totally worth it. I feel physically and mentally stronger than I ever have!

I am so thankful for my health and ability to grow stronger.