Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On the Bench

Folks, it's bad knee time again. Well, not bad, but not progressing. You know what that means: no yoga. Right when I likely need it the most. So...no yoga, no yoga blogs. Unless, of course, the kids do something really profound (I am still teaching them about every other week). I have to give my knees a rest in order to be able to complete my last yoga teacher training module in late June.

The only good thing that's come out of all this knee bulls*** is I've been hardcore on the upper body/ab workouts. The result? I'm getting at least three sets of five-to-seven pull ups. This coming from the girl who couldn't do a single unassisted pull up a couple months ago. I'm hoping by the end of summer, I can get three sets of ten. You'd think I just won the Pulitzer or something. Sure, it's trivial, but when your life is blowing up and you have some little victory, some progress, you're just elated. So, I'm hoping with all this upper body/core work, when I finally do get back to yoga, I can rock forearm balances and handstands. Away from the wall. One can dream, right?

Funny: the very things I've hated upon first attempt are the very things I most look forward to trying again and again. Because I've forced myself into the challenge. And it turns out I like it. (It feels like I've written this before. If I have, forgive me. It's just so surprising, all this "forcing" myself into uncomfortable situations. So not me. Well, used to not be me.)

No yoga sucks, it really does. I miss class, I miss Rachel from Cuba (even if I hardly know her...I love to hear her talk, and she's the other person in class—unfortunately for her—with bum knees, so we keep tabs on each other), and I miss, more than anything, my precious time with Dolly.

I'm not sure why I've been benched at this particular time in my life, but I suspect it might have something to do with the need for a slower pace and introspection. I've done a lot of soul searching the last six months—no doubt yoga has had an influence there. I've learned to be more in the present, and as such, I'm having to evaluate where I am each day on that day. Not a month in advance. See, you can't plan your practice a month a time when your knees are screwed up. Just when I thought it was safe to start adding classes to my calendar for June, the knees flare up, and, well, that's why when it comes to my calendar, I write in pencil.

So, I've got no choice but to just chill. Sit back and evaluate. Take stock. Be glad for what I have right here, right now. Worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Know that it will work when it is supposed to.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Yoga Moms

Subbed a kids yoga class yesterday at a new studio on a tony side of town. Here's what I learned:
  1. Teaching more than three kids at a time is a hell of a challenge (I might have had 12 in class)—I could've used a yoga class (or a martini) to soothe my nerves after that! They are fun and all over the place. Ages 4-10, I think they were, and all with different levels of attention and yoga aptitude.
  2. You can't stop demoing yoga asanas with a group this big and with so many age levels. As soon as you stop, they stop. If you want them to flow, you must demo. Makes it hard to assist.
  3. There are Moms, Soccer Moms, Stage Moms, and Yoga Moms. The Yoga Moms are a different breed from these other moms, though they share similarities with the Soccer Moms, I'm guessing. Since I'm not a mom, I don't have regular experiences with these women, but let me just say this: Yoga Moms are toned, tanned, and at least for appearances' sake, totally together. You won't see them frazzled, dragging themselves around in shorts, their husband's t-shirt, and flip flops. No, the Yoga Moms are pedicured, manicured, pressed, primed, primped and plumped to sheer and utter perfection. I've never seen anything like it. I looked at the studio owner yesterday as one mom rolled in, and while watching her and her girls make their way to the door, all I could say was, She gave birth to those kids? There was no evidence of childbirth on the woman. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Enlightenment Card (and it ain't from Hallmark...)

I've definitely, definitely seen it all now...though I have to say, the Enlightenment Card is tempting (yeah, I need another credit card like I need another handbag). It just looks so cool!

I'm totally serious, people! This is a bona fide credit card...here's a blurb about it from the site:

"The Enlightenment Visa Reward Card was founded on the idea that money is energy and if used with positive and integrative intention, can have the power to affect change in our lives and the world. Everyone uses a credit card, so why not have one where people can earn points towards positive products and services that enhances their overall conscious life? Some of the categories of rewards you can earn points toward are: Travel, Retreats + Workshops, Yoga Classes, Organic Products, Holistic Spa Treatments, Books + DVDs, Merchandise, or use your points to donate to a charity."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This just in...

Yogitoes is finally producing Skidless mat towels in earth tones (Moss, Stone, Sand, and Loam)! They're lovely!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More Unique Mats

It's so nice to see more creativity going into the production of yoga mats. To me, mats are not only tools to help in one's practice, they are yet another way to express personal style.

Here are more fun mats I found online—be sure to see my post, Get Your Crow Flying with Cheeky Yoga Gear, for other unique mats as well.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Fusion

I believe the new trend in yoga is fusion:

  • Pilates + Yoga = Pi-Yo
  • Martial Arts + Yoga = Budokon
  • Yoga + Chocolate = Splurge Without Guilt...

The reason why I point this out is lately, every other article I read about yoga is about yoga combined with something else, be it another person, animal, place, or thing. Well, I recently took a new fusion-type yoga class at at a great new studio: Laughing Buddha. This particular class fuses yoga and weights, so the class is half Vinyasa, a quarter yoga moves with 3, 5, 8, or 12 pound dumbbells in hand for sculpting, and a quarter deep stretch. Now I'm sure this class will raise eyebrows amongst the purists, but I thought it ROCKED! The teacher (Dawn) was awesome, the music was uptempo, and the weights provided a great upper body workout. It was my two favorite things in one! It's nice to have this class available as an option if you're looking for more of a strength-building yoga experience.

And Laughing Buddha is lovely. Although there is only one studio, it has soaring ceilings, lots of light, floor-length mirrors, a gorgeous and spacious locker room/bathroom/shower area, and best of all recirculating, purified air. A thoroughly modern and urban yoga experience. Very cool, I think.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ting! All About the Tingsha

Recently in yoga teacher training, I got to use Dolly's tingsha (which I so eloquently referred to in class as the "dingy things") to close out a chant before class. Lots of people in class were interested in the tingsha and where to get some. There are scores of them online—Zanzibar Trading has an interesting array.

For those who are curious, here's a little more about these lovely little cymbals...
The following text was borrowed from Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_tingsha_bells

History of the Tingsha
Tibetan tingsha are small cymbals used in prayer and rituals by Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. Two cymbals are joined together by a leather strap or chain. The cymbals are struck together producing a clear and high pitched tone. Typical sizes range from 2.5" - 4" diameter. Tingsha are very thick and produce a unique long ringing tone. Antiques were made from special bronze alloys that produce harmonic overtones.

In high quality tingsha, both cymbals will match—the tone is identical or nearly identical. Most tingsha, however, are not perfectly matched so each produces a distinctly different tone. This is due to modern manufacturing processes in which many tingsha are produced at the same time and then poorly matched.

Fine quality examples of antiques or the rare pair of carefully matched new tingsha will sound identical.

Antique tingsha are rare and quite expensive. Sometimes two cymbals that do not match are paired together. Single cymbals are often sold with a bone or piece of wood attached, so the instrument is still functional even though the mating cymbal has been lost.

Tingsha are unique in form and function and distinctly different from Indian, Nepali, Chinese, Turkish or other cymbals.

Today, tingsha are used along with singing bowls and other instruments in meditation, music and sound healing. Artists such as Karma Moffett and Joseph Feinstein use multiple pairs of antique tingsha together to create a sonic tapestry effect.

Traditionally, however, tingsha are used as part of specific Tibetan rituals, such as offerings to "hungry ghosts." While they are commonly found today in musical recordings and yoga classes, their real function is as a religious ritual tool.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training, Day 6, Module 2

Today was the final day of our second module of yoga teacher training—I can't believe I made it through without completely killing my knees! That's awesome. Although I know practicing this week set me back in the progress I had made in healing my knees, at least they aren't worse.

God, what can I say about teacher training that would adequately capture the spirit of the class and the people in it? It's a profound experience to face your fears and actually feel progress in overcoming them. It feels incredible when you're able to nail two or three asanas you weren't previously able to achieve. It's awesome when you're able to remember more Sanskrit names, when you can chant in Sanskrit even when you can't hold a tune, when you can OM in a room full of people and not be afraid to hear only the sound of your voice.

And the people. The people! We come in as strangers and leave as friends. Real friends. There is safety, a bond, a camaraderie that lifts your heart and makes you feel like there's nothing you can't achieve. It's the most nurturing environment I've ever been in, and it's all because of one special, illuminated soul: Dolly. I tell you, when you have yoga, when you have the kind of atmosphere and spirit Dolly creates, you open up and find yourself more real, more raw than you have in years. I'm always so surprised when I find myself in tears in class (though I should be used to it by now)—but something about the energy in the room just sort of forces all these emotions in me to the surface and I physically cannot hold them back. Before we left today, Dolly gave each of us a huge hug and kiss on the cheek, and I just wept because, I told her, I knew I was going to have to go back to my life, and I didn't want to. After being in such a safe environment for six days, where you can do virtually no wrong, it's scary to think about going back home, dealing with reality, with bills and broken relationships and baggage.

As I come out of this cocoon, at least I know that I have done my best, that I am a little less afraid of teaching, that I have put myself out there and survived, and am stronger for it. And that I always have my yoga. When things get tough, I know I can get on my mat and flow and reconnect to the real me. And in the end, that is all I have that I can truly call my own.