Category Archives: Teachers

The Neck

Do you find yourself straining your neck in yoga? I try to follow the dialogue but must be doing something wrong as many classes result in me feeling my neck is achy or pulled. In separate standing leg pose (the one before triangle) I get that your eyes should go between your toes or a little in front, but that’s usually when I get my first tingle. Then in triangle when your neck and shoulder are supposed to touch and your eyes look past your fingers, I definitely feel something there. The pose after triangle where you neck comes up last… at that point I definitely feel some sort of discomfort. Many of the spine strengthening postures also have the “look up with your eyes” which somehow in my mind seems to also mean “move your neck” I hear that with cobra, airplane, bow… usually by rabbit, my neck is a hot mess. Perhaps there are small adjustments that a teacher just can’t make with every student, or it could be my neck is where I hold a lot of tension and it just also comes through in class. I suspect I’m probably doing a few things wrong though. Will just have to keep trying!

 

Namaste

 

It’s All Relative

I took a yoga class in the middle of a slow work day. Interesting assortment of yogis…a few older folks, some serious athlete types, a few dancers… the usual Bikram class assortment. It was a new teacher, which I also like trying since you never know when a different message connects with you in a powerful way. The teacher was fine. pretty much on script but conscientious and controlled. I was in day 3 of classes, after an 11 or 12 day hiatus. My balance was off and I was fighting to get back to the flexibility I had before the break. The teacher told us to have no expectations as each day is different, so I took a deep breath and told myself to do the best I can. This was a slightly different tone from the previous day’s class when the teacher told us to kill ourselves in class.

So, it was more of the same, which is fine. I was able to do the whole class, I was still more wobbly than previously and still not able to touch my forehead to my knee in the pose after triangle… but I was getting better. Pushed harder than normal in triangle and toe stand. And tried to convince myself I will be able to actually do bow pose some day!

What I noticed is that everyone was at their own level in class and it was cool to see. Some people are super advanced and have a serious practice. Others may be recovering from injuries or are just getting started or have other issues and are more limited in what they can do. And I fit right in. I can grab my leg in standing head to knee and sometimes kick out, but rarely hold the pose and can’t get my head to my knee yet. I try in eagle, but my leg is no where near wrapping around the back of my calf (Adrienne, if you are reading this, I will be forever jealous that you can do this), I can barely get my elbows under my body in locust, they generally stick out and stubbornly refuse to submit to my will… but it’s all good. We’re all doing our best together… very different abilities but singular in our focus.

Namaste

After a break…

So, I’m back after an 11-day yoga break due to work and travel. It happens. I knew I’d be back to yoga, so I didn’t panic but let me tell you, my absence shows. Took my first class yesterday and then woke up today and could barely move! Went back today and was much tighter than I can remember. I’d say I’ve lost about 20% of my (already limited) flexibility. What did I notice the most: BALANCE. Oh my lord. I could barely hold standing bow for 10 seconds, let alone 1 minute. I felt sorry for the people behind me as I kept falling out, especially on my weaker side. Holy backsliding! Also flexibility in generally is worse, not surprising. I’m hoping in a week or two, I’m back to “normal.” I think the main thing is not to get bummed out about it, but to move on. My teacher today said “imagine you can do every pose. Even if it takes 20 years.” In other words, no, I suck at this, but rather, I can do this. Also, the Bikram refrain to “kill yourself” in class came up. Not a huge fan of this, but it is a good reminder to push yourself. What’s also interesting (and probably helped my return) is the classes have not been crazy hot. I think this is because it’s so cold outside, they don’t want to completely shock your system. I am getting a massage shortly, so hopefully that will help. I think the lesson here is to keep on keeping on. In the past I’d beat myself up both about missing class and my performance. Now, I’m simply glad to be back, proud I did both classes completely and looking forward to improving. Progress, at least mentally!?!

PS-MY husband got me a combo yoga mat and towel. Love it!!!

Namaste.

Ho Ho Ho… Hot!

Happy Holidays Everyone. I went to yoga on Xmas eve, Xmas day and Sunday. Can I just say those were some of the 3 hottest classes I’ve ever had!?! I’m not sure if my studio is having issues or it’s the unseasonably warm weather, but my Xmas eve class was so humid that the teacher kept the windows and door open the entire class. I rarely see that. Many people were dropping and I had to take a few breaks. The humidity seems to be my kryptonite, but I’m working on it! Xmas day was a bit better. The class was packed and the room was like a swimming pool. The teacher  lowered the room temperature in some way as to balance the humidity and it seemed to work. I learned humidity without the heat is easier to manage (although not easy). Last on Sunday, class was not crowded. I walked in and saw the room temperature was over 120 degrees. Lord have mercy. I was going to tell the front desk but honestly didn’t want to use the energy to climb up and down the steps. Plus I figured the teacher would manage. In this case, I found it hotter than humid, which is personally easier for me to manage. The teacher didn’t open the windows or doors until late in the class, which was sort of surprising, but she did turn on fans. I was managing ok and then looked around and saw at least 1/2 the class sitting down. I have mixed feelings about all this. I figure on some level, it’s all challenges and you deal with them the best you can. On another level, I feel like teachers or studio managers should be on top of these things better so it doesn’t get to the point where half the class is down and out. Especially when the class is crowded, creating even more heat! On balance, as rough as those classes were, I’m glad to have gotten them in, glad that I was able to participate in the vast majority of poses, and glad that my year is ending well.

Namaste.

The Highs and Lows of Class

I had one of my humid classes on Sunday evening that i’m still recovering from. Then I took a Monday night spin class, which seemed to make my early Tues am yoga class a little rougher (dehydrated? tired muscles? not sure)… So, I could tell this was not going to be one of my best all time classes. That’s ok. It’s all part of the grind. I sat out one set of triangle, but more than that, I could tell I just “didn’t have it.” It’s hard to give 100% or your best everyday, but I did keep trying. I find there’s a general rhythm to class in general…stuff and achy through the warm up. For me on the hardest periods is balancing and getting through the long 60 second postures, right into triangle… half way through class and usually where I’m the weariest (like today). I can usually manage to stay strong through the remainder of the standing series, although there have been times toe stand is extremely taxing.

After savassana, I’m usually good until locust when my elbows revolt and don’t want to stay straight or under my body. Airplane is usually a hot mess and seated bow is the hardest but I try. For me, I then see two “break” postures… I like them both because I can breathe easily… fixed firm and tortoise. I have issues with each but I find them energizing. But then the party is quickly over as camel takes over and I try to keep my cool. Usually I feel dizzy. I made it to rabbit, and so far my head does not touch my knees. Working on it…

After rabbit, I know I have stretching and more sit ups, but I’m almost always able to finish class. I tend to divide the class in my mind this way … warm up over, almost done with balancing series, oh good, triangle done-class half over… etc. Strange the way we (or at least) I need to send myself progress messages. I’m my own cheerleader!

How are your classes coming along?

The Window and the Door

I like hot yoga but I don’t like so hot I can’t breathe yoga, or super humid yoga. For some reason,  NY studios are extremely humid. At least that’s what a lot of visitors to our studios tells me. It can make a good class a bad one in a blink. My salvation in these moments is when the teachers open the door or the windows a crack to let in fresh air. It’s usually for a few seconds, but generally enough to give me a second wind.

In class today I was trudging along. Doing all the postures but not feeling a lot of energy. This usually hits around triangle, when my arms just don’t want to move.  During savasanna, the teacher opened the windows a bit and that gave me the extra oomph to finish as strongly as I could.

Some people complain when the windows get opened, but most don’t. Some teachers rarely open the windows at all, while others make it more common. I take classes with teachers of all stripes but when the room is super humid, I find cracking open the window is definitely a big help.

How about you?

Namaste

 

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It’s Your Yoga

My teacher made a comment she’s made before but it stuck with me this time… “This is your class. This is your yoga.” It’s a freeing thought. When I compare myself to others who are more flexible, graceful, stronger, it can be frustrating, disappointing and intimidating. Of course, this is not just true for yoga, but when you compare yourself with the prettiest woman in the room, the smartest, etc. you’re probably not going to be too thrilled with the comparison (In fairness, I can hold my own on smarts 🙂

It’s my yoga. I am only comparing myself to myself. It doesn’t matter if I need to drop 20 lbs (I do), how old I am, how feeble some of my poses may look,how my yoga shirt bunches around my belly creating a lovely ring of fat…  what matters is me and my effort.

It helps remind me that I can only improve. Granted at a pace slower than I might like, but improve nonetheless. I’ve been going to class for  18 months now. I can now grab my hands under my leg for the beginning of standing head to knee. Can’t get my hands clasped, but that’s next. (I realize some people can do this on day one, but in my yoga, I’m only concerned with me). I can do the full expression of fixed firm, I can get into toe stand, but can’t balance yet, I can get one forehead to knee and one nose to knee in separate standing head to knee… all progress.

I encourage you to look back at your yoga year so far yogis and realize what you’ve accomplished. You may since slipped since that highpoint, but that moment is still yours and you own it. I am thankful for my practice. How about you?

 

Namaste

Fidgeting

I consider myself a conscientious yogi. I try to sit quietly when I need to take a break, I don’t drink water between postures, don’t make noise, don’t put my mat down in front of others, don’t leave class early, try to smile when the teachers says to…etc. etc.  One of the things that often comes up in class is not to fidget. While I’ve seen people constantly tugging at something, fixing their towels, I don’t. I do however, occasionally adjust my hair, my shirt or my towel. And, to be honest, this is the least of my concerns. The only real concern I have is I don’t want to take too long and limit my savassana in any way shape or form. I understand this is part of the process of control, mastering discomfort and focusing, perhaps I’m just at a different level. I’m happy to give it my all in class, and if I need to fidget a little to get comfortable, for now, I’m ok with that. Again, it’s in relative terms, I’m occasionally making adjustments. Why? Well, it’s uncomfortable when your towel completely bunches up. The postures are hard enough. Sometimes my mat moves and I can’t see or I’m in someone’s way. I move it back. I can get itchy when I’m covered in sweat, or my shirt moves and I adjust the straps. I wear a headband and sometimes I move it to stay more firmly on my head.  Would I be better off not doing these things? I’m sure I would be on some yogic plane of mastery, but for now my goals are more basic. Do as much of the class as possible, do each posture as best I can and get to class regularly. Fidgeting ranks much, much lower.

Namaste

 

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You are where you need to be

My teacher said something in class that I’ve heard before but I really heard it today as I continued to fall out of bow pose like a fish flopping around trying to get back into water.  TRUST THE PROCESS. YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. She went on to say, some days we got it, some days we don’t. Some days we get frustrated, some days we’re giddy with progress. Some poses haunt us, while some come easier. It’s the same you in all cases so what’s different? The intangible, ineffable, unknowable, that’s what. We have to trust the process and believe whatever we’re doing, that’s simply what we need to do.  I remember thinking this 100 years ago when I went to a Weight Watchers meeting. They are positive and practical and know they have a formula that works (for many), so I remember leaving the meeting thinking, “If I just follow the program, it will work.” Well, of course, Weight Watchers didn’t work for me, but the point is the same 🙂

Do I wish I was more flexible? Had less injuries? Was taller, thinner and a dancer? Sure. But this is what I’ve got and I have to believe that I will get better, stronger, more flexible and better balanced. How much better? I’m not entirely sure if that’s up to me completely or your build, physical form and constitution play a role, but I do know I’ll get better.

I believe if you go to class (after class) and trust the process, all good things will come.

 

Namaste.

 

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Payback

So, I have missed classed the last 2 weeks. That’s the longest stretch I’ve had since I started Bikram yoga in May 2014.  Work was extremely hectic and I put in super long hours. I basically got home, ate, went to bad and woke up and went to work. Repeat. I even worked on the weekends. Needless to say, glad that hectic period is over. My fatigue also kicked on (not surprisingly with that schedule) so I basically collapsed all weekend and managed a spin class Monday.

Knowing I had to get back to yoga, yet dreading what 2 weeks away might bring, I was hemming and hawing all day. I told my husband I was too tired, I was looking for excuses to drag this out more (why, I’m not sure as I know that would only make it worse)

I luckily know the machinations and meshugas of my mind, so I ignored it and went to class. When I walked into the studio, they greeted me by name and I already felt where I belong. Preparing for the worst,  I told the teacher I hadn’t been too class in a little bit. She didn’t look too concerned. I did buy and add the Replenish packet into my water bottle–hey, trying to stack all the odds in my favor.

During pranayama breathing I did have pangs of “I don’t want to be here.” Luckily they passed. I made it through class and I actually did ok. I feared I’d back track much more. Sure, I was a little stiffer, my harder poses were a little harder still (hello seated bow), but not terrible. I didn’t regress as much as I feared. I made it through class.  I did it. Back in the saddle. The hot room. The torture chamber.

I feel stiff and achy and I expect the next class may be more painful.

Your practice, like mine, doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect. My advice: go to class! Sometimes yoga is just showing up and being in the room. That is all.

Namaste.