Monday, March 19, 2012

Finding Santosha

It seems that pregnancy hormones plus increased time in asana practice have contributed to an issue in my left sacroiliac joint.  Apparently it is not uncommon for pregnant women to develop an issue here, and in fact last pregnancy I had the problem on the right side- but didn't know then what it was.  So this week, I spent a lot of time researching SI fixes/modifications/contraindications, and have spent some time making peace with the fact that I may, really, have to take it easy for a while.  I attended a Gentle Yoga and Meditation class and still managed to push too far- at the end of the class I was twinging and wincing with the pain in the joint.  The next class I attended was a basic Yoga 1.  I made the teacher aware of my issues and she gave me some really good tips on poses to do (utkatasana against a wall) and tips to keep the pelvis stabilized.  I still have a lot of questions about dealing with SI issues:  Do balancing poses such as Warrior 3 work to improve stabilization of SI and pelvis through strengthening the muscles around the joint?  How do internally-rotated femur forward bends, such as wide-legged forward bend, effect SI troubles- for better or worse?  I've been on my bike a lot, is that helpful or harmful?  I know the ultimate answer is that if I have questions or doubts, hold back and respect the body's limits.  And be content with where I am and what I'm able to do, right here, right now.  

There's me!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Energy Stirring

Hallelujah, I'm back in business!  Ebbing nausea, rising energy levels and a pain-free mouth led to a good week of home practice, class attendance, and self-study (svadhyaya was this week's fridge flashcard).  Began with an evening gentle yoga and meditation class by one of my favorite teachers.  I admire her ability to tailor her classes to suit her students' needs- every time, she asks the class if anyone has any areas they'd like to focus on, which they invariably do, and she manages to effortlessly incorporate these foci into her flow.  For the meditation she had us do a "bumble-bee" breathing technique which involved the class making loooong, slow "humming" sounds on our exhales.  The effect of sound and vibration from the constant, flowing hum of a dozen people, breathing in their own rythym, was hypnotic.  She ended the class by using her crystal singing bowls during savasana, which I greatly enjoyed, they seem to put me in an energy-charged trance.

The other class I attended this week couldn't be further from the gentle yoga and mediation class.  Oh, Mommy and Me yoga, I always come to you with such high hopes... I should really adjust my expectations, because if the baby isn't cooperating, then it makes me more tense than I was before I came in!  I do enjoy the instructor, she makes an effort to know everyone's names, and manages to guide the moms, wrangle the babies, keep everyone safe and still exude an aura of happy relaxation.  Girl's got skills.

Home practice is evolving in tandem with P's nap schedule.  My previously peaceful morning baby nap hour may soon be history.  A couple times this week I went ahead and did a short practice while P played around, and sometimes on, me.  It was actually pleasant, he seems to enjoy mommy doing all these funny moves, and while I can't always maintain my focus it's darn good practice.  Additionally my dear husband has consented to be guinea pig with my cueing and homework assignments, and he actually did an evening asana session with me tonight!  I hope he'll continue to enjoy yoga with me and want to take part, it's incredibly helpful for me to have to go slow, break things down and respect that he's coming at this as a newbie.  If you read this, I love you honey, thank you for supporting me!

Spring IS coming, I can feel it!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Body Says No

Practice has been hindered by continued overwhelming fatigue and nausea.  I did manage to attend a prenatal yoga class in the new Shining Light Prenatal Center in Lawrenceville, which I've been wanting to visit for a while, and the space was lovely.  The teacher had a strong leaning to the kundalini style, which isn't always my cup of tea but the chants and energy seemed to fit well with the prenatal aspect.  I was actually the only student there, so I got a little extra attention which was nice.  I came in to the class all flustered and frustrated, I was late and had had a challenging morning with husband and child, but managed to find the peace and centering I needed and ended up in tears, again!  The pregnancy combined with the opening tendencies of yoga leave me amazingly sensitive.  Unfortunately, I did again experience a few strong waves of nausea during the class.  Some of the deep breathing, plus cat/cow exercises (?) seem to trigger the nausea.  I'm hoping that this period of fatigue and nausea will pass soon and I can get back to business (other areas of life besides yoga are being effected as well- my house is a total mess and my poor child is sadly neglected!), but the body rules here and I surrender.  

That's what I'm talking about!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lessons and Teachers

This week's practice has been widely varied and unexpected.  Most notably, I had two trips to the dentist for some major work and discovered that the application of yoga is extraordinarily beneficial to these types of challenging circumstances!  During one session I had five fillings done.  This called for a sustained stretching open of my mouth for about twenty minutes longer than was comfortable.  My jaw was shaking with the effort, not unlike when I attempt to hold a challenging asana past my comfort level.  What comes to mind is quote about the real yoga starting once things get challenging.  This certainly was the case!  I took the time of the procedure to concentrate on my breathing and on pratyahara, a withdrawing of the senses, as the sound of the drill and the smell of my pulverized tooth particles were sensations I was only too happy to recede from.  I continually scanned my body, finding spots of tension and releasing them.  I turned my focus inward on a repeated mantra.  Overall I think the experience was damn near positive.  :)

More traditional practice included classes from two new teachers and one new studio.  The first class was with Linda at Schoolhouse Yoga's Squirrel Hill studio.  Linda began the class with a reading from Rumi that especially struck home with me, as I had been struggling that day with having had my temper tested and reacting in a way that was not indicative of the person I wish to be.  Linda's teaching was fantastic to observe- she obviously had a good, trusting relationship with many regulars in the class.  A couple of times she diverted the class from the general flow to take the time to discuss and explore some of the poses.  This had the effect of interrupting the body/mind focus, but also provided some good information.  It felt like she was really using the class as time to give instruction that people could take with them into their home practice.  A challenging part of this class for me, was the pervasive smell of moth balls combined with my first trimester nausea.  I very nearly had to run to the restroom at the back of the studio to vomit, but luckily sitting in childs pose and focusing on steady breathing kept me from that, which would surely have been unpleasant for the others to hear!  Linda ended the class with a repeated reading of the Rumi quote, and I was surprised to find that it made me cry.  I've heard that some people cry during yoga practice, from the release of emotions and tensions, but had never experienced this myself.

The other class I visited was Lunchtime Yoga at Yoga Hive, taught by Michael.  I enjoyed this studio environment and in particular Michael's cuing voice and pace.  He definitely challenged the class ( I was literally dripping sweat by the end), but did so in a way that was inviting and non-judgmental.  Special attention was given to proper alignment techniques and care of the lower back.  A bonus point for me was that Michael is a doppelganger of one of my best friends, so I instantly felt an affinity to him.  Funny the things that endear us to certain people and teachers!

Also this week I implemented Joann's idea for yama/niyama cards and will feature one a week on my fridge and try to focus on bringing that yama/niyama into my life during that time.  This week is santosha, and I think just by virtue of having it always with me in the back of my mind, the moments of the day are a little richer and more appreciated.  I feel calm and at peace.

With the returning sun comes my renewed energy and passion for the study of yoga.

The quote Linda read:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Plague x3

This week's practice had some major setbacks.  Only got two home sessions in and had to miss Teacher Training.  Was hit with a nasty cold, painful tooth infection, and all-day morning sickness. Clayton got the cold too, and my poor mother visiting from Montana got the stomach virus that hit us a couple weeks ago.  What a mess we all were.  Luckily the baby stayed well- I don't know how he does it, but I'm eternally grateful.

With all of this happening I've fallen a bit behind in the readings for class, but have begun to catch up and reinstate the schedule that had been developing.  Hoping to get a chance to meet with Jen to cover what I missed in class.

If husband is home early enough, and I feel well enough, hoping to get to the Gentle Yoga and Meditation class tonight.  This experience has left me wondering, when one is ill, is it best to rest or to continue with practice?  As a teacher, if I notice that a student is ill, what recommendations or specific pranayama/asanas could be useful?  Yoga for decongestion?  Yoga for morning sickness?  Yoga for rotten teeth?

Tomorrow's root canal will be a great time to practice pratyahara.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This week's practice included home practice and a new class, Mommy and Me.  Mommy and Me is yoga with babies and is as tumultuous as one would expect, but fun and a good way to connect with the little one.  Paxson had a great time and was uncharacteristically touchy with all the strangers, much to my chagrin.  The teacher, Jen, did a fantastic job of cueing the class while wrangling babies.  Home practice included podcasts and a session of self-guided flow, which went surprisingly well and had a whole different feel than a taught class or planned sequence.  Beginning to feel confident enough in my repertoire of asanas that I don't worry I'll get stuck wondering what to do next.  Missed practice Wednesday and Friday, spent that time napping instead.  Was wondering why I was so tired all the time- found out that we're expecting baby number 2!  A bit apprehensive as to how this pregnancy will affect my teacher training, but obviously all I can do is ride the wave where it takes me, and try to take advantage of this quirk in my learning process and the unique perspective into potential prenatal teaching that it will give me.

TT class today included my favorite yoga subjects, the yamas and niyamas.  Really liked Joann's idea of focusing on one per week, incorporating it into life, practice and teaching.  We also did breath work, had some breakthroughs during full diaphragmatic breathing- at one point felt like I was breathing through my ears and into the back of my brain.  Good stuff.

Am content with my current yoga reading homework schedule, been reading a bit daily and that seems to help me from feeling overwhelmed while simultaneously keeping the lessons and subjects fresh in my mind.  All in all, very happy with where I am in teacher training, and life.  :)

Life does not become easier; we become easier with life just as it is…
Donna Farhi in Bringing Yoga to Lifeon what the practice of yoga can do for us

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Easing In

This week's practices included Joni's Gentle Yoga and Meditation and various home practices.  Inclement weather cancelled the Ashtanga class I'd been hoping to take, so I added another home Budokon practice.

Joni's class was the first class I took as an official "teacher trainee".  Chatted with a girl who was maybe 22, very new to yoga, and it really brought back some perspective on the concerns and mindset of folks for whom all this breathing and bending is new and kinda funny.  Joni incorporated some Qigong energy releasing practices that I thought were quite effective.  I believe that class had major positive effect on me, as that night I had a terrible night's sleep (baby up every hour), but still felt calm and happy the next day.  I'm very interested in continuing to explore meditation and its effects on my psychology.

Home practices are beginning to feel too short at around 25 minutes, although I am thankful that I'm able to get them in all while the baby's napping.  Practiced every day but Friday.

Read an interesting article in Yoga Journal about "the shadow".  Felt timely, as with my increased practice and attempts at greater consciousness have come unexpected waves of the darker aspects of my personality.  Thinking maybe the practice is releasing them, and I have to let them out somehow- sort of how when you get a deep tissue massage it can release stored toxins and make you feel ill?

This week also brought frequent thoughts of acting in saucha- found myself wanting to clean the house.

Appreciating today- inclement weather messed up my plans, but that just opened the door to this happiness: