Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On A Mat and a Prayer

Sometimes, I'm a fucking genius.

It really is true when they say that necessity is the mother of invention. I brought a small side table in next to the bathtub today, so that I can successfully enjoy a glass of red wine and sink into blissfully hot water after a stressful day, and seek deeper into a yogi mindset and quiet reflection - all made a little easier by the Hindi music I have playing in the background (thank you, YouTube!)

I feel like my practice has grown and deepened in leaps and bounds in the last month or so, and it has transferred over to my personal life as well. I have to give credit where credit is due. I absolutely adore my teachers at Bikram Yoga Red Deer and I've fallen a little bit in love with most of them - not the romantic type of love that most of us are familiar with, but a more Universal Love that comes from sharing their energy in the hot room, connecting with their words physically and emotionally as they guide you through your practice and each being a partner in the cosmic yoga dance.

There's Ricki, a guest teacher who comes fairly regularly from Edmonton to teach. His mantra seems to be that "slower is better." It's hard to argue against that. On a physical level, your body is objecting quite loudly when you hold a posture a few seconds longer, rise a little higher, twist a little further, pull a little tighter, and breath a little deeper. You will always learn something new in Ricki's class and I've always gotten really great corrections in his classes.

Sidenote: Corrections are amazing. Never feel bad for getting a correction or an adjustment in a posture. They're just a vocalization of the teachers confidence in you when they ask you to do something. Oftentimes, they have more faith in your abilities and potential than you do. They're usually right.

Trust them.

Trust the process.

Ricki also teaches other styles of yoga as well, and an Advanced Class for Bikram Yoga as well. I've caught  glimpses of the advanced class and while it looks difficult, the smiling happy faces after class are the best indication that the heat and the sweat are worth it. I've been seriously considering signing up for competition training as well, not only because I want to be a part of the advanced classes but I know it would benefit my regular practice, andI think it would be an amazing personal accomplishment. Everyone has International Yoga Champion potential - which I've only recently come to realize - and it's been on my mind ever since. The only thing really holding me back from signing up is fear.

Fear is the enemy.

Fuck you, fear.

And since we're throwing around f-bombs here, I cannot express to you how fucking important it is to LOCK.YOUR.FUCKING.KNEE. in class. Almost every single posture in the standing series requires a locked knee and if you cheat yourself - even just a little bit - then it's that much harder to maintain the posture when you realize you have to go back and relearn how to do the posture correctly.

Trust me.

I know.

I had a private class with Adam - another glorious soul full of light and love - and some postures like Standing Bow, Tree, and Standing Head to Knee, I have to relearn all over again because I was cheating this whole time ( a year!!) and was bending my knee. If you bend your knee, even just a little little bit .. your cheating yourself out of all the medical benefits of the posture. I think I spent more time falling out of postures during my private class than I did holding them. You can cheat at work, you can cheat on your diet, but you absolutely 100% cannot cheat your yoga.

Sidenote: Falling out of a posture is actually good news! Even though you might find it difficult and frustrating, it means that you are learning the right way to do the posture You're finding the edge for your own body, learning how to counterbalance, how to redistribute your body weight ... all sorts of wonderful things are happening when you fall out.

The struggle is real.

The struggle is important.

It'll be over soon.

Trust the process. Trust yourself. Trust your body.

If you haven't taken a private class yet, I can't encourage you enough to take one. It's an amazing way to really connect with the dialogue and get really great corrections that are meant just for you. They'll help you understand how your body moves, how it works, even different emotional benefits of the postures. Camel has been mildly terrifying for me lately -  we all have emotional garbage we hold on to and it varies in degrees from one person to the next. I know that for me, personally ... this year has been ... difficult and I know I'm holding on to emotions because I can feel them. They're really clouding up my Heart Chakra. I never thought you could physically feel emotions in your body - I mean we all get mad or upset, but once it's over it's over ... right? Not so! Unless you find a way to release and "let go" of whatever you are feeling, then your body hangs on to that feeling.

I'm still learning how to let go - which is tough. But Camel Pose (and back bends in general) are amazing for helping release the emotions you've got stored up in your body. All good things are coming in back bends. It might feel a little overwhelming at the time your backbending, but the energetic, physical, and emotional release you feel once you come out of the posture is worth every.single.second.

So, like I said ... Camel has been hard. Scary. Terrifying. But Adam gave me really great advice, and I'm going to share it with you in the hopes that you might be able to use it as well. And it might help you even more if you are a fan of superheros.

Specifically Batman.

Think of your heart ... as your very own personal Bat Signal. Your heart is big bright light, shining out in to the world, trying to spread the light and love within you. The more you backbend, or the deeper you can safely, and comfortably, move in to a backbend, the stronger and brighter your light becomes.

Just try not to yell out in class that you're Batman.

Unless you are.

In which case, go for it!

Let your light shine.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Yoga and The Power of Now

Sometimes ... well ... most times, the Universe really knows what it's doing.

This last year of my life has been amazing. I've met so many amazing, wonderful, kind, inspiring people that I am truly humbled. I'm not one to preach, but how much and how deeply yoga has affected me sometimes leaves me at a loss for words.

This is not one of those times.

The teachers at my studio are boundless, endless, fountains of love, encouragement, and grace. Everyone has a story of how yoga came in to their life, and the love they have for yoga and their practice just really shines through. And while they push their students to be better, and stronger, they also encourage us to act with love and kindness to ourselves, to be still and just let whatever you happen to be feeling at the time simply ... move through you.

Yoga isn't always easy - in fact, I think if yoga IS easy .. you're not doing it right. Yoga should challenge you. It should challenge your strength, your flexibility; it should challenge your perceptions of yourself, of others, of the world around you.

I've been struggling with Half Moon Pose lately. It was difficult, and it was amazing how the teachers shared in that struggle with me ... and after about a month of really, really struggling with the left side of Half Moon, I finally.fucking.NAILED. it! And the teacher noticed and celebrated in my victory! The same teacher who would stand on the podium, and stare directly at me, hands on his knees, and tell me to "come down and push, come down and push, come down and push!" It astounds me when people see something in me that I don't ... and then I'm a fuckin' rockstar when I see it too!

Learning to be present is probably the biggest challenge. But I'm learning.

Every class is different.

But, I decided to do something about it. I recently bought The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and while some of it is a little confusing, other parts of it fit so perfectly with yoga philosophy it's astounding,

"Love, joy, and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance ... love, joy, and peace are deep states of Being, or rather three aspects of the state of inner connectedness with Being. As such they have no opposite." - pg 29

"... the present moment is all you ever have." - pg 35

"Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it," - pg 35

"Stay present, stay conscious. Be the ever-alert guardian of your inner space." - pg 40