Category Archives: yoga

Authenticity

Standard

Teacher training is underway and I love it! All yoga all the time? Sounds good to me!

I’m a pragmatic student too. I want to be good, I have some anxiety about doing enough to pass and teaching “well enough” to stand in front of other people, but on the whole I want to do “enough” and not “perfect”.

My first practice teaching – to four other trainees and three trainers – went pretty well. I’m not a natural speaker and I get nervous, but I worked hard and knew the sequence and cues well. We only got brief feedback so I asked for more. And I’m glad I did!

Generally it was good. But the piece of advice I found most interesting was: be more authentic.

I get this. My voice sounded nervous. It’s true that I didn’t sound like myself. I want to sound like myself! I want to feel less nervous and more confident. I think this feedback is great because there is this sort of vague quality of authenticity that I can build and work on.

All that said… I was teaching to a room of people who already knew the “intro to yoga” sequence, including three teachers. My inflection raised like a question at some times … because I was unsure! Confidence is a good quality, but I wasn’t feeling confident! My instructions weren’t actually necessary for teacher trainees and yoga teachers.  I think it would be MORE “fake” to act as if I was teaching to real beginners … because I wasn’t!

So … was I really NOT being authentic?

I think I actually have a problem in my life being too authentic. It’s hard for me to act in a way that isn’t in line with how I feel. It’s often hard for me to conceal my emotional response, even when I would like to. If I’m upset, you will know it.  This especially! Definitely there are times when it would be better to conceal this.

I don’t want to make this comment about the feedback. Because it’s true that I could have been more “me”, more confident, less unsure. And I will work towards that. But I think talking about “authenticity” missed the mark here. Maybe this term has taken on celebrity status, as a stand in for “all that is good”.

Authenticity is good! But it doesn’t describe every situation.

Advertisements

It’s started

Standard

I’ve started my yoga teacher training and I love it.

There are three trainers, seven trainees, two observing trainers, and the sessions are spread out over 9 weeks. It’s very organized (I love this) and focused on learning to teach an intro to power yoga class. It is still early on but it seems well rounded and focused on the things that are important to teaching a good class.

I’m pretty quiet but I’ve made an effort to participate by asking or answering questions. Interacting with people outside of the sessions seems okay as well. Although I love yoga and feel pretty comfortable with the postures in the intro sequence we are learning – I don’t love having people stare at me. I’m not 100% down on my body. I’m more okay with my body than I have been before. But it’s still hard.

So far my solution to this sort of challenge has been – just do it anyway. Get through it and it gets easier. That will probably be my approach here. Sometimes people say things like, “just don’t think about it” or “we all feel that way” … I don’t think these things are untrue completely, but I think someone who suggests just not thinking about it probably has not had similar struggles with body image and is not able to understand how deeply this stuff affects people.

I’m curious if anyone who has had similar body image struggles has advice or stories to share on this.

Mirror, Mirror

Standard

So, yeah, I hate them.

I started practicing yoga in a super cheap gym. I found a few amazing teachers and got hooked. Classes took place in the “group exercise” room, which had mirrors on two walls. I didn’t mind at first.  I also didn’t wear yoga clothes for a few months. Then I did but I was so used to the mirrors that they didn’t distract me.

Then I started practicing at studios, most of which chose not to have mirrors. And I agree with their reasons. We focus on outward appearance to the detriment of so many other things in our society … not being able to SEE how your body looks in a pose makes you focus more on how your body FEELS the pose … I have had some pretty big body image issues and I think it helps me to avoid mirrors.

Now, though, after a mirror-free period of several years – they are back. I practice in a place with mirrors and am committed to practicing there for at least a few more months. I chose this location and stand by my choice.

Still, the mirrors. I let myself get distracted by them. I look and look and hope I look thin rather than too large. I position myself in certain ways because of how I look, not because I am thinking about alignment. “Stop that” is easier said than done. It sounds like vanity…but vanity is a choice. Lots and lots of people have judged me – and others who are not or were not “thin enough” – negatively. That wasn’t my choice, but it affects how I feel now.

Mirrors can be helpful for alignment. It’s really, really hard for me to tell if my hips are squared forward in Warrior 1 or revolved crescent. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to get used to mirrors so much that they no longer matter. I’m just not there yet.

But where I am is: even though I don’t like the mirrors, I go practice at this place for the reasons I have. I wear the same yoga clothes. I see myself in a way I perceive as unflattering, and this is unpleasant for me, but I can let go of that thought and not let it ruin my day. Five years ago, I would have given up. This isn’t 100% where I want to be, but it is progress.

Zero tips for a better meditation practice

Standard
This clever title is meant to imply that I struggle to maintain a meditation practice. It seems pleasant enough when I manage to do it, particularly when it’s on a regular basis. But I struggle. I miss days. I don’t always feel benefits right away. I think if I did, I would just do it without complaint, the same way I started going to millions of power vinyasa yoga classes – not out of some abstract sense of discipline, but because I felt great.
All kidding aside, here are some things that help me:
getting rid of judgement. I have plenty of thoughts. I do not always sit with a straight spine… I sit however is really, really comfortable for me. I sometimes open my eyes to look at my timer midway through! I can recognize that these things are not ideal, but if I expect to be prefect I will give up when I fall short.
keeping it to a relatively short time. Eight minutes is my max.
fitting it into my day. I sometimes have a 30-45 minute gap in my work schedule mid-afternoon, too late for lunch, and not really long enough to run an errand or whatever. Eight minutes of meditation is really nice here.
I’ve had yoga teachers and yogis highly recommend meditation or other forms of mindfulness throughout my life. In my experience there is a lot attached to this when it comes up in yoga. Having a therapist suggest it, in many forms including while walking, is what set me on my most recent kick.
Do you have a meditation practice? What has helped or inspired you?

Let Gravity Do The Work

Standard

I’m not good at this. Why? Gravity isn’t good at this!

My teacher said this in a supine twist the other day. I like to hold/pull by knee towards the floor in this pose right before savasana. It’s not important to me to reach the floor, but it is important to me to feel a twist! Gravity isn’t giving me that feeling, in this pose, and when I don’t have my hand on my knee, I find my leg just kind of uncomfortably hovering. I wind up engaging some muscle just to avoid discomfort, and I think this is not the intention of the pose either. Putting a block under my knee would remove any possibility of a twist at all.

My mind in its extreme thinking also says, “If I let gravity do the work, I’d be a gigantic blob on the floor all day long!”

Finding moderation with life’s “gravity” is challenging for me. I HAVE TO push a bit. I have to make decisions and live my life. I can’t just wait for things to happen. How much is too much initiative from me? Push too much, and I wind up in situations that really weren’t meant to be, or which are basically set up to fail … they have only evolved thanks to my initiative, but not organically. And I believe the same thing on other topics, for other people – in relationships and even things like aid projects. Obviously finding a balance is important, but how do you know?

This is something I struggle with.

It’s time: yoga teacher training

Standard

I haven’t blogged here for a while! Today I am making the deposit for a yoga teacher training program. The next natural step for Coffee n Yoga, of course!

I thought about making a long list of the reasons why it is the right decision. In some ways that helps me validate my own choice. But I’m not going to. Yoga has had a tremendous positive impact on my life, I’d like to share it with others (particularly underserved folks who couldn’t otherwise have access), and I have the skills to do it.

I will also just enjoy the training.

Renewing

Standard

I haven’t run more than 3 miles since my half marathon in mid-March, and it feels great.  I now go to yoga or run on any given day – but not both. I haven’t ballooned up four size or anything and in fact I fit into jeans I couldn’t before. Having a more normal activity level makes me less hungry in general. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is!

I’m moving halfway across the country next week. I am nervous but also excited about the opportunity to renew in this way too. It’s not a new year, but it seems like a good time for some resolutions:

– I will try to love my body as it is. I don’t want to need a number to feel okay, but I may need it to start. A size 6 or 8 at 5’5″ tall is thin enough. No one is perfect.

– I will be mindful of the time I dedicate to yoga and running in relation to other activities, and so I am doing these healthy, beneficial activities for their own sake, and not compulsively.

– I will pause before reacting strongly in words or actions. I will keep trying, because “failures” or “rejections” are not about me personally.

– I will be mindful that loving myself is important before I can accept the love of others.

– I will go ahead and do things, without waiting to be perfect, or to be perfectly prepared. I am ready now.

– I will take advantage of LOTS of new student deals at yoga studios before enrolling in a monthly unlimited pass because I love the first studio I attend.