Exploring Self Through Yoga

GingerIf you have ever been to a yoga class you have probably heard your teacher say “listen to your body” or “pay attention to your breath” or “honour your body” or something of the like.  To be honest when I first started participating I had no idea what these nutty teachers were talking about.  Listen to what? who? where?  I was so focused on looking the way everyone else looked or figuring out how to do one of those crazy push-ups (chaturanga) to realize that I had no idea how to listen to my body.

I approached yoga like I approached my running. Grin and bear it to get to the end! Initially it was more important to make it through a class and get a good sweat on than it was to pay attention to any of those “fluffy” things my teacher was saying. I mean really how do you  “listen” to a body anyways it can’t say anything.  Then one day it happened I heard it! I was doing my best at forcing my body into some crazy hand balance pose (Bakasana or crow) when I realized I full on wasn’t breathing. I was holding everything in so tight that I didn’t realize it was this misdirection of effort that was continuously knocking me out of the pose. I wasn’t listening to my body!

Many years later I began teaching yoga myself. I would find myself giving the same direction about listening to your body and your breath, while encouraging my students to find their personal edge.  Then it occurred to me…do they have any idea what it feels like to listen to their body? do they know what I mean when I say “find your edge”? or are they doing the exact same thing I was doing trying to do…win at yoga?

It was through this realization that I allowed me to modify my queuing, and *fingers crossed* this has helped my students. Yoga has afforded me the opportunity to not only explore through my solo practice but I have also been given the gift of teaching others and learning through their experience, breath and postures.  It is during these times of exploration and learning that I have found yoga to open me up to exploring alternative ways of absorbing new material and allows me to actually understand what my body is saying.

Now after that huge lead up…time to explain what I mean by our bodies talking.  Through my life as a runner and a poor food choice maker (is that a thing?) my body has told me things weren’t right but providing me with achy knees, eczema, a sore stomach, irritated bowels, and now you probably know more about me than you probably ever wanted to.  It was by not listening to these discomforts that I drove myself down deeper into this spiral of pain and unpleasantness. However, not sure if you are or ever have been on one of these spirals, over time my body stopped telling me what it didn’t agree with (probably because I told it to shut it so much with the use of antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.).  After my body found its equilibrium again I started to feel “normal” so the next time I had some type of unpleasant flare up I once again blamed it on my body instead of what I was doing to my body.

How did yoga help with this? It gave me one single second.  It gave me a second here or there to just sit with my body.  It gave me the opportunity to learn that pain isn’t some type of punishment that my body is dealing out, but it is more like a memo. Once I was able to start slowing down, getting out of the mind set of winning at yoga I was able to listen.  Now, please don’t be mistaken, I am still a fairly competitive person (and in the worst way…you know one of those people that says they aren’t competitive but are) but I respect that part of me and use it to motivate me but understand that it isn’t always the right voice to listen to all the time.

So what, right? Who cares if I can understand what is up right? Well for one really care.  It is awesome to know that when my stomach acts up I should probably lay off the dairy or that when my yoga teacher is telling us to push deeper but listen to our breath I know what my breath should sound like for me.  It is awesome and empowering to know that achy knees means I need to build strength, that low energy means I should check how many veggies I am eating, that moving deeper into a pose might be right for some but it’s not right for me.  Yoga has taught me how to use those precious seconds in my life to learn a little bit more about myself and what my body needs.

So next time your yoga teacher says listen to your breath or your body use those seconds to listen and hear what your body is throwing your way, and then ride the wave of the positive benefits of the new connection.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

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Yoga In the Tropics

I know I have done some scattered reporting out on how my time was in Costa Rica and how yoga and such was, but I figured it might be fun to give a bit more detailed breakdown of how the month actually went.

Firstly, I went into this training not knowing much more than the information offered on the webpage and from reviews I found online. I had researched a load to find a school somewhere warm, accredited by the Yoga Alliance, somewhere different (not Canada) and somewhere that would feel like an adventure. I ended up narrowing my choice down to three schools and then the Nosara Yoga Institute (NYI) won out because of when the class was offered.
20131108-153430.jpgI mean in retrospect maybe picking a school because it was “conveniently timed” wasn’t the greatest way to go but it really worked out well for me.  I mean yes I knew I would be learning vinyasa style yoga and some restorative style yoga and that was attractive but really the selling point for me were the dates the program was offered.  Once I arrived at the school I found out that a lot of people had been referred by their teachers or had heard of NYI from fellow yogis and I felt a little silly thinking “well November just worked best for me” but it was all apart of my adventure.

So school, school was crazy.  I mean the course was called a 200 hour intensive and we all quickly found out it was called that for a reason.  The school had posted an idea of what the schedule would be like online and although the actual program was fairly similar I don’t think I really understood what it would be like until I got there and started practicing.   School was 7 days a week, with a bit more of a break on Sundays, but there was learning every day regardless.
20131117-084812.jpgThere was a LOT of learning, a load of stretching, listening, practicing, teaching and it was all hands-on.  The teachers were amazingly receptive to how exhausted each of us probably felt, and they were so supportive and encouraging of each and every yogis.

photo 3 (2)When I first signed up for NYI I figured that learning a powerful style of yoga and a more restorative style would be a great well rounded way of learning (and it was) but mostly I found it so necessary.  With all of the movement and practice we were doing, I found that the restorative lessons and classes were a welcomed release, this is coming from someone that would normally pick a power class over a yin class any day.   The balance between heart pumping challenging classes and lay on your mat and stretch it all out classes was perfect for learning and for the body, in my experience at least.

Beside the actual in class learning and moving there was our massive course pack, that book was so gigantic yet luckily there were many pictures and diagrams to help the reading go a bit quicker.  The information provided in the book was always explored in class and was generally expanded on.  I am happy to have my manual to take home and borrow ideas from while I start working on class programs of my own.

All in all I would say I am more than happy with the school and program I ended up choosing for my 200 hour yoga teacher training.   The whole experience was eye opening, enlightening and probably most useful of all gave me so many tools on how to manage stress once I came back to my real life outside of the jungle.  Although, I may have picked the school based on timing convenience I am so happy I went in with no major expectation other than “I am going to learn how to teach yoga” it gave me a chance to just experience everything instead of assessing everything and judging the experience based on expectations.

The program was excellent but the whole experience was also pretty fabulous. I feel it gave me the chance to not only deepen my practice but to get back in touch with myself, be silly and to feel the pride that comes with completing something that means so much to you.  It also gave me the chance to meet so many amazing people and start to plan my next adventure to go and see my new friends.

20131217-230913.jpg20131217-230935.jpgHappy Wednesday everyone!  Stay tuned I will have one more round up post from my time spent in Costa Rica, detailing my time spent as a tourist.

Stay warm!

Home Stretch

So I am sliding into home plate. Wednesday afternoon marked the first yoga class I ever taught and it was a fantastic experience.

20131128-102206.jpgStomach full of butterflies, dressed in my favorite yoga clothing (some of the items gifts from my wonderful friends) I pumped out some jams by Pitbull to psyche myself up and prepared myself to lead a 90 minute class.

20131128-101345.jpgAs my students/group mates slowly started to line into the studio my heart began to race and it took everything in me to remember to just breath.

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As everyone found their seat and began to settle in we opened the class up with a little meditation,and then got right into it a vigorous vinyasa. After about 10 minutes I forgot that I was leading the session and everything it felt as, though the class took care of itself.   It was such and amazing experience being surrounded by such supportive classmates and faculty.

Sorry for the coles notes version of my teacher experience but I am off to class, I have another two days before I am officially on vacation for a week. Once I get back to Canada I will be back tracking a bit to fill you all in on the wondrous adventures of yoga teacher training.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Let’s Get Real

Hello Dear Reader, I would like to just take a second and apologize for being so sporadic with my posts.  I had initially figured I would have so much time on my hands, I mean yes I was coming to Costa Rica for yoga teacher training and there are people to meet and places to see, but I figured I would always find some time to hunker down in front of the good ol’laptop and bang out a post here and there.  Unfortunately that is just not the way it all panned out.

The course has been much more demanding (in an awesome and amazing way) than I had initially anticipated.  By the time I get home at 9pm not only is my body completely zonked for a day of yoga, assisting and sitting with a straight back (yes not sitting in an office chair seems to be a challenge all in itself) but my brain is completely zapped as well.

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Apparently learning through your body and your brain is a challenging feat.  It is kind of surprising how much I seem to be taking in.  I have yet to have any late night panic attacks about not knowing this chakra or that mantra or this asana.  Everything seems to be sinking in, as though it is being absorbed by all facets of my body.  I guess that is what they meant by integrative learning.

At first, being the person I am, I was frustrated that I didn’t get my course pack for reading in advance of the course (I like to be ahead of the game and do solo learning).  But now that I am starting my last week of classes their method of teaching makes 100% sense. Receiving my course material ahead of time would have made the learning experience purely academic and I would have missed out on learning through my body as well as my mind.  It has been a pretty amazing experience, and unfortunately that is really the best that I can explain it, so if you have the opportunity to take a month off your regularly programmed life to head on over to Nosara to do the YTT I strongly recommend it.

Seeing how I am now entering my last week of classes I am shocked with how quickly a month can go by.  Who knew that November could actually feel like it was 5 days long?  Besides being completely shocked that we are in our last week, I also found out that I will be leading my first ever yoga class on Wednesday of this coming week.  So for the past couple days I have been trying to figure out a program and maybe some music to go with it.  I am starting to feel pretty good about what I have outlined, I just have to actually physically go through what I have thought up to make sure it works fluidly.

Well that is what is up with me, designing a yoga class, getting antsy about being in front of people as a “teacher” and getting so excited to see my husband again! And then to see my little fur babies shortly after.

beach day legs

I hope you are all able to bare with me a couple more weeks until I am able to get home and get back on a regular schedule.

xoxox

Brittany

It’s Happening!

Oh god it is happening. With less than a week and a half left of my intensive 200 hour yoga teacher training at Nosara Yoga Institute and today was the day we got our first talk about preparing and leading our first yoga class.

Although I am likely prepared to get up in front of a small group of peers and was feeling pretty great about it, until we actually started to talk about it. Isn’t that always the way it is though.

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This training has almost daily pushed me to my limits and then some of comfort. Which I mean is pretty much exactly what I signed up for I guess I just wasn’t able to conceive it being this challenging and intense.

So now the cards are all laid out on the table I guess it is time to throw a towel down on the beach and start working out a nice flow to share with my fellow yogis next week.

If anyone out there has a favorite mellow song that might go nicely with a 90 minute yoga class please do share any recommendations.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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The Rain Experience

Well, I thought I had experienced it but no no I hadn’t. Yesterday evening marked my first “storm”. I have been thinking “oh goodness will we ever have a day without rain?” And then yesterday evening happened.

I have never in my life seen such intense rain for such a prolonged period of time. It was actually quite magnificent. Just sheets and sheets of rain fell for hours, turning or roads into muddy slip and slides and our walking paths into rivers and waterfalls and anything that was dry was completely drenched. We lost power for about 40 minutes and by a stroke of luck I peaked my head outside right as my neighbours were heading up to the institute and was able to get a ride and avoid a bit of rain.

I certainly am getting used to the rain however I am not loving it. Constantly being wet and feeling like a drowned rat (whether it is caused by rain or sweat) is definitely a feeling I am becoming more comfortable with, however I am not sure if I will ever fall I love with the feeling.

Unfortunately, there was so much water involved I was not keen on taking my electronics out to take some pictures and then I became so pre-occupied with getting into dry clothing that I didn’t take a drowned rat photo either. But don’t worry I am sure there will be many more opportunities to get one.

In the meantime, here is another photo from the yoga institute.

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I hope everyone is having a lovely Monday. Especially those of you who have the day off.

First 5 Days

So apart from the exception of our evening Satsang I have just rounded up my first full “week”. I place the word week in quotations because well the week kind of never ends. We still have practice and sessions on Saturday and Sunday however there is much more free time for exploring and getting to know your classmates.
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This first week has been something else. It has been a roller coaster of emotions from extreme excitement all the way back around to “dear god what have I gotten myself into?” The best part about this is that the same things that seem to be causing the excitement also trigger the nerves.

Things like I am so grateful to be practicing yoga all day and just getting to focus on my practice makes me so happy, but then it is time to put it to practice and instruct a partner and I am all of a sudden sweating more than I was while doing the actual moves.

Or having the amazig opportunity to be living in the jungle and feeling so fortunate and then remebering the scorpion that wanted in the house.

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I know he is small but we don’t have these terrifying beasts in Canada.

However all of these ups and downs are helping to learn to choose how I focus on things. I could be miserable for the next month because a scorpion might present him/her self on my deck again, or I can be elated that the sun is out and I went for a run on the beach this morning in 36degree weather.

Besides the roller coaster of emotion and some of the terrifying bugs out there to date my experience has been incredible. All of the instructors that I have been lucky enough to be instructed by or to just chat with have been amazing! They are all such huge wells of knowledge and seem to want nothing more than to inform us. My classmates are great and all seem to have amazing positive attitudes and probably most importantly I am so excited to wake up every morning at 5am because I know the day is going to just be wonderful.

Due to a bit of a lack of time actual food Fridays may be few and far between but I will do my best to maintain some site consistency.

Thanks for your understanding

Happy Friday!