Pottstown’s High Street Yoga; Room to Stretch, Quiet to Reflect

Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge ~ Week 4

Week 4? How is it possible?

I started week 4 last Sunday at a heated power yoga class. This style of yoga is completely different then how I teach and what I prefer. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about comfort and routine and about taking risks. This class was a perfect opportunity for me to try something out of my comfort zone

The class was difficult and different and I liked it. I really liked the instructor and his gentle cues and reminders to move with breath. The room was heated and there was no music. I’ve discovered that I really like the heat. I like the feel of my hamstrings lengthening and the quiet was nice too. At one point in a forward fold the instructor told me to open my eyes. I whispered back and said “I like them closed” and he said “In power yoga, Beryl Bender Birch says that there is only one time when the eyes are closed and that is when you can hold a pose for three hours” Interesting I thought and I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open because I was in a Power Yoga Class after all, but it was very hard for me.

I ended week 4 this week at a different studio at a general hatha class, more my style. I LOVED it and the instructor chose all of my favorites! How did she know? Pigeon, dolphin, legs up the wall, supported handstand at the wall! I enjoyed every second of the class, the poses at the wall, the music, and the extra long Savasana.

Before the 30 day challenge I rarely went to a yoga class, maybe once a month if I was lucky. During this challenge I recognized the value of taking the time for myself. I will continue finding local studios and attend a class once a week.

There are just a few days left for me until I hit the 30 days. I’m planning to continue this and make yoga a daily practice for me. I’ll miss the community we’ve built during this challenge and I’m sure the group will be hearing from me randomly when I need the support! Susan I need a quote! Pam I need a podcast! Carrie, come to a class with me! Thanks all!


Monday, January 24, 2011

30 Day Challenge Week 3

Week 3 was all about snow, snow and more snow! Despite the 2 hour delays, snow days, and shoveling, yoga still happened. Could it be? Have I managed to make yoga something I do everyday?

Rainbeau Mars had an impact on me this week. I shared a link to a beautiful, sequence by Rainbeau Mars that cannot be described in words. The conversations that followed were mostly of awe and also the feeling that many of us have only scratched the surface of the depths of yoga. Her video is both inspiring and humbling. When someone wondered how long she had been practicing I decided to check out her website. I never really found the answer to that because when I got on her home page I stopped to look at a picture slide show of her with quotes across each picture. The first one I saw was “If not now, when?” That one struck me and I couldn’t get it out of my head. If not now, when? The phrase felt both powerful and simple, another ‘ah ha’ moment for me during these 30 days.

I’ve been using the phrase as a mantra when I meditate or when I hesitate to do something. Because really, if not now when? Week 1 taught me that I was stuck. The mantra from week 3 is pushing me both on the mat and off. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more this week with poses and in looking at life.

My Practice

I have a fear of falling on my head in crow prose. Over the weekend I decided to try it again. The voice inside me said “what if you fall on your head” and then I heard “then you’ll get back up” so I tried it and I did it! And I held it too. By saying I held the pose, it might have been 3 seconds, but that is 2 more seconds then usual. I tried several times and got up each time and stayed up. I wasn’t in alignment, my knees could have been on my shoulders better, blah blah, blah, but I DID it!!!!!

The confidence encouraged me to do head stand at the wall, which I do like, but haven’t done in awhile. Again, I kicked up and felt great. After resting in child’s pose, I kicked up again and came away from the wall and stayed without support! Woo hooo!

When I lowered back down and settled into child’s pose I heard the voice say “welcome home” and I felt so good I wanted to hug the mat! And in my mind I did. As I rested in child’s pose I remembered why I started yoga and that was to relieve sciatic pain. When the pain was gone I told everyone that ‘yoga saved my body” After several years of grief and stress, I have the same feeling that yoga once again is healing me, healing my spirit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge Week 2

Week 2 was a week of subtle changes for me

My Practice

This week I pushed up into Upward Bow 3 times. This is a pose I haven’t done in a long time. When I lowered down I felt so proud that I hugged myself!

I did a DVD and a podcast that both worked toward Hanumanasana, monkey pose or splits as I was easing into the pose my youngest son walked into the room and said “hey mom can do a split” and walked out. I was so happy he recognized what I was trying to do.

My Teaching

Early on in the week Pam posed a question to the group about balance and many participants acknowledged their struggle with balance. I like tree pose and personally think Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose are both challenging. Because of the online discussion class this week focused on balance. We did, Tree, King Dancer, Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose. It turned out that the class liked Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe. They were soaring and beautiful. It reminded me again to teach every pose and most importantly to embrace the one’s that I find difficult, because someone out there may love it!

Yoga IS becoming part of my day, just like showering, cooking eating etc. I try to get my practice done in the morning, but when it doesn’t work out I always find time for it. I struggled once this week and that was after shoveling. I felt sore and tired but once I finally got on the mat, my body was grateful.

The Group

Sometimes when I read an e-mail from the group I feel like a proud Mom. I’m usually grinning from ear to ear when I read what everyone has been up to.

When I read that Deb discovered yoga can be done in her own time and at home I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. This is EXACTLY what I’d hoped participants would gain from this.

“This challenge has opened me up to a third option – doing yoga for a few minutes in my home when I can fit it in”

Yoga is about interconnectedness and when Susan greeted fellow yogi at the outlets with a Namaste’ I felt a little emotional.

“I was down at Limerick Outlets last weekend and no kidding there was a lady outside talking on her cell phone in tree pose (a very balanced tree). As I walked towards her our eyes met and I folded my mittened hands to heart and “Namaste’d” her . . . she was grinning from ear to ear . . . . thought she should get some credit from one yogi-in-practice to another.”

I love that tree pose is taking place everywhere and that we are finding HUMOR in our yoga!

“…I was standing in a store talking to the owner. We were talking for quite awhile and I was in tree pose for over 5 minutes :) I giggled to myself!

“Over the weekend I was making soup and realized hadn’t worked yoga into my day yet…and it was getting late. So I decided to incorporate yoga into my cooking and was practicing tree pose in front of the stove in between steps of making the soup. May not have been the ideal situation but I did get a little yoga time in….and entertained my husband when he walked in the kitchen not expecting to see me in a yoga pose. :) “

Week 2 has been another amazing week! I look forward to what week 3 brings!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yoga for Snow Shoveling

Snow; It’s that time of year in Pennsylvania and most of the northern part of the U.S. It’s beautiful and peaceful but also back breaking. This morning we woke to 6 inches and other places along the east coast got up to 2 feet.

I have a home based Massage Therapy Business and so I need to get out there and clear the driveway. Not just the spot around my own car and my hubbies but the whole driveway so clients can park. We have a gravel driveway, not paved, so it makes it necessary to shovel before it freezes on.

Our backyard is a winter wonderland BUT this morning after shoveling our driveway, my back was sore. This is a sequence of yoga poses that can relieve low back pain from over use and shoveling. Enjoy!

Click on the links to view pictures of each pose.

Cat Cow

Starting on your knees, align knees with hips, and wrists with shoulders. On the inhale open up the heart and gaze up at the ceiling and on the exhale, round the spine and gaze toward the legs. Flow this way with the breathe.

Child’s Pose

From all fours, sit back onto your heels, knees are wide, arms reach forward and torso settles onto the mat. Breathe deeply.

Flow from Cat Cow into Child’s pose.

Inhale up to your knees, gaze up at the ceiling, exhale round and sit back into child’s pose.

Sphinx Pose

Lower onto your belly, forearms press into the mat, lift the upper body

Upward dog

Inhale push up to upward dog, and exhale tuck your toes into

Downward dog

Finish your sequence with Legs up the wall.

Sit next to the wall with the side of the body next to the wall. With the hips as close to the wall, pivot back so your legs are up against the wall. Stay here and breathe for as long as you want. To come out of the pose, bring the knees into the chest, roll to the right and use your hands to push yourself up to a seat.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge ~ Week 1

Over the past several years my yoga practice has fallen into a rut. My practice is regular; I do yoga 4 times a week for 30 minutes a session. BUT, I stick to the same poses and my practice doesn’t deepen.

In December I realized it was time to change and decided to challenge myself to 30 days straight of Yoga. I opened up the challenge to yoga students and posted it on Facebook. Quickly 24 people committed to the challenge. The group includes regular yoga students, and some occasional drop ins, 3 other yoga teachers. One of the teachers recruited 4 of her students, a Facebook fan that I haven’t met and two childhood friends!

My intention was to create a virtual group to support each other. I didn’t know how, or if this would work, but I really wanted it to. On January 2nd I sent a kick off e-mail to the group and by the next day the discussions began. Members began to forward podcasts, articles, and give suggestions and encouragement. I was THRILLED beyond belief. This was EXACTLY what I was hoping for.

Week one taught me to step out of my comfort zone. Over the past two years, my practice has been slow and gentle. I’ve been doing forward bends, child’s pose, pigeon pose and twists. I LOVE how I feel when I do them. I love how I feel comfort and nurtured when I’m settling into child’s pose. I love the unwinding in my spine in a twist, the quiet and stillness of a forward bend and the openness in my hips in pigeon pose.

This week I’ve been doing more challenging sequences either on my own or while watching a DVD or On Demand. One day while doing side plank and feeling good, I had what Oprah calls an ah-ha moment. Reflecting on my practice, I didn’t see myself as ‘stuck.’ But in that ah=ha moment I saw so much more. Over the past two years, I lost both of my parents; my dad to a sudden massive heart attack and 16 months later my Mom after a long battle with cancer. Those poses were what I needed at the time. They offered great comfort to me during a time when I needed it. 2011 is a time for me to heal, to live with gratitude and in yoga to become ‘un-stuck” It’s time for me to walk in confidence on and off the mat. What an amazing moment to recognize that.

I hope that this challenge will set me on the path of yoga as a daily practice. I'm beginning to see it as something I do everyday, like dishes, cooking dinner, brushing teeth. These are things I do everyday without question. I want yoga to be that for me.

I’ve also found that it’s not that hard to do everyday. I’ve had so many excuses not to do yoga on the weekends; I work on Saturdays, the kids have activities, I’m tired (really bad excuse) etc. etc. I’ve found that 10 minutes of Sun Salutations goes really far in giving me energy and focus throughout the day.

I look forward to week 2 with the group and look forward to more discussions, suggestions, encouragement and support.

This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated skillfully and continuously for a long time.” – The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1:14