Yoga Speak is a written manifestation of my practice. When I move, what comes to life on the inside begs for air on the outside, and my words are the breath that make that happen.
I used to practice in front of mirrors.
I liked it. It reminded me of my long ago dance classes. And it gave me a larger sense of the room because I could look forward and see behind me.
But for awhile now, I’ve been practicing without the mirrors. At first, it was a little unsettling. At one studio, I found myself looking into the eyes of those facing me. In another, I found myself staring at a wall. In still another, I found myself looking out a window onto the busy city streets.
After a while, though, the weirdness went away. Now, it’s not so freaky to look someone in the eye across the room. And the cracks and the slats in the walls and windows serve as my stare points and help me find my balance. The city streets outside the windows are no longer a distraction, and I’ve even watched the rain fly sideways across the floor-to-ceiling windows as I flowed inside while it thundered outside.Read More
I have a favorite spot in each of the yoga classes I take.
At one studio, I like to set up on the left in the front row. At another, I like to be in the middle of the back row. At yet another, I like to line up my mat in front of one of the many windows.
I wonder what I would do if the instructors insisted on our choosing different spots each time?
As a yogi, I hear so much talk about transformation and moving in new directions. And while I think I’m doing my best to evolve and transform, I know my tendency is to find what’s comfortable and set up shop.
The other night, I was on the later side and someone was in “my spot”. So, I put my mat down a couple spaces to his right. But then I realized I was front and center, and I decided I didn’t want that. So, I got up and put my mat to his left in the space right next to him.
Hope you don’t mind if I go here, I said, as if my indecision needed an excuse.Read More
I’m a pretty careful person.
I’m a planner and a thinker and an organizer.
I like things in their place, stacked and folded.
I’m not speaking necessarily of the parts of my life that can be seen, like my clothes and papers and such around the house. I’m more talking about the parts that can’t be seen.
The parts that are naturally kept under wraps, like most of us have.
I have friends that can talk about anything. And they do, often to me. I think that’s because they know I will make a neatly folded pile for them, too, set it aside and leave it undisturbed for safekeeping.
This is what I’ve done for myself over the past many years.
It’s just that I didn’t really realize how tall my piles were getting and how many had sprouted. I didn’t know they were taking up so much space and resting at their teeter points.Read More
It’s been almost three years. Three years of handstands.
When I first started yoga, I would not go upside down. I knew I could do it, but it just felt so silly. I’d often goof around with my kids and only a couple years earlier, before even finding yoga, I had done a headstand on Skype for my daughter and her college roommates.
So, it’s not that I was never silly. It’s just that I was never so in public. And the yoga studio counted as being in public.
Then, one day, it was just my daughter and me in a private lesson. In my mind, this was not public, so upside down I went.
And then, almost every day thereafter, I only wanted to be upside down.
Headstands led to forearm stands. Forearm stands led to handstands. I could not get enough and still can’t.
And now I can’t remember what there was to ever feel so silly about.Read More
I need a back up plan for yoga.
I’ve hurt my wrist, and the doctor has ordered a month’s break from yoga.
I’ve been practicing almost three years, and this is the first time I will go without yoga for more than a few days in a row.
The anxiety is starting to build. I had myself on a full speed ahead yoga schedule, combining two types of practices at three different locations for a total of six times a week.
Coming to a hard stop seems unimaginable.Read More
'm learning from the other side at yoga.
I am relatively new to a nighttime practice, not so close to home.
And for this reason, most all of the yogis, save one or two, were strangers when I first arrived.
But the energy in the room seems to tie us together and, at the end of each practice, I often feel a sort of kinship with my classmates, even the ones I still don’t know.
In this class, half the room faces the other half. And now I’ve made some buddies on the other side.Read More
I'm hoping the third time's a charm.
I hit my head at yoga. Then, I did it again and, shortly thereafter, once more.
These three hits happened accidentally on purpose as part of my efforts to drop into a backbend from standing.
It’s scary, but I am not ready to stop. I console myself with the thought that hitting one’s head is supposed to happen in three’s so, hopefully, I’ve also hit my quota.Read More
It’s Sunday morning, and I lay out my mat near the window along the back wall of the studio.
It’s a winter day, and the sky is blue and cloudless. It’s cold, but the sun is shining, and I am glad my parking spot is several blocks away. It’s good to walk in the early morning quiet, only a few others out and about on this bright and beautiful day.
The class before ours is crowded, and the room gets heated, so those leaving pry open the windows in their wake. I keep my long sleeves on while setting up, chatting with some of the others and trying to warm up my mat, still cold from the night it spent in the car.
This class is Rocket yoga. It’s challenging and strenuous and one of my favorites. It’s an interesting mix of people, and an interesting mix of flows and inversions and arm balances. I am pushed to my limits each time.Read More
I've been seeing stars at yoga.
As soon as you see the floor, put your hands down!
The instructor is standing in front of me, holding my hips. My hands are in prayer at my heart.
The plan is for me to bend backwards and look for the floor, tilting over and saving myself last minute with my hands.
I think most people can probably identify a time when they’ve had to save themselves last minute. Such challenges can just be part of life, the part where you learn, the part where your head spins and you see stars.Read More
Yoga is like a long car ride, and I feel like the kid in the back seat asking, "When are we gonna get there?"
I’m thinking I need some more muscles. Not necessarily big ones, just more than I’ve got.
I remember when I started yoga, I stood in a studio with a group of women who had probably been working out most of their days.
It was day one for me.Read More
There is a pose in yoga called Tadasana, otherwise known as Mountain Pose.
In Tadasana, we move to the top of our mats and just stand there straight and tall. Nothing fancy. No twists. No binds. No balancing. We even get to close our eyes.
Sounds simple enough to just stand there but, actually, a lot is going on.
I always feel as if I am building this pose, bit by bit. The instructor usually runs down a checklist of the body. First, we stand as tall as possible with our feet rooting into the ground and our necks stretched long. Then, we are told to press our shoulders down and reach our arms along our sides. We are reminded to face our palms forward and reach through the fingertips.
We draw in our bellies, close our eyes and breathe.Read More
We all carry some secrets, large and small.
The small ones are universal. They are the everyday thoughts we keep quiet as we walk around doing whatever it is that we do.
And what I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning is yoga.
For the most part, the practice clears my head. Whatever is on my mind seems to leave through the music and the movement.
After one such practice, a fellow yogi walked up to me to compliment my poses.
How long have you been doing yoga? he asked.Read More
Yoga is supposed to be mindful and meditative. Its transformative effects are supposed to infiltrate the body, mind and spirit.
To me, that means it should touch my soul.
Sometimes, I can lose sight of this as I focus my attention on advancing my practice.
My soul must have been very sleepy the other morning because I ignored my alarm and closed my eyes instead of going to my six a.m. Vinyasa class. So unusual for me, but I felt bone tired.
My body, mind and spirit seemed to need some more time under the covers.Read More
Okay, let’s play with an inversion.
These are the words of my yoga instructor towards the end of each class. We get about five minutes to go upside down before our final stretches.
Any kind of inversion will do, as long as our legs are above our hearts.
Some people are in shoulder stand, on their backs with their feet in the air, arms tucked under the hips for support. Some people rest their legs up along the wall.
Others are in Headstand or Handstand or Forearm Stand, trying one and then another other and stopping in between to chat.Read More
On a recent Sunday morning, I attended a yoga class in a new timeslot, and I saw the sky for the first time in Half Moon.
I have always been a sky watcher.
Really, not a day goes by when I do not look up and note the sky. I love clear blue skies, dark and dangerous skies and white cloudy skies.
I especially like the night sky and have always stopped to look up at the stars. I have watched the constellations appear on one end of the sky and later in the night make their way to the other end.
And the moon! My favorite!Read More
Most often I practice yoga in the morning, but the other day, I practiced at night.
I arrived dressed in work heels, work make up and work hair.
I grabbed the keys to the changing room and peeled off the day, putting on my yoga pants and top and taking off the shoes I had been in since 7:30 a.m.
It had been a long day, but something was still missing.
I had not yet sweat!
Before yoga, I had never worked out. I was raised to be a lady, and being a lady and sweating never quite equated for me.Read More
Sometimes, there are situations about which I cannot figure out how I feel until they are over.
I can have delayed reactions where my anxiety level skyrockets, and that never serves me well.
I wind up taking a break from everything, including yoga.Read More
Handstands make me happy.
Sounds odd, but it is true!
This month, I learned something new in yoga. We are incorporating Handstands at the start of our Vinyasas, the transition sequence of which we do many, moving from a low push up to a high push up and back to a downward facing dog.
For me, it is great fun, and I cannot believe how elated I get over it.
Really, I never would have thought that I would be happiest upside down, but this is so, and the feeling lasts once I'm upright again.
Incorporating Handstands changes up the same old, and now the Vinyasas offer up an opportunity and a challenge as opposed to their normal reprieve from the practice.Read More
Yoga can either improve your mood, or “let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.”
This, according to The Washington Post, is what psychiatrist Carl Jung thought about yoga.
I look at my yoga as a workout. It keeps me in shape. In fact, I only started yoga because a studio opened nearby, and I lost my last excuse to not work out.Read More