Friday, September 9, 2011

Headstand and other things...

I don't mean to brag... but today I finally could hold my headstand for 25 breaths! The last few breaths may have been a little rushed... but I did it! I really struggle with headstand for some reason. By the end of practice I think my shoulders are so tired from all the lift ups (or attempts!) that I am just burned out.

Stefanie and Curtis have been helping me with my drop backs recently as well... They feel better everyday. I'm hoping that I can start dropping back on my own in the next month or two. One of the requirements for starting second series is being able to drop back and come up unassisted... I have a little ways to go :)

My knee is finally feeling much better. I  think it's just been opening up in a major way. I just need to get used to being a little stiff and sore everyday. I think practicing six days a week will just do that to a person. I'm also trying to get more protein and water hoping that helps...

Lastly, I can't express the amount of gratitude I have for the space at Blue Sky every morning. Having a place to go and practice every morning at 6 am makes my day so much easier. I don't have to try to find a place or a time to practice. Thank you Thank you Thank you, Cheryl!!!

Pranayama and Meditation with Hilary

A couple weeks ago our friend Hilary came over to our house to lead us through a pranayama and meditation class. She had just returned from her teacher training in Mount Madonna, CA. It was awesome getting one on one time with someone that could really explain each breathing technique and make sure we were doing it correctly.

First, she reviewed the four cleansing breaths that should be performed before you begin your pranayama practice (I will summarize in a later post). I never realized how much of a workout breathing could be! My abs were pretty tired after just these four. After that, she went over a couple other breaths (which, unfortunately I do not quite remember). I think we did bumble bee and a couple others. Curtis was a little more familiar with them than I was. Pranayama took about 45 minutes by itself. After the pranayama, Hilary led us through a short meditation. She said she normally would spend at least 15 minutes in meditation, but we only made it through about 7 :)  By minute 3 or 4 I was definitely distracted. I kept feeling every ache and pain and uncomfortable position from sitting for so long. Curtis and I are wimps when it comes to sitting still for that long! I think (like with most things in life), it will come with practice. I have been wanting to commit to doing the 4 cleansings breaths and a short meditation or scripture reading every morning before practice, but over the last 2 weeks, I have only accomplished that a few days. I need to just be dilligent and commit to it, or realize I will not have a pranayama practice yet and just be ok with that :) (However, since I found a wrinkle on my forehead, I'm really hoping I just buck up and commit to it! haha).

Tired and other things

I. Am. Tired. My joints and muscles feel like they've shrunk! I have had three full primary practices in the last 36 hours. Surprisingly, but the last practice felt really good and got a great second wind. But this morning I was planning on practicing to finish out the week, but I am not sure now! It's tempting to take a rest day.

Today is Curtis's birthday! Not sure what our plans are yet... Maybe practice, Sambalatte, delicious food, Borders....

PS I actually wrote this blog on July 23rd, but I didn't realize I didn't post it... :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Letter from Guruji to Yoga Journal November 1995

This is a letter that guruji wrote to Yoga Journal in 1995:

I was disappointed to find that so many novice students have taken Ashtanga yoga and have turned it into a circus for their own fame and profit (Power Yoga, Jan/Feb 1995). The title "Power Yoga" itself degrades the depth, purpose and method of the system that I received from my guru, Sri. T. Krishnamacharya. Power is the property of God. It is not something to be collected for one's ego. Partial yoga methods out of line with their internal purpose can build up the "six enemies" (desire, anger, greed, illusion, infatuation and envy) around the heart. The full ashtanga system practiced with devotion leads to freedom within one's heart. The Yoga Sutra II.28 confirms this "Yogaanganusthanat asuddiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakhyateh", which means "practicing all the aspects of yoga destroys the impurities so that the light of knowledge and discrimination shines". It is unfortunate that students who have not yet matured in their own practice have changed the method and have cut out the essence of an ancient lineage to accommodate their own limitations.

The Ashtanga yoga system should never be confused with "power yoga" or any whimsical creation which goes against the tradition of the many types of yoga shastras (scriptures). It would be a shame to lose the precious jewel of liberation in the mud of ignorant body building.

-K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, Mysore, South India

Enough said :) No commentary necessary.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Last night Curtis and I decided to go to bed nice and early. I think I was asleep by 8:30; it was some of the most restful sleep I have had all week. It was very refreshing. I also had an interesting dream. In my dream I was standing at the counter of an Indian restaurant (not sure which one… it looked casual). I was in the process of paying for a very delicious meal I had just eaten with great company. I remember looking to my left while I was paying and seeing Saraswathi standing there with me. We had just eaten lunch. We hugged while she thanked me for the food, and I kissed her on the forehead. She was wearing a beautiful red and orange sari. It was kind of an odd dream.
When I was recalling my dream later in the day, I was a little embarrassed about it. For one, I have never met Saraswathi, and I guess I feel weird about dreaming about my “guru’s” daughter… like I’m being intrusive or something. Secondly, I felt a little bashful that I dreamed that I was buying her a meal. I guess I would have felt much better and that it would mean much more to someone if I were to cook them a meal as opposed to purchase. I guess I can’t really beat myself up over that or anything J It was just a dream. A little crazy though.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Patience and Letting Go

I have finally made a commitment to my own personal practice. I'm not sure why I waited so long... I feel like I have waited my whole life to embrace this! And I sincerely wish I would have started practicing years ago, but I guess everything happens in its own time.

So now that I don't really struggle with the effort of making myself practice, I am now struggling with my own bodily limitations. This is so hard to accept. I am so impatient with myself. I feel that because I am committing the time to my practice, I shouldn't struggle and hurt with poses that were very easy for me when I was an "occaisional practicer". Now that I am psyched on my practice, I want to move forward (probably faster than my body wants to... which would explain the pain).

Almost every practice I am brought to what feels like my breaking point. I want to cry. Not always out of pain, but out of extreme frustration. My practice starts out OK. I don't have too much pain in my knee. More stiffness than anything. By the time I am halfway through seated, Garbha Pindasana feels impossible. Once I am in a posture, I am fine. The problem lies in getting into the pose. I know that sometimes I just need to take a step back. This is where letting go comes into play.

The fact that I want to cry out of sheer frustration tells me that I am far too attached to my practice. Does it matter if I can get the "perfect" lotus right now? What does it prove to me or anyone around me? All it does is give me a tool to measure myself against others. I can do this pose, and she cannot or vice versa. I need to see it for what it is: my body cannot do this pose in this given moment. It is not an indication of my level of committment to my practice, it is merely a bodily limitation. It is just the body.

I need to let go of my expectations of myself. I need to not measure my practice against anyone elses. It is mine and mine alone. The body will be stiff and unwilling somedays, but at least I can make sure that my mind is not. I need to just let go.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Teaching

"One should do what one teaches others to do; if one would train others, one should be well controlled oneself. Difficult, indeed, is self-control." -Buddha

I love this quote. My friend Patty posted it on her Facebook. She teaches Bikram. When James Figueira was visiting from Singapore, he was telling Curtis and Stefanie that when they begin teaching they need to be sure they are still making time for their personal practice. It is sad that when people being teaching, the first thing to be sacrificed is their own practice. The thing that inspired them to teach, they no longer have time for. I have to say, it IS hard waking up at 4:30 (most days) to practice. It IS hard to make it to my mat everyday. And it IS hard to stay disciplined enough to keep a balanced diet and schedule only so that I can be sure to practice everyday. I can't imagine how much harder all of those things become when you are then juggling a "regular" job, and a teaching schedule.

I am so inspired by Curtis' level of dedication to his own personal practice and his students. When I read the Buddha quote, I immediately thought of him. Since he began teaching (a month or so ago?), he has woken up on WEEKENDS at 4:30 so he could complete his personal practice before going to teach. On his days off from lululemon, he is still up and practicing. He told me (his first official day teaching), that he wanted to start things off on the right foot by being sure of completing his personal practice of the day before going to instruct others. He said it will build up samskara (not sure if I'm using this term 100% correctly) :) I thought that was so beautiful. I think he was meant to teach.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's 5:16 am...

And I am here drinking a cup of coffee and completely prepared for the day :) I love mornings like this. Going to practice in a few minutes. Feeling energized and good. Hoping my bum knee starts feeling better! Got some good advice from Stefanie about maybe concentrating on opening on my hips so it puts less pressure on my knee.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What is the next step for you?

In class the other day a teacher posed the question of what is the next step in life for you? It was a very vague question, and I am sure that all of us were thinking of different answers. My answer seems easy and simple, but it's so hard to actually do. For me, the next step in life is being able to look at, interact with, or talk with anyone without passing any judgment on them. It's so much easier said than done. One moment at a time...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Zen Master Guishan Quote

Some day you will die.

Lying on your sick bed about to breathe your last, you will be assailed by every kind of pain, your mind will be filled with fears and anxieties and you will not know where to go or what to do, only then you will realize you have not practiced well.

The Skandhas/aggregates (matter, sensations, conceptions, impulses, and consciousness) and the four elements in you will quickly disintegrate, and your consciousness will be pulled wherever your ancient, twisted karma leads it.

Impermanence does not hesitate.

Death will not wait.

You will not be able to extend your life by even a second.

How many thousands times more will you have to pass through the gates of birth and death.

If these words are challenging, even insulting, let them be an encouragement for you to change.

Practice heroically.

Do no accumulate unnecessary possessions.

Don't give up.

Still your mind, end wrong perceptions, concentrate and do not run after the objects of your senses.

Practice dilligently.

Be determined not to let your days and months pass by wastefully.

-Zen Master Guishan

I read this quote on a youtube video of Mark Togni performing some fourth series Ashtanga. This quote really stuck with me. Death WILL NOT wait. Our days are numbered, and we really don't know when our number is up. It's too easy to let our days pass by with an attitude of "it can wait for tomorrow". What if tomorrow doesn't come? Do you want to repeat your same mistakes from this life in the next? The only thing that we can take from this world is consciousness. There are no material possessions that are coming with us. So do you want to exhaust your resources by building up material possessions or do you want to build up your consciousness and awareness? We are presented with that choice in every moment of our life, and it's not too late to change :)