Saturday, February 18, 2017

REST

I've been noticing that oftentimes we are given the option of resting in either Child's Pose or Downward Facing Dog.  Which do you choose?

I almost always go for Child's Pose.  I have wondered if the pose is really aptly named for a resting pose; I imagine for some it's uncomfortable to put their head on the mat (my nose sometimes feels smushed and my forehead hurts, so I turn my head.)  For some maybe their knees bark at them folded under the weight of their bodies resting on thighs.  For some arms out front overhead might cause a shoulder pinch and back behind, hands by the ankles, often makes the head even more heavily rested on the mat.

That's why we modify!!!  Find the form of the pose that is truly restful and if it's not, pick a different resting pose!

Yesterday I was watching my 2 year old granddaughter play on the floor.  She was busy with blocks and cars and dolls and stuffed animals, moving things around and jabbering away, when suddenly she flopped down into a perfect child's pose and stayed there for for about 30 restful seconds.  Her little body just folded down on itself in utter relaxation.  She hasn't yet been plagued with stiffness, injury, and fear of failure or self-judgment about doing anything 'right'.  Her pose was as natural as breathing.  Here is a link to an article about the benefits of Child's Pose:  https://www.doyouyoga.com/5-health-benefits-of-childs-pose/

I've never found Downward Facing Dog to be a resting pose (and in researching for this post, I find there is some controversy about this in the yoga teaching community as well), but I can see how holding the pose and getting comfortable in it can slow down the practice and allow deep breathing to relax the mind.  It's just that I feel a lot going on with my body in the pose -- wrists, hamstrings, shoulders, alignment...a lot to feel and track.

When I do yoga with my granddaughter,  she loves Downward Facing Dog and does it pretty darn well, except that it isn't a resting pose for her either.  She bends over and pops right back up, giggling with delight, before flopping over again with her head on the floor.  She is so amused at what her body is doing and at watching me do the same, that it's an active, playful pose. It can be the same in the studio as we are encouraged to 'wag our doggy tail" and "pant our doggy breath" in the pose.  Some may find it restful and occasionally I'll go to it for a "rest", but mostly I love that full body relaxation of Child's Pose.

I guess my point is, do what works for you.  This is what our teachers say all the time, but recently I've noticed a few students (newbies) working so hard to find a pose that they are grimacing and overstretching -- over-trying, I call it.  I think most of us want to get it 'right', but we must remember that every pose has a proper alignment but not every body can find that perfect alignment every time; especially not when we are new to the practice.


So....work and rest; work and rest, being sure your rest is the right rest for you.

Namaste,
    donnajurene

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BEGINNING AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN...

My practice on the mat today had almost nothing to do with the asanas and everything to do with self-compassion, which is harder than a headstand.

I have written about my Autumn bout with the common cold and bronchitis which kept me out of the studio for a few weeks, then came the holidays and scheduling conflicts, then I took a trip out of town for a week...I'm only now, finally!, starting to see some daylight in my schedule and a chance to get back to my studio routine.   I've noticed I've done some backsliding, but in my mind I still think of myself as being as flexible and strong as I was 3 months ago.  Not so much.

Today it was oh so apparent that I have a lot of work to do to regain my former yogic excellence.  I felt like a rank beginner -- unsure, unsteady, unflexible...just a giant "un"-everything!

Every pose had some degree of difficulty for me.  I sat two of them out completely.  Most had me "ouching" internally or falling out of balance for all to see.  My right side seems to have rouge, as I took note that my right foot ached with Plantar Fasciitis, my right hip bone had a tender spot, my right wrist and right shoulder have a nagging and lingering bursitis or something;  I'm not even sure how I injured them or why they hurt.

AND every Forward Fold, Cat-Cow, Downward Facing Dog and Child's Pose were rude reminders of  every scoop of stuffing, dollop of mashed potatoes, every piece of chocolate candy, every cookie, cake, and pie, every Peppermint Mocha, every bag of chips and tub of dips, as my tummy flopped unattractively against my thighs.

So, I started to just ignore the asanas, going through the poses on auto-pilot, as I focused on my state of mind.  I worked hard to silence the critic, the rude remarks, the self-flagellation.  I turned to my higher self and asked for some assistance with accepting the current situation and for the determination to work my way back to a healthier, stronger body.  I ended up my practice feeling humbled, but happy.

Then when I got home I stepped on the scale.  Let's just say, I've got my work cut out for me.  I'm back at the beginning, again.

Namaste,
     donnajurene

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

RESORT YOGA

I thought I was going to be the only one in the class.  With only minutes to spare before the start time, I found the upstairs lounge where the class was scheduled to meet, but all I saw was one mat at the front of the room and a box containing some loaner mats, blocks, and a few blankets.  I stood around, contemplating leaving before having to commit to a "private lesson", but while I hesitated four women, well senior to my 66 years, came in -- all smiles and enthusiasm.  This was their fourth day in a row of yoga at the South Lake Tahoe resort at the same hotel where we were staying.  They grabbed the complementary mats, a few props, and slowly lowered themselves to the floor.  I decided to stay.

We introduced ourselves and I found they were from Iowa and very disappointed that the mountain ski areas were closed for the 4th day in a row due to the storm of the decade creating high winds and 7 feet of new snow -- so much that buildings and lifts had to be dug out before they could be opened for use.  Yoga was Plan B for them; Plan A for me.  I don't do snow sports.  But I was sympathetic; I watched as my snowboard-fanatic husband, who was majorly disappointed in the unexpected delay to his week-long snow adventure on a new mountain, compulsively checked weather and snow conditions on his cell phone.

Back to yoga...I've not had the best luck with vacation yoga, but I keep trying.  Mostly I am very judge-y.  I decided this time I would be all open heart, open mind and just go with it.  So when the young and friendly instructor showed up (she had to spend 30 minutes digging her car out of her driveway), I bowed to my practice and sat on my mat, eager.

She announced it would be a gentle class for all levels.   She did her best to provide props to those who needed them, but with the few she had to work with, she had to borrow my blanket and run around trying to find a few straps in the storeroom.  Finally underway, she led us through a practice that was all on the floor -- sitting or lying down.  It was a "gentle" beginner class that at times meant we barely moved, but at other times we were contorted into shapes familiar to me but new and uncomfortable to my classmates.

Two of the women seemed familiar with the asanas, one a little confused, and one, well, my opinion was that she should have been doing chair yoga and not trying to get down on the floor and move into yoga postures that were obviously very uncomfortable and painful for her.   The instructor was encouraging, but not very helpful, nor very sensitive to individual abilities.  She had her routine and by golly she was gonna teach it!

This is what I find with "resort yoga" -- props are non-existent or torn, tattered, and dirty.  Rooms are "multi-purpose" and not really suited to yoga.  Instructors are friendly but seem to have one teaching routine and it rarely takes into consideration all ages and abilities.  It was easy to "keep up" in this class since it was super slow with long-held poses, but some were not suited to being held for a long time by people who were straining to find their pose.

And it was a 50 minute class.  Short.  I left feeling like I'd had a nice little stretching routine, but knew I wouldn't hurry back.

I've said it before...there's no place like home at Yoga Circle Studio.

Namaste,
   donnajurene

Thursday, January 5, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

At the end of class last week, while we were all snuggled into our Savasana nests, Carly came 'round and left little gifts.  What a delight to arise and find this....

One to keep and one to give to a friend.


Happy New Year everyone!  Remember, You ARE Beautiful! Let your beauty shine, let your generous heart spread love and justice and compassion throughout our hurting world.  Spread Beauty!

Namaste,
    donnajurene