April 14, 2012

First Classes Successful!

Wow, what a surreal experience.  I taught two classes on Thursday to two separate PE 12 classes.  First off, I don't think I've interacted with a teenager since I was in high school.  Second, they are so much younger than I ever felt at that age!  Third, they were there because they had to be so it was a little different then working with students in the mysore room who WANT to learn yoga.

My first class was bumpy.  I had nothing prepared  - I didn't know what to prepare, any time I tried to write up a lesson plan I felt lost so I decided I would just teach what I practiced.  Easier said than done when you've got 20 awkward teens trying to understand what you're telling them to do.  It was so much easier walking my brothers through a class.  I got a little lost and while I definitely kept my cool, I was unsure of myself and I finished the class 10 minutes early because my mind drew a blank.  I discovered the students really liked the balancing poses, they had fun with them, they hated downward dog - so much grumbling and I must admit this intimidated me a little bit.  I felt a little deflated after the first class but I gathered myself and took myself for a coffee armed with my David Swenson practice book and my notebook and made a lesson plan.  I wrote down the asanas in groups of three so that I could easily repeat three asanas again if I needed to extend the time.

For the second class I felt much more confident.  I was prepared and ready.  I took control of the class and joked about the complaining that a few of them did.  I took my time getting them to poses.  I added in Tree (Vrksana) and Warrior 3, which is similar to Balancing Stick in the Bikram class.  I actually didn't have enough time to finish everything I planned to teach.  I think that next time I will choose less postures and do them a couple times.  I want to stay true to the Ashtanga system but I also feel as though kids, who are being essentially forced to try yoga, need a little different approach.  I also need to find my footing as a teacher :)

If I already noticed a huge difference between the first and second class, just imagine what is to come.

April 11, 2012

YS 2:33

I'm nervous.  I feel like I did in university the night before a big exam.  I am the type of student who studies right from the beginning.  I don't cram.  I can't.  My brain will not process information that way and I get way too stressed out to retain any information.  Tomorrow I lead my first class.  I've been trying to study the asanas but I can't.  I am full to the brim with information and right now anything that I read will not stay in.  So I'm trying to chill out.  Relax.  I picked up my copy of Yoga Sutras and randomly opened it to Yoga Sutra 2:33.

Vitarka Baadhane Pratipaksha Bhavanam
When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be though of.  This is pratipaksha bhavana.

Fitting, I think.


April 10, 2012

Sirsasana, Tapas and Fear

For the last week or so I am able to get up into headstand completely on my own, without Jeff or Harmony standing close by to catch me as my body wants to slam backwards onto the wood floors.  I have no love for Sirsasana.  It comes at the end of my practice when my body is tired and I just want to lay down in Savasana.   Placing my forearms on my mat at the end of practice; cupping my head in my palms; becoming so focused that all I am doing is breathing and finding a lift in my core; lifting my legs straight up into the air as I press into my forearms and find strength in my shoulders takes every ounce of focus that I have.  For at least a couple breaths I think of nothing except breathing and lifting.  My brain always manages to intervene on this intense moment by freaking out a little and going WTF are you doing here upside down!  But I feel - proud, is not quite the right word - accomplished, is maybe a little better. I have been putting in the effort and it is showing. 

One of the Niyamas that Patanjali lists in his Yoga Sutras is Tapas.  Tapas are a form of austerity or self discipline.  Tapas literally means heat and implies effort.  Tapas help lead us to self mastery (Himalayan Institute).  I feel as though every day since the beginning of January, I have been performing my tapas.  Every morning I wake and practice my pranayama, given to me by my teachers.  I chant before my pranayama - to some people this may sound strange, weird, crazy but it focuses me.  It gives meaning to my daily routine of pranayama.  It is acknowledgement to the greatness that exists all around us - within us.  It is truly a moment in my day where I simply sit with myself.  This focus on one of the Niyamas (observances) within the 8 limbs of Yoga is giving me a strength I didn't know existed within me.

This strength is being tested.  On Thursday I teach my first yoga class to a Grade 12 PE class.  Part of me is freaking the fuck out - when I let myself.  But I'm noticing a different part of myself that is becoming detached from this emotion - a part of myself that is acknowledging this emotion and trying really hard to just move on.  (Much easier said then done but this self is trying.)  I am also being given a brand new opportunity for work and this is making me extremely uncomfortable.  It is a risk - financially but mainly for my ego.  I feel as though I am trying to stand on my head in Sirsasana and Jeff or Harmony may or may not be there.  There may be someone to catch me if I lean too far in one direction and there may not.  The key thing is that I need to trust my own self - my own strength - my own inner light.  Sirsasana "literally turns your world upside down" (Yoga Journal) and probably helps you deal with the comfortable life you're used to living being shaken up and jostled about.

So between Sirsasana, Tapas and Fear, my yoga practice is lending a most welcome helping hand to this so called life of mine.  I am eternally grateful for my practice, my teachers and the life that I have.

*Disclaimer*  In absolutely no way has this new found trust in my yoga been easy.  It's taken me months to even venture forth and share any of what I've been exploring in the last few months on this page again.  This practice brings up a lot of crap - internal crap, external crap and just plain old crap.  It tests you, it teases you, it picks you up and hugs you and then promptly spits you back out again.  But it's teaching me to trust my self, to love my self and to be my self with no expectations.