Breaking my teaching cherry

I did it. I finally kinda sorta taught someone yoga.  My friend Marta was gracious enough to let me come over this morning and “teach” her some yoga. I say “teach” in quotation marks, because it was more of a conversation than teaching, but I’m still counting it!

Since it was just the two of us, I was super informal. I started out by teaching her about ujjayi breathing, which is a fundamental part of vinyasa yoga. Despite it being an integral part of the practice, Marta had never learned it before in any of her yoga classes!  We then moved on to a very simple, basic practice – cat/cow tilts, sun salutations, vira I and vira II, lots of planks, chaturanga, spinxes, etc. We did some bridges, twists, inversions, and then corpse pose.  During savasana, I gave her a little neck and face massage, and then I did this relaxation technique that one of our YTT trainers taught us.  While the student is laying on the floor, you pick up their legs and slowly swing them side to side (in a figure 8) as you lower them back to the ground.  It feels amazing.

So, how did it go?  Here are my observations.

1.  It’s really hard to remember right and left!!  I don’t know if I will ever be able to mirror, meaning if I’m facing a class, I will be moving the right side of my body, but I’ll need to instruct the students to move the left side of their body. How can something so simple be so confusing??

2.  It’s much harder than I anticipated to demonstrate yoga whilst also explaining to the student what they should be doing. It was easy for me to get out of breath.

3.  It’s a good idea to initially practice with someone who is as patient and easy-going as Marta! I lost my place a few times and stopped and sat down to explain things, and she was totally fine with that.

4. Despite doing quite a bit of yoga and reading a TON about yoga, when you are trying to explain to someone else HOW to do it, a lot of the information flies right out of your head.  I think I’m going to update my class notes with a couple of key cues to use for each pose.

5. I thought the sequence that I wrote up would last about an hour, but boy was I wrong! It was about 1/2 that, and that was with us chatting a bit during the flow.  I need to think about how long to stay in each pose. I think I moved us through them too quickly. My struggle is, it’s hard to keep track of how many breaths we stay in a pose because I’m talking during them!

Overall, I really enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned with Marta.  She said she enjoyed it too because in all the classes she’s taken, no one has really shown her individually how to do the pose or explained to her the proper alignment.  I think that’s just a byproduct of going to classes with lots of other people. Even in classes labeled for beginners,  teachers don’t spend a lot of time explaining things.  It DOES disrupt the flow, but I think that for people just starting out with yoga, it would be really helpful to get the mechanics down before doing a truly flowing sequence.

It was a good experience.  I need more practice though.  For our YTT program, we have to do 10 hours of community teaching. But I want to do more one-on-one teaching with my friends and family before I go out and teach strangers!  Also, teaching Marta helped me realize that I really need to study anatomy more. I know the basic muscle groups, but it would be nice to look at a person and understand what the muscles and bones are doing beneath the surface.  So much to learn!


Final Chili of the Season

It’s March. It should be warmish and sunny. Instead it’s been cold and cloudy.  We actually had snow on Monday.  Ridiculous.  To counteract the dreariness of this month, I tried out a new recipe:  Paleo Crockpot Chili.  It’s AMAZING!!  I think this is one of my favorite crockpot recipes ever.  The chili is super thick and very spicy.  I didn’t have any tomato paste or stewed tomatoes, so I used 3 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes.  Also instead of a fresh jalapeño, I used the jalapeño slices that Tim fermented last summer. Muy bueno. Make this chili post haste.

I also tried another new recipe this week:  Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie.  This one was pretty tasty as well.  My only complaint with this recipe is that is takes a loooong time to make. You have to bake the spaghetti squash, and then you have to mix the spaghetti squash with the meat and veggies and bake it for another hour.  So next time I make this, I would cook the spaghetti squash the night before. I would also add more spices, as my version turned out a little bland.  Overall this recipe is a keeper though.

So why I am cooking so much, you ask?  Well, I will answer you.  Tim and I went to Denver and Boulder last week, so we ate out 3 meals a day for 6 days.  We ate a lot of super delicious food, but I was really looking forward to eating at home again – so much cheaper, and you actually know what you are eating.

So, Colorado. I love her.  I want to move there.  It was so beautiful.  Everywhere you turn there are nice people, gorgeous mountains, paleo restaurants, and excellent breweries.  Denver and Boulder are both super bike friendly too. It’s like Tim and Heather heaven.

So, what did we do?  We rode the Cog Railway to the (almost) top of Pikes Peak.  We couldn’t go all the way to the top because it was blocked by a 75 foot wall of ice.  The views at 12K feet were super beautiful though. We also met some really interesting guys who work for the US Wheelchair Basketball Team.  Let’s see.  We did 2 trail runs, hiked the Flat Irons, rode our bikes up a mountain 2,000 feet and froze our faces off on the coast down, hiked on Mt. Falcon and saw the ruins of an old mansion on the mountain top, took advantage of the local breweries (Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Avery), and got some amazing paleo food at Blooming Beets and Cuban food at Cuba Cuba.  And we watched cable in the hotel room.  We don’t have cable at home, so whenever we travel we take advantage – Jaws and Seinfeld re-runs filled our sleepy evenings.  Even when we are on vacation we tend to wake up insanely early, so we are pretty beat by 8PM.  We are some wild and crazy folk.

And that’s our trip in a paragraph. It was totally awesome.  We’ll definitely go back for another visit.

And that’s my update. I know it’s been a super long time since I’ve written, but my excuse is the same as always – busy busy busy. I had YTT again last weekend.  I absolutely love it.  I’m still not 100% sure I will ever teach, but the YTT program is totally worth the time and money investment.  I am learning so much. We learned about pre-natal yoga and yin yoga on Saturday.  Yin yoga, if you don’t know, is a form of yoga where you hold certain poses for 3-5 minutes each.  They get pretty intense in that time period. I was wicked sore on Sunday. I found it very calming though.  There is a yin class at Indigo on Sundays, and I think I’m going to go. It’s a great way to get your ligaments and tendons stretched out.

Sunday we did A LOT of yoga. I learned 2 new arm balances – firefly and side crow.  I really like arm balances although they scare me.  I’m afraid of landing on my face and knocking all my teeth out.  We also had some more beginners come to class on Sunday so we could teach them poses.  Timmy Tee came and did awesomely!!  I taught the class wide legged forward bend.  Tim said I did good. It was definitely less scary than the first time we taught a pose.  We don’t have class again for month, but I have a TON of practicing and reading and practice teaching to do!  If anyone wants some one-on-one lessons, let me know!!  And you have to give me constructive criticism back.

Speaking of being busy, I really need to take a sabbatical from watching TV!  I have too many books to read, walks to take, yoga to do. I don’t have TIME to watch TV, but when I get home from work in the evenings, it’s so much easier to sit down and watch a hilarious Archer than to pull out my mat and start practicing. I just need to form the new habit.

Ok. I’m done for real this time. Hope you are having a great evening and are being more productive than me tonight. 🙂

The Awesomest Winter Boots Ever

Yes, yes, yes. I know it’s been forever since I’ve written here. Life has just been unusually busy lately, what with the new responsibilities at work, a visit from my little bro, and yoga teacher training.  Oh, and with catching up on Star Trek The Next Generation.

Speaking of “new responsibilities at work” – when I got my raise I tried to leash in my innate American need to spend all my extra money. I decided to buy just two things as a congratulatory gift to myself:

1.  I wanted a pair of winter boots that I could wear outside in the snow and wet.  I wanted them to have a flat sole (no heel), and I wanted the sole to have good traction. I also wanted the boots to be easy to get on and off.  My current boot selection was not conducive to exercising outside in the cold months.  My Frye Engineer soles were too firm, so I just slip and slide on ice.  My Born knee-high boots had a good sole, but they are dress boots – meant to be worn on the outside of tights/skinny jeans. They look pretty silly with running pants tucked into them, and since they are knee-high, they are pretty heavy for long walks.

After a lot of research I discovered the Merrell Haven Duo Waterproof boots.  They seemed like just the ticket. I put them on my Amazon Wish List, hoping the price would go down (a tactic that has worked for me in the past). Instead, they sold out!  And they kept selling out! When my size in Brown finally showed up again, I ordered them immediately.  They were about 1/2 a size smaller than I wanted, but I really liked how comfortable and pretty they were, so I ordered the next 1/2 size up.  They didn’t have brown anymore in that size (sold out EVERYWHERE!), so I ordered “Goose,” which is like a brownish grey.

I have to say, I LOVE these boots!!  They are super comfortable, especially with a thick pair of these socks.  My feet stay toasty warm, the soles grip the snow, the boots are very light, and they fit comfortably under my workout pants. The side zip makes them super easy to get off and on.  They are perfect for winter walks.  I wish I would have bought them at the beginning of the winter, so I would have gotten outside more.  If you are looking for great winter boots, check them out.  Maybe you can find them at an end-of-season sale; although, if you have to pay full price for them, they are totally worth it.  They are the winter equivalent of my Merrell Barefoot running shoes – perfect!


2.  My other gift to myself was the Field Canvas Tote Bag from L.L. Bean.  I needed a bag that would fit my huge stack of books that I need to bring to YTT.  It also needed to fit 2 bottles of water, snacks, pens & pencils, handkerchiefs, notebooks, and a binder.  I searched all over the internet, and even considered those expensive Filson-type bags for $300. Nothing met my needs. I wanted something with straps that fit over the shoulder, a cross-body strap, lots of pockets, and I wanted it to be attractive.  This bag fits all of those requirements.  The outside is beautiful dark-blue, rugged canvas, and the inside is soft flannel. It fits all of my YTT gear, but it also works great for a change-of-clothes bag. It scales up and down, is what I’m trying to say.

I know that yoga is all about teaching your mind to be happy with what it has (and relieving it from the constant stress of wanting, wanting, wanting), but these 2 purchases really made my life better!  I’m trying to do less mindless spending by picking out items that are made with great quality and that will serve me well for years.  That being said, I’m hoping that as I continue studying and practicing yoga, I can get my mind to the place where it doesn’t constantly crave that one “perfect” item for every problem.  Eventually I will learn to make do with what I have and to be happy that I have it.  I’m still learning though.  We watched Yoga Is in YTT yesterday, and one of the teachers interviewed in it said something that I found very encouraging. He said that humans are super malleable – you can change yourself at any time.  The really good can go really bad, but the really bad can go really good. I’m somewhere in the middle, so there is still hope for me to become really good!