YTT – Observations

To obtain our YTT 200 Hour certificates we have to practice teach for 10 hours, and we also have to observe other certified teachers for 10 hours.  I began my observation hours today by watching Shannon, one of the co-owners of Indigo, the studio at which I’m doing my YTT training.

I go to Shannon’s vinyasa class almost every Wednesday night and Saturday morning.  These classes are very energetic and challenging – exactly the kind of yoga on which I thrive.  However, during YTT Shannon talks often about his lunch-time class, and it sounded like a totally different ball game – a bit slower paced and not quite as intense. As a beginner teacher, I think I will feel most comfortable teaching a slower-paced, more beginners-type class, so I wanted to check this out.

I took today off since I had YTT this weekend – I needed a catch-up day.  So I went to the noon class at Indigo and watched Shannon. I learned so much!

1.  First of all, I was amazed by the capabilities of the crowd.  I would say that at least 50%-75% of the class was past 60 years-old, but Man!  They were a flexible, sociable, impressive bunch of yogis.  Several of them were way more bendy than me, and they had flawless form.

2.  The “feel yourself grown taller through the crown of the head” cue is amazing.  Whenever Shannon used it (in Mountain Pose or Vira I or II), I literally saw everyone grow an inch taller.  Take that, gravity!

3.  People are happy doing yoga.  Everyone seemed happy to be in that space, there with their friends, taking care of their bodies, doing something good for their flesh and spirit.

4.  It’s easier to see bad alignment when you are looking at a group of people versus just one person.  It provides comparison, which is very helpful.

5. I at least have *some* good instincts.  One woman looked as if her knee was bothering her. I wanted to give her a blanket for some extra padding, but I didn’t want to interfere with the class.  Eventually Shannon came over and gave her a blanket.  Validation!  I was right. 🙂

6. I wrote down all the asanas that Shannon used, and I’m going to borrow his sequence and use it as a template for some practice teaching.  The sequence I have been using is made up of poses I am very comfortable with – asanas that are pretty easy for me to explain. I’ve been shying away from using poses that are a bit more complicated. Borrowing Shannon’s sequence will help bust me out of that comfort zone.

So one hour down, 9 to go. I plan on observing at least 5 different teachers.  I think it will be really interesting to examine everyone’s styles.

Next Wednesday I start practice teaching a real class at Indigo – eeeeeeek!  Technically one of my co-YTTers will be the primary teacher, and I will be the assistant. It’s still nerve-wracking though!  I’m excited and super nervous.  I hope I don’t pass out. 🙂

Take care, have a most excellent evening. 🙂

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. 🙂

YTT and Miscellaneous Update

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written anything.  This is a function of two things:

1. Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I’ve been through two weekend sessions so far.  The class started in January and ends in June.  We meet Saturdays 12-6 and Sundays 9-3 once or twice per month.  The first class was seriously awesome, albeit seriously exhausting.  We learned A TON.  We learned about chanting, anatomy, pranayama (breathing exercises) yoga philosophy, yoga history, the 8 limbs of yoga (asanas are just one small part), etc.  We also spent lots of time practicing asanas and learning how to adjust our fellow students.

The second class (this weekend) covered a lot of the same general topics, but the specifics were different.  We spent time this weekend learning about the major joints in the body, and then we spent several hours learning more about specific postures and how to modify them and adjust them.  We did a lot of work with shoulder stand, double pigeon, side angle stretch, and several others that I can’t even remember.  Then we spent about 3 hours today covering yoga philosophy in more detail.

I’m a little freaked out by the fact that a lot of the reading and self-exploration I have been doing over the past 3 years is all tornadoing together and striking the same spot.  From varied bloggers I follow, I’ve been introduced to the philosophy of stoicism and Eckhart Tolle’s works.  The subjects/books really resonated with me, and now as I learn more about yoga philosophy (something I knew NOTHING  about when I signed up for YTT), I realize that stoicism and The Power of Now are both just reiterations of this yoga philosophy that is thousands of years old.  Not to get mystical, but it seems as if the various currents of my life are all drawing me down the same path.  It’s a comforting feeling – receiving confirmation that you are moving in the right direction.

Anyway, I could write reams and reams about what I’ve learned at YTT, but I don’t want to bore you to death, so I’ll move on to my second excuse for being vacant on hlodecello.

2.  I’ve been participating in a 21-Day Primal Challenge with several friends.  I set up a Facebook Group for us to all communicate. It’s been working really well, but it means that I share my recipes and meal ideas on there instead of here.

Oh, and a 3rd thing. I got a promotion at work, which means I’m managing our programmers.  They are all awesome people who I love to work with, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around managing people for the first time. I want to do a good job, even though from what I’ve read, that’s almost impossible when you first start out.  But I’ve been putting a lot of mental energy and time into figuring that whole situation out.

So that’s why I’ve been silent lately. Once the challenge is over, I will write more.

Take care, and have an excellent Sunday evening. 😉

Finding Time for the Things We Love

So, obviously I really enjoy doing yoga.  I would not have signed up for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) if I didn’t.  However, I’ve found that despite my best intentions, it’s almost impossible for me to make it to a yoga class more than 2 times per week. You see, when I signed up for YTT, I received 104 free yoga classes at my studio, but I have to use them within a year.  That means I need to go at least twice a week to use up all the classes.  Plus, I WANT to go at least twice a week.  But, despite the fact that I want to go and the classes are essentially free, it seems as if something unexpected always comes up – car troubles, late meetings at work, invitations to get a drink – you know IMPORTANT stuff!

Anyway, to make sure that I get as much practice in as I should and as I want to, I asked my YTT teacher for some online suggestions.  He sent me to www.yogaglo.com.  For $18 a month you can take as many classes you want. And you can search for classes by how long they are, the teacher, the style, your skill level, etc.  It’s awesome.  I’ve taken 5 classes online so far and encountered one teacher I absolutely love (and one I really, really do not like!).  Browsing through the site has also helped reinforce how much I have to learn about yoga!  It’s this huge body of knowledge that would take several lifetimes to learn.  It’s a great site, and it’s really helped me to become more regular in my practice.

I still prefer to attend a live-person class if possible, however.  I find the cues and subtle adjustments to be really helpful.  Plus I think it’s good to be around other people who are also trying to learn new skills.  I learn a lot not only from the teacher, but from watching the other people in class.   Some are amazing and make you want to try harder to reach that level. Others can barely do a downward dog, yet they are there persevering, which is also encouraging.

While I still don’t do yoga as much as I want to, I am super jazzed to note the progress I have been making.  Little things that used to be very difficult for me are almost doable now. I can get up into crow pose for about 2 seconds – weeeeeoooo!  And my balance is improving.  The first time I tried to do half-moon was a disaster.  Now, as long as no one within my eye sight is wobbling, I can stay up fairly well.  I know I have a very long way to go, but the progress has been really encouraging.

So that’s the update on yoga.  I don’t have any recipes to share this week. I made food, but nothing new or exciting.  Hope you are having a great day and escaped any disaster on the horrible roads today.  Adios!