On Trying New Things

It’s been an absolutely bonkers-good weekend. ¬†I’m going to tell you all about it, so I hope you want to hear it. ūüôā

It started off by taking Friday off and going to a WATERPARK!! Yes, I am 38 years old, and yes, I arranged for a group of adults to go to a waterpark with absolutely no children. It was just grown adults, enjoying the sun, the slides, and the joyful vibes.  It was super, duper fun. It reminded me so much of going to our local waterpark, Wacky Waters, when we were younger.  The park was even playing music from the 90s.

Saturday started off well as well with beautiful, fall-ish weather.¬†We took advantage of the weather and did a quick 16 mile bike ride in the morning. On Friday morning, I had taken my Luna sandals out for a quick jog/sprint session, and I think the sprints totally increased my aerobic capacity! ¬†We did the 16 mile ride very fast, and I even got Queen of the Mountain on Main Street Hill, which means I’m the fastest girl up that hill. ¬†And I HATE hills! ¬†But I power boosted right up that one. ¬†ALL HAIL QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN.

Saturday afternoon Mom and I did our first joint venture РRelax, Renew, and Brew.  It was hosted by an awesome micro-brewery in Rock Island, IL, Radicle Effect Brewerks.  They reserved their whole back room for us and even brought in snacks and offered us drink specials.

I opened the class with a 3o minute mostly-seated yoga sequence.  I did a bunch of reading on asanas that enhance creativity. I found that the sacral chakra is the root of creativity, so postures that work your center are supposed to raise the vibration of that chakra.  I started with a creativity intention-setting mediation and then moved into some postures.  We did some seated torso rotations, seated pigeon, and then moved to standing postures where we did some wrist therapy (to loosen up our wrists for the subsequent painting extravaganza).  Once standing we also did some hip circles (which looked as if we were hula hooping with invisible hula hoops), and then we did a visualization where we place our hands right below our belly button and envision bright orange light emanating from our hands.

Once the yoga was finished we moved right into the painting portion of the class, taught by Mom. She taught people how to paint circular designs on rocks, using a series of circles or dots. Maybe it was Mom’s excellent teaching, or maybe it¬†was¬†my excellent yoga-ing, but everyone’s rocks turned out really beautiful and individualistic. Not one stone looked like another, but they were all beautiful.

It was so much fun working with my mom and hanging out with friends and loved ones, creating some artwork and having good conversation.

And today was just a good. ¬†A friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers who is also a yoga teacher. ¬†This friend, Emilene, practices a version of yoga called Adamantine. With this type of yoga, you practice a series of 20 postures with a specific breath count. ¬†The sequence is meant to be done first thing in the morning Monday – Saturday. ¬†Emilene was kind enough to introduce me to the sequence and to share her book with me. I’m super jazzed to try it. ¬†I don’t have time to drive to Moline for yoga every day, so I really need to practice at home. However, when I have to consciously focus on what asana to do next, it makes the practice much less meditative for me. ¬†So I really like the idea of doing the same thing every day and just perfecting each pose daily. ¬†I’m excited to learn more about it.

After meeting with Emilene, Tim and I took advantage of yet another gorgeous day and went disc golfing. We had SUCH a great time.  Despite the blusteriness of the day, we both played well.  It was super nice to be outside, walking on the grass, enjoying the late-summer sunshine.

And let me just give a shout out to my Luna sandals.  They make me so happy!  I love feeling the grass between my toes, and they make running so much more enjoyable. I run on the grass next to the bike path. I enjoy feeling the unevenness of the Earth beneath my feet.  They are great just for walks and casual wearing too. My feet are getting tan, and they really enjoy being able to breathe more. They told me so.

We tied up the day with an excellent home-cooked meal of sweet fire pork chops, baked kale chips (coated with parmesan and nutritional yeast), and grilled red size B potatoes.  And now we are sitting out in the back yard Рme wrapped in the blanket my mom made me 30+ years ago, writing a blog post, and Tim reading the Mistborn Triology and cuddling with Lucent. Life is good.

Cities, Sandals, and Self Confidence

Wow. That’s a lot of topics to cover in a blog post, especially since all of us have no attention span anymore due to the being constantly overstimulated. I will try to just hit the highlights. I really need to start writing more so that I don’t need to cover a novel’s worth of updates in each post.

1.  Cities.  We just returned from a 5-day epic journey to NYC.  We drove the Fusion out on Wednesday and returned on Sunday.  We brought along our Supremely Ancient Chihuahua, Lucent. It definitely made the trip more cumbersome, but it had its upsides too.  Because L has to pee about every 75 minutes, we were forced to take frequent breaks. This is bad for making good time, but good for blood flow.  Getting out of the car and stretching legs is definitely a healthier way to travel for 17 hours.

Also, having L in the car made me more appreciative¬†of the times where L ISN’T in the car. ¬†Despite weighing about 7 lbs, he could rival a 150 lb beast in the stench department. He is one smelly monster. ¬†We could tell whenever he woke up from a nap because the whole car would be pervaded by the rankness of his maw. ¬†When he was younger, we would get his teeth cleaned regularly which really helped the smell. He is so frail now though that he wouldn’t survive the procedure. ¬†Whew. ¬†So smelly.

NYC was just as I remembered Рlots of gum-pocked sidewalks, inconsiderate drivers, and garbage skittering everywhere, mixed with delicious food, friendly locals, and gorgeous beaches and hiking trails.  NY is a mixed bag.

We had a great time though since we got to see our family, meet the friends of our family, and spend some time outside on the beach and in the hills above the Hudson.  But, man oh man, were Tim and I ever so happy to roll back into green Iowa again.  Our house seems so cozy and luxurious now!

2. Sandals. I finally bought a pair of barefoot running sandals – Lunas. ¬†I’ve been reading lately that flip flops are really bad for your calves and low back (you need a strap around the heel to prevent shortening of the achilles tendon), so I wanted to find some sandals for the summer that I could also run in. I have barefoot Merrels that I love, but my feet, even without wearing socks, still get super hot in them. ¬†I heard of these sandals via Born to Run and also a trail running group I belong to on FB.

I got them 2 days before our trip, so I broke them in in the City.  Despite walking and/or biking for several miles each day of our trip, they held up REALLY well.  My feet did not get any more sore than they do in regular shoes, and they stayed a lot more comfortable temp-wise.

Today I added the optional ankle strap and took them out for a 3 mile run on the grass next to the Duck Creek Bike Path. ¬†I LOVED them. ¬†It’s so pleasant to feel the grass slipping between your cool toes as you run over the Earth. ¬†My only struggle is that my feet make a really loud slapping sound on the concrete. I think I need to work on my barefoot running form. ¬†I think I need to run more on the balls of my feet instead of slapping down from the heel.

3. ¬†Self-Confidence. ¬†I’ve been teaching¬†yoga now twice/week for about 4 weeks. ¬†As I’ve mentioned, I always really enjoy my Wednesday 5:30AM class. ¬†I just feel more comfortable and relaxed than I do on Monday nights. Plus, the class is 15 minutes shorter, so I have fewer asanas¬†to conjure up.

I think a huge part of it is that my Wednesday morning class is more interactive. ¬†We chat more, and the students smile at me more. ¬†I’ve found that if I don’t get a lot of positive feedback¬†from the people in my class, I feel as if I’ve taught a boring class. ¬†I feel that way even knowing that often times people enjoy the class – they are just focused on getting packed up and back home as soon as possible.

I’m hoping that with more practice, I will gain confidence in my ability to teach a good class. I want to always enjoy the class without needing¬†everyone to say, “Great class!” when they leave.

I also am concerned about my ability to keep my classes fresh because there are only so many postures that I can do (and therefore that I feel comfortable teaching). ¬†My ¬†current playbook is pretty skimpy right now. ¬†I bought one of Sadie Nardini’s teaching programs, and I need to make the time to start watching that so that I can continue to bring something fresh and interesting to each class.

Oddly, I also feel my confidence zapped when I attend a class taught by one of my fellow YTTers. ¬†They are SUCH good teachers!! I am so impressed with them and feel as if there is no way my class can be that good. ¬†Why can’t I just be appreciative of their talents without feeling as if it diminishes mine?? ¬†I obviously have some work to do on my ego!

And there you go. ¬†That’s my update. ¬†I hope you are having a fabulous summer – getting outside, riding your bike, taking some runs, spending time with friends and family, traveling to new places, eating delicious food. ¬†Take care, and thank you for reading!!

One week down…

I taught my first evening class on Monday. It was an hour and 15 minute long all-levels vinyasa class. I borrowed (aka stole) a sequence from our Yoga Sequencing book. It was chock full of sun salutations, so I figured it was a good basic sequence that would cover all the bases.

I had 5 people show up, which is not too shabby for a brand new class and for a summer evening. ¬†To be honest, I felt as if I struggled a bit at first getting into a flow. ¬†About 1/2 way through, though, I started to loosen up and go off-script, and then I really started to enjoy myself. It seemed as if the class started to enjoy it more too. I think that’s a good lesson – the less tied to a written plan you are and the more extemporaneous you are, the better the class will be. ¬†You can be more nimble and responsive when you’re not tied to your notes.

I used the same sequence for my 5:30AM class yesterday. ¬†I had to tweak it a bit, of course, because this was just a 60 minute class. Plus I only had 2 people there which allowed me to do some experimenting. ¬†I read this article a few weeks ago, and I was very intrigued by the balloon exercise. To me it seemed to really illustrate how to keep your core engaged during exhales AND inhales. ¬†Since we had such a small class, I was able to try it out. I’m not sure the students thought it was super enlightening, but I think they thought it was fun to do something different. ūüôā ¬†We did a lot of that kind of stuff – just trying out different ways to get into asanas to see what works and doesn’t work for the particular body and day. It was fun and interactive. ¬†At least I thought it was fun! ¬†And they both said they will be back, so they must have enjoyed it a bit too.

That is SUCH a good feeling when people leave your class with smiles on their faces.  SUCH a good feeling.

I taught another lunch-time yoga class at work today too.  We started with some gentle breathing and then moved on to stretches and twists and a couple of standing postures.  We ended with a Gratitude Meditation, where you focus on someone that is indispensable to your joy and happiness. You steep your body in those positive emotions for the 5-7 minutes in savasana (which since this was a corporate class, involved sitting in a chair with your hands in your lap and your eyes shut).  During savasans, I gave everyone a very brief shoulder massage. I put orange essential oil on my hands (a tip from one of my Teachers!) and placed my hands by their face first.  As we ended the class, I shared this article with everyone.  I encouraged them to take 2 minutes every day to write down 3 very specific things for which they are grateful.  The reasoning is that doing this for 21 days will help rewire the brain to look for the positive instead of the negative in life.

The attendees (7 of them) really seemed to enjoy the class. I think 1 or 2 of them may end up trying out my class at Indigo. ¬†Again, I felt so happy after the class. ¬†It was so nice to be able to improve someone’s day.

So it’s been a good week of teaching so far. ¬†Again, I’m afraid of blowing my wad too early. What if I run out of ideas?? ¬†What if I can’t think of anything new, different, or interesting to say in class?? ¬†But I just need to chill the f@ck out and have faith that fate or God or the universe will help me discover interesting tidbits each week to keep my classes fresh.

What do you like in your yoga classes? ¬†What keeps you coming back? ¬†If you’re a teacher, how do you keep your classes fresh and interesting?