Hlo Heaven

Today’s post will be brief, as I’ve been procrastinating (watching Great British Baking Show, cooking food, looking at Facebook, you know ūüôā ), and I still have lots of studying to do, and Tim and I are supposed to play Jaipur too!

ANYWAY, ¬†I wanted to let you know about an exciting development. ¬†We are bringing The Roll Model¬ģ Method Teacher Trainings to the Center for Neurosomatic Studies! I cannot convey how excited I am about this. ¬†The whole reason I found out about neurosomatic therapy is because a Yoga Tune Up¬ģ teacher took her son to an NST therapist and was blown away by the treatment. She commented on it ¬†on the YTU Teachers Facebook page. I was in the middle of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (I wanted to help people in the health/wellness arena, but did not want to go back to school for 6 more years and spend $100,000 on tuition). Her post sparked my interest, and upon Googling, I found ¬†my school. ¬†And here we are, about 2 years later, and I am on the cusp of graduating from CNS!

Anyway, back to my original point, in school we are taught how invaluable it is to give patients “homework.” It’s vital to help remodel their bodies, and it also helps them realize they have an internal locus of control. Their therapist/doctor is not responsible for their health, the patient himself/herself is! ¬†The self-massage that is taught in Yoga Tune Up¬ģ is a perfect compliment to the work we do in NST. ¬†This has become abundantly clear to me as I’ve progressed through the program, so much so, that I thought, “We HAVE to bring a YTU training to this school!”

I talked to my teacher, mentor, and school-owner, Randy, and he readily agreed. ¬†And my dream is coming to fruition! ¬†In March, we will offer both of The Roll Model¬ģ Method Trainings at CNS! ¬†One of my teachers from my Yoga Tune Up ¬ģ Level 1 training is going to teach the class. ¬†She ¬†made a huge impact on me during the Level 1. I remember telling her, “I’m just a part-time yoga teacher. I just do this on the side…” ¬†And she called me out on minimizing myself and my skills, and it solidly hit home! ¬†The fact that this super-talented, intelligent, gifted woman thought I had something real to offer to people gave me a whole new perspective on what was possible! ¬†And she is the person who will be teaching this class. ¬†ūüôā

Here are the links to the classes:

The Roll Model¬ģ Method – The Science of Rolling

The Roll Model¬ģ Method – Ball Sequencing & Innovation

If you are at all interested in learning some easy-to-use self-massage techniques for yourself or your clients/patients, I cannot recommend this training highly enough. I would so love to see you there!

Hope you are having a great Sunday!

 

 



 

 

Adding Adductors to your Body Body of Knowledge

Yes. ¬†I purposefully tried to make the title of this blog as confusing as possible. ¬†Why? ¬†Does it mean I’m not a good writer? ¬†Does it mean I don’t care about the edification of my readers? ¬†Does it mean my brain finds pleasure in confusing word play that takes a couple of moments to figure out? ¬†Because, No, No, and Yes. ūüôā

So, Adductors. ¬†If you are like me, you probably have only ever heard of adductors as a glump of muscles that get “stretched” in wide-legged yoga poses like prasarita padattonasana (wide-legged forward fold). Before starting school at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS), I had only a vague notion of some muscles in my inner thigh that were super tight, and which did not allow me to do wide-legged poses without getting a cramp in my butt. ¬†Thank you, CNS, for helping me understand with specificity what these muscles are.

Your adductors are made up of several different muscles that connect from the lower portion of your pelvis to the back side of the long bone of your thigh (the femur).  I realize the pelvis can be a bit of mystery as well, so here is brief overview of the points we need to know about.  The pubis is the bone on the front of your pelvis.  If you are like me, you often accidentally ram this into countertops/tables, and it hurts like a mother.

Directly underneath the pubis is the ischium. ¬†Sit on your hands. ¬†Go ahead – it’s okay. ¬†Sit on your hands. ¬†You feel those bones pressing into your hands? ¬†Those are your ischiums (commonly called “sit bones”). ¬†The pubis and the ischium are the superior (aka “upper” or “northern”) attachment points for the adductors, as you can see in the drawing below (which is a view of the pelvis from the front). ¬†Disclaimer: ¬†these are drawings I did quickly for my own personal study aids, so they are not 100% accurate. ¬†They’ll give you a gist of the anatomy, however. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

The adductors are made up of the Pectineus, Adductor Longus, Gracilis, Adductor Brevis, and Adductor Magnus muscles.  You can see the specific attachment points in the illustration below. (Please note that my anatomy text led me astray in regards to the attachments of Gracilis and Adductor Longus.  They should actually be flipped).


From the pelvis, the adductors travel at an angle to connect to the back of the femur, as you can see in the illustration below.  I used to think that the back of the thigh was made up of just the hamstrings.  But there is a lot going on back there! All the adductors connect there, as well as many of the quadriceps.


Why are the adductors important?  For SO many reasons!  They have trigger points that can present as pain in the front and inside of the thigh and in the genitals and rectum.  They can cause the sacrum to tilt, which forms an uneven base for the spine, resulting in a functional scoliosis.  Also, the adductor magnus can pinch the greater saphenous nerve, causing the knee to collapse while walking.

At CNS we learn how to treat the adductors, which can relieve the symptoms described above. ¬†But sometimes releasing a muscle is not what it needs. Sometimes it needs to be stronger. ¬†Weak muscles can contribute to pain, just like over-active muscles can. ¬†I love the Adductor Slides Yoga Tune Up¬ģ pose; it helps you tune in to your adductors and strengthen them in a fun and slightly excruciating way. ¬†Here is a demo from Trina Altman.

Well, I hope you learned a little something about your body today. If you try the adductors slides, let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading today!

 

 

 

 

After further thought…

My students Thursday night asked me a couple of questions that I was not really prepared to answer.  I tossed out the first thing that came to the top of my head, but after further reflection, I have more to add. It takes awhile for my brain to get into gear!

Question 1:  What is the biggest change I have noticed with doing yoga regularly?

This one caused a rush of conflicting thoughts in my head, even though it seems like a simple question. ¬†A lot of this tumult of thought circled around, “I don’t actually DO yoga regularly!” ¬†I have a varied movement practice – I jog a couple of days a week, I lift a couple of days a week, I attend a yoga class once every couple of weeks, I do one of Jill Miller’s videos once or twice a week.

I’m conflicted about even calling myself a yoga teacher, in point of fact, because I feel as if it can give people the impression that I practice 6 days a week for 90 minutes everyday, and I can do handstands¬†and splits and crazy binds. ¬†I can’t do any of that stuff, so I don’t teach any of that stuff. ¬†I help people understand their bodies better with the aid of the Yoga Tune Up¬ģ balls and mindful mobility and strengthening work. ¬†We crawl, we swing, we roll, we look at pictures of muscles in books. ¬†Is that “yoga”? ¬†Technically yes (as I understand it), but I fear it’s not what people typically consider yoga to be.

So once all of that darted through my head, I settled back on the question – what is the biggest chance I have noticed? ¬†I told the class¬†that after taking the YTU Level 1 training, I noticed that I felt myself stacked over my feet better – like I wasn’t leaning forward all the time. ¬†That was the biggest change for me.

And that is true, but, upon reflection, what I have really noticed from my mindful movement practices is that I have more Awareness now. ¬†I notice when my shoulders start to creep up around my ears, I notice when I start breathing shallowly, I notice when random parts of my body tense up (like my hands or my belly), I notice (with a slight bit of detachment) when I feel annoyed or angry, I notice when my mind is going a million miles per minute. ¬†Sometimes I just notice these things. Sometimes I notice them and then try to change them – I will stretch, or roll on the balls, or reflect on whether it’s worth it to get angry about this situation. ¬†That Awareness is what I have noticed most from doing yoga.

Question 2:  Does it ever get better, or do you have to constantly work at it (re: muscle tightness)?

My answer to this was, you really do need to keep working at it. ¬†You can’t just roll and relax and be done with it. ¬†You need a relaxation maintenance package. ūüôā

And that is true!  But what I forgot to mention was that if you change your habits (especially postural habits), you can start to alleviate tension all over the body.  For example, if you stack your ears over your shoulders, it releases strain in the back of the neck, the back of the head, the tops of the shoulders, and the jaw.

So, while you still should continue to move your body as much as possible (whether in “yoga” or some other mindful movement practice), if you move your body BETTER and use Awareness to re-position yourself in a joint-stacked position, you will over time reduce pain and tension in the body. ¬†Instead of trying to fit another exercise class into your day to keep yourself supple, you can continuously adjust yourself as you are walking, reading, doing the dishes, working at your computer. ¬†As Katy Bowman always says, Stack Your Life! ¬†Improve your mobility while doing the other things in life you have to do.

I’m still not sure that fully answers both questions, but if I wait until I have a perfect answer, I will never get this posted!

Hope you are having a great Memorial Day weekend and that you can get out outside, put your toes in the grass, laugh with your friends and family, and eat delicious food!

 

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!!

Yoga Practice Class #2

I taught my second community (aka free) class at Indigo on 5/20.  Here are my notes for the class, so you can get a general idea of what I covered.

Calming, evening class

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but if I wait to get a better scan, I’ll never end up making this post. ūüôā

I wanted to design a class that would be relaxing, help people to sleep well, and that would target some common areas of pain for people – shoulders & wrists. ¬†I think that’s probably too many things to focus on in one class, but I’m new and learning, so why not try it and see if it works, right? ¬†Right??

I started out the class the same way that Max Strom started out our day-long intensive at the Dubuque Yoga Fest Рwith chest breathing in the easy-cross-leg position, a gentle twist, and then chest breathing in horse stance.  I made some (what I considered to be) hilarious quip about horse stance being named such because it looks as if you are riding a horse.  The class indulgently smiled at me.  Yoga students are so nice.

I did far fewer sun salutations than I did during my first class. I filled the void with more therapeutic moves – wrist stretches, twists, lots of child’s poses. I also kept reminding¬†people to relax their faces – especially the furrow between the eyes (my furrow is over-developed and needs massive amounts of work!). I also encouraged them to put that slight Mona Lisa smile on their face.

Then I closed the class with a gratitude meditation. I encouraged people to think about someone indispensable¬†to their joy and happiness. ¬†I asked them to steep their bodies in that positive emotion during the 5-7 minute savasana. ¬†As savasana wound down, I walked around and put a little card on everyone’s mat. ¬†I spent 5 minutes that morning cutting up watercolor paper and writing “GRATITUDE” on the slips of paper in purple ink. Next to the word, I drew a little smiley face. ūüôā ¬†When I closed the class, I told them they could take the cards as a reminder to focus on the things they are grateful and to keep smiling.

I stole/borrowed that idea from Sadie Nardini. ¬†She said she gave¬†Hersey’s Kisses or other little treats to her students to show how appreciative she was that they came to her class and enabled her to live her dream. I really liked that idea. ¬†Plus I have ¬†shit ton of art supplies because, you know, some day I’m going to become an artist. ¬†This was a good reason to use some of them up.

The class of 14 was over 30% filled with my friends and loved-ones, which really helped keep me calm.  But even people who are not beholden to love and support me really seemed to enjoy the class.  As people were walking out, everyone was smiling and chatting.  It made me SO happy that I was able to help a few people become a little happier for an evening.

So, again, I totally loved teaching again. ¬†Shannon said something today that really rang true to me. He said that teaching is a meditation. And I can totally see that. You can’t focus on anything else. You need to stay in the moment and focused.

My next community class isn’t until 6/17, but on the 11th I’m teaching a group of friends after work, and then in late June I’m teaching a lunchtime yoga class at work. I’ve received clearance from HR to officially teach a class at work, but I’m doing a practice session with my close work-friends first. If that goes well, I’ll send an invite out to our whole branch and see who shows up. ¬†I’m really nervous about that one though – teaching yoga to people I kind of know and who I want to think well of me is intimidating! ¬†All these people know the work/Project Manager/Business Analyst -Heather. Not the yoga-Heather who measures chakras and has been annoying all her office-mates with YTT news over the past 6 months.

Speaking of which, YTT is drawing to a close. Our last day together is the 17th. I am SO SAD it’s ending. ¬†But I’m so happy I experienced it. ¬†I am so happy I signed up for this class.

Well, that’s it for the night. It’s time for me to crash. ¬†As always, thank you for reading! If you’re a fellow yoga-lover or teacher, please let me know what you love and/or hate in classes that you take or teach.

Take care!

The sickness of busyness

Ugh – boy do I have it. ¬†Life lately has been rather insane. ¬†Mostly it’s insane with good stuff – yoga teacher training, the yoga festival, meeting friends for supper, visiting the parents, doing yoga observation hours, exercising, reading, making water kefir, cooking, working on the garden, planting flowers. These are all things I love to do, but Jesus Christ, it all takes so much time!

And there is so much more that I WANT to do. So many more books to read, things to paint or draw, blankets and coozies¬†to crochet, walks to take, podcasts to listen to, friends to keep in touch with, writing to do. ¬†But I just don’t have time. ¬†I really need to just quit my job. ¬†That’s the only way to get my life back in balance again. ūüôā ¬†But, unfortunately, I don’t think that can happen any time soon. ¬†There are too many classes I want to take, too many yoga clothes I want to buy, and too much eating out that I want to do. ¬†Hopefully yoga will help me reign in all these wants, and I will eventually find that I have just enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I need to do to make me happy.

ANYWAY, had another great day at YTT today. ¬†We learned how to teach a stress management class that you can do in a corporate setting. ¬†This is something that I am very interested in, since it’s the world I live in every day. I’m surrounded by people who are even more busy and more stressed out than I am, and I would love to get them a little relief. ¬†These people SOOOOO need yoga. Well, everyone needs yoga, but these people that I care about and work with daily would be so much happier with some yoga in their lives. ¬†I’m going to ask HR if I can do some free 30 minute lunch hour sessions. It will help me get my practice hours, and it will also help me gauge the level of interest at the bank for these kinds of things in the future.

The rest of the day was spent learning about how to use the wall to teach people correct alignment in asanas, learning about adjustments for certain postures, and in doing some practice teaching.  Oh, and in getting free strawberry plants, sugar cookies cut out in asana shapes, and handmade chapstick.  Awesome. This is the kind of people we have in our YTT group.

But now I am severely beat. ¬†Severely. I ran this morning for 3 miles, which I used to do with regularity and almost without effect. However, I don’t run as much as I used to due to¬†the aforementioned disease of business. ¬†So when I do run, crap, am I ever beat afterwards!

Anyway, I hope you are having an excellent weekend!  Tell me, if the company you worked for offered free lunch-time yoga classes, would you go?  And if so, what would you want to learn/do??

Yoga Adjustments and Exercises for Office Workers

Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day! ¬†I’m sitting at my parents’ kitchen table, listening to their gargantuan fridge make creepy noises, looking out over their grassy lawn, past the farm across the road, and skimming over the undulating fields speckled with farm houses and tree, topped by a blue, lavender, and white sky ¬†It’s a pretty site to see in the morning – better than the row of houses and garages that I see from our house in the morning. ¬†It’s very convenient living in the center of town, but I miss the quiet and the views of the country. ¬†Maybe Tim and I can start following the www.mrmoneymustache.com way of life (save 40%+ of our income) and retire to a cute¬†little country house somewhere before we are 65. ¬†With a massive garden¬†and¬†a solid internet connection, we’d be all set.

Anyway, I digress. I really meant to talk about 2 things this morning. 1. ¬†My experience assisting one of my YTT friends with her Community class yesterday, and 2. Some final notes from Max’s day-long intensive.

My friend, Angela, taught her first Community class at Indigo yesterday, and I offered to be her second – someone to walk around and adjust people and to just generally help out. ¬†As I was doing it, I realized that for me personally, just standing at the front of the class telling people how to do the asanas is easier than walking around and adjusting them! ¬†Adjustments are so much more personal. I really hate conflict, and even though giving adjustments is a beneficial and helpful thing to do, to me it still feels a bit like you are telling the student they are doing something wrong. ¬†CONFLICT. ¬†It’s hard for me to do! ¬†Also, I find that it’s hard to clearly communicate how you want the student to alter their behavior. ¬†I think that comes primarily from talking quietly, so as to not disturb the whole class with the one-on-one instruction. ¬†I am kind of whispering, and the student is kind of whispering, and neither one of us is really understanding each other.

After the class ended, one of the students asked me for some help with her downward dog.  Now THAT Рjust having one student who you could fully explain things to Рwas more my cup of tea.  So far, I do not like giving adjustments in a class setting, but I do like giving them one-one-one, where I can more clearly communicate with the student.

As with all things that make me uncomfortable, it was a good learning experience though. I am sure that the more times I do adjustments, the more comfortable I will feel with them.  We only have 3 YTT weekends left, and it sounds as if we are going to be doing A LOT of practice adjustments during that timeframe.  At first I was kind of disappointed because, honestly, giving adjustments is my least favorite part of the training.  I would rather be DOING yoga, learning about the philosophy, learning about anatomy, or learning about sequencing. But after Wednesday night, I realize that I really do need more experience in this area.

Hmm. ¬†This is already kind of a long post. Let me just tie this up with a few more quick tidbits from Max’s class. ¬†There are still a ton of points to cover, but I want to focus on the tips he gave us for office works, since that’s a pool of folks I’m interested in teaching.

If you have an office job, I’m sure you are already familiar with the effects on your neck, back, and shoulders of staring at a computer all day. ¬†Everything gets tight and weak, and the whole front of your chest starts to collapse. ¬†Max taught us a few¬†asanas that are good for stretching and strengthening¬†these areas.

  1. Cow face arms. ¬†Here is a really good tutorial. ¬†Max says to do this exercise for 60 seconds on each side twice. ¬†If you work at an office, buy a strap and do this 3 times a day (while you are sitting in on yet another boring conference call, perhaps ūüôā ). ¬†I need to talk to my fellow Wellness Team committee members at work about getting some of these straps for our employees!
  2. Reverse Tabletop. ¬†The arms and shins should both be vertical – you may need to step your feet out farther than you think to get the correct alignment in this pose. ¬†Point your fingers out to the side, then back¬†towards the head, and finally towards the feet. Make sure knees don’t splay out or in. ¬†If you have wrist issues, you can sit cross-legged and put your hands behind you, testing out the different hand positions.
  3. Downdog.  Max had some good suggestions for people (like me) who cannot get their heels to the mat.  Bring your feet wider (as wide as your mat, even), and elevate the hands using a stair step or a block.  Practicing this way will help you eventually get your heels to the floor.

And that’s it for today! ¬†I hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Beginner’s Yoga Sequence

I don’t have much time to write this morning. ¬†I am teaching my first public yoga class tonight, and I need to practice my planned sequence! I practiced it yesterday morning, and it was about 15 minutes short. I added a few asanas last night, so I need to run through it and see if it works. ¬†Here’s the sequence.

Beginner's yoga sequence with breath work
Beginner’s yoga sequence with breath work

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Well wishes?!  I will take whatever I can get!

That’s it for today. ¬†Tomorrow I plan to list out all the book recommendations we received over the weekend.

Have a great day!!

 

Breathing away anxiety

As I mentioned yesterday, I took twelve pages of notes during Max Strom’s Inner Axis class at the Dubuque Yoga Festival. ¬†He shared a TON of great information, a lot of it centered around how to breath properly and how breathing properly can have a huge impact on a person’s state of mind.

To begin with, he shared some very alarming statistics. ¬†He said that 1 in 4 American women and 1 in 5 American men takes anti-anxiety meds or anti-depressants. ¬†He also said that suicide has overtaken car accidents as the #1 cause of injury death. ¬†He didn’t provide us with these statistics to depress us. He provided them to show that we are safe to assume that at least 1/2 of our yoga classes are filled with people who are not sleeping, have anxiety, are depressed, or have lower back issues. ¬†He advised us to take this into consideration when ¬†designing a class. A good goal for a class is to incorporate asanas and practices (such as deep breathing) that will help students sleep better and that will reduce anxiety.

This approach really resonated with me. I think many people come to yoga with the hope of getting a better boot-tay.  And depending on what type of yoga class you attend, you probably will get a better body, but I want to teach the kind of class where the yoga butt is just a serendipitous side-effect of the class. I want to teach a class that teaches people how to decompress and get centered and calm the fuck down.  (Sorry for the language, Mom!)

Max taught us a different way of breathing Рchest breathing, he calls it.  Place your hands on the sides of your lower ribs.  As you inhale, focus on expanding your chest in all directions.  As you do so, you will feel your stomach and core tighten.  Hold your breath for a few moments, then as you exhale, pull your belly button toward your spine.  Max says this way of breathing helps you physically and emotionally (it helps oxegenate the blood), and it also keeps your core engaged 100% of the time, so you always have its support while moving through asanas (which will help protect your lumbar).

Why do you have to put your hands on your ribs? ¬†Max says that wherever you put your hands on the body, it will move! ¬†This cues your body to move where you want it to or how you want it to. ¬†I find it’s difficult to get my chest to expand without doing this. I think that eventually your muscle memory will get used to it, and you will no longer need to touch your ribs to get them to move the right way.

Let me give a disclaimer – I just learned this on Friday! ¬†I bought A Life Worth Breathing¬†at the festival¬†and plan to read that as soon as I am done with How Yoga Works. As with all teaching, take what resonates with you and research what works and doesn’t work. I plan to incorporate this into my practice. ¬†I teach my first Community Class on Wednesday, and I think I’m going to start with a couple of minutes of this kind of breathing. ¬†We will see how it goes!

Well, that’s enough for this morning. ¬† Thank you for reading! ¬†Let me know if you’ve read either of Max’s books or if you’ve attended his workshops. What do you think? ¬†What has worked well for you?

I hope you have a positive, happy day!