Yoga off the mat

You don’t want to do anything today that would prevent you from practicing tomorrow

I’ve been practicing with online yoga videos and tutorials recently, with teachers from all schools of yoga. Some are amazing, offering creative ways to float up to Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon, or unexpected flows to heat up for back bends. As with most things, not all of them are a good fit. One Yin teacher talked through entire Yin practice. Another suggested a jump-back that, in my opinion, could put a lot of YouTube Yogis in traction. (Is YouTube Yogis a known term? If not I’m coining it now).

You choose what serves you and you let go of the rest.

But tonight, I had an aha moment, where an online instructor said, “One truism I love is when they say, “You don’t want to do anything in your practice today that prevents you from practicing tomorrow.” EXACTLY.

A lot of potential students want to know what my “style” is. How do I teach. How fast. “Will I be able to take your class if I can’t do a headstand?”

Absolutely! Because my guiding principle is be safe, stay in alignment, modify, and prevent injury. I would never lead a large public class with newbies or students I don’t know through a headstand. The risks are too great. If it was a workshop with a small group, sure. A class full of experienced practitioners whom I know are up for it, AND, who know their limits and won’t push beyond their edge? Sure. Do I practice headstands regularly in my personal practice? No. Some. But I don’t want to do anything injuring, I want to practice every day until I’m 99 and older.

You do you. If you’re all about inversions and wheel, great. Who knows, maybe I’ll be doing them a lot in my personal practice somewhere down the line.

At the fitness center my daughter swims at, there was a poster outside the spin studio that read, “Ignore your limits.” There was a monochromatic of an extremely fit, muscle-bound cyclist wincing, beads of gray scale sweat clustered on his brow, dripping into his eyes. Each time I walked by that image I’d point it out to Dove and remind her that it’s good to push yourself, but one should never ignore their body’s limits or warnings. We know better than that.

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My YTT

About sitting and teacher training, after the first weekend intensive

You are prepared to learn a lot during yoga training. You bring your mat and you are ready to go! But now you bring an additional bag. Your books. Your paper (which I forgot. Twice. Thanks, B, for sharing). A screaming yellow highlighter. Pens, etc., and so on.

You know there will be a lot of sitting. But in the beginning, even though you set up for practice with your mats on the floor, the sitting is not about Sukhasana, or “easy sitting pose,” aka, sitting up straight, criss-cross applesauce. It is taking notes. Sitting lecture/seminar style with a yoga practitioner/expert instructor at the helm, along with a life-sized, plastic anatomically correct skeleton with rubber ligaments. Intermittent discussion, legal talk, teaching methodology, lecture, snack time, and Asana /exercise practice, and breathing. 

Now I understand that when I asked my mentor what I need to bring or prepare, she didn’t mention planks or fasting. Her response was along the lines of, “a highlighter and some index cards.” She meant that literally.

It is really cool to tap back into the student part of my brain, and also be handwriting again! When was the last time you spent about 8 hours in one day, sitting in class and taking notes by hand? It had been a while for me. And still, we have hardly even cracked the books out yet. There is so much to learn.