Yoga for non-yoga people, Yoga to relieve stress

5 Reasons to not skip yoga this Super Bowl Sunday

Hey, is there something going on this Sunday. JUST KIDDING. I was born and raised in New England so you can imagine my friends and family “back home” are excited to see their team on the green (again) for the big game. I could take it or leave it, although as a family we usually have a fun dinner and watch at least the first half of the game and the halftime show. This year will be a bit different because I’ll be teaching a Hatha class in the afternoon. I’m a little worried attendance will be low, so I decided to put a list of reasons why we all should make time to get to a class this Sunday.

  1. More Nachos. Or pizza. Or wings. Pick your poison. Beer? Wine? Mountain Dew? Chubby Hubby? Generally you can expect to burn 200-500 calories in an hour of yoga, depending on your size, metabolism, and the type of yoga. According to one calorie calculator, I will burn at least 300 calories practicing this Sunday, and since I’m the teacher, I can plan some extra scorching poses (chair, anyone?) to up the burn. Whatever your caloric vice, making it to class will buy you at least a larger serving.
  2. Personal Space. A standard yoga mat is 24 inches wide and 68 inches long. If you own a deluxe mat, chances are, it is even larger than that. Add space to spread your arms wide, and it doesn’t matter how crowded the studio is that day, you will certainly have more space to yourself in class than you will on your couch when Uncle Leo and your husband’s golfing buddy show up for the game.
  3. Blood Pressure Control. Maybe you’re pulling for the Pats. Maybe you’re rooting for the Rams. Maybe you had to Google which teams are playing Super Bowl LIII (like me!). It could be a nail-biter of a game, or you might be stuck referee-ing the kids while everyone else is glued to the game. Whatever your role may be, science tells us you might be able to lower your blood pressure using tools you use in yoga class.
  4. Feel Good, Look Good. Get your sweat on, meditate a bit, and you know you’re going to feel amazing. Yoga days are good days. Whether you have a date to watch the game, or just imagine Todd Gurley or Tom Brady can see you through the TV, you probably want to feel and look good. Rock those yoga pants!
  5. It’s NOT The Game. Yoga is a reprieve from all the things. From groceries, from laundry, from the subway, from the internet… and from The Game. Football isn’t everyone’s thing. I have to admit I have only ever watched it tongue-in-cheek, though I have family, friends, and a spouse who really dig it. It’s OK to ignore or protest the sport. We all have our reasons, and they are all valid. Come to yoga. Hope to see you there!

Note: not my photo! Found it on Instagram and haven’t located original source.

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My yoga teacher said..., My YTT, Yoga for non-yoga people, Yoga on The Farm

You are right where you need to be

When I decided I wanted to teach yoga, I was unsure what that would look like. I knew the population I wanted to reach: “non-yoga people.” People who might not set foot in a yoga studio, or those in recovery, those who need healing.

I am nearly finished with my 200 hour yoga training, and I keep hearing my mentor’s voice in my head: “You are right where you need to be. Always stay true to yourself, because there are people out there that need what you have to offer.”

I have a small group of loyal, dedicated students who have been with me on this journey. These include one who have offered me their land to practice and teach on, one who has pledged to be a student for life and thinks I should open my own studio, and one who admits to not liking group exercise classes at all but loving my yoga classes. They all keep coming back.

My exam to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training is coming up on October 20, 2018. This has been a voyage unlike any other. I am eternally grateful for my teachers, my peers in training, and my students. I still don’t know exactly what me being a yoga teacher will look like, but I’m pretty sure I am right where I need to be.

Books about yoga, Home yoga practice

To Tie the Strings of the Mind Together: Reading “The Heart of Yoga,” by T.K.V. Desikachar

As the calendar rolled into 2017, I got in my mind that I should start practicing yoga regularly at home. But what would that mean? What would a personal yoga practice look like?

I asked myself these questions because, after twelve years of taking yoga classes for exercise, off and on, I have come to realize that yoga is more than asanas. Asanas are the physical poses and breathing that typically come to mind when one hears the word “yoga.”

I asked my yoga-loving friends for book and/or website recommendations that would help me develop what I called a “home practice.” Most of the recommendations I received were centered on doing asana routines alone. I already have a number of books, videos, and apps to help me exercise. So I asked my yoga teacher for suggestions, and she had only one: to read the book The Heart of Yoga, Developing a Personal Practice, by T.K.V. Desikachar, which I will from now on refer to as THOY when writing, for brevity.

My local library network did not have any copies, so I ordered from the behemoth online seller we all hate to love. At first blush, I thought maybe it was a mistake for me to read a book like THOY. It begins with an interview with T.K.V. Desikachar about his father, Sri T. Krishnamacharya. I am not going to lie. The first page or two were labor intensive, with many Indian names and phrases I am unfamiliar with. To be brutally honest, I did not care at all about the author or his father… in my head I kept thinking, “OK now let’s get to the HOW to develop a personal practice for ME.”

I stuck with it, because I could see that chapter one is titled Yoga: Concept and Meaning, and I just knew I had to get there. I’m so glad I didn’t put the book down, because there… on the first page of that chapter… I found what I was looking for. Desikachar writes:

“Many different interpretations of the word yoga have been handed down over the centuries. One of these is ‘to come together,’ ‘to unite.’ Another meaning of the word yoga is ‘to tie the strands of the mind together.'”

DING DING DING! This is what I was feeling at yoga classes recently… the meeting of my physical body and the intellectual or spiritual me, the “tying together” of these things. Desikachar continues:

“While ‘coming together’ gives us a physical interpretation of the word yoga, an example of tying the strands of the mind together is the directing of our thoughts toward the yoga sessions before we take on an actual practice. Once those mental strands come together to form an intention, we are ready to begin the physical work.”

YES! YES! YES! As I read the paragraph I felt purpose vibrate through me. This. THIS is what I am striving for, “to tie the strands of the mind together.” To spend time, each day, practicing yoga with intention and purpose. THOY makes it clear that yoga does not have to be asanas, it can simply be setting the mind on the intention of yoga… reading, meditating, drawing, asanas…

I now understand. There are at least 8 zillion ways to practice yoga. And what does a home practice look like for me?  It is different every day. I am learning. I guess that is why those who really “do” yoga call it practicing.