Saturday, May 16, 2015

the joys of teaching!

It has been quite a while.  I hope that you understand.  Balancing practice, a full-time job, and the 7th series doesn't leave a ton of time for blogging. But now the baby sleeps...

I haven't returned to a full teaching schedule.  Right now, I feel that I'm best able to serve my community by subbing for classes at the studio, often Saturday mornings, that are difficult for my shala to get subs.  That means that I'm typically teaching "vinyasa" classes.  But I've made a conscious decision to not teach "vinyasa."  It's not what I practice and not what works for me.  It would be inauthentic for me to teach some random sequence that culminates in eagle or some such. 

Instead, I offer a modified ashtanga class.  I don't tell the students that's what I'm doing at the beginning.  People have too many misconceptions around the practice.  It's really a joy to "trick" people into practicing half primary.  I love working with all levels of students and really get a kick out of it when a student realizes she can do something that she thought was impossible, like finding her fingertips in the marichyasana binds or when another gets her toes off the ground in a controlled attempt at headstand.  Without the prejudice that students can bring to ashtanga, we can laugh our way through work on jump backs and jump throughs.  The practice, especially when done daily, can be serious business.  But there's also a lot of play and a lot of joy to be found there. 

At the end of class, I always tell the students what they've done.  If you loved it, you're in luck!  It's the same sequence every time.  If you didn't love it...well...Those who had some idea of what ashtanga is are often pleasantly surprised.  They'll say, "that was ashtanga?  but that was fun!"  Then, I'll usually explain how the styles are different and talk about the ashtanga classes that the shala offers.  I also try to demystify the Mysore style.

The practice is such a gift to me.  If I am able to inspire one or two other students to really delve into it, then I feel like I've done my job as a sub and dedicated practitioner. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Self Practice

Hello dear friends!  It has been too long.  With the baby and work and practice and CSA management (holy yield this year!), I have not had much time for writing.  But now here I am with a few observations to share.

My practice is pretty much back to where it was pre-baby, and in some areas, it has actually improved.  In August, at the one year mark, I had to get real, take control of my weight, and start a FIMP (Food Intake Modification Program). Why a FIMP instead of a diet?  Because I want to be a half decent role model to my little girl.  I don't think that it's healthy for a little girl to see her momma unhappy with who she is.  So, the FIMP has been fairly successful and has definitely advanced me back to my original practice, but here are some new things:

  • More ease and consistency coming up in laghu vadrasana
  • Ability to jump back on both sides from eka pada sirsasana
  • Finding balance in pincha mayurasana
  • Ability, occasionally, to bring both legs into lotus in karandavasana
My teacher remarked that "self practice seems to be good for" me.  I found that funny since my practice nearly derailed when I was on self-practice in Kentucky.  But I think there are major differences.  For one, I was pretty unhappy in my professional life in Kentucky.  I think that fed into my slow lazy Kapha tendencies, which led to the practice getting more and more sloppy.  I also dealt with some injury in Kentucky. 

But I think the biggest reason that self-practice is serving me on this try is my time constraints.  I practice either at home in the morning or on my lunch hour at work.  In both cases, I have a very limited amount of time to practice. The result has been a more refined and intentional practice.  The time constraint has taken the sloppiness out of the practice and has made me really think deeply about why certain things aren't working, so that I can fix my issues on fewer attempts. 

It also helps that I do have a teacher whom I see about once a week.  She is understanding of my schedule and still works with me as she would a regular student. For this, I am extremely grateful.  She has added my last two poses on (karandavasana and mayurasana) that I dropped when I got pregnant.  It's good to be back!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The other side of consistency

It happens during every practice.  I get to the second bakasana and stall.  I shift my feet.  I experiment with the bandha.  I look forward.  I look at my feet.  I leap.  And...maybe I manage to stick one leg, but at least one foot taps down.

My teacher asked me about this.  As I told previous teachers, oh, yes, I once had it (I really did - and consistently), then I practiced when tired after traveling and at a very high altitude and crashed into my left arm and never (ok maybe once or twice) successfully landed again.  What a story!  Even worse, for the first time in a long time, I stopped to think about it. When was that trip?  Well, it was when I went to Peru, when I still worked for BU.  I left BU in the spring of 2010. The trip was in the summer.  So, it was at least in 2009.

It was at least 5 years ago (going through old photos, I've been able to confirm that it was in fact 6 years ago)!!  I've been letting this sad story get in my way for at least 5 years.  How the heck did that happen? 

I've heard great teachers say that the key to practice is consistency.  In this case, I have consistently been letting this weird little narrative interrupt my practice.

It's time to undo all that work.