Spring Cleaning for Yogis

A couple of weekends ago my friend and yoga teaching mentor, Chrissy Carter, held a three hour workshop at my neighborhood YogaWorks to clean up our standing poses. I remember having my mind blown when I learned in teacher training back in January that our pelvis wasn’t supposed to be squared to the side in trikonasana (triangle). BOOM. I’d been taught early in my yoga career to “pretend you’re in between two panes of glass” so I’d always been squaring my hips to the side. Same for ardha chandrasana (half moon). So, at the last minute, I decided to get up and go down to the studio for a reminder about these seemingly “basic” poses and two my teacher trainee friends showed up, too.

Here’s some of what I was reminded of:

Trikonasana:

  • Let your greater trochanter turn in a little bit – otherwise your femur is going to be running into your pelvis and you won’t be able to tilt your pelvis.
  • If you hinge your pelvis too far, you’ll be sinking your great trochanter into your hip joint. Ow.
  • Key actions include: front thigh turning out, back hip point rolls forward, rotate your torso to the sky.

Virabhadrasana 2: 

  • Your pelvis should be level. You can achieve this by swiping your front great trochanter downwards.
  • The back frontal hip point rolls forward so you can align your knee over your ankle.
  • The back leg appears to be internally rotating, but it’s neutral.
  • Key actions include: Back thigh rolling out while hip point keep rolling forward,  keep lifting your back thigh upwards, the weight in your front leg should be in the heel, not the toes.

Virabhadrasana 1:

  • It’s a neutral standing pose (because the front leg is neutral, duh).
  • The pelvis is in external rotation; it will never be squared forward.
  • Your back leg is externally rotated just a bit.
  • Key actions: Press the back thigh back by lifting your back inner arch while keeping your front knee over your front ankle; roll the back ribs forward.

Parivrtta Trikonasana:

  • Your pelvis IS squared forward in this pose because the stance is shorter so the stretch on your quad is less intense.
  • You can let your back thigh drop just a tiny bit.
  • But like the last two poses, aim to keep your back thigh bone moving backwards the entire time.

That’s just some of what we spent 3 hours on a Saturday reviewing. The whole concept of your back frontal hip point rolling forward while your back leg is externally rotating is still a mind blow for me, but I’m working on it.

Meditation for Prosperity

Five or so days before my yoga teacher training started, I was attending a ton of yoga classes, including kundalini yoga. I was still partially freaking out all the time about OMG WHAT AM I GOING TO DO AFTER TRAINING so when my kundalini teacher said, “We’re doing a kriya set for prosperity today!” I was all, “Yessss.”

She advised we do this for 40 days and then it would help bring us prosperity. I believe we’re all energy so anything to change my energy in the direction of prosperity sounded all good to me. I decided to try it. I was supposed to be done the day before Valentine’s Day, but I missed a few nights here and there so I continued doing it through last Friday. 

Now it’s over and I feel good about having done it for 40 or so days. Hopefully the ‘prosperity’ part will kick in soon. The actual meditation is past the jump!

Sit comfortably, placing your left hand over your left hand on your heart and close your eyes. For at least 3 minutes (11 minutes maximum), repeat to yourself: “I am bountiful, I am blissful, I am beautiful. Excel, excel, fearless!”

After that, flip both of your palms so the pinkie sides of your hands are touching and on your next exhale, flip the palms so the index sides of your fingers touch, and your left thumb is crossing over your right thumb under your palms. 

The word you chant, out loud this time, is “har,” which when pronounced correctly sounds like “hud.” So, for 3-11 minutes, chant “har” on your exhale while flipping your palms to face up and down. 

They say that doing this for more than 11 minutes is considered greedy, but 3 minutes is the absolute minimum.

Happy chanting! 

One Post

I haven’t written very much in the past month because I’ve been in my yoga teacher training intensive which means I was busy from 9am until 6pm, Monday through Friday, then another hour or so for my commute each way to and from SoHo, so between the actual class and the homework, I had zero time to write.

But it was a transformative experience. It really was. The week before the training started when I saw my kundalini teacher for the last time, she told me I’d have a transformative experience and she wasn’t lying. I truly did. We all did. Every single person in the training with me is going to be a friend for the rest of my life. There were so many tears during our closing ceremonies. 

Today felt like the first day of the rest of my new life. It sounds so cliche but I’m just free writing right now to break the silence on here. I’m not sure what exactly I want to do next, but I know that applying for every-and-any job is no longer a good option. I have savings and I don’t spend a lot, so I can take my time. I’ll teach where and when possible. I have insurance, albeit not very good insurance, but insurance nevertheless. (At least until the ACA is repealed!)

Fear can fuck off for once. I’m going to try this my way. 

Week 1: Done

I can’t believe week 1 of teacher training is over. I was so nervous the night before it started that I barely got any sleep on Sunday and apparently my teacher, Chrissy, didn’t either. I’m sure it was the same for a lot of people. We all sat in a circle and nervously surveyed who else was in the class. By day 4, when we sat in a circle in the studio at the end of the day, Chrissy said something like, “Can you believe how well we’ve all gotten to know each other in just four days?” And it’s true. We really had.

There were pose myths debunked. Super long asanas flowed through. And we learned the secret formula for YogaWorks sequencing. Personally, my mind was blown to find out that our hips are not squared in Trikonasa or Ardha Chandrasana. I was also blown away to find out that there’s a specific method to the madness of YogaWorks’ sequences. From here on out, I’m pretty much going to be keeping an eye on my teacher’s sequences to see if they break any of the rules. I’m annoying like that. We’ve had a ton of anatomy lessons, too. I’m going to really have to work hard to became even the tiniest bit memorized with some of the names.

We’re reading the yoga sutras by Patanjali and they’re so interesting and relevant even in modern times. 

The group of men and women (okay, there are only two men, but that’s okay!) are so incredibly diverse, from all parts of the world, and I’m so happy to be getting to know all of them. 

By Day 4, I was incredibly sore. And after the long asana yesterday, I was even more sore, in addition to exhausted. Today I woke up at the incredibly late hour of 9am and took a bath while doing some anatomy reading and then I stretched and flowed a little. 

And now it’s snowing, so I’m watching the snow out my window while J reads and Playbill sleeps. Happy Saturday!

Snow Day!

I honestly don’t know anyone in the city who loves a good snowfall like I do. I mean, obviously it’s ideal to be able to sit in your apartment and watch it fall, rather than commute to work in it, but I love it regardless. All you need is a good pair of boots and you’re set. It gives you an excuse to go buy (or make!) hot chocolate or extra coffee because there is no better time for hot chocolate and coffee than a snow day. 

I am currently sitting in my living room watching some light, but consistent, snowflakes fall from the sky while my cat sleeps on the windowsill and I’m trying to decide whether or not to go to a yoga class at 11am. I’ve been trying to let my strained knee heel for the last week and a half before teacher training starts (on Monday, OMG). Shockingly, constant yoga classes weren’t helping, so I took Friday off and my knee is feeling a bit better (it hasn’t been in excruciating pain, just extra sensitive). 

Annnnnnnd I think I’ve just talked myself out of going. Thanks, blog and free-writing mind. I’m going to do some light flow and stretching in my apartment before I go to help to administer a survey at In Transit’s matinee (90 minutes, no intermission!). It should be an interesting piece, or at the very least it’ll be different.

And I hadn’t planned on it, but Anjellicle Cats was at a loss for a volunteer tonight so my bleeding heart for cats said yes, so I’ll trudge back out in the snow later tonight to play with some cats that are waiting to find their furrrrever homes. (Have you adopted a cat lately? If not, I seriously think you should.)

In the meantime, get a good pair of boots and enjoy your snow day. 

A Leap of Faith

Ever since I was surprised by a layoff in early November, I’d been contemplating doing a 200 hour yoga teacher training intensive with one of my favoriteeeee regular teachers (the inspiration Chrissy Carter!) for the month of January because it just so happened to be almost perfect timing. I just need a way, other than unemployment, to sustain myself until then. 

But then I’d been woo’ed by a recruiter to take a temp HR Generalist position at a tech start-up. The pay was pretty low, but it looked like a cool company, so I said I’d do it. The recruiter also said it had potential to be permanent and as soon as I saw the office and they gave me a bag of swag, I was like, “OMG I’M STAYING FOREVER,” and my yoga teacher training dreams disappeared faster than the color from my cheeks from the 4 AVENUE WALK from the subway to the office that the temp job was in. 

After about two weeks, I started to get pretty miserable though. It became clear that this wasn’t becoming a permanent thing in addition to the pay being stupidly low, and despite my “boss” being a lovely person who I had things in common with (meditation! rose water spray! rolfing!), she arrived late every day (her own schedule, whatever!), spent most of the day in meetings, and couldn’t answer my questions as she didn’t know a whole lot about HR – she had been thrown into her role with no flotation advice just as I had been. She gave me projects to do with no instructions and she wasn’t there to answer questions.

As I sat at my desk last night, I realized I was miserable. I knew I didn’t want to stay and I definitely wanted to have another plan, which was a surprise to everyone, including myself. Ever since college, when I interned and/or went to classes during the day and worked selling merchandise at Broadway shows at nights and on weekends, in addition to volunteering to do other production related things, I looked forward to the day when I’d be able to have a “regular” 9-5 job after which I’d be able to have my life and see shows, do yoga, and whatever else I desired. 

But after the last couple of weeks, I started to kind of admit to myself that maybe that’s not what I want to do after all. Maybe, as much as it kills me to say it, a “regular” job isn’t what’s right for me. Or maybe I was just in the wrong field. But instead of trying yet another job, I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training. I input my credit card number, submitted my application, forwarded the confirmation to my yoga teacher, and left for the day after offboarding someone.

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I arrived, as previously scheduled, at my yoga studio that night for class with my teacher and when she arrived she gave me a hug and told me congratulations. Shortly after, I received a phone call from the recruiter telling me that my assignment was over because they’d hired a generalist. The universe had my back and things all synced up. I’d found a job for the interim weeks before training and now I was free from it. 

I’m really excited for the training. It’s a big step and it’s a big commitment, for sure, but it’s better than sitting around and taking another job that I might end up hating. All of the reasons that I didn’t think I should do it are still there (I don’t really want to be a yoga teacher, per se; I’m not flexible enough; I can’t even do a handstand!; It’s expensive!; My arms are short!; I’m not fit enough!) but they’re at least fading into the background now that I clicked the ‘confirm’ button.

If you’ve done 200 hour yoga teacher training before, I’d love to hear some tips and insights, if you have any. 

Come on, people.

My yoga teacher, Chrissy, said something incredibly sad at the end of class on Monday night. She was talking about using yoga as a way to really strip off our layers that we build up by living in the world. She added the addendum that hopefully when the layers are stripped away, hopefully you’ll simply be a nice person.

She added when class was over and we were putting away our props that she knows the holidays are hard for everyone. She told us she was checking out at JCREW earlier in the day and the woman at the desk said to her, “thank you for being nice to me!” So sad. Let’s get it the fuck together, folks. Yes, Trump won and a lot of people would like to sit around and mourn all day long for the next 4 years, but that’s pointless. 

That’s a reminder to everyone, and my impatient ass especially, to be extra nice to people you meet. Especially during the holidays. And especially to people who are working shit jobs dealing with disgruntled customers all day.

Election Day 2016

My polling place on the upper west side was busier than it ever has been before! I went by around 8:45am and luckily, I only had to wait around 20 minutes or so, but I hear it got bad in certain parts of my ‘hood. Hopefully everyone voted!

I spent my day in meditation, then a kundalini yoga class, then I cooked lunch, followed by catching up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while, and then we went to an Urban Zen yoga class. Everything was about stress reduction and it was lovely.

This election has been awful. Donald Trump is an atrocious excuse for a human being with some (emphasis on the word some) of the most awful, racist, misogynist supporters out there. But for those supporters who aren’t the bottom of the barrel, I get it. Sort of. You want lower taxes and you don’t want the country flooded with immigrants from cultures that don’t easily or at all assimilate. I don’t agree with the lower taxes for all. I believe that the super wealthy should start paying their fair share (again). But we’ve been seeing how loads of immigrants haven’t been assimilating into European countries and so it’s understandable and reasonable that some Americans don’t want that here.

That said, I’m not giving the nuclear code to a man who is so volatile that questions about his statements regarding a beauty pageant winner send him on Twitter rants at 3am. He is attention deficit disordered narcissistic misogynist fuckwit. I know people like him because he has no experience in government, but that is not a plus for me.

So, I empathize with the other side, but truly, I hope he loses. I hope we can wake up tomorrow to a world where it is no longer unimaginable for a little girl to dream to be president one day. HRC has a ton of baggage and is not perfect by any means, but she’s what we got so I hope she wins.

Now watch your alcohol intake tonight, please. 

Workin’ It Out

I haven’t posted my exercise regiments for the last week or two because with my vacation, but I had a good run this week. I actually made it to 5k! I realized that I just have to slow way down when I run. J runs too fast for me, so I’ll have to slow him down when we run a 5K in early November.

I ran in Riverside Park and, as usual, I missed every entrance to the path along the Hudson, but what can you do? 

I’ve been to yoga twice this week and I’ll probably run again tonight, rest tomorrow, and yoga on Saturday. My FitBit alarm didn’t go off on Monday or Tuesday, so I didn’t go to the gym in the morning and I was totally lazy the last two mornings. I need more core work though. Any suggestions?  

Week 1 (or What My Exercise Schedule Actually Looked Like)

I wrote last week about mixing up my work out schedule and including a rest day or two because those might actually be important. Here’s what I’d anticipated it might look like:

Monday: Ashtanga/Iyengar Yoga
Tuesday: Running + sit ups
Wednesday: Running + sit ups + Ashtanga/Iyengar yoga
Thursday: Running + sit ups
Friday: Rest?
Saturday: Vinyasa
Sunday: Rest or Run?

But here’s what it actually ended up looking like:

Monday: Yoga (85 minutes)
Tuesday: 50 sit-ups, running (22 minutes)
Wednesday: 50 sit-ups, arm weight exercises, yoga (85 minutes)
Thursday: Running (20 minutes)
Friday: Yoga (65 minutes)
Saturday: Unintentional rest day
Sunday: Yoga (30 minutes)

With trips out to Long Island and Westchester this weekend, I ate tons of food so now I’m going to try to get back to health eating. Today I think I’m going to yoga and then I’m going to also run. Now where’s my Inspiralized cookbook…