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.

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!

True Power

I hesitated before purchasing a $50 ticket to Gabrielle Bernstein’s YogaJournal Conference talk last Friday night, but I’m glad I did buy the ticket eventually. I needed it. I’d been having a heavy week and all of the yoga classes in the world weren’t helping, so this was just the thing recenter myself. I’m glad I forked over $50 + fees to Ms. Bernstein for two hours of meditations and good times.

She said this was a sort-of new talk for her so she was nervous but as always, she was uplifting and her presence was powerful. (Hence the talk’s name, “True Power.”) A few very intense guided meditations to some incredible music later and I think it was safe to say that everyone in that room (750 of us, apparently) were feeling a lot better. She even insisted on us turning to our neighbor and telling them, with no sugar coating, what was on our minds at that moment. It took a lot of courage but hey, we were probably never going to see that person again, so why not?

I picked up a deck of “Miracles Now” cards before the talk started, too. My dude, the patient person he is, even obliged in picking out a card with me each morning on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday mornings. He’s not really into the spiritual, granola-y stuff, but he’s humoring me. I’ll get him to start meditating someday. 

Anytime I think I’ve had my fill of Gabby’s talks, I’m always wrong and I’m always glad I went. If you haven’t seen her before, go. If you’re, like, sort-of curious, go. If you want to start out slowly, read Spirit Junkie (not her first book, but the first one I read). You (probably) won’t be sorry.

It’s been one week.

So, it’s been a long week. At the end of the day on Monday, my boss called me into his office and told me that my position was being downsized. I’d been hired to be a finance and operations liaison to support a merger of two marketing companies on opposite coasts. When the west coast company went out of business (semi-unexpectedly?) two weeks ago, I knew my place at the company was up in the air. Honestly, it wasn’t the best fit for me, culture-wise, but I learned a lot (like how to work with someone who’s really difficult) and I had two really good interviews last week, I applied for a lot of jobs, and I met with a dozen or so recruiters and I’m continuing to do so this week. Luckily my dude is really fantastic at prepping for interviews, so he’s helping me a lot on that front. 

It’ll all be okay.

I saw a friend at an event on Tuesday  night and she didn’t hesitate one bit when she heard I’d be downsized and she invited me to a networking event that was at the ungodly hour of 7am on Thursday. It was a good experience and I made a bunch of connections.

Thursday evening consisted of a quick and easy dinner (grilled chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, garlic sautéed broccoli) and The Walking Dead and Mockingjay Part 1 with Justin. My new glasses were also delivered. They’re cute.

After a day of being productive, I went on Friday night I went to YogaWorks for a Teacher Training Class & Info Session with a woman who taught the very first class I ever took at YogaWorks. It was really interesting and although I’m not in a position to spend $3400 on it right now, it’s definitely something to consider in the future. I’m not sure I ever want to teach yoga. I’m simply interested in deepening my practice. 

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening glued to my computer reading updates about the massacres in Paris. So, so sad. Religion is the worst. All religions. They all need to be put to rest. 

I finally made it to my early morning yoga class on Saturday for the first time in what felt like forever and got my ass kicked. Most of Saturday was spent doing a lot of nothing, but I rallied and wandered downtown to visit Washington Square Park where I’d heard there had been rallies earlier in the day. The mayor’s office was planning to light the arch in the park blue, white, and red, which I thought was awesome. The Empire State Building stayed dark on Saturday night in solidarity with the Eiffel Tower. 

Afterwards I saw Fool For Love (review to come!) before meeting up with Justin and one of his good friends for drinks at a favorite spot of ours, Anejo, in Hell’s Kitchen. Sunday was spent relaxing, watching Real Time with Bill Maher, and later on a trip downtown again to get my glasses fitted at Warby Parker and a late lunch at The Copper Still while my eyes glazed over during the Giants+Patriots game. (I seriously do not get football, but I was more than happy to support Justin and eat some delicious noms.)

It’s been an unexpected week, but not an entirely shitty one. Here’s hoping things progress to be even better this week. 

I was super thrilled on Wednesday to be invited to try an early class before MNDFUL’s official opening on Friday on Wednesday morning. I hauled butt down to East 8th Street to their beautiful new and zen space and took my seat on a cushion. 

The class was 30 minutes and it was led by a teacher named Kate Johnson. I’m pretty sure it was a mindfulness meditation. 

They have two spaces for meditation and the rest of the studio if a common area as the owners are hoping to create a community there. The studios are beautiful and warm. They’re offering 5-8 classes a day there, starting on Friday (the schedule can be found on their site!).

Much gratitude to Lodro, Sarah, and Ellie for the experience. I will definitely be back soon!

Lole White Yoga in Central Park

When I entered and won my ticket to Lole White’s free massive yoga class in Central Park, it said the start time was 4:30 and I was like, “Oh well, can’t go. #adulting.” Then I realized the class started at 6 and I assumed probably later (because lots of adults in this city are lucky enough to have jobs) and left the office fifteen minutes early arriving around 6:10 to the Great Lawn. I own zero pairs of white leggings (for obvious reasons) but I wore my mint green pair (also not flattering, but less unflattering than white) and a white t-shirt. 

I was towards the back but I found an unclaimed mat and gift bag (with a Fuji water bottle, a water bottle light, a Lole no-slip headband (spoiler: it slips), a protein packet, a magazine, among other things) and sat down to warm up. 

The class was taught by three teachers and was more vigorous than I anticipated (but i loved every minute of it). There were volunteers walking around helping people with their alignment and it kinda-sorta made me want to take a teacher training course so I could qualified to do the same thing someday. Anyways. The chick in front of me wouldn’t stop stopping to take photos though – and having her male friend take photos of her in random poses. Put down your damn phone, girl.

The class was accompanied by the beautiful music Ingrid Michaelson and the weather was perfect. I rolled up my new mat, tucked it into my new tote bag, and peaced out through Central Park.

It was a good way to spend a Wednesday night. 

Last weekend the CEO where I work sent out an email to a bunch of people who he thought would be into doing yoga outside office hours. Where were we going? Wilkommen Deep House Yoga at Verboten, a night club, in North Williamsburg. There are projections all around the club the entire time and jams provided by a DJ, this time it was amazing Tasha Blank.

I made the decision to go to the front so I was in the same row as a colleague and our teacher for the night, the wonderful Elena Brower. The class was an hour and fifteen minutes, I think. It was a really cool experience.

Yoga in a nightclub with my colleagues is never something I thought I’d be doing. But I’m glad I did it.  

#yogistress

Yoga has been stressing me out a lot lately. Not the actual practice but GOING to yoga. And getting home after at 9:30, famished and irritated that it’s 9:30 and that I’m starving.

Then there’s also the fact that one of the classes I was going to as my “challenging” class is no longer challenging. I think, according to my heart rate monitor, I only burned 150 calories. I used to sweat my ass off in that class. Not so much anymore. And that’s great because it means I’m getting better, but frustrating because I have to switch up my class schedule to find harder classes to go to. I also kinda hate the teacher of this now too-easy class.

I’ve been going to yoga on Saturdays and Sundays a lot recently because two of my favorite teachers teach on the weekends. But I know I won’t always want to get up at 8 on the weekends.

I know, I know, it’s all so “first world problem,” but it’s been really frustrating me lately. Maybe I’ll switch to one yoga class during the week, two on the weekends, and running in the gym in my basement twice a week (or three?).

Sounds like a good compromise with myself.