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Personalize Your Practice

IMG_1363Yoga is for everybody.  That said, not everything yoga is for everybody.  Have you seen some of the crazy things yogis do on instagram ?  We are all so unique, with differences including the proportions of our bodies, our emotional experiences, our level of injury/health, and why we practice.  It’s easy to see that a one size fits all approach may not be the best way to practice.

Thankfully there are lots of ways to practice and make the practice your own.  From the facet of yoga (breathwork, meditation, poses, etc.) to the endless number of styles, you can start by selecting the path that works best for you.  After that there are other things you can do to further personalize.  Here are just a few suggestions:

Intention:  One way to look at intention is to think of it as a rechargeable battery.  Your thoughts and focus help to fuel and motivate your practice.  In return, throughout your practice, energy is created that boosts your thoughts and focus.  When you drop in, turn inward and select a sentiment or energy worthy of your focus.  Selecting an intention that is unique to your needs helps to define your practice and create a sanctuary, a special vessel just for you.  An established intention can help inform your decisions during practice including intensity, breathwork, and variations you choose to employ.

Vinyasa/Transitions:  In a vinyasa or flow class, there is traditionally a transition sequence inserted between series.  For example, a portion of the traditional sun salutation (caturanga, urdhva mukha svanasana, adho mukha svanasana, or push-up, up dog, down dog) is frequently used in between sides or before the start of a new series of poses.  There is no law that says you must used a traditional “vinyasa”.  If you need a little grounding, step to the top of the mat and stand in mountain to reset.  If you need a little hip opening, squat down and swivel.  If you need some stabilizing core work, hold plank.  Customizing the transition allows you to be mindful of your needs and can vary throughout the practice.

Props:  Based on personal anatomy, past or current injury, intention, and other factors, using props can help to create poses that are the perfect fit for our bodies.  While we may aspire to achieve every pose pictured in “Light On Yoga”, the truth is, very few of us ever will.  So, we have to create expressions of the poses and energies that are best for our bodies.  Use props to mirror the shape and the actions of the poses.   If it’s challenge or intensity you’re looking for, props can help facilitate that too.

Ask Your Teacher:  An experienced teacher can be a great resource to help you with these and other facets of personalization.  There are a lot of instructors our there, so be sure to find one who is willing to work with you and offer suggestions to optimize your practice.  Share your feelings, challenges, and goals, and your instructor can guide you on your journey.  If you need extensive assistance or want a longer consultation, be sure to schedule a one-on-one session, so you can get the attention you deserve.

You are your best teacher and advocate.  Celebrate your uniqueness and create a customized practice.  This is how we can really make yoga for everybody.

 

 

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A Time for Everything

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Seasons Ecclesiastes

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Light

“Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
-Ephesians 5:9

Light Ephesians.jpg

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Teach-iversary

keySix years ago, on March 17, I taught my first and second official, for paying clients, yoga classes.  I had the honor of subbing two classes for one of the senior teachers at the studio where I practiced and trained.  Fresh out of the 200-hour training program, I meticulously planned my sequences and assembled a celtic inspired playlist.  (It was St. Patrick’s Day after all.)  I found a thoughtful quote to set the stage for the practice and was ready to go.

I recall spending a good amount of time worrying about the cues, lights, candles, props, and about 150 other facets of the classes.  I was definitely prepared.

Thankfully, a few brave souls attended class.  With a good amount of nervous energy and a touch of confidence I took the seat of Teacher.  My internal monologue that night was something between, “fake it ’til you make it” and “you can do this”.

The classes were a bit of a blur.  Nothing major had gone wrong.  The sound system was working, the lights were functional, the cues and flow seemed to make sense, and the students left looking contented.  It was a relief to have my first teaching experience completed.

Then I realized I had a problem.

At the start of the evening, there was a staff member at the front desk checking people in for class.  This person usually attended the last class of the evening and was supposed to stay, so the studio could be locked up for the evening.  Unfortunately, they forgot about or wasn’t informed of this responsibility.  So, after the second class started, the staff person locked the door behind them and left. The doors could be unlocked from inside the studio, but I didn’t have a key to lock up for the night.

Thankfully,  a fellow teacher training graduate had come to class that night.  We collectively freaked out for a few moments, then called everyone we could think of who might have a key.  We came up empty.  Between St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and Mumford & Sons playing in town, no on could be reached.

Of all the situations I had worried about and planned for, the simple task of leaving the building was not one of them.  This still makes me laugh to this day.  It’s a wonderful metaphor for life.  There is always something outside of your control.  So, be prepared, do your best, and know that unexpected things can and will happen.

We finally realized that we could lock the front door and exit through the scarcely used back door, which automatically locked.  The biggest challenge I encountered my first time teaching and it wasn’t even covered in teacher training!

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Diligence and Luck

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Diligence Franklin.jpg

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Soul of a Nation

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”
-Coretta Scott King

soul-king

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Create a Little TLC

When I go out to teach classes at the garden, offices, or in homes, I bring a “mobile studio” including mats and props.  But, something was missing, a little TLC.  A gentle eye pillow is the perfect tool to block out light, help students relax and find a comforting savasana at the end of practice.  So, I’ve created a stock of them to take with me.

The nice thing about this design is the cover can easily be removed for washing.  The project is simple and requires a minimal investment.  About $5 and a little bit of time produced 8 soft and comfy eye covers.

Supplies (makes 8)

  • 1/2 yard of flannel or cotton fabric for coverimg_0448
  • 1/2 yard of flannel or cotton fabric for insert
  • thread
  • 2 lb. bag of rice or lentils
  • essential oil (optional)

Fabric Pieces

  • Cover – 4″ x  17″ rectangle
  • Insert – 3.75″ x 16″ rectangle

Directions

  • Cover:
    • If the fabric frays easily, zig zag the edge to secure.img_0449
    • Fold and pin the short ends of the fabric about 3/8″.  Top stitch to secure.
    • Place the fabric wrong-side down and fold ends toward center, overlapping the ends.  Pin the open edges and topstitch.
    • Trim corners and turn fabric right-side out.img_0453
  • Insert
    • Fold the rectangle in half with the right sides together.img_0450
    • Pin and sew along the sides, leaving the top open.
    • Trim corners and turn fabric right-side out.
    • Using a paper cone or funnel, fill the insert with about 2/3 cup rice.
    • (Optional) Add a few drops of essential oil.
    • Tuck in the ends, pin and topstitch to close.
    • Place the insert inside the cover.img_0454

Take a break, recline, place an new pillow over your eyes and take a few minutes to relax.  You deserve it.  Enjoy!

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