#YogiProblems

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Ah the life of a yogi..

It may seem chill, full of herbal tea and enriched with chia seeds, but in actual fact we face real problems..

An average day on the mat..

-You wakeup early,  bundle on every layer of your ethnic hippy cloth only to reach the mat and have to de-robe yourself again.

-You get death stares for drinking water!

-You wait patiently for the dude at the front of the class to finish his dramatic 5 minute “Om” before you can begin.

-Then once in Downward facing Dog you almost choke yourself to death with your Mala beads. Not so shanti!

-Your hips are tight and you get informed that this is due to trapped emotions. “Mmm well can you please untrap them?”

-Your boobs get stuck in your face and blind you in shoulder stand!

-The teacher tells you to breath into your Quadriceps, excuse me how do I do that? Im having a hard time breathing into my lungs!

-You cant tell if its a human or a pack of wolves breathing behind you during pranayama.

-And finally in Savasana someone snores  and  and ruins your chi!Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.12.15 PM

 

*This is a light hearted take on a yoga class.  I think that Yoga gets taken super seriously some times. I think its healthy to find the fun in it and be able to laugh at ourselves. Im certainly guilty of some of these silly things!

 

 

Creating Contacts

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9 people, 1 puppy and some sweaty limbs later and I had experienced my first contact dance session.

We started slow and just free flowed into the music. At first I didn’t think I was being reserved at all. Then came the contact part. I watched as everyones bodies swirled around each other. Graceful and elegant. Then I gave it a try.. I was banging off people and tripping over my feet. I felt so silly. Luckily our teacher was really receptive, he came and danced with me and help guide me into a comfortable space.

It really was an awesome experience. It made me view contact with another person in a different way. There can be contact without it being sexual. It can be light and liberating.

We think we are ‘connected’ with others everyday. Facebook, Instagram, twitter..
When was the last time you really danced with someone without any expectations, influences or desires and truly connected?

Don’t be scared to share, touch, giggle and wiggle!

No Time For Competition

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Alert, Yoga is for everyone!

When i first started to do yoga I was not really coming from a good headspace, and lets be honest I had no idea what it was about. It was prescribed to me as a theraputic option to help me over come fear and trauma.

I started going to classes and I watched these toned elasticated bodies do all sorts of magic tricks on the mat. The unhealthy side of me thought “if they can do it I can do it”. I started practicing more and more regularly at a studio and still had that same mindset. I would push myself and over stretch, I always wanted to do the full version of the asana.

It wasn’t until I went to Goa and practiced there that I really learned about the true purpose of the asanas. I soon realised I had no body awareness and little ability to adjust my own posture or isolate different muscles. Getting back to basics and doing the poses mindfully was the hardest but the most beneficial. I finally understood what it was all about..It only cost the price of a few plane tickets and a few months in India to figure that one out!

 

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Now when I practice I really focus on micro movements and adjusting myself. I know now that I don’t have to reach the full version of the pose every time. Its not the goal. You can create a healthy balance to your practice by adding a little challenge while remaining aware of your limitations. If you are just starting out with your practice its so important that everybody is not the same.

Tantra Time

Expect the unexpected. Last night two friends and I decided we would go to a contact dance session. We walked up the hill a little and then followed a non existent path into what felt like the wilderness. When we arrived the vibe was super chill. Sadly there wasnt enough people there in order to do contact dance.

So we had an option, we could go home or we can do some meditation. The concensus was to do some meditation.

What type of meditation I asked? Tantra he said.  :) I laughed..and thought to myself “Ive heard about Tantra!” After a brief description and demonstration of what would happen next we began.

Before i knew it and without much thought I realised I was hip thrusting a stranger!  I had no reservations or expectations. We all lay on the floor in between each others legs, connecting the pubic bone with the vertabra directly behind the heart. This type of meditation is done in pairs or a group and is known as ‘pumping’. Its purpose is to pump energy up through the root chakra and stimulate the flow of Kundalini energy in the Sushumna nadi.

The whole experience was new and suprisingly easy to give into. Of course I had my usual fit of the giggles but no one cared,we were all supporting each other.  Afterwards I felt completely energized. I would recommed this meditation to anyone who wants a new experience. In all honesty it breaks down your ego a little and makes you kind of ‘get over yourself’. If we dont try new things what are we here for!

Global Family

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I love travelling. However lets be honest as groovy as it is living in India teaching yoga and being surrounded by free spirited people sometimes I just miss my mom!
However, being in a community of backpackers is awesome and helps when ever a bout of ‘missing the family’ arises. Being with friends and sharing chai in the evenings, walking in the village and being greeted by name from the locals all make a huge difference when you feel a little down and out.

Although travellers come and go the friendly energy remains the same. No one is a stranger. There is this common understanding that we are all travelling and experiencing something new- bad, good, or indifferent. We are a sort of global family. Israel, Burma, Taiwan, Mexico, Italy, Nepal, Sri Lanka among others are all places that I have a place to crash along my travels in the future. How lucky am I.
Im not sure how I will cope if I go back to the west. I love living in the unpredictability of India. Everyday there is something that makes me laugh uncontrollably- you know that type of laughter like when you were at school and you held your nose to try and contain it.

Its certainly a cultural melting pot here in Dharamkot and wow has it thought me a lot. Its like the saying “The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know”. This definitely applies to travel and yoga and is the reason i love it so much. Eternal learning.

Chaturanga Challenge

Its "Manna"
Manjeet and Anna

My arms are aching, my abs are screaming and my hamstrings are so tight that I am certain they have magically shortened!
This is all after a week of chaturanga practice. I am actually so happy my body feels this way. Its a sign to me that I am actually using my muscles and not lazily doing a half hearted self practice. I am a yoga teacher but this certainly dosent mean that I dont need my own teacher. In fact I think this is essential.I mean all famed yogis had their Gurus. Its great to be pushed and to be encouraged to expand your limits. Of course there is a fine line between pain and progression, but most of us, well myself anyway stick to staying comfortable. I know I have that tendency and its something I have to work on. Gaahhh so may things to work on!

So this week I will continue the ‘Chaturanga Challenge’. I have been watching alot of youtube videos for inspiration. Kino Mcgregor is awesome if you check her out. Stay tuned as I’m planning on videoing a little Chaturanga challenge between all of us here at Parimukti. A friendly challenge of course :)

Planking in Goa- Awsome Prep for Chaturanga Dandasana

Planking in Goa- Awesome Prep for Chaturanga Dandasana

Of course in order to build strength i need to look at my diet. So, I have been researching more into Ayurveda. It is a fascinating science that really can help put you in balance. Its really helpful to find out your dosha and then build your diet and daily rountine from there. You will find that your emotional, sleeping and eating patterns start to make sense. I have had mild insomnia to severe insomnia for quite a while and a simple ritual of putting almond oil up my nose and in my ears has really helped. It may sound strange, but in reality we put toxic substances into our bodies daily without batting an eyelid.
Go check your dosha!

Here are 2 quiz’s you can try, the first one is my favourite :)

http://www.naturesformulary.com/contents/dosha-test

http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

 

E for Ego

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free spirit

free spirit

My ego is pestering me. Since I gave myself this challenge to conquer Chaturanga I find my mind telling me to succeed and never give up until instructed! We have all had this in yoga. Sweat dripping into your eyes and you blindly look around the room to see who is going to give up first in order for it to be acceptable for you to fall out of the posture. This is not yoga. This is the monkey mind taking over. This is the evil ego.

My goal I have set myself is making me more competitive. Not with anyone else. I’m not naive, I know I will never hold plank longer than a 5 year old! I just mean that I am battling with myself. I need to be mindful that I don’t push myself when I’m shaking or sacrifice my breath in order to achieve the asana. This is not yoga.
I feel I’m learning more and more about what yoga is not. Im learning the practical and logical application of yoga. Yoga slowly eliminates the negative and toxic things in your life and leaves behind what we are all born with, purity and health of the mind and body. The physical asana practice gives you a way to access that every day, as the the cool kids say on instagram #yogaeverydamnday.

Then I wonder also, by achieving my goal is it just nourishing the ego and helping it grow?
I’ll have to let you know in a few weeks 😉

The mat is a mirror

Emily with her head in the clouds!

This morning in class I found myself struggling. We have all been there. All I wanted to do was Balasana, childs pose. I wasnt even tired i just felt weak in my muscles and my mind meandered pointlessly.I was resistant.

I tried to keep the mantra “just 2 more breaths” circulating in my mind.

It worked but I knew I wasnt giving my full attention to the practice, I was more concerned with what I couldnt do. Why? Why has this pestering beast of insecurity come back to me. This niggling discomfort of the mind soon evaporated when I decided to go through the alignment of seated postures in my class. We all did the asanas and observed just how different each body is. The level of compassion and humility among the group just overwhelmed me. We are all at different stages and places in our practice and it makes it all the more interesting to be a part of. To see a student achieve something on the mat for the first time brings sheer delight!
Today I feel as high as the mountains I am surrounded by. After a great morning practice, a little self doubt and a giggly alignment class I’m feeling balanced.

 

Peace and Pout!

Peace and Pout!

Its a flexible man, look out!

Its a flexible man, look out!

The best apple and cinnamon tea in India

The best apple and cinnamon tea in India

 

Building Strength

angelica-teaching

Okay so I have never dedicated myself to a specific asana before, particularly one that I don’t like. I think this month will give me the challenge I need. I really want to experiment and see if I can maintain my own motivation. Firstly I think I have to start mentally as there has been so much going on in my life lately. Change in weather, change in people. It all has its affect on the body and I feel like I have been sick in one way or another for ages.
I am going to use pranayama to help me. Kapalaphati is known for its cleansing benefits so I am going to incorporate this into my morning ritual, plus its energizing so no coffee required!

So to reach this goal I have set myself I want to deconstruct the asana and really think about which parts of my body I need to work on. Firstly the arms. I have arms that can carry a heavy backpack, haul luggage up endless amounts of steps and swim in the water forever. But when it comes to chaturanga they are non existent. They become jelly and completely escape the asana.
It is with frustration and slight embarrassment that I move through this posture…this is not yoga. Who could ever think that simply hovering your own body weight over the ground for 1 minute or so can make you feel all these uncomfortable emotions?

In order to progress with chaturanga I will strengthen the arms by taking a modified version of the pose so I will bend my knees and continue to hover my upper body off the ground and then push back up, and repeat! At least 50 times in a day.
In terms of diet, its quite hard to find fresh leafy greens here in Dharamkot which are a great source of calcium. So I have found out that okra is also really great and it is readily available here. So some cooking extravaganza will be occurring in my little room in the mountains.
Chaturanga here I come :)

Please share if you are building toward a peak pose in your practice or thinking about a little practice over haul

Revive your self practice

Nora in Supta Kurmasana

One might presume that teaching on a Yoga teacher training transforms you into a super yogi; I have found out that this is sadly not the case. Sometimes when you teach, you don’t have time to practice, or you are exhausted and the last thing that you feel like doing is a casual headstand or backbend before bed! But there is actually no excuse…

I am ashamed to say that I have let my personal practice slip and become unprogressive. I have let it stay stagnant and unchallenging. Yesterday, I went to a yoga class for the first time in a few weeks. It felt amazing. Amazing to be challenged, amazing to be liberated from my own lazy yoga routine. It is important to keep a self practice, however it must be invigorating and help you improve. I forgot these key aspects! So after some reflection and sweat on the mat I have decided that this month, my focus is going to be on my physical practice and my health. I want to build towards an asana. Now quite easily I could choose an asana that I love and perfect it, or an asana that I know won’t require too much work. Instead I am going to build toward Chaturanga Dandasana – 4 Limbed Staff Pose. This is an asana that I have always struggled to maintain and it requires so much of my energy. By the end of the month, I’m hoping that I will be able to hold chaturanga and actually enjoy it!

Of course, it’s not about the asana, it’s about the accomplishment and the realisation that I need to dedicate time to my health – physical and mental. I want to cultivate my self-discipline.
Alongside working towards this asana, I want to complement it with what I am putting in my body. So my diet will change a little. For example, I know I don’t get enough calcium or protein. These are essential for strong, healthy, shiny chaturanga arms! I want my diet to complement my practice everyday.

Wish me luck….or join me along the way!
Which posture are you going to work towards this month?