Posted on : 19-01-2012 | By : Tristen | In : Uncategorized
Tags: Beauty, Craziness, Things to Think About
Tuesday afternoon, my brother’s wife went into labor. It was a long and difficult birth: the baby was “sunny side up,” and after eighteen hours of no “progress,” the doctor began to suggest other birth options. He gave her one more hour: if she didn’t “progress” after sixty more minutes, it would be time to re-think things. It was a scary moment for everyone.
For some reason, I decided to go to yoga. I needed to calm the hell down and clear my head. It wasn’t pretty, I was distracted and tired and thinking of my sister with every breath that I took, but it helped. At the end of class, everyone said three Oms to welcome the new baby into the world. I was surprisingly overcome: crying in yoga class, check. Never thought I’d be that girl. Whatever. It was so beautiful, the day actually seemed warmer and brighter when I stepped outside.
Minutes after class, I got a text from my mom. The baby had just flipped, and my sister was pushing. The end was in sight! I drove to the hospital like a crazy woman, and made a sweaty, stinky first impression on my beautiful niece. She is so lovely, and fuzzy, and loud. Even the doctor said, That girl is going to be a firecracker!
Now, you can believe what you like. I don’t know what to make of the whole baby-turning-right-at-the-moment-we-were-Om-ing. I guess I don’t really care. She’s here, she’s beautiful, and my sister was lucky enough to have exactly the kind of welcome-to-the-world experience she had hoped for. In short, she’s a warrior. They both are.
The world is a strange and beautiful place. That’s all I know.
We’ve all set our new years resolutions, but how do you carry that over and set intentions for your yoga practice? When asked to set an intention or dedication at the beginning of class do you just sit there and wonder what it should be? I know that feeling. So here’s one of my favorite ways to do just that at the beginning of a practice.
Begin to focus on the feeling of the breath moving in the body. Take your time and as the mind starts to quiet and melt away find from that deep inner place two words that you want for your practice or deep feelings that come up. Look for an adjective and a verb – but it doesn’t have to be those two things – and usually some variation of those first thoughts is the right thing as crazy as it may sound to you. Here’s some examples:
Deep / Healing
Calming / Energy
Patient / Fearlessness
Open / Breath
Playful / Motivation
Smile / Release
Relaxing / Stretch
Quiet / Peace
Strength / Honor
Okay, while I’m pretty sure the last one came from the movie “Gladiator”, you get the picture. Once you have your two words, on the inhale say to yourself the first word, and on the exhale say the second word. Don’t be afraid to revisit it as you move through your practice. Go back to it at the end as you cool down and during that peaceful moment before “namaste” is called. Sometimes the two words that come up make no sense but there is no right or wrong answer here. There’s a very deep reason those words come up for you in that particular moment. Honor that. It has a way of tapping into that which we need most in the moment and that’s a beautiful thing. You might even find that it lines up with your new years resolutions.
Posted on : 12-01-2012 | By : Tristen | In : Uncategorized
Tags: Approach, Health, Practice, Yoga Moments
You might think of yoga as gentle and restorative (at least, until you know better, and realize that yoga can kick your ass) but that line of thinking can be dangerous. ANY activity comes with inherent risks, and yoga is no exception.
You can get hurt. Really hurt. A recent New York Times article outlines just some of the havoc that yoga can wreak on your body.
Luckily, I can’t speak from too much experience here. I have yet to injure myself in yoga (knock on wood). I think I have, however, come close. One time, I was so deep in a twist that I felt this weird, sudden shift in my ribs– it didn’t hurt, but it startled me, and I came out of the pose right away and everything was fine. Another time, as I was working on a bind, I felt these weird shocks all of a sudden, like mini bursts of electricity shooting through me. I assumed I somehow touched on a nerve, and again, it didn’t hurt, but I came out of the pose thinking, “Whoa.” I probably shouldn’t have done that. I probably take my backbends too far sometimes, and wake up the next morning more tender than I should be.
It’s a fine line to walk: on the one hand, you want to push yourself, and you’re doing all this funky stuff with your body that you’ve never done before, everything’s so unfamiliar! How can you tell when you cross the line from challenging and new to dangerous and over the edge?
For now, my answer is: know thyself. I know I have a tendency to push it, so I need to work on playing it safe. Not wussing out by any means, but respecting and protecting my body. It’s just not worth an injury that will leave me out of commission for weeks and weeks!
So now, readers out there, what do you think? Have you ever injured yourself in your practice? Have you come close? How can you tell when you’re flirting with danger?
Posted on : 05-01-2012 | By : Tristen | In : Uncategorized
I’ve often wondered if yoga is at odds with goal setting. I mean, you’re supposed to be accepting yourself in the here and now, right? But at the same time pushing yourself to your end range? We all love the feeling of doing something we didn’t used to be able to do, is there a problem with actively chasing that feeling?
I set two “yoga goals” last year, and I didn’t “accomplish” either of them. I can’t do the splits, nor can I do handstand. Meh. Maybe that’s the kind of goal setting that doesn’t mesh well with yoga. Teacher’s would call this a “results-oriented goal,” really dorky education peeps would call it a “summative assessment.” Meaning, here’s your deadline, can you do it? Yes or no. The answer is black and white, and shows no distinction between being aaaaaaaalmost there, and miles away. Improvement counts for nothing.
The other type of goal (that, turns out, is much more effective in the classroom) seems to be the kind of goal that can be in the same room with yoga. This is the “process-oriented goal,” the “formative assessment.” It’s not about what you can and cannot do (seriously, out of those thousands and thousands of asanas, the former would be depressing), but about the way you go about it. Your process counts. Your effort. Your attitude. Whether or not you check off the “yes” box at the end of the year/month/day, you have a whole spectrum of softer skills to evaluate. This is actually harder to do (hence the reason why most classrooms rely on the former. What’s the difference between an A- and a B+ in effort, anyway?), but when it’s done correctly, it can be a lot more motivating for students, and it usually yields better results.
Okay. End of nerdy teacher stuff. I will set goals in yoga, but not the kind I set last year. I’m afraid that by writing them out, they’ll all sound cliche, but basically, I just want to do it. I just want to go there. To stop thinking about it, stop second-guessing, stop throwing out terms like “end range” and “comfort zone” and just do it already! Go, girl, go!
So, I’m curious. What are your yoga goals this year?
Cheers to you! xoxo