Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Day with Seane Corn

Standard

Again, here I am with a late entry! So sorry! As I mentioned in a previous post, the Seane Corn All-Day Chakra Flow Immersion event will take the place of a regularly-scheduled Monthly Yoga entry, due to how busy I was for the month of May with 40 Days.

For those who don’t know much about Seane, she is a vinyasa instructor who started Off the Mat Into the World, an excellent organization which seeks to inspire yoga practitioners to get involved in charitable activities and act as leaders in their communities. This group also heads the SEVA challenge, which raises money each year for a different cause in a different country (this year, it’s providing resources to victims of sex trafficking in India!). I definitely felt honored to take part in this immersion with Seane, who is a very inspiring woman, yogi, and teacher!

I took a ton of notes, and unfortunately, because I’ve let so much time pass by, I don’t quite think I remember the context of everything I’d written down. I have good and bad things to say about the event, but I’ll cover the good first, which definitely outweighs my criticism.

First off, Seane was an excellent speaker. She wasn’t just sort of there, phoning it in; she spoke passionately and I found her engaging to listen to. She came across as sincere and funny, and rather than using pretty, flowery language, she wasn’t afraid to curse like a sailor at times when it suited her point. She started off by asking if we’ve ever gotten emotional during yoga (i.e. during a hip opener); she said this was a natural part of the mind-body exploration done in yoga, and she then headed into a lecture/discussion on how we should confront our emotions rather than bottle them up. Yoga helps with this release.

One story in particular that Seane told was about her time taking part in the annual SEVA challenges. There were two incidents in particular that stood out in her travels. On one SEVA trip, she mentioned a man she had seen talking near some of the people in their group. From a distance, Seane thought he was wearing a red shirt; when she got closer, she realized that the front of his shirt was covered in blood. He had tried to commit suicide by slitting his throat, and failed, and she could see the sadness in his eyes from his attempt, as suicide was a source of shame in his culture. She said that she felt almost powerless in not knowing what to say or do for this man. Another incident was witnessing the “killing fields” in Cambodia—places where genocides had actually taken place. The worst, she said, was seeing a tree all gnarled in strange places and stained—from the blood of babies hit against the tree. Even just seeing the tree horrified everyone who came near it. Seane said that after everyone saw this place, and felt the unhappy energy permeating it, each couple and group went back to the hotel and didn’t know what to do. Almost everyone, she said, got into an argument—either with someone in the group or by calling someone on the phone. No one knew what to do—except for Seane’s teenage son. He said that he just felt “sad” after seeing the fields. He didn’t get angry or try to bottle up his emotions; he was the only one, Seane said, who actually confronted his feelings. The other incident, with the man who had attempted suicide, almost provoked the same response—not wanting to deal with what Seane termed “big feelings.” Her point was that when we get emotional during yoga, we’re finally letting go of something that we’re holding onto, whether it’s through tears or actually having a conversation to talk about what we feel. It’s healthy, and, to relate to the theme of the day, it balances our chakras so we don’t (in her words) end up “chakrically fucked.” Yoga, with its focus on the chakras, helps us to release these emotions.

From there, Seane went into detail on the different chakras. Some of this I’ve already covered in my entry on chakras and essential oils, so I won’t go back into it here. Here, though, was some information Seane gave on the duality of each chakra and what it can stand for, either when it is strong (not too strong but just right) or deficient:

1st Chakra (Muladhara/Root)
Strong: Tribe
Deficient: Fear

2nd Chakra (Swadhistana/Pelvis)
Strong: Relationships
Deficient: Guilt

3rd Chakra ( Manipura/Abdomen)
Strong: Authority/ego
Deficient: Shame
(To clafify, this chakra relates to how we define ourselves. Seane stated that defining ourselves by changeable things is dangerous and can lead to a deficient chakra [e.g. if you define yourself by your money, and suddenly you don’t have any, it can lead to a feeling of shame]. For some reason this point really resonated with me, seeing as I find that I do attempt to continually define—or redefine—myself at certain stages of my life.)

4th Chakra (Anahata/Heart)
Strong: Love
Deficient: Grief

5th Chakra (Vishuddha/Throat)
Strong: Communication
Deficient: Lies

6th Chakra (Ajna/Third Eye)
Strong: Intuition
Deficient: Illusion

7th Chakra (Sahasrana/Crown of the head)
Strong: Thoughts about or relationship to the divine
Deficient: Attachment

During our asana practice, she talked more about what happened when a chakra was too strong, deficient, and just right. Unfortunately, this was a time when I couldn’t really use my notebook, so I didn’t worry too much about wanting to take notes. She rattled off long lists about each chakra, but what I really liked was that she set up our flow so that our poses emphasized each chakra one at a time. In other words, we started with grounding poses, moved on to poses in our hips and abs, worked heart opening poses, and then, to a lesser degree, practiced asanas that concentrated on the throat, third eye, and the top of the head (even if it was just savasana for that last bit). Our vinyasa flow lasted for about two hours, and although it wasn’t really hot in the room like it is in the studio, and a much longer flow than I get in my regular classes, it definitely provided an adequate amount of movement.

After a break, we came back for a question and answer session. Some people got somewhat emotional around her, and actually started to ask some pretty intense questions, almost as if they were looking for advice. Seane kind of chuckled and said that she didn’t have all the answers—wise of her to admit! She was certainly thorough and tactful when giving her responses, but I’m glad she didn’t pretend to be some kind of spiritual guru here. (There was an earlier point, however, when Seane attempted to “read” a young woman in the audience and asked about her early life, then claimed she couldn’t complete her reading because [not making this up] she felt that the spirit of the woman’s mother was “blocking her energy.” This was just weird. I really wish she hadn’t done this, since I was on board with most of what she said that day, but the spiritual medium thing was totally out of nowhere and not really something that I believe in.) At the end, Seane stuck around to talk to people individually and answer their questions.

As I stated before, Seane was a very engaging speaker, and at times she was humorous. Here is some of her wit and/or wisdom (both quoted and paraphrased):

  • We need to learn “light” (our enlightenment) through “shadow” or the bad—no matter how much we want to stay in the land of “rainbows, strawberries, unicorns, and butterflies.”
  • Seane: “Can you define what ‘enlightened’ is?” [Teacher trainee pauses] “‘No’ would be the right answer.”
  • The ego “c-blocks” our soul.
  • If we want to do more in the world—tackle big problems like war, terrorism, famine, rape, etc.—then we need to deal with our own internal war first and forgive and accept those around us; we have to eliminate the “Us vs. Them” mentality through yoga (which means “union”).
  • Seane (on confronting the “big feelings” we all have):“You can’t get to the ‘bless you’ until you get to the ‘fuck you.’”
  • Seane (on opening the chakras in our asana practice that day): “Don’t go into this dark scary place where you’re chakrically fucked.”

To be honest, I think I’ve been putting off writing about the Seane Corn event (for a month now…) because, well, frankly… it was a bit underwhelming. It was good, don’t get me wrong; it just wasn’t quite what I expected. I would love to say that the day was “life-changing” or “mystical,” but really, it wasn’t, even though I did actually enjoy the day.

What did I expect? More yoga! Despite coming directly out of the 40 Days Challenge, that day I was definitely bursting with energy. (Maybe that’s why I wanted more asana practice!) I knew that the event would be part asana practice and part discussion, but honestly, about 2/3 of it was discussion with and lecture from Seane. While our asana practice was challenging at times (have I mentioned how much I hate lizard pose?), I expected her to be even tougher on us. She even admitted that she went “easy” on us. I’m sure most participants, self included, wouldn’t have chosen that word specifically, but, well, why? Why hold back for us? If we’re there, we’re in for a challenge!

There were also issues with time constraints; we were supposed to break halfway through for lunch, but instead our break came after four hours! Seane lectured/discussed with us for two, and after a short bathroom break for everyone, we began our asana practice. This lasted for about another two hours. We then took a one-hour break for lunch, which at that point seemed useless (however, probably a good break for Seane, who had done a lot of talking). On the upside, I got the chance to talk to some other yogis at the event. Finally, we came back for another hour/hour and a half of question-and-answer with Seane. Although many people probably didn’t want to do more yoga after eating, I think at the very least a short restorative session would have been an excellent ending to our day, but instead we just sort of ended abruptly after she wrapped up the Q & A.

Still, I’m incredibly happy that I had the opportunity to attend Seane’s all-day immersion. If I ever have the opportunity to take another class with her, I think I will. Although not everything she said struck deep for me, there were a few things that I took away from the day that have stuck with me since then—especially concerning understanding where our emotions come from and letting them release through yoga. Also, now that I have finally finished writing this entry, I can say that it was nice to revisit some of these points as a reminder to stick with my practice and make it through the rest of this incredibly hot summer. They seem far away now, but both the 40 Days Challenge and Seane Corn’s workshop created a new air of confidence and happiness within me, and I intend to take that positive energy into the fall when I start teaching again. (Hooray!)

Thanks for your patience with this entry! Up next, I’ll talk about my Iyengar-based class that I took for the month of June!

Outdoor Yoga for Independence Day? Sure!

Standard

Hello, everyone! I just wanted to throw a quick update on here since I’ve been away for a bit. There are an awful lot of links in this post, so I hope that doesn’t kill your productivity if that’s a concern for you. I will have at least two updates coming relatively shortly. The first is the long-awaited Seane Corn post detailing her visit to Rochester’s yoga scene. The second will be sharing my experience in a wonderful Iyengar-based yoga class in Brockport! The Beyond Center is, I think, one of very few studios on the west side of Rochester, and being a native to that area, I have to recognize them for that! (Seriously, what is with all these studios being on the opposite side of the county from me? We like yoga over here, too!)

Today, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, was the Fourth of July, and breathe yoga held their Independence Day benefit class at their East Ave. location in the city of Rochester, with proceeds going toward this year’s SEVA challenge. Donation-based benefit classes are the norm for breathe every time a major holiday rolls around, but today’s class was different because it was held outside! (They also included a very healthy picnic for afterwards, but I didn’t stick around for it.) The class today had probably about 130 yogis practicing out on the front lawn of the historic Hutchison House for a sunny and energetic practice. As my husband pointed out before I left, “You get to do sun salutations to the sun for once!” Can’t argue with that kind of optimism!

Here is a picture I took before we began. This isn’t even half of the group that was out there today! (Apologies for the awkward candid shot!)

Before the sun was in my eyes!

Some of you may have been directed here from my friend Lex’s blog Weekly Mac! If you have, welcome. Lex nominated me for an Illuminating Blogger Award, which I hadn’t heard of before, but I’m very grateful. The rules state that I must include something random about myself and then nominate five other bloggers, so here goes!

Random thing (I’ll make it yoga-related): Since beginning my yoga adventures, I have brought quite a few people with me to classes, such as Lex at Weekly Mac and my hubby, Joe, who you’ve read about for “Couples Yoga.” I have also brought my brother’s fiancee Lynn and my sister-in-law Angela with me–nothing like sharing yoga with family! Most recently, I introduced my good friend and “satellite sister” Amanda to yoga classes, and she’s been enjoying them so far! She comes with me once a week, which I think is a great way to start (I only did yoga maybe once or twice a week when I first began and just let it grow from there in the past year). Fun fact, though: I have improved my practice somewhat recently (i.e. in the past few weeks) in that I can do a shoulder stand and full wheel (no longer a flat tire), I can do a bind during side angle pose (but only on the right), and I can sort of do crow now if I start on a block. When I first started bringing Amanda with me, though, I couldn’t do any of those poses. Amanda, who had never done yoga before, could do all of them! Strange, right? Even stranger was that poses that come easily to me–like pigeon or archer arms–were ones that she couldn’t get into. Funny how different everyone’s anatomy is, and yet yoga can still be for everyone! I’m so happy that I get to share it with those around me.

My nominees (and some personal favorites):

Lex at Weekly Mac: This might be cheating since she nominated me, but whatever–go read her blog! (If that doesn’t count, check out Lex’s other blog, dedicated to the life of her rescue dog, Piper.)

Visually Illiterate: This is my friend Marie’s craft blog where she shows off her projects and discusses the goings-on of the crafting world. Go read it now and get inspired!

The Paper Sandwich, written by author (and my former professor) Anne Panning: Anne’s observations about her childhood, professional life, and family are both witty and poignant and always wonderfully insightful.

Body Divine Yoga: This is a yoga blog I came across a few months ago. The writer, Danielle, delves into multiple popular topics in the yoga community, making for some very informative reading.

Yogadork: This one’s over in my blog roll. Yogadork seamlessly blends yoga with humor because yoga should never be about taking yourself too seriously. I’m sorry Yogadork–I keep meaning to submit something to you, but I appear to have a bit of writer’s block*.

(*Hence the lateness of my Seane Corn entry, guys. Seriously, I should get on that.)

Like I said at the beginning of this post–many links! Happy reading!