Category Archives: yoga adventure

I’m Back! + The Year 2012 in Review

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This is really just a post to say that I’m not dead, seeing as I haven’t updated since October! I left off on Weeks 3 & 4 of the 40 Days Challenge (Round 2), and I’m happy to say that I made it through Weeks 5 & 6 as well; unfortunately, life got kinda crazy and I never got the chance to update anything here.

Even though work and life kind of kicked my butt from mid-October until basically the end of 2012, I was still really happy I could take part in 40 Days again. breathe yoga currently has another challenge happening now, but because I’m starting another teaching gig and slightly hectic schedule in just four more days (eep!), I had to drop out. However, if 40 Days is still happening sometime this spring, I should be around for it and ready for the challenge.

One thing that was really great about this last 40 Days was that all of those who finished this time around got to participate in a master class led by several of the instructors at breathe. Each portion of the class was taught by a different instructor, all of them sort of working within their specialties, so to speak. The only drawback was that they took the group photo of about 50 or so of us after a very sweaty vinyasa practice. Somewhere, there’s a picture of me with pigtails in my hair and a tired-but-ecstatic grin on my face surrounded by a bunch of other sweaty yogis. But hey, what are you gonna do?

By the end of 2012, the momentum that I’d had throughout the year with trying new types of yoga and being really strict about my practice kind of waned. Sure, I still went to classes semi-regularly, but as the weather became colder, I had a more and more difficult time motivating myself to go. For a while, I sort of berated myself for it, too—seems counterproductive, right? Thankfully, this past week I’ve gone twice so far and will probably be in class tomorrow morning, so I think I’m starting to get past my “winter funk” as I call it. (The nice weather we’re having right now helps.) To be fair, too, the same thing happened to me at the end of 2011, and look how great 2012 turned out!

One thing that got me past chiding myself for skipping out on classes (since there was a period of about two weeks where I didn’t go!) was looking back on this year and seeing all the great experiences I had related to yoga. Yes, I know, I still haven’t written about Baron Baptiste and Bryan Kest—give a busy English teacher a break, okay? I promise at some point I’ll type up my notes and you can marvel and laugh at both teachers’ wisdom and humor. (And seriously, out of the three big names to come to Rochester this year [Seane, Baron, and Bryan], Bryan Kest was hands down my favorite!)

So here, somewhat in order, is the great list of yoga accomplishments for 2012!

January

  • got into doing yoga on a regular basis
  • tried Bikram yoga at Bikram Rochester and also tried not to run away screaming from the very intimidating Bikram yogis (I respect you guys, but man, you’re intense!)

February

  • started an unlimited membership at breathe and attended classes multiple times per week for the first time ever
  • did restorative yoga at breathe and wondered why I wasn’t doing that all along (and I’ve gone back a couple of times since then!)

March

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April

May

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Amanda and me at the Memorial Art Gallery, and yes, my phone case is shaped like a cassette tape.

June

  • tried Iyengar yoga at the Beyond Center in Brockport
  • debated signing up for teacher training (thinking I’d have the time to do it), but was thankfully offered employment for the fall semester!

July

fourth

August

  • attended a Hatha class with Amanda at the Memorial Art Gallery, where someone probably should have skipped the bean burrito before class (this isn’t an accomplishment, really, but it still makes us laugh and/or become nauseated at the thought of it; I never wrote about this one and you should probably be glad)
  • started to get excited about the upcoming semester and about the upcoming 40 Days Challenge (v. 2.0 for me)

September

courtesy of breathe yoga. (I'm actually in this pic--points if you can see me!)

courtesy of breathe yoga. (I’m actually in this pic–points if you can see me!)

October

  • completed 40 Days for the second time this year
  • attended a wonderful master class with the breathe staff
  • attended a wonderful and kinda wild master class with the very funny but still insightful Bryan Kest

November

  • attended classes (does this count?)
Winter makes me feel like this guy.

Winter makes me feel like this guy.

December

  • attended some classes, did yoga in a hotel room at one point because the mood finally struck me, and took a much needed break (hey, I guess this counts!)

The end of the year may not have been ideal, but some good came from it. One of my favorite instructors, Dahn, actually raised $20,000 for the SEVA Challenge this year on her own (not an easy task), and in order to raise money she held a silent auction back in November. I went to help support her and ended up bidding on and winning a private lesson! I’ve never had my own yoga lesson, but in a couple of weeks Amanda and I will be there, so we’ll see how that goes. I also won on a bid for lessons at another area yoga studio, and since I think they have a Kripalu class, which I haven’t tried yet, I’ll attempt to make it over there sometime this winter. Also still on my list to try are Kundalini, Ashtanga, Yin, and Raja classes, although these seems to be pretty rare in the area; most studios around here have Vinyasa, Hatha, Iyengar, or Anusara classes. At one point during my search last year, I also found a “Spinyasa” class (half spinning, half vinyasa). Maybe I’ll get to that this year, too.

I’m at the point right now where, surprisingly, I don’t have any goals for the new year. It’s not that I’m unmotivated, but currently I’m just trying to see where I end up and what my schedule will allow. In the coming weeks, though, I should have a better idea of my direction for the year, but for now I won’t stress over it.

Do you have any yoga-related goals for 2013, or do you not let yourself plan when it comes to your practice?

40 Days Round 2: Weeks 1 & 2

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It’s ba-aaaaack!

 

Yes, those are my toes, and yes, they say “40 Days!”

I’m happy to report that I’ve made it through the first two weeks so far. It’s been difficult this time around; unlike last time, I have a very full schedule involving teaching four English classes this semester (and having to read a seemingly infinite number of student essays!). Fortunately, I feel as if I’ve set a rhythm these past two weeks, and if I’ve managed to fit yoga into them so far, I should be all right for the month of October. The requirements are the same as last time: five studio classes (on five separate days) plus one asana or “lifestyle” workshop each week.

The very first day of 40 Days kicked off with a workshop entitled “Tadasana in Every Asana.” This workshop emphasized the Tadasana posture in a few poses—including crow. I’m still not very good at crow, but I liked the workshop and I can always use advice on alignment. The rest of the week went by pretty uneventfully. I took a Foundations class mid-week, which between my teaching schedule and the other 40 Days commitments was a nice respite. At the end of week 1, my friend, Amanda, came with me. She’s been going with me consistently since the end of my first 40 Days challenge, and she threatened to beat me up if I don’t complete it this time. Nothing like the threat of violence to keep you motivated!

Week 2 proved to be a bit more difficult. While I attended all vinyasa classes, two were basics classes because 1. they fit my schedule better, and 2. I began to feel sick in the middle of the week! I have no idea what I had, but I wound up in bed for an entire day just trying to regain my strength. Week 2 also finished (almost, at least) with another workshop, per the 40 Days requirements. This one was on goal setting—not necessarily related to yoga, but it seemed like a really good lesson to assist my Type A-style thinking! We started out with a meditation on imagining a typical day in our lives ten years from now. We thought about the following questions:

Where do we wake up? What do we do upon waking? Who are we with? What do we do in the morning? Where do we work? What is our mid-day like (lunch, working, meeting with others, etc.)? What do we do once we get home for the evening? What’s for dinner? What’s our ritual before bed like?

After thinking about this and visualizing where we each wanted to be, we then wrote down our visualization and tried to connect any common themes and images. We then broke down our goals on how to get there in increments of one, five, and ten years with measurable, declarative statements and with deadlines in mind (e.g. “I save $10,000 for my MBA by September 12” as opposed to something like “I will save money for school”). We shared our goals in small groups and were instructed to share our goals with those involved in them (such as your family and friends) and with everyone. Since I want to participate in this requirement as well, here are some of mine:

In one year (or slightly more, really), I finish my novel by December 2013, I submit something for publication by December 2013, and I consistently practice yoga at least three times a week throughout the next year. Within five years, I own a house with my husband by no later than September 2017. In ten years, I teach English full-time and practice yoga on a daily basis—consistently! I have more goals than that, but I feel like that’s enough to share for now. Really, my goal list is almost complete save for one space (out of eighteen!). I feel like I really needed this workshop to remind myself of my plans in life, and although I recognize that I’ve accomplished a lot so far, I still have a long way to go and plenty to work towards! Because I’m such a productivity geek, I’m keeping the goal worksheet from class in the back of my Filofax to refer to and revise whenever I need it.

Finally, week 2 finished again with a yoga class with Amanda. Before that, we attended a meditation class at another studio called Nirvasana Yoga (over near the always awesome Record Archive). Go figure that last time when I did 40 Days I kept bringing up the fact that I couldn’t seem to find the will to meditate, and this time I actively sought out a meditation practice. The class itself wasn’t so bad. For $5 you can get a cup of tea, a quiet place to center yourself, and a little bit of philosophy to ponder once you’ve left. The only part I didn’t enjoy was that we would sit for fifteen minutes, and just when I was getting comfortable and really clearing my mind, we would get up and walk for five minutes. We repeated that process two more times, and although I found the class relaxing, I’m not sure I would go back. Other than being there causing me to force myself to focus on my meditation, I didn’t really learn any new techniques to help me quiet my mind. However, I do find that letting my mind wander and visualize tends to be a fairly relaxing experience anyway.

I didn’t get to go to yoga today for the start of week 3 because I’ve been home all afternoon reading students’ rough drafts after a busy morning and mid-day teaching! Tomorrow night, though, I go back and get to take the workshop on detoxing and cleanses—something I was interested in learning about last time but somehow managed to miss out on. I haven’t been following along in 40 Days to Personal Revolution this time, but who knows—maybe I’ll get to do that cleanse Baron talks about in there this time around.

Speaking of Baron Baptiste, his master class in September was amazing! I’m sorry I’ve been so late with writing about it, but I promise to talk about it soon. I can safely say that I enjoyed the three very intense hours with him far more than I did Seane Corn’s class (even those hers had its benefits).

Another thing I’ll talk about soon was the Hatha class Amanda and I went to in August at the Memorial Art Gallery. It was very different from what we’re used to, and it was, shall we say, memorable. I’ll have more details on that soon.

I may be updating my 40 Days coverage in two-week increments depending on how my schedule is in the coming weeks, but I promise there will definitely be more!

Coming soon to The Novice Yogi!

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As I mentioned in my last post, I have some exciting news! I have a couple of big things coming up for this blog, and naturally, you guys get to hear all about it.

The first is that breathe is offering a challenge based on Baron Baptiste’s book 40 Days to Personal Revolution from April 16 to May 25! The challenge involves taking five studio classes per week and attending one “lifestyle” workshop (so long as the class requirement is met). Topics range from nutrition and digestion to backbends and headstands, with information on detoxing, meditation, and essential oils thrown into the mix. I am so excited to get to participate since I missed it over the summer. I’ve already begun reading Baptiste’s 40 Days book, which includes different breakdowns of poses and practices for each week of the challenge along with advice to keep you motivated. I’m also getting myself trained to go five times a week now so it’s a smooth transition in 28 days. Best of all, to keep myself on track, I’ll be blogging about my progress. Let’s see if the program is as truly transforming as it says it is!

The other big announcement is that famed yoga teacher Seane Corn will be teaching three workshops in Rochester in May (right at the end of the 40 Days challenge). I’m signed up to go to her all-day immersion on Saturday May 26! Some of the workshop will deal with things like chakras and meditation, but the rest of the 6+ hours will be an intense yoga practice. Naturally, I will let all of you know how it turns out. (And hey, if you’re in the area, you’re welcome to join me there or in the 40 Days challenge! It’s always nice to have a partner to keep you motivated!)

This afternoon, I’m off to a workshop on how knowledge of chakras and essential oils can augment your yoga practice. The proceeds for this go to Off the Mat Into the World’s annual SEVA challenge (bonus: Seane Corn is the organization’s founder!). I’ll let you know about it later!

Motivation is key over the next couple of months. What are your tips for staying motivated for a challenge (a workout, a creative project, or anything else)?

Adventures in Couples Yoga

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Ever since I started doing yoga, I’ve been trying to get my husband, Joe, to come with me to my power vinyasa classes at breathe. While he goes to Planet Fitness on a semi-regular basis to lift weights and run on the treadmills, he’s admitted that he’s not the most flexible guy in the world, so his workout has limits. Still, I was incredibly happy that he’d finally decided to join me for a class on Saturday morning. As much as I like having time to myself on my mat, I enjoy having some company occasionally, too. What better company for me than his?

Joe had actually never taken a yoga class before, so this was a brand new experience for him. Heat isn’t exactly his favorite thing, either, so I was surprised he was actually willing to go with me to a class heated between 85 and 90 degrees. When we got in, however, he had already forgotten about the class’s temperature and asked me why it was so hot in the room.

Yours truly, before class. You should know that I'm addicted to iPhone photo filter apps.

Joe, pre-class. The only guy I've ever seen wearing a metal band shirt to class!

For this class, we chose breathe’s downtown studio, mainly because it is the largest out of their three locations. Joe didn’t want to feel as if he was surrounded by people, so we practiced in a corner in the back where we still had plenty of space to move. Before class began, I explained a few poses to him and told him to rest if tired and not worry if he couldn’t bend a certain way. I also reminded him to look at me or the other students if he wasn’t sure what to do, or listen to the instructor for modifications to make the asanas easier. This is my advice to pretty much anyone attending a yoga class for the first time; don’t beat yourself up—at least you’re trying! The only thing I really regret is that I probably should have brought him to a beginner level class, just so he could get more of a breakdown of the flow sequence and other typical poses.

The class was pretty standard as far as breathe’s open level classes go. We didn’t do anything too outrageous, just stuck to sun salutations, standing series, balances, and sitting poses for hips and abs. Joe kept up with it well, and even if he had to rest for a moment or just stay in downward facing dog, he remained present throughout the class. I giggled a bit when he looked over at me before Savasana with a confused look on his face and asked “What are we doing?” I quietly explained that all he had to do now was lay back, and he sighed with relief. This part seemed to work for him, but when I asked him what he thought at the end of the class, he summed it up in one word: “Torture.” I’m, of course, inclined to disagree with him, but I can see why he’d say that. The class provides an intense full-body workout, and for someone used to lifting weights and running, working all the muscles in your body is a new, and potentially uncomfortable, experience.

Joe’s visit to breathe reminded me of my first time there when I took an evening beginner class last January. I knew it would be a hot class, but I had no idea how that would feel in a packed room (pretty bad, actually). I also knew some basic poses but didn’t really know what combining them into a series would feel like; it was a lot more movement than I anticipated. Like Joe, I was also nervous about being in the center of the room where I thought everyone would see me mess up, but since space was limited in my class I ended up close to the front of the room anyway. As I attend more classes, I notice that I hardly pay any attention to the other people in the room any more. The nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach before the beginning of each class gradually faded; I don’t feel the need to impress others or compete with the person next to me. With apologies to some yogis, it’s not a competition (or at least your classes shouldn’t be!). Joe mentioned that he fell out of a pose and felt like the whole room was looking at him, but I assured him that they would be ridiculous to judge him for it; everyone falls out of a pose at some point. The important thing is trying it and not being afraid to fall.

Will Joe ever come back to yoga with me? I’m unsure. At the moment, I think it’s the furthest thing from his mind. Yet I think that it shows that it’s always worth a shot to experience it once before dismissing it entirely. I’m proud of him for coming with me and putting forth the effort to keep up with the class. He knew it wasn’t going to be a piece of cake, but he still did it. His open-mindedness gives me the courage to take more risks, whether I suspect a good outcome or not.

As an added bonus, check out some of these pictures of the studio in the beautiful Hutchison House!

Such a beautiful space for a yoga practice!

Isn't this fireplace gorgeous?

The carved ceiling is gorgeous. This lamp hung low enough that I could touch it when I raised my hands over my head.

Keep checking back to The Novice Yogi! I have some exciting news coming up!