Category Archives: yoga events

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?

Monthly Yoga: July, Jivamukti Yoga

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About this series: For 2012, I vowed to try a new type of yoga each month and write about it here. This is the seventh of 12 reviews–keep checking back for more!

Apologies for the wait in the write-up! August continues to be a busy month as my school year starts. I’m finally back to teaching after a semester off, and while it does cut into my yoga time, I’m incredibly happy to be back!

Before I begin this month’s Monthly Yoga installment, I have some exciting news. The first is big: Baron Baptiste is teaching a master class next week in Rochester! I signed up the day the enrollment opened up. Baron, as you know, is the creator of 40 Days to Personal Revolution, the challenge I completed in the spring, so I’m really excited to study with him. The second bit of news goes along with the first—40 Days is back! It runs from September 17 to October 26, and I’m participating again. Although my schedule will be busier, I am determined to make it through the challenge once more. (Due to time constraints juggling teaching and the 40 Days challenge, there’s a good chance that Baron’s visit will count as my monthly yoga requirement, but if I can, I’ll try to fit something else in.)

For the month of July, I visited Prana Yoga in Fairport for a Jivamukti class, which the studio offers in addition to their usual vinyasa classes. My instructor for the class was Carrie, Prana’s owner and certified Jivamukti instructor. So what is it exactly? Jivamukti is a style of yoga that originated in the 1980s in New York City, created by David Life and Sharon Gannon (who are kind of fabulous) and loosely translated as “liberation while living.” Essentially, it’s a vinyasa flow, but it incorporates a bit of philosophy and chanting. It is somewhat controversial for emphasizing a vegetarian or vegan diet through the principle of ahimsa (or non-violence/non-harming); however, this aspect was not brought up in class. Carrie said, toward the end, that doing yoga (asana) without the philosophical understanding is robbing yourself of a true yoga practice. While studying the philosophy behind yoga was not an initial goal of mine when I began practicing, it reinforced my assertion upon starting my blog that I am a “novice” with much to learn—and I’m glad for it!

Inside Prana’s studio.

This class was fairly small, perhaps because it was a Sunday morning, with only three other students (who all seemed to know each other and sat together, which could be awkward, but I didn’t mind). The class followed a pretty standard vinyasa flow; there were some variations on sun salutations and side angle that I wasn’t used to, but they weren’t too extreme. Carrie was very specific about side angle pose and where each arm goes (lower hand goes outside foot, not inside like I’m used to, and the upper arm hangs at a very precise angle). It wasn’t quite the “anything goes/take a modification” attitude I’m used to at breathe. To be honest, I didn’t really like that, but every studio/discipline is different. Since it was only one part of an otherwise very enjoyable class, I’m not too concerned. Toward the end of class we did frog for our hip opener, and we set up shoulder stand with blankets—something a bit different than what I’m used to.

Before our Savasana we got to the chanting; that day we chanted the mantra “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.” It sounded quite beautiful, actually, and has this very long meaning (from the Jivamukti page here):

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Let’s look more closely at the meaning of each word of this invocational mantra:
lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so, it must be so (used as an ending here transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)

Even though I’m not used to chanting, I actually kind of like this phrase. It sounded very pretty coming from all of us at once. I’m not necessarily sure that the chanting itself does any good, but I think taking the attitude of happiness and love for all off your mat certainly has benefits (power of positive thinking and all that!).

Overall, this wasn’t a bad class; it made me want to investigate yoga philosophy a bit more (especially after overhearing one of the other students discuss her teacher training, which is something I think I could be interested in eventually, if anything for the additional instruction on philosophy). I think studying some of these ideas might be a good way of keeping myself centered for 40 Days and throughout my semester—if I can get the time!

A Day with Seane Corn

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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!

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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!