Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Doshas, My 1st Private Client, & Practice Teaching

This may seem like a weird combination of things to put together in an entry, but they're all related and I feel like I can't talk about one of the experiences without the other. It was kind of a big weekend.

I was excited to learn about Ayurveda this weekend, and was somewhat disappointed with the session when it actually came to be. It's probably just my own personal -ness getting in the way, but I have a real issue with labels as they may be. Using only 25 words to describe everything just doesn't sit well with me, and the connections that she was making for a lot of the things just didn't make sense.

I wouldn't describe water as oily unless it is, in fact, oily. Sorry, just not working for me. I understand a lot of the concepts though, like the eating times and sleeping times and things people should and shouldn't avoid. I get it, but I still don't completely buy into it. I was also taken aback when my test read Kapha but she told me she thought I was Pitta. I don't know what to say about it besides that's what the test said. Maybe I took it wrong? Although looking back at it now I was 10 Kapha 7 Pitta 6 Vata so maybe that' s a close enough order that I'm all 3? I'm going to try taking a few more tests and see what the results are. Maybe that will give me some answers.

So that was the first thing this weekend where my self kind of felt called in to question. Who am I? Like, shouldn't I know that answer better than some stranger I just met? Maybe not?

Then we did our private lessons on Saturday and I was really excited with how it went. Ashley felt "light as air" afterwards, she said I was a natural teacher and she enjoyed the session. I was very pleased. I even volunteered to teach during training the next day because I was feeling pretty confident about my abilities.

Then the next day came, I taught, and I completely screwed up my entire mandala (which I've fixed! and will post about later), I talk too quietly, I don't demand the attention of my class....I felt like I did ok until it was time for the constructive criticism portion.

Here's where I have a confession to make: I really don't feel like myself at teacher training. Granted, I am a naturally introverted personality. There's a quote that I like that I can't exactly remember word for word right now, but it speaks about holding your tongue so that when you do speak people take notice because they know what you have to say is important. That's how I feel. I'm not a naturally outgoing person, but it's not because I'm shy. I'm not afraid to speak, I just don't find it necessary in a lot of situations. I find myself reading each situation when I arrive to it, and for some reason when I arrived at teacher training I didn't feel comfortable enough to be myself....whatever that means.

I surround myself with strong personalities often, so it's not that I was intimidated. It's just that I really didn't feel like I had much in common or much to say to almost anyone at training, and I read that immediately. I feel comfortable to do my yoga with them, but I'm not comfortable saying what's on my mind because I don't think it translates to most of them. We're just in very different places in our lives, and probably will continue to be and the couple of times I have spoken to the majority of people in training, I'm often answered with blank stares and not a lot of response otherwise. That's how I felt when we were being given feedback about our teaching. Everyone had a lot to say to everyone else, but when it became my turn, Gioconda was the only one who had anything to say to me.

It's just a strange feeling, because I surround myself with people who are like me, who understand what I'm saying and don't look at me like I'm crazy whenever I open my mouth. So I've opted to stay quieter during this entire training process, but now I fear that I've made myself out to be timid and shy when that's not really the case. I have confidence that I will make a good teacher, but I do not feel 100% confident teaching at my own teacher training.

That being said, I think the feedback was very helpful because as I've been pondering over it and turning it over in my mind the last few days, I came upon a way to frame it that suits me and is positive. I've always liked the quote, yoga is like therapy without having to talk about it. I graduated with a psychology degree, and the way in which people work has always been fascinating to me. I'm all about having close relationships with people; knowing them intimately because superficial relationships just feel like a waste of my time.

Well, when it comes to yoga, maybe what I'm most suited for is private clients. I felt so much more comfortable teaching Ashley by herself than I did teaching to a room full of people. And what I really want to be able to do is make an individualized lesson plan for each person I teach so I can help them the best by catering to exactly what their needs are. So, this isn't to say that I don't want to teach some public classes too, as that's probably the way to get the word out about myself as a teacher, but probably what my focus is meant to be is private clients. I don't have to talk a lot because I don't need to, but I can get to know people better and I enjoy sequencing classes that suit an individual personality, rather than trying to cater to 20 different people all in the same class.

I was excited when I came to this realization. In my mind there's a very big difference between growth and changing who you are, and it feels like a very fine line to me sometimes. I want to become a better version of myself, not become a better teacher for the sake of teaching yoga, but not being an authentic teacher while doing it. Teacher training has been such an emotional roller coaster, and I've learned so much these last couple of months I can hardly even believe where I am in my life right now but I'm so so THANKFUL for it. Must just be that time of year. xx

Chakras Pt. II - Mula Dhara

Gioconda asked me to pick one of the chakras that I talked about in my last entry and further develop a practice for the next few weeks to work with it. I picked my root chakra because even though the chakras aren't meant to be hierarchal, there's something comforting in the way maslow's hierarchy of needs and the chakras coincide in my mind, and since that connection was made i'm choosing not to ignore it but rather embrace it. that being said, i've come to the conclusion that a more balanced root chakra can only help me in my journey, even if it's not completely necessary that i balance this chakra before moving up and onward to the others.

So with that being said, I've come up with a couple of practices to help me balance my mula dhara. the first is that i've committed to the 'root to rise' principle in my asana practice. for the last couple of months the thing i've been focusing in on most is strength work, especially in my legs and back, and although i'm not perfect and i still have a lot of growth in that area to work on, it's also just as important for my practice to really ground down and root through my feet especially, in standing poses. it has to do with strength as well, as a lot of my balance issues in those poses are because my legs and hips aren't strengthened enough to keep me steady. i'm working on all of those things to keep me in to speak.

the other practice i've committed to that is not necessarily asana related is being more organized in my life. organization does not come naturally to me. my house and my car and my closet look exactly like the inside of my brain; only holds the important stuff, but it's a mess. there's just things flying everywhere and i know that i have what i need because what i need are the only things that i hold on to; it's just a matter of finding out where i put it last. this is a basic functioning necessity to me because i have 2 part time jobs to pay the bills, i want to get this yoga thing going (i'll talk more about that in another post...) and as soon as my yoga training is over, i fully intend to move on to another project to work on as well..... i'm a busy lady and i prefer it that way but in the long run i can only keep these things up in the air as lon as i can keep track of them all.

so, my first step to becoming more organized was purchasing one of those big desk calendars for the month of november so i could look at my entire day/week/month and know what i had in store. i could add things, and scratch things out and make changes as necessary, and where i found room, maybe even make a little room to see friends and have a little fun. (FUN!). So that's where I'm at with that at this point. So far, it's been going well. We'll see where it continues to take me....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I've been so excited to learn about the chakras! I'm really disappointed that I'm not going to be there on Saturday to learn more about it, but sacrifices are always being made to live the life we've set up for ourselves....

So, a funny thing happened when I was taking notes about the chakras. As Gioconda was talking about the way they were structured and kind of built upon each other, I wrote at the top of my page *Maslows Hierarchy of Needs* because I'm a psychology nerd....but then it was so interesting that she made a point to tell us that the chakras are NOT a hierarchy! Initially they sound like one to have to have the means of basic functioning (mula dhara) before you can move on to creativity....and before you move on to learning about boundaries.....or so it would seem to me. However, if that's not necessarily the case, it's a little jarring to me because it's a belief as a student of psychology that I've held for some time.

Are you saying I can be creative and intuitive but completely useless when it comes to my basic functioning?! Because that's basically my life. But does that mean I need to work on "fixing" those weaker chakras, or simply work to cultivate the stronger chakras that I've been blessed with naturally?

I immediately connected with Swadhisthana and Anja chakras the most....and probably Sahasrara, I would say. I'm in my own head a lot, and always thinking and day dreaming and not doing things like cleaning my house or always remembering to pay my bills on time.... The descriptive "watery" really describes my personality in a way. Go with the flow, constantly moving, transparent, unpredictable.....I just feel like I have more important things to fill my head space with than the things that most people my age are worrying about. Maybe.

So my initial response to this homework was to do more things to cultivate those chakras....but then what's the point?? If the point of all of this is to better ourselves with the intention of then being better suited to lead others in the practice of yoga (which to me, it totally is) then I need to focus on something that I'm not good at, and strengthen that.

I'm not a particularly grounded person. I'm up in the clouds a lot of the time, and ready to move on at any point in time. Groundedness is something that I could probably use more of in my life, because as much as I maybe am not willing to admit it yet, the nomad way of life is not going to be suited to me forever. And as far as security, well.....I could use more of it. Like, just a little bit even would be fine.

Interestingly, I'm a an earth sign (taurus) so you'd think I'd naturally be better at this but my goal for this chakra is to spend more time outside. I work inside all day and really don't know Austin well enough to know where good outside hang out spots are. I've been interested in exploring the green belt for a while but I just don't know much about it so I've been avoiding it. It's much easier to get my nature fix when I go back to the hill country to visit my friends and family because there is just so much more of it there. Red also really isn't a color that I incorporate into my life/wardrobe at all. I'm more of an earth tones kind of girl, and red is a little too loud and fiery for me. It's almost an alarming color to me, like the color of an emergency or blood...... So maybe just practicing not feeling negatively toward red would be a good start?

Vishudha is another chakra that I maybe don't feel as comfortable spending time with. I am more than comfortable writing about my thoughts & feelings because I know that not many people will hear/view it and they can choose to read it or not read it and it's not on me as much that I'm inconveniencing anyone by making them hear my opinion (something I also need to work on....that's so communication related). I have no problem speaking when I am confident about something, but the problem is that I am unsure of so much....the things that I'm not confident about come out jumbled and mumbled and not making much sense. Blue, of course, is another color I don't spend a lot of time with, but I have to think of some other way to feel empowered to speak my truth.....practice I suppose is where it's at. Practice!

Assisting I w/ Gioconda @ Castle Hill Fitness

I have to say I am super nervous about assisting classes. I hate feeling like I'm getting in the way or being annoying to people in any way, especially when they're practicing yoga which is as sacred to a lot of people as it is to me. That being said, I don't mind being assisted so I doubt other people do, but I also don't want to be assisted by someone who doesn't seem qualified to touch me....if that makes sense.

Luckily my first assisting went well and I was lucky enough to have a former trainee as my assistee (I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to be calling these people I'm assisting...) so she had good tips and nice things to say and even got me a job teaching at the YMCA! Everything works out the way that it is meant to, and it's nice to have those moments of realization about it.

Anyway, I felt more comfortable assisting her because I knew that she knew what I was up to, and I was learning so she wanted to be helpful. I also was super intimidated because she's a seasoned practitioner, obviously, and I felt like I had no business assisting someone who clearly knew more than I did. I think that's my biggest fear about assisting is that I'm going to do something wrong. I just need to get over it!

Body Types Observation w/ Iva @ BFree Yoga

So the thing I noticed most while observing the way Iva teaches to different body types, is that there are WAY more body types to teach to than just male female skinny fat which is what I was going in to this observation with the intention of learning about. However there is so much more to people's bodies than that! Of course there is men and women, who have different body types, but there's also young and old flexible people, people with good balance, people with a strong upper body/legs/core, people who are more aware of their bodies (like if their shoulders are back and their ribs are soft), bodies that are accustomed to a certain style/teacher, people who are sweaty, people who are there for the exercise vs. the practice of yoga....I could go on if I thought about it more I'm sure.

And it's so telling after watching one simple set of Surya A or B which person fits into which category, and of course most people fit into more than one category, and probably don't even realize which categories they really fit into...or maybe they do!

Another thing that was interesting to me was that men naturally have more upper body strength than women, but it impressive to say the least to see a woman who has been practicing yoga for a a while to have more grace and fluidity in her upper body strength than a man who maybe naturally is still stronger than her, but doesn't know how to harness it, or use it for his entire benefit. I watched Iva assist a man into a handstand which was beneficial for me to see. Assisting men much larger wasn't difficult for her because it's more about support than lifting. If a person can't at least attempt to kick into a handstand on their own, they're not ready to do a handstand, or so it seems. At least for the safety of the instructor....assistant...

That's it for my observations! I've learned so much by watching other people teach/practice, I'm so grateful for the experience. Super nervous to start assisting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Verbal Cues & Manual Cues Observation w/ Laurie @BFree Yoga

I went in to BFree on Saturday afternoon because I so rarely ever have a Saturday afternoon off, and I thought I might enjoy some yoga. Well, the only class they were having at that time was a Bikram class. I've taken a couple of various Bikram classes and honestly, I just don't enjoy them the same way that I love Vinyasa flow, but I figured what the heck I was already there anyway so I might as well take the class. Yoga is yoga, right?

Well, the reason I'm writing about this class as an observation when I actually took the class is because this is the first yoga class that I have taken, maybe ever, that I left feeling worse than when I got there. Not that I was feeling bad when I got there, but I count on yoga as a way to relax, rejuvenate, etc. and not to leave feeling more stretched out and uncomfortable than before I took the class. So, I felt like it was important to write about.

It's not that I think Laurie is a bad teacher as I'm aware of the massive difference between Bikram and Vinyasa Flow, but I have still taken Bikram classes where I felt like I got a good workout and felt energized and good at the very least after the class. However, that was just not the case with this class.

I guess since I'm considering this my Language observation, I'll focus on that. There were only 3 students in the class, 2 and myself, and the other 2 were a lot more familiar with Bikram style yoga than I am. I feel like she made the class a lot easier because I was in it, and was talking specifically to me while she taught the class which made me nervous and uncomfortable because I don't want to be singled out while I'm in a group class. That's what private lessons are for, and I don't prefer them.

I felt like she talked a lot just in general as well, and I realize again that in Bikram there is a script to be followed, but I think for my sake and because the class at BFree isn't technically considered Bikram, she strayed away from the script. Which is fine, except that I think the other students would have preferred a more Bikram - scripted class and she changed it up just because I was new. I think more than anything she just got discombobulated because the class was different than she was expecting it to be - with a vinyasa practitioner in the class, she was trying to hard to please everyone when, in reality the class was Bikram style and she should have just stuck to what she was there to teach.

Afterwards, I got to talk to her a little more and she is honestly a very nice lady and I'm sure she's a good teacher but the change in what she was expecting the class to be completely threw her off her game and I think that may be one sign of a "good" teacher - being able to go with the flow so to speak, but also sticking to what you know and teaching Bikram by the script if that's what you're there to do.

Sorry that this was more of a rant than an observation...but I still considered it a good learning experience, which is why I had to write about it!

2nd to last observation - complete! yay