21.Aug.2010 Here comes the sun

It’s been a cold winter in Sydney and my yoga practice has reflected the conditions outside. In class on Friday night, I was standing looking at myself in the mirror thinking once again – just have to get through class, at least I came, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want a shower… these are my common thoughts lately in my classes. I have maintained an average of 5 weekly classes but have felt very little bliss lately.

I had a personal epiphany that night after doing a strong standing bow, I looked at myself in the mirror and I realised that I have come so far in my yoga practice – my body is stronger and more flexible than I thought it could ever be –  particularly after having a baby, my mind is clearer and more focused, my postures are mostly improving and I am so appreciative that I found this form of yoga practice.

I’m making the choice to come to class now with a better mindset, to really try, and to enjoy it. I am fortunate to practice at a great studio with teachers who care about the students so I am going to start caring more about myself and surrender to the 90 minutes each time and be present and the bliss, like the warm sunshine that’s slowly reemerging, will return..

14.Jul.2010 Happy (bikram) birthday to me – the first year

I celebrated my 1st bikram birthday yesterday – and oh how I celebrated – did I eat cake? No.. I celebrated yogi-style by doing a double last night after work. Today I feel a little sore and achy but so happy.

So what has my first year of yoga given me:

  1. A new body.. I have dropped 3 dress sizes in the last 12 months – the weight loss was quick, the toning is slower but is getting there. I haven’t got a six pack but I’m not sure if I want one.
  2. A new trust in myself.. this is exciting, I feel that there are endless possibilities and so may goals that I want and really believe I can achieve.
  3. An understanding of the strong link between mind & body.. this is one of the most beautiful things to realise about yoga practice, whatever is going on in your mind has an effect on your body. So many emotions can be faced on the yoga mat.
  4. Be patient and progress will be made.. I can observe this in my practice in postures when I stop trying to make my body do things it’s not ready to do, and then I suddenly improve. In my life outside yoga, I am still learning this.
  5. Appreciation for a healthy diet.. my body performs so much better when I eat nutritious foods and minimise the alcohol and chocolate. I also appreciate the chocolate and wine a lot more when I do have it.
  6. The importance of magnesium.. my favourite mineral.
  7. Balance.. in everything, is the ideal human state and I am trying daily to find balance in all aspects of my life.
  8. Most importantly, live a beautiful life.

I first tried Bikram yoga after seeing my friend’s incredible weight loss and I wanted to desperately lose my baby weight (hmm not sure if you can still call it that when the baby is 2) but I feel like I have gained so much more this year than I could ever have imagined.

08.Jul.2010 weekly yoga inspiration

“Your radiance projects into the universal radiance and everything around you becomes creative and full of opportunity”

Yogi Bhajan

07.Jul.2010 blessed

My yoga studio had a blessing ceremony on the weekend to celebrate opening the new yoga room, change rooms and waiting area. My yogini friend & I attended and we had a fun surprising night.. Lots of wine, some holy fruit slices, hanging out in the teacher’s room which was the chillout room for the night, showing off our fave poses, not leaving the studio til almost 2am eek, and the best burrito I think I’ve ever eaten which helped me recover the next day!

The blessing ceremony  - it was special – there were 2 holy men? who chanted and offered positive energy to the room, and the owner, the teachers and the students. We tossed flower petals at a statue of ganesha and then everyone and everything had holy water sprinkled on them. I didn’t understand the chanting but it was really beautiful and I am so happy to have experienced it.

Next week is my 1 year bikram yoga birthday and I am planning to post about what yoga I have discovered in the last year.. it’s been quite the journey.

27.Jun.2010 Brrrr.. when the yoga isn’t hot

The yoga studio recently opened up a new room.. the room is beautiful – huge space, front & side mirrors, podium, ganesha statue, long room – not too deep so lots of visibility in the mirror… but it’s mostly kinda cold and not humid. In particular, in the weekend mornings when the studio is a little quieter. This is in huge contrast to the other room at the studio – which generally gets to between 40-43 degrees – perfect. So, it’s a bit of a shock to come into this room which feels lukewarm and dry by comparison. This should all change once the blinds are installed – I keep saying a little prayer for them to arrive, don’t the blind suppliers realise how important this is?

I find this tests me – to keep focused and not be distracted by the lack of heat, to be more aware of pushing my body and stretching when my muscles aren’t as warm, and to be mindful of the new ‘edge’ and not pushing to my usual ‘edge’ when I’m in the postures. Am I loving it? Honestly, no.. Is it teaching me some discipline? Yes.. After a weekend of cool classes, am I keen for a super sweaty class? You bet I am.

24.Jun.2010 weekly yoga inspiration

“Yoga serves the individual, and does so through inviting transformation rather than by giving information.”
T.K.V. Desikachar

23.Jun.2010 in too deep..

There is always so much to think about when moving into, maintaining and releasing a posture. Maintain correct alignment, steady movement, suck in your stomach, relax, lock your knee, keep your muscles tensed, look in the mirror, find your edge, stay focused, oh and breathe naturally. I feel like my brain can’t quite handle all these instructions at once so something is forgotten.

My breathing is pretty good now and I don’t have to concentrate so much on remembering to breathe, I focused for a long time on getting my breath steady and that really helped me to start getting some more depth into my postures. I try to remain calm and steady, after pulling a few muscles – I had no choice but to learn that one.

The big challenge for me is maintaining correct alignment while pushing that little bit further. I had a teacher point out to me that I was compromising my full locust pose by not locking my legs out properly and trying to push up too high. He told me I should be focusing on correcting my alignment before pushing deeper. The first set he corrected me, and the second set I corrected myself and could feel it a little more. So it’s time to align and not worry about the depth.. though I love the feeling when you can push that little deeper, it’s so much sweeter when the alignment is there.

17.Jun.2010 weekly yoga inspiration

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Buddha

16.Jun.2010 worn like a badge of honour

Yoga has many many benefits for your mind, body, emotional and mental strengths. Along with the graceful movements, the steady breathing and the general calm and peace that you feel in practice, yoga practice can also be quite brutal. Oh yes, there is a dark side..

No, I’m not talking in this post about the emotional and mental side – the common belief that what you face on the mat reflects what is going on outside the yoga room (I totally subscribe to that theory).

I’m talking about the physical effects:

  • I have almost permanent bruises on my hips, almost permanent as they have been there for the best part of the last year
  • The premise that yoga keeps you looking young is reassuring and I like to think it’s true.. but this doesn’t apply to hands. All the standing on fingers has taken its toll on my hands
  • The pimples.. I don’t need to look so young that I have pimples again, though I managed to get through my teens fairly unscathed by acne, so not keen to go there now

A quick google search confirms I’m not alone.

But is it worth it? Absolutely. The pure health, strength and vitality that yoga practice brings to my body outweighs the negatives. Besides, I’m sure it’s kinda cool to have bruised hips.

15.Jun.2010 “I can live for two months on a good compliment”

Mark Twain I’m pretty sure was not a yogi but his quote is so true when it comes to yoga practice, or for me anyway.

Now for the disclaimer, I know that practicing yoga isn’t about receiving compliments or impressing anyone or even yourself. And though it is true that I love being complimented on the depth of a posture, especially when I myself can feel an improvement in that posture, I like even more when a teacher notices and comments the strength of my overall practice.

I was stopped by a teacher after class on the weekend and she paid me some really beautiful compliments relating to my calmness in the class (it was not a hot class), my lack of competition with myself in the mirror and she asked me whether I practiced other forms of yoga (which I don’t) as she felt that I have a great understanding of yoga practice and just seem to be totally present in the room. I was on cloud nine, it was the sweetest thing I’ve heard about my practice in some time.

My lovely yogini friend Fiona and I were talking tonight about our class and I was telling her I felt like I did a great standing bow (by my own standards) and she said yes you received a compliment on it – the teacher’s comment was jacqui, bring your body down more.. which I didn’t take as a compliment but more as a direction. Fiona said he wouldn’t have told me that if he didn’t see that I could do it – which I think proves she is a master compliment finder. And me being a compliment lover, will take it.

The teacher said at the end of the class that we should praise ourselves and find positives in what we did tonight.. I’m loving all the positivity.

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