On Death of Dogs and Friends

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I legitimately have a good excuse this time, however.  It’s literally been an insane month.  On 9/8 we had to put our pet chihuahua, Lucent, to sleep.  He was 18 years old, so he had a good, long life.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to let him go.  It was the Thursday or Friday before Labor Day weekend that we noticed that he wasn’t feeling good. He threw up some eggs I gave him, and then after that he basically stopped eating.  We couldn’t get him to even eat bacon, which was one of his favorite things EVER (next to Tim).  His back legs started collapsing, so Tim had to hold up his back end so he could use the bathroom.

But Lucent has had rough spells before, and after a few days, he would start to pull through.  But this was different.  He just kept getting weaker and weaker.  He slept with us Sunday night, and each time that I rolled over, I felt him to make sure he was still breathing.  On Monday we cuddled him all day and made a cozy nest for him on Monday night in our living room.  We covered his bed with my childhood blanket that he loved, and surrounded his bed with pee pads just in case.

We woke up Tuesday morning, and he was still with us, but we knew that meant we had to make a decision. I emailed my coworkers and told them that I was staying home that day.   I spent the morning crying with Lucent laying on my chest. Tim’s work is super short-staffed, so he did his short morning shift, and then we took Lucent to the vet.

They told us what we already knew.  Lucent was ready to move on.  It was time.

I’ve lost all my grandparents and some close friends, but I have never been as sad as I was that day, in that room.  I was surprised because I thought I was ready. I thought I was ready to move on. Lucent and I had had a long, long relationship. I thought I had come to terms with him moving on to puppy heaven.  But I hadn’t.  He was a third of our family for 18+ years, and it was a lot harder to let go than I thought.

And it was even harder for Tim. He and Lucent were soul mates – almost literally attached for the past several years.  Lucent was just happiest tucked into Tim’s arm, or on Tim’s lap, or under Tim’s shirt.  They were inseparable.  Seeing Tim in so much pain was almost as hard as losing Lucent.

We had several good, long years with Lucent, and I am very grateful for them.  As with any death though, after it happens, you are riddled with guilt. I wish I would have pet him more, held him more, been more patient with him being under my feet EVERY time I was cooking, gave him more bacon, let him HAVE my child hood blanket (I stole it back a few times).  I wish I would have done so much more to make his final months and years super happy and pleasant and loving.  I know he had a really good life and was a very happy, content puppy until the very end, but I still wish I would have done more and been less selfish.  I was looking forward to being dog-free and to the freedom and flexibility that would offer, but it ended up being a bitter reward in the end.

If you know anyone who has lost a pet, please don’t underestimate the pain that person is experiencing. I know I ALWAYS have up until this point. Now I understand.  Every card and call and hug means so much at a time like that.

So that happened.  And then 3 days after that a friend & coworker attempted suicide. And then a week after that, he attempted again and succeeded.  I didn’t cry for him like I did for Lucent. I think I was/am still a little numb and spent.  We went to his funeral today, and now I am tired and feel like shopping. I think my brain is craving the endorphin rush from buying things.

So that’s been my month. I am SO craving getting back to normality.  We are also starting another primal challenge, and I’m looking forward to getting my nutrition/exercise/sleep back in line.  Because of the craziness we haven’t been eating or drinking right, and my anxiety is starting to pop back up again. I need a re-set.

Hope your month has been happier than mine, and here is to fresh starts and happier times!


Posted in Health & Fitness, Paleo | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

On Trying New Things

It’s been an absolutely bonkers-good weekend.  I’m going to tell you all about it, so I hope you want to hear it. :)

It started off by taking Friday off and going to a WATERPARK!! Yes, I am 38 years old, and yes, I arranged for a group of adults to go to a waterpark with absolutely no children. It was just grown adults, enjoying the sun, the slides, and the joyful vibes.  It was super, duper fun. It reminded me so much of going to our local waterpark, Wacky Waters, when we were younger.  The park was even playing music from the 90s.

Saturday started off well as well with beautiful, fall-ish weather. We took advantage of the weather and did a quick 16 mile bike ride in the morning. On Friday morning, I had taken my Luna sandals out for a quick jog/sprint session, and I think the sprints totally increased my aerobic capacity!  We did the 16 mile ride very fast, and I even got Queen of the Mountain on Main Street Hill, which means I’m the fastest girl up that hill.  And I HATE hills!  But I power boosted right up that one.  ALL HAIL QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN.

Saturday afternoon Mom and I did our first joint venture – Relax, Renew, and Brew.  It was hosted by an awesome micro-brewery in Rock Island, IL, Radicle Effect Brewerks.  They reserved their whole back room for us and even brought in snacks and offered us drink specials.

I opened the class with a 3o minute mostly-seated yoga sequence.  I did a bunch of reading on asanas that enhance creativity. I found that the sacral chakra is the root of creativity, so postures that work your center are supposed to raise the vibration of that chakra.  I started with a creativity intention-setting mediation and then moved into some postures.  We did some seated torso rotations, seated pigeon, and then moved to standing postures where we did some wrist therapy (to loosen up our wrists for the subsequent painting extravaganza).  Once standing we also did some hip circles (which looked as if we were hula hooping with invisible hula hoops), and then we did a visualization where we place our hands right below our belly button and envision bright orange light emanating from our hands.

Once the yoga was finished we moved right into the painting portion of the class, taught by Mom. She taught people how to paint circular designs on rocks, using a series of circles or dots. Maybe it was Mom’s excellent teaching, or maybe it was my excellent yoga-ing, but everyone’s rocks turned out really beautiful and individualistic. Not one stone looked like another, but they were all beautiful.

It was so much fun working with my mom and hanging out with friends and loved ones, creating some artwork and having good conversation.

And today was just a good.  A friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers who is also a yoga teacher.  This friend, Emilene, practices a version of yoga called Adamantine. With this type of yoga, you practice a series of 20 postures with a specific breath count.  The sequence is meant to be done first thing in the morning Monday – Saturday.  Emilene was kind enough to introduce me to the sequence and to share her book with me. I’m super jazzed to try it.  I don’t have time to drive to Moline for yoga every day, so I really need to practice at home. However, when I have to consciously focus on what asana to do next, it makes the practice much less meditative for me.  So I really like the idea of doing the same thing every day and just perfecting each pose daily.  I’m excited to learn more about it.

After meeting with Emilene, Tim and I took advantage of yet another gorgeous day and went disc golfing. We had SUCH a great time.  Despite the blusteriness of the day, we both played well.  It was super nice to be outside, walking on the grass, enjoying the late-summer sunshine.

And let me just give a shout out to my Luna sandals.  They make me so happy!  I love feeling the grass between my toes, and they make running so much more enjoyable. I run on the grass next to the bike path. I enjoy feeling the unevenness of the Earth beneath my feet.  They are great just for walks and casual wearing too. My feet are getting tan, and they really enjoy being able to breathe more. They told me so.

We tied up the day with an excellent home-cooked meal of sweet fire pork chops, baked kale chips (coated with parmesan and nutritional yeast), and grilled red size B potatoes.  And now we are sitting out in the back yard – me wrapped in the blanket my mom made me 30+ years ago, writing a blog post, and Tim reading the Mistborn Triology and cuddling with Lucent. Life is good.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cities, Sandals, and Self Confidence

Wow. That’s a lot of topics to cover in a blog post, especially since all of us have no attention span anymore due to the being constantly overstimulated. I will try to just hit the highlights. I really need to start writing more so that I don’t need to cover a novel’s worth of updates in each post.

1.  Cities.  We just returned from a 5-day epic journey to NYC.  We drove the Fusion out on Wednesday and returned on Sunday.  We brought along our Supremely Ancient Chihuahua, Lucent. It definitely made the trip more cumbersome, but it had its upsides too.  Because L has to pee about every 75 minutes, we were forced to take frequent breaks. This is bad for making good time, but good for blood flow.  Getting out of the car and stretching legs is definitely a healthier way to travel for 17 hours.

Also, having L in the car made me more appreciative of the times where L ISN’T in the car.  Despite weighing about 7 lbs, he could rival a 150 lb beast in the stench department. He is one smelly monster.  We could tell whenever he woke up from a nap because the whole car would be pervaded by the rankness of his maw.  When he was younger, we would get his teeth cleaned regularly which really helped the smell. He is so frail now though that he wouldn’t survive the procedure.  Whew.  So smelly.

NYC was just as I remembered – lots of gum-pocked sidewalks, inconsiderate drivers, and garbage skittering everywhere, mixed with delicious food, friendly locals, and gorgeous beaches and hiking trails.  NY is a mixed bag.

We had a great time though since we got to see our family, meet the friends of our family, and spend some time outside on the beach and in the hills above the Hudson.  But, man oh man, were Tim and I ever so happy to roll back into green Iowa again.  Our house seems so cozy and luxurious now!

2. Sandals. I finally bought a pair of barefoot running sandals – Lunas.  I’ve been reading lately that flip flops are really bad for your calves and low back (you need a strap around the heel to prevent shortening of the achilles tendon), so I wanted to find some sandals for the summer that I could also run in. I have barefoot Merrels that I love, but my feet, even without wearing socks, still get super hot in them.  I heard of these sandals via Born to Run and also a trail running group I belong to on FB.

I got them 2 days before our trip, so I broke them in in the City.  Despite walking and/or biking for several miles each day of our trip, they held up REALLY well.  My feet did not get any more sore than they do in regular shoes, and they stayed a lot more comfortable temp-wise.

Today I added the optional ankle strap and took them out for a 3 mile run on the grass next to the Duck Creek Bike Path.  I LOVED them.  It’s so pleasant to feel the grass slipping between your cool toes as you run over the Earth.  My only struggle is that my feet make a really loud slapping sound on the concrete. I think I need to work on my barefoot running form.  I think I need to run more on the balls of my feet instead of slapping down from the heel.

3.  Self-Confidence.  I’ve been teaching yoga now twice/week for about 4 weeks.  As I’ve mentioned, I always really enjoy my Wednesday 5:30AM class.  I just feel more comfortable and relaxed than I do on Monday nights. Plus, the class is 15 minutes shorter, so I have fewer asanas to conjure up.

I think a huge part of it is that my Wednesday morning class is more interactive.  We chat more, and the students smile at me more.  I’ve found that if I don’t get a lot of positive feedback from the people in my class, I feel as if I’ve taught a boring class.  I feel that way even knowing that often times people enjoy the class – they are just focused on getting packed up and back home as soon as possible.

I’m hoping that with more practice, I will gain confidence in my ability to teach a good class. I want to always enjoy the class without needing everyone to say, “Great class!” when they leave.

I also am concerned about my ability to keep my classes fresh because there are only so many postures that I can do (and therefore that I feel comfortable teaching).  My  current playbook is pretty skimpy right now.  I bought one of Sadie Nardini’s teaching programs, and I need to make the time to start watching that so that I can continue to bring something fresh and interesting to each class.

Oddly, I also feel my confidence zapped when I attend a class taught by one of my fellow YTTers.  They are SUCH good teachers!! I am so impressed with them and feel as if there is no way my class can be that good.  Why can’t I just be appreciative of their talents without feeling as if it diminishes mine??  I obviously have some work to do on my ego!

And there you go.  That’s my update.  I hope you are having a fabulous summer – getting outside, riding your bike, taking some runs, spending time with friends and family, traveling to new places, eating delicious food.  Take care, and thank you for reading!!

Posted in Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

One week down…

I taught my first evening class on Monday. It was an hour and 15 minute long all-levels vinyasa class. I borrowed (aka stole) a sequence from our Yoga Sequencing book. It was chock full of sun salutations, so I figured it was a good basic sequence that would cover all the bases.

I had 5 people show up, which is not too shabby for a brand new class and for a summer evening.  To be honest, I felt as if I struggled a bit at first getting into a flow.  About 1/2 way through, though, I started to loosen up and go off-script, and then I really started to enjoy myself. It seemed as if the class started to enjoy it more too. I think that’s a good lesson – the less tied to a written plan you are and the more extemporaneous you are, the better the class will be.  You can be more nimble and responsive when you’re not tied to your notes.

I used the same sequence for my 5:30AM class yesterday.  I had to tweak it a bit, of course, because this was just a 60 minute class. Plus I only had 2 people there which allowed me to do some experimenting.  I read this article a few weeks ago, and I was very intrigued by the balloon exercise. To me it seemed to really illustrate how to keep your core engaged during exhales AND inhales.  Since we had such a small class, I was able to try it out. I’m not sure the students thought it was super enlightening, but I think they thought it was fun to do something different. :)  We did a lot of that kind of stuff – just trying out different ways to get into asanas to see what works and doesn’t work for the particular body and day. It was fun and interactive.  At least I thought it was fun!  And they both said they will be back, so they must have enjoyed it a bit too.

That is SUCH a good feeling when people leave your class with smiles on their faces.  SUCH a good feeling.

I taught another lunch-time yoga class at work today too.  We started with some gentle breathing and then moved on to stretches and twists and a couple of standing postures.  We ended with a Gratitude Meditation, where you focus on someone that is indispensable to your joy and happiness. You steep your body in those positive emotions for the 5-7 minutes in savasana (which since this was a corporate class, involved sitting in a chair with your hands in your lap and your eyes shut).  During savasans, I gave everyone a very brief shoulder massage. I put orange essential oil on my hands (a tip from one of my Teachers!) and placed my hands by their face first.  As we ended the class, I shared this article with everyone.  I encouraged them to take 2 minutes every day to write down 3 very specific things for which they are grateful.  The reasoning is that doing this for 21 days will help rewire the brain to look for the positive instead of the negative in life.

The attendees (7 of them) really seemed to enjoy the class. I think 1 or 2 of them may end up trying out my class at Indigo.  Again, I felt so happy after the class.  It was so nice to be able to improve someone’s day.

So it’s been a good week of teaching so far.  Again, I’m afraid of blowing my wad too early. What if I run out of ideas??  What if I can’t think of anything new, different, or interesting to say in class??  But I just need to chill the f@ck out and have faith that fate or God or the universe will help me discover interesting tidbits each week to keep my classes fresh.

What do you like in your yoga classes?  What keeps you coming back?  If you’re a teacher, how do you keep your classes fresh and interesting?


Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching for Realsies

Well, I did it.  I finally worked up the courage to talk to the owners of Indigo about letting me teach.  We settled on a Monday night class at 6:30PM and a Wednesday morning class at 5:30AM.  Yes, I typed that correctly, 5:30AM.  I want to teach at that time because that is the time that I want someone to teach me!  The only 5:30AM classes at Indigo are at the hot studio, and I’m still a little suspicious and distrustful of my ability to maintain 100% consciousness at the hot studio. So I wanted to give other early risers like me the option of non-hot yoga before work.

I’ve only taught one class so far.  I had 3 students – a very intimidating audience made up of my husband, my YTT friend Angela, and my friend from work, Beth.  The class went well overall.  I started it off with some seated meditation and some gentle twists.  I wanted to give people a chance to wake up a bit before doing anything too vigorous.  The rest of the class was made up of the usual suspects – sun salutations, wide legged folds, lunges, back bends, etc.  I didn’t really have a “theme” for this class; I just tried to find asanas that are good for waking up the body.  But I found that I missed having a story to tell about the class. It adds a nice bit of cohesiveness and direction.

Initially I am planning on doing a little experimentation to see what works – both for people who come and for myself.  Right now I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities and options – should I focus on a certain body part?  a certain “type” (soulful yoga)?  breath work?  athletic?  calming?  I know it’s important to build your “brand,” so that people who come to your class know what they are getting themselves into.  But I’m afraid that if I settle into my “thing” too soon, I will end up doing the same kind of class over and over again.  Maybe my thing can be experimental yoga – people can come to my classes to learn a little something new each week.  That would encourage me to keep reading and learning about yoga too.

We will see how it goes.  My sequence for next week was stolen directly out of our Yoga Sequencing book.  But I figured that’s legit because the writer was putting it out there as an example.  I figured I would try teaching someone else’s sequence and compare that to how the students and I feel when I teach one I develop completely myself.

The class I taught on Wednesday morning was an Hlo original.  The people who came (who are all friends and loved-ones, mind you), said it was good.    I felt a little choked at first – the words just didn’t want to flow out of me.  Was I nervous even though I had such a kind audience??  It had been a couple of weeks since I had taught, and I’m hoping that was the cause of my nervousness.  Hopefully teaching every 3 days or so will help me improve exponentially.

If you are a yoga teacher, please give me some advice on how you come up with class ideas and how you end up finding the voice and style that works for you!

Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Yoga Practice Class #2

I taught my second community (aka free) class at Indigo on 5/20.  Here are my notes for the class, so you can get a general idea of what I covered.

Calming, evening class

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but if I wait to get a better scan, I’ll never end up making this post. :)

I wanted to design a class that would be relaxing, help people to sleep well, and that would target some common areas of pain for people – shoulders & wrists.  I think that’s probably too many things to focus on in one class, but I’m new and learning, so why not try it and see if it works, right?  Right??

I started out the class the same way that Max Strom started out our day-long intensive at the Dubuque Yoga Fest – with chest breathing in the easy-cross-leg position, a gentle twist, and then chest breathing in horse stance.  I made some (what I considered to be) hilarious quip about horse stance being named such because it looks as if you are riding a horse.  The class indulgently smiled at me.  Yoga students are so nice.

I did far fewer sun salutations than I did during my first class. I filled the void with more therapeutic moves – wrist stretches, twists, lots of child’s poses. I also kept reminding people to relax their faces – especially the furrow between the eyes (my furrow is over-developed and needs massive amounts of work!). I also encouraged them to put that slight Mona Lisa smile on their face.

Then I closed the class with a gratitude meditation. I encouraged people to think about someone indispensable to their joy and happiness.  I asked them to steep their bodies in that positive emotion during the 5-7 minute savasana.  As savasana wound down, I walked around and put a little card on everyone’s mat.  I spent 5 minutes that morning cutting up watercolor paper and writing “GRATITUDE” on the slips of paper in purple ink. Next to the word, I drew a little smiley face. :)  When I closed the class, I told them they could take the cards as a reminder to focus on the things they are grateful and to keep smiling.

I stole/borrowed that idea from Sadie Nardini.  She said she gave Hersey’s Kisses or other little treats to her students to show how appreciative she was that they came to her class and enabled her to live her dream. I really liked that idea.  Plus I have  shit ton of art supplies because, you know, some day I’m going to become an artist.  This was a good reason to use some of them up.

The class of 14 was over 30% filled with my friends and loved-ones, which really helped keep me calm.  But even people who are not beholden to love and support me really seemed to enjoy the class.  As people were walking out, everyone was smiling and chatting.  It made me SO happy that I was able to help a few people become a little happier for an evening.

So, again, I totally loved teaching again.  Shannon said something today that really rang true to me. He said that teaching is a meditation. And I can totally see that. You can’t focus on anything else. You need to stay in the moment and focused.

My next community class isn’t until 6/17, but on the 11th I’m teaching a group of friends after work, and then in late June I’m teaching a lunchtime yoga class at work. I’ve received clearance from HR to officially teach a class at work, but I’m doing a practice session with my close work-friends first. If that goes well, I’ll send an invite out to our whole branch and see who shows up.  I’m really nervous about that one though – teaching yoga to people I kind of know and who I want to think well of me is intimidating!  All these people know the work/Project Manager/Business Analyst -Heather. Not the yoga-Heather who measures chakras and has been annoying all her office-mates with YTT news over the past 6 months.

Speaking of which, YTT is drawing to a close. Our last day together is the 17th. I am SO SAD it’s ending.  But I’m so happy I experienced it.  I am so happy I signed up for this class.

Well, that’s it for the night. It’s time for me to crash.  As always, thank you for reading! If you’re a fellow yoga-lover or teacher, please let me know what you love and/or hate in classes that you take or teach.

Take care!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The sickness of busyness

Ugh – boy do I have it.  Life lately has been rather insane.  Mostly it’s insane with good stuff – yoga teacher training, the yoga festival, meeting friends for supper, visiting the parents, doing yoga observation hours, exercising, reading, making water kefir, cooking, working on the garden, planting flowers. These are all things I love to do, but Jesus Christ, it all takes so much time!

And there is so much more that I WANT to do. So many more books to read, things to paint or draw, blankets and coozies to crochet, walks to take, podcasts to listen to, friends to keep in touch with, writing to do.  But I just don’t have time.  I really need to just quit my job.  That’s the only way to get my life back in balance again. :)  But, unfortunately, I don’t think that can happen any time soon.  There are too many classes I want to take, too many yoga clothes I want to buy, and too much eating out that I want to do.  Hopefully yoga will help me reign in all these wants, and I will eventually find that I have just enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I need to do to make me happy.

ANYWAY, had another great day at YTT today.  We learned how to teach a stress management class that you can do in a corporate setting.  This is something that I am very interested in, since it’s the world I live in every day. I’m surrounded by people who are even more busy and more stressed out than I am, and I would love to get them a little relief.  These people SOOOOO need yoga. Well, everyone needs yoga, but these people that I care about and work with daily would be so much happier with some yoga in their lives.  I’m going to ask HR if I can do some free 30 minute lunch hour sessions. It will help me get my practice hours, and it will also help me gauge the level of interest at the bank for these kinds of things in the future.

The rest of the day was spent learning about how to use the wall to teach people correct alignment in asanas, learning about adjustments for certain postures, and in doing some practice teaching.  Oh, and in getting free strawberry plants, sugar cookies cut out in asana shapes, and handmade chapstick.  Awesome. This is the kind of people we have in our YTT group.

But now I am severely beat.  Severely. I ran this morning for 3 miles, which I used to do with regularity and almost without effect. However, I don’t run as much as I used to due to the aforementioned disease of business.  So when I do run, crap, am I ever beat afterwards!

Anyway, I hope you are having an excellent weekend!  Tell me, if the company you worked for offered free lunch-time yoga classes, would you go?  And if so, what would you want to learn/do??

Posted in Health & Fitness, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga Adjustments and Exercises for Office Workers

Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day!  I’m sitting at my parents’ kitchen table, listening to their gargantuan fridge make creepy noises, looking out over their grassy lawn, past the farm across the road, and skimming over the undulating fields speckled with farm houses and tree, topped by a blue, lavender, and white sky  It’s a pretty site to see in the morning – better than the row of houses and garages that I see from our house in the morning.  It’s very convenient living in the center of town, but I miss the quiet and the views of the country.  Maybe Tim and I can start following the http://www.mrmoneymustache.com way of life (save 40%+ of our income) and retire to a cute little country house somewhere before we are 65.  With a massive garden and a solid internet connection, we’d be all set.

Anyway, I digress. I really meant to talk about 2 things this morning. 1.  My experience assisting one of my YTT friends with her Community class yesterday, and 2. Some final notes from Max’s day-long intensive.

My friend, Angela, taught her first Community class at Indigo yesterday, and I offered to be her second – someone to walk around and adjust people and to just generally help out.  As I was doing it, I realized that for me personally, just standing at the front of the class telling people how to do the asanas is easier than walking around and adjusting them!  Adjustments are so much more personal. I really hate conflict, and even though giving adjustments is a beneficial and helpful thing to do, to me it still feels a bit like you are telling the student they are doing something wrong.  CONFLICT.  It’s hard for me to do!  Also, I find that it’s hard to clearly communicate how you want the student to alter their behavior.  I think that comes primarily from talking quietly, so as to not disturb the whole class with the one-on-one instruction.  I am kind of whispering, and the student is kind of whispering, and neither one of us is really understanding each other.

After the class ended, one of the students asked me for some help with her downward dog.  Now THAT – just having one student who you could fully explain things to – was more my cup of tea.  So far, I do not like giving adjustments in a class setting, but I do like giving them one-one-one, where I can more clearly communicate with the student.

As with all things that make me uncomfortable, it was a good learning experience though. I am sure that the more times I do adjustments, the more comfortable I will feel with them.  We only have 3 YTT weekends left, and it sounds as if we are going to be doing A LOT of practice adjustments during that timeframe.  At first I was kind of disappointed because, honestly, giving adjustments is my least favorite part of the training.  I would rather be DOING yoga, learning about the philosophy, learning about anatomy, or learning about sequencing. But after Wednesday night, I realize that I really do need more experience in this area.

Hmm.  This is already kind of a long post. Let me just tie this up with a few more quick tidbits from Max’s class.  There are still a ton of points to cover, but I want to focus on the tips he gave us for office works, since that’s a pool of folks I’m interested in teaching.

If you have an office job, I’m sure you are already familiar with the effects on your neck, back, and shoulders of staring at a computer all day.  Everything gets tight and weak, and the whole front of your chest starts to collapse.  Max taught us a few asanas that are good for stretching and strengthening these areas.

  1. Cow face arms.  Here is a really good tutorial.  Max says to do this exercise for 60 seconds on each side twice.  If you work at an office, buy a strap and do this 3 times a day (while you are sitting in on yet another boring conference call, perhaps :) ).  I need to talk to my fellow Wellness Team committee members at work about getting some of these straps for our employees!
  2. Reverse Tabletop.  The arms and shins should both be vertical – you may need to step your feet out farther than you think to get the correct alignment in this pose.  Point your fingers out to the side, then back towards the head, and finally towards the feet. Make sure knees don’t splay out or in.  If you have wrist issues, you can sit cross-legged and put your hands behind you, testing out the different hand positions.
  3. Downdog.  Max had some good suggestions for people (like me) who cannot get their heels to the mat.  Bring your feet wider (as wide as your mat, even), and elevate the hands using a stair step or a block.  Practicing this way will help you eventually get your heels to the floor.

And that’s it for today!  I hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Posted in Uncategorized, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Random Yoga Teaching Tips

It’s Friday!  I am so glad.  It’s been a trying week, being back in the real world after a weekend of chilling out in Blissland and then having Monday off.  I’m definitely ready for the weekend.

This morning I’m going to share a few quick tips that I learned in Max Strom’s Inner Axis day-long intensive.

  1. Breath work affects our minds more than the postures.
  2. The fastest way to improve your speaking skills is to record yourself.  Max records himself teaching a class 2 times a week. He uses a small recorder slipped into an arm band.  Then he actually listens to it and essentially takes his own class to see how it flows.  Do any of you do this?  If so, how do it?  What tools do you use?
    1. Take responsibility to say exactly what you mean.
    2. Don’t talk too softly or too quickly.
    3. Be careful about raising your voice at the end of a sentence.  This makes you sound as if you lack confidence.  This is something I need to work on, especially at work!
  3. Probably about 1/3 of our class attendees is sleep-deprived.  A lot of this is due to the blue light emitted from electronic devices.  The light makes our brains think the sun is still up, so the brain doesn’t secrete melatonin, and we can’t fall asleep and STAY asleep.  Help people by teaching a class that helps people sleep better.
    1. Here is a tip I’ve read from other sources – wear a pair of orange goggles at night.  The orange will block the blue light.  Tim and I both wear these when we look at our e-devices at night.  You look kind of nuts, but it helps you sleep!
  4. Teach from a universal platform.
    1. Be careful with religious decorations in the studio (no Buddha statues in the bathroom!).
    2. Be careful of mentions of specific Gods or religions.  You can have a very spiritual class without mentioning any specific religion.  Be inclusive so everyone feels comfortable.
    3. Teach all levels of a posture – easiest to more difficult. The most difficult postures should be taught one-on-one, not to the whole class.
  5. Adapt to your students – teach what they need.
  6. Teach the WHY.  Why breathe from the chest?  Why position your body in this certain way?  Why do yoga at all?  Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Research has shown that people can only easily remember 5-7 items, so I’m going to stop there.  Granted, I kind of cheated because I have sub-bullets in there, but I’m leaving them!

Hope you have a fabulous Friday and that you can get outside, get some sun, and that you can spend time with people you love today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teaching my first public class & a list of recommended reading

Last night I taught my first public class through Indigo, the studio where I am doing Yoga Teacher Training.  When we first started YTT, I honestly could not imagine myself teaching. It seemed completely overwhelming and nerve-racking.  All those eyes, looking at you,waiting for you to tell them what to do, trusting you to make them feel better and not hurt them, watching, waiting…  It seemed so intimidating.

And then we did our first adjustments to our fellow students – how could I get comfortable touching people I don’t even know???  And then we taught our first Sun Salutation to 5 other classmates.  I couldn’t even remember how to do a Sun Saluation.  Mind. Blank.  Then we took turns teaching ONE asana at a time to a group of beginner students.  I think my first pose was side plank.  Super easy asana, but Shannon had to give me little cues to get me started.  All that is to say, it was hard to imagine myself standing up in front of 15 people teaching a sequence of several asanas.

But I did it.

And it was awesome.

The class went really well!  I followed the template that I posted yesterday.  Overall the sequence flowed fairly well. I left out a couple of asanas in the interests of time.  I had 3 friends who attended the class, and I’m going to follow up with them today to see what they thought of the pacing, the volume of my voice, the clarity of my instructions, and the difficulty (or easiness!) of the class.  Immediately after the class a few students said thank you and that they thought it was a good class.  Hopefully they really felt that way!

I’m so glad that I entered this YTT program. I have learned so much, and it’s helped me to see that I am capable of more than I thought.  I haven’t reach my peak yet at 38. ;P

I think I promised a list of recommended reading from the Dubuque Yoga Conference, so here is that list.  Man, I wish I had more time to read!!!

And that’s it for this morning!  Thank you for reading today. If you read any of these books, or check out any of these resources, let me know what you think.  Have a great day!

Posted in Books, Health & Fitness, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment