26 March 2014

Lessons Old, Lessons New

Last night's class was one of those "really tough but really good" classes. I kept my focus, I worked hard, and...


It took a little longer to clean the studio because of my foggy "yoga brain" but that was ok.

Anyhow, since resuming my practice, I've been reminded of a lot of things to help me through the class -- and learned a couple of new ones (at least to me):

Your Pranayama and Half-Moon determine how the rest of your class will go. One of my first instructors told me this, and his words still ring true. In those classes where I am unfocused with my breathing, or where I just "hang out" in Half-Moon, I tend to have classes where I am not really into it, where I take a knee a lot, where I let my mind convince me that, "We really shouldn't be here". However, if I really focus on my Pranayama (knees locked, glutes engaged, shoulders down, chest lifted up), I am set for a much better class. In Half-Moon, if I really PUSH my hips out and think about trying to pull my top arm toward the back corner of the room, my posture is really strong, and the rest of the Standing Series goes better. I don't slack off or take a knee nearly as much.

HYDRATE. HYDRATE, HYDRATE!!! Seems like old hat for those of us who have practiced for any length of time, but it still bears mentioning. For me, that means cutting my coffee intake to just 1-2 cups a day, and no alcohol. the rest of the time it is either water or mineral water. Sometimes after class though I will have a small glass of soda as a small treat. How do I know if I've hydrated properly? If I can go through class and sip water 0-3 times it's good (yes, sometimes I never open the bottle during a class -- YOUR BODY IS DIFFERENT -- OBSERVE AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF!).

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!! Yes, I know I just said that. But after seeing a woman faint as she left the room (she was ok), it must be said. If you need a break during the standing series, take a knee or sit down but keep your head above your heart. During the floor series, simply go back to Savasana. Let your body tell you what it needs. Sometime it is necessary to leave (I had to bail last night to retrieve my inhaler) -- just ask yourself if you really need to leave the room. The instructor can take better care of you in the room.

Now for a couple of posture tips I picked up this morning:

Balancing Stick: Work to keep your hips level and do what they say: Contract every muscle. 

Wind Removing: Work to keep your heel, knee, and shoulder all in one line when doing each leg separately.

Cobra: During setup, the top of each shoulder should be directly over the top of your middle finger.

Half-Tortoise: Along with holding in your stomach, activate your inner thighs and squeeze your legs together to help stabilize your core as you come into and out of the posture. This was the biggest surprise for me today -- I always have to push myself up part of the way with my hands to get back up.

Hope you find your way to your mat today!!!

PS: As for the nine class in eight challenge, still on schedule -- four in four.



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