Sunday, September 13, 2015

And On the Seventh Day They Did Restorative Yoga

After a terrific day off and a good night's sleep, we were eased back in to yoga teacher training with a shorter day on Sunday. Although it was a shorter day, it was still an important one as it was our first time leading the class in poses. I was assigned seated forward fold (which I am terrible at.... tight tight hammies) and lateral side bend (seated). I crammed in some practice this morning and wore my new yoga tights for a confidence boost. I am in love with this pattern and I call them my "northern lights" tights as that is exactly what they look like!
Michelle also surprised us at the beginning of class by asking us to each lead a sun salutation like we did on Friday. I went first again, but this time I was determined not to mess it up. I totally nailed the OM in the beginning mantra and I didn't forget cobra pose this time. And I felt like I did a reasonably good job leading the class in my two poses. These were both seated poses, and I suggested to the class that if they had a lot of "junk in the trunk" like I do, they might find it helpful to lift each buttock out of the way and really ground their sit bones down. Apparently "junk in the trunk" is not a common expression around the world and it caused some hilarity in the yoga studio!
I felt good about the poses I led the group in, but soon that was replaced with a new emotion. Michelle and Marita have told us that many emotions come out during a yoga teacher training. In yoga, it is believed that tight body parts are often storing a pent up emotion from a past hurt or experience, and when that emotion is released, the body part loosens. I am waiting to have a hysterical crying meltdown--in fact I welcome it--if it means my hamstrings and shoulders loosen up. But a hysterical crying meltdown wasn't what happened today. Instead I felt frustrated and angry as it seemed I had regressed since last Friday and lost some of my flexibility. I have been struggling with camel pose, seated forward fold, and shoulder stand since I arrived last week. On Friday, I managed to rotate my shoulders backwards enough to do a pretty decent camel pose. But that camel pose was no where to be found today. And when I went to attempt shoulder stand, there was absolutely no backwards momentum to swing my legs up in the air. JUST NOTHING. And instead of a crying meltdown I was just totally angry and frustrated.
I feel like I have worked so hard since I got here and why aren't I able to do those poses yet? Michelle tells me to be patient, and in my more rational moments I know that it is ridiculous for me to expect to master all these poses so early in my practice. Michelle has been practicing for twenty years! Rome was not built in a day and I know this. And if I push my body any harder, I'll end up hurting myself. SO.... my intention for this coming week is patience with myself. I am endlessly patient with a roomful of 20 four and five year-olds, but patience with myself is obviously something I need to work on.
Our theory was brief after our extended time in the studio, and we tried candle meditation today. Again, this did not come easy for me. Basically, we stared at the inner part of a candle flame for five minutes. We were supposed to avoid blinking for as long as possible. If we blinked, we were to close our eyes and attempt to focus on the "after image" of the candle under our closed eyelids. Well, frustration reared its head again in this exercise. Within five seconds, my eyes starting watering and blinking uncontrollably. I persevered and stared longer but finally gave in and closed my eyes. To my dismay, there was no after image of the flame. I was not impressed. So instead of getting all Zen and lulled into a tranquil meditative state, I was just really frustrated again. I'm adding meditation to the list of things to work on.
Leonardo's fabulous cooking put me in a much better mood with a delicious mushroom, spinach, and ricotta quiche, followed by a two hour nap. Up next was restorative yoga with Becca at Michelle's yoga studio in the town of Lagonissi. I was really excited to see Michelle's yoga studio, and restorative yoga sounded absolutely perfect for my stiff body. Restorative yoga involves spending a long time in yoga poses, supported by bolsters, straps, and other props so that your body can completely relax into the pose with no strain. Becca delivered a fantastic two hour class complete with soothing music and hands on adjustments with lavender oil. Becca has a really fun and accessible teaching style that really puts everyone at ease and I really enjoyed our restorative practice today,

 Michelle's studio is light wood and white walls with high ceilings. It's very airy, open, and calming.
 The Zen Corner
 On our bolsters ready to restore ourselves!
Today's music selections were really soothing!
After our restorative class, everyone went their different ways. Two of the girls headed back to the guest house for massages and the rest went to the beach. L and I thought that a latte at the local coffee house was the thing to do, and we had a lovely time chatting, sipping caramel lattes, and listening to the locals cheer on some loud sporting event on TV (not a clue what it was). Only 2 euros for a latte and they definitely rival Starbucks (OMG did I just say that?)
 Home sweet OM after a sweaty walk up the hill!
Ginormous white beans in a tomato sauce with feta and carrots, delicious roasted vegetables with garlic, and salad. Not shown: delicious brown bread and butter
So we're back to full days tomorrow. Interestingly enough, I wasn't the only person out of sorts in the studio today. It seemed like having a day off made everything harder. I'm so grateful for the amazing women I'm surrounded by and all the support. We all have a different story and come from different places, but there are so many similarities. I'm looking forward to a better day in the studio tomorrow--no doubt I'll awake transformed into a serene, Zen-like creature who is hopefully super bendy. Stay tuned for tomorrow's update!


  1. Devon, YOU are an AMAZING writer!! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!! There is so much learning from this for us reading your posts and equally important will be the experiences that you can draw on in your teaching--modelling for your future pre-service teachers ;-) Thanks Devon! - Eva

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Eva! I am just loving having time in my life to blog daily--it's a great way to reflect on what I've learned each day and share it with others. Looking forward to connecting with you when I return to Canada later this year!