Friday, September 18, 2015

Pep Talks, Picnics, and How YOU Can Add Some Yoga to Your Life!

I've decided to add a new feature to my blog posts--a yoga tip of the day that anyone can try, even if they have no previous yoga experience. A shout out to L's cousin Ella for giving me the idea! She told L that reading my blog posts was inspiring her to make time for herself and some healthy practices in her life. Thank you to Ella in Australia and everyone else for the hugely positive feedback on these posts. I look forward to writing them every night, and I'm honoured to document and share our journey at yoga teacher training.

Fridays are always hard for me at yoga teacher training (always? Well the two I've been here for anyway). It seems that by Friday my physical body has had enough, my little brain is overflowing with new information, and emotionally I'm drained too. In addition to pushing ourselves physically, we're trying hard to integrate all this new information about the yogic lifestyle and spirituality into our current lives and belief system. And although I'm usually loving every minute of it, by Friday I am just done. And when I'm done, it really impacts all aspects of my practice and I must say I had a bit of a pity party on my mat this morning.
A had a beautiful view for morning meditation
We are teaching quite a few poses each day, and I think our confidence is growing. I taught poses from the chakra sequence (all floor poses). I always seem to end up with the poses that are my most difficult ones. It's hard guiding people in things that you can't demonstrate well yourself! Michelle commented that I had great use of modifications and props... but that's because I need the modifications and props myself. Oh well, beginners need yoga teachers too, right? And at least I won't intimidate my students with my crazy flexibility! 

Next week is my last week here, and to receive my 200 hour certification, I have to teach a 90 minute class and write a test. I'm apprehensive about both! I haven't written an actual test in years--but it sounds like re-writes are an option and it's multiple choice. When it doubt, pick C, right? My big day to teach is Tuesday, so I'm thinking a new yoga outfit when I go to Athens tomorrow would be a confidence booster!

After my suckiness of the morning, I rallied with a two hour nap. Theory this afternoon focused on the vishuddhi chakra located in the back of the throat, and our physical practice was designed to balance and energize this area. I always really like chakra sequences, and I gave myself a pep talk that I was in Greece, surrounded by great people, with an amazing yoga teacher, so get enjoying it! My intention for my practice was one word...ENJOY. And it worked! I had a great asana class and finally got up into shoulder stand which was a huge triumph. That pose was making me so cross that I took a three-day vacation from it, and today I finally did it! And I didn't fall asleep doing yoga nidra (dynamic sleep--kind of like savasana with guided meditation and visualization thrown in).

We had a great ending to the week with a walking meditation on a path running alongside the beach, followed by a picnic with Michelle, her husband Leonardo, and their adorable little son.
Starting out on our walking meditation
A swim was just the thing to end the day!
A yummy picnic on the beach with our yoga family

Gorgeous sunset view--as always in Greece!




Love the graffiti in the pedestrian underpasses on our way to the supermarket for some Friday night treats--like dried fruit and maybe some chocolate! Why do I keep torturing myself by walking down the wine aisle?
And now it's time for yoga tip of the day! Today's yoga tip is walking meditation. I am personally struggling with embracing meditation. I've never meditated prior to yoga teacher training, and I really want to benefit from this practice. Michelle assures me that meditation and breathing are the key to figuring out my life and I believe her. And meditation doesn't just mean sitting there, cross-legged with your hands on your knees. You can meditate while walking! Warning: Please make sure you are able to walk and chew gum. Otherwise this will be way too hard. Here are two different ways:
1) Simple walking meditation: As you inhale, walk four steps. As you exhale, walk four more steps. Repeat, focusing on your breath. You can do this as you move around the house, walk to work, walk the dogs, etc. The goal of meditation is not to have thoughts, but instead to observe the thoughts and not engage with those thoughts. Walking and breathing is a great way to focus.
2) More advanced walking meditation: Place your right fist over your navel with your left hand on top. Keep your focus on the ground, about three feet ahead of you. When you step, make sure it is with a heel, ball of the foot, then toe motion. As you make this motion with your foot, inhale. Then step with the next foot (heel, ball of foot, toe), and exhale. Inhale with one step, exhale with the next step, walking very slowly, with your hands on your stomach as described above.
3) Super advanced walking meditation: Do everything from number 2, but introduce a mantra. As you step with your right foot, say "SO". As you step with your left foot, say "HUM". Repeat with each step. This means, "I am divine." If you are in public, I recommend saying this to yourself as you will already look like something out of the Walking Dead as you shuffle slowly along and this will only draw further attention to yourself.
4) If you are a real overachiever, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, going as far back as you can. This is a mudra that causes you to relax.   
Have a great weekend everyone--I'm excited to have a bit of a sleep in then a shopping day in Athens tomorrow!


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