Tuesday, September 22, 2015

So Close I Can Almost Taste It: Food Meditation and the End is in Sight

Today turned out to be a really great day! To become certified yoga teachers, all of us are required to plan and teach a 90 minute yoga class that includes all the components of an integral yoga practice (physical poses, breathing, mantra, and meditation). Well today was my big day! I did a lot of planning, preparation, and research for my class, as I decided that I wanted to do a gratitude-themed class. So I found a gratitude meditation from Deepak Chopra, printed out different quotations for everyone's yoga mats to encourage them to reflect on gratitude, made a special playlist of music, and a sign for the entrance to the studio. I wanted everyone to recognize the blessings in their life, then dedicate their yoga practice to someone in their lives for whom they were grateful.
Michelle said we could have one piece of paper to guide us during our class. I found the biggest piece of paper in the house and double-sided that sucker!
The studio all set up for my first class!

Nervously excited, ready to begin teaching!
I was really happy with how my class turned out, and I couldn't have had a more supportive teacher or group of people to teach. But I came to the conclusion that teaching kindergarten all day is easier than a 90 minute yoga class! Explaining poses and remembering the important cues while getting into them is hard work!
I kind of coasted for the rest of the day! Michelle gave us a study guide for our test on Friday which we will need to pass to certify and graduate later that day. Marita was with us from 3-7 pm, and we did some in-depth asana study then 90 minutes in the studio. The most interesting part of our time with Marita was learning how to do hands on adjustments for some of the poses. I volunteered to be Marita's model as I felt that I could really learn something as she adjusted my alignment. Her adjustments were fantastic and I felt so much more relaxed after. They were a bit scary when she stood on my legs during butterfly, but it didn't hurt and it was "quite fun" as only Marita would say. I'm really looking forward to learning how to do more hands on adjustments tomorrow and Thursday. Another Marita highlight of the day was when we were having some confusion over what body parts matched each prana (energy areas in the body encompassing one or more chakras).
Me: Where do the arms go Marita? Are they part of the udana prana or the maha prana?
Marita: You don't know where the arms go? Okay, just imagine the maha prana is like a boob tube. You know, like one of those tube tops you wear over your boobs. Everything under it is maha prana. Everything above it is udana prana and that's where the arms go.
It was the perfect analogy and now all of us want tube tops that say, "Check out my maha"! You might need to be a yogi to find that even remotely funny, but we thought it was hilarious!

L doing a hands on adjustment on A during Baddha Konasana (butterfly pose)
And like the teacher I am, I decided that I was making study games for everyone to prepare for our test. No one is failing on my watch! Fortunately my fellow yoga students are very tolerant of me!
The "I have, who has" game is always a hit in kindergarten!
I made the Aussie posse try it out after and they loved it!
And now it's time for yoga tip of the day....FOOD MEDITATION
Food meditation is the perfect strategy if you'd like to eat less and enjoy your food more. It encourages appreciation and mindfulness of everything you are putting in your mouth. I don't suggest doing this at every meal, but going through the steps once in awhile will make you more aware of what and how much you are eating. And we discovered that we ate dramatically less while meditating on our food.
Here are the steps! You can do this with an entire meal, a dessert, a square of chocolate, a glass of wine, or anything you want to appreciate and savour.
1) Use your sense of touch to feel the food (if applicable and not too messy)
2) Look at the food with your eyes. Appreciate the colours!
3) Smell the food with your nose
4) As you look at the food, what feelings arise? For example, do you feel hungry, nauseous, thankful, annoyed? etc.
5) Breathe deeply. Do these feelings intensify, lessen, or ebb and flow?
6) Consider all the work that it took to get this food to you. Think about the farmer who grew the food, the workers who harvested it, the truck drivers who transported it, etc.
7) Consider the elements required to grow this food: air, water, fire (heat and sun), earth
8) Put a small bite of the food in your mouth. Explore the texture, how it feels in your mouth, and the taste. What happens to your body as you put the food in your mouth?
9) Try closing your eyes and blocking out distractions as you fully immerse yourself in the experience.
10) Chew your food and be aware of what you are doing. Chew thoroughly--20-30 times per bite before swallowing. Does the flavour and the texture of the food change as you chew it?
11) When you swallow, how far down can you feel the food in your esophagus?
12) Repeat steps 8-11 throughout your meal. If you are doing this with a group of people, there should be no talking so that your focus is completely on the food.



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