Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Real "Rock Stars" of Yoga

This past Friday night I attended a workshop that was being taught by yoga teacher extraordinaire, Jason Crandell.  Jason was recently named “one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future” by Yoga Journal. Jason is well know in the world wide yoga community for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga.
It was a great workshop and I was impressed with his humility and logical approach to teaching.  I really enjoyed it and was disappointed that I was unable to make the rest of his classes while he was in town. The weekend was sponsored by Yoga Association of Great Detroit (YAGD) which is primarily based in Oakland County.  That group of volunteers do a great job in bringing teachers of this caliber to the area.
We arrived at the workshop quite early since we were coming from Chesterfield and unfamiliar with Farmington Hills and then of course I always have to factor in time for getting lost.  Good thing too because the GPS on my phone decided to take us through the scenic route and since I didn't know any better, I let it (we figured out a better route coming back).
The place was buzzing with excitement, everyone waiting to meet and greet "the star".  But truth be told, in my humble opinion, the true stars of the show were some of the fellow yoga teachers and students that were there.  When we came into the space we were greeted by Claudette who introduced herself and showed us around.  She was pumped.  You could literally feel the energy bouncing off of her.  She told us that after the class, which ended at 9:30 PM, she was going dancing! She then proceeded to tell us that she just turned 70....70!!!!  Wow, she had the energy of a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert.
As the room started to fill up I took note as to the ages of a good portion of the other participants, which was clearly 60 and up.  In the ladies room I over heard others talking about a certain teacher who is still teaching in her 80's.  This area is an older more established yoga community, yoga has been around there for quite a while which would account for this. Watching these ladies and gentlemen practice was inspiring.  Yes, yes I know I was suppose to be concentrating on my own practice, but I did have to leave and go to the rest room at one point and just happened to glance here and there.
Do I really need to explain to you all what the moral of this story is?  I again experienced the miracle of what this practice of yoga can do for us. I witnessed what I have been telling everyone and anyone that yoga is not just for the young and nubile. 

Yes of course their bodies have changed over time but they adapted their practice to accommodate that.  Jason kept on telling us all through the class to quit beating ourselves up, to accept and be proud of the bodies that we have today.  He reminded us that we are already "whole" when we come to the mat. Yoga just helps bring it out of us.  These beautiful, seasoned students of yoga were moving, breathing and going dancing.  
It's not too late.  Get off the couch, get away from the computer, stop texting so much and get on the mat....and just breathe.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Yoga Off the Mat Day

This past Sunday I had the privilege of practicing yoga off the mat with a vengeance.  If your not sure what yoga off the mat means think of the last time you were stuck in traffic and late for work or an appointment.  How did you react, were you fuming, honking the horn somehow thinking that the the sound of your horn would create a miracle of sorts and make the five mile up back up in front of you move.  Or did  you use the time to breathe, count your blessings, listen to some mellow music, you get the idea.
This past Sunday was another great day in downtown New Baltimore for Yoga in the Park from noon to 1 PM at Burke Park (shameless plug).  It was hot but we were going to have fun as we always do.  My PA system that worked great the week before was not cooperating at all.  I moved it all over the place trying to find a balance, it wasn't going to happen so most of the class I ended up talking really loud and for those who know me that's not hard to do.  I am Italian after all.
Mid way through class I noticed a small group of people walking toward the water near where we were having class and then a wedding commenced! The event was being video recorded and I didn't want this sweet couple 50 years from now watching their ceremony and hear me in the background yelling "inhale and reach your arms up". I stopped the class as we waited for them to take their vows and of course we all applauded when it was done. 
Class started up again when one of the students motioned to me that a wonderful police officer of New Baltimore who was just doing his job was not real happy where I parked my car.  I again stopped class to discuss the situation with him.  OK, I admit it my car wasn't parked all that legal, but as I explained to him we collect so many canned goods donations for St. Mary's food pantry (thank you everyone) it  was just easier to have the car closer to put the food in at the end of class. Seeing that he wasn't impressed with my story, I promised not to park there again.
Practicing yoga off the mat in spite of the heat,  I kept my cool.  Although it was very tempting to toss the entire PA system into the lake, I resisted.
I let go of everything that happened and went on with my day.  I didn't let it determine my mood for the rest of the day. Remember the phase "just laugh it off"?  Exactly.  I told you that we have fun at Yoga in the Park. I cant' guarantee that much fun every Sunday but I will do my best. just breathe on and off your mat.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Yoga and the Ones You Love

Ok, one more quiet rant.
You just discovered yoga and it was love at first down dog. You want everyone to experience the buzz that you do.  Or that hot yoga class that kicked your asana, sweat was flying everywhere and all of your toxins along with it and you want to share it all with the world.  So what do you do, your next hot yoga class you bring your mom (sister, dad, friend.....fill in the blank) with you.  They have never done yoga before and haven't been off the couch in a while. You love them so much that you bring them to a hot yoga class? What happens next is the well meaning gesture usually backfires and the newbie is never to be seen again. Your journey into yoga is not the same for someone else.
I have seen it first hand countless times. Students coming out of the middle of class near tears, one gal admitted that her "friends" forced her to come, she was not happy when she left. Siblings who wanted their mom to be healthier brought her to a vinyasa flow class.  When I suggested to them that it might be better to bring mom to another style class they assured me she would be fine, mom is still MIA.
I have been silent long enough! I applaud all of you for wanting the people you love to be healthier and happier and  yoga will help them get there but find the style that best suites where they are today.  Do you love them so much that you can put your ego aside and accompany them to a basic or gentle yoga class. Boring you say?  Take that opportunity not only to bond with whom you brought but also to really tune into your alignment and breath with the slower pace. They may never progress to a more vigorous style as you may have but at least they are off the couch and you should be ecstatic for the progress they have made.
I had a student tell me this happened to her years ago and she never tried yoga again until recently because she thought that all yoga classes were alike.  She now knows different. And so do you. I have seen anger, frustration,  and embarrassment on the students faces. The practice of yoga is suppose to bring you peace, not make you feel as if you failed.
Share your love of yoga with everyone, but take into consideration what their needs are when you invite them to come and be honest with yourself as to what your intention is.  Help them on this journey and remind them that the most important part of yoga and life is to .......just breathe.