Yin vs Restorative: you mean they aren’t actually the same?

I’m going to post a series explaining the class designations and types of yoga in greater detail, with the hopes of clearing up any discrepancies and helping y’all select classes that better suit your needs. With more and more studios getting creative with their naming structure to try and attract new and more students, it might not clear up everything but at least maybe the basics will be covered.

So let’s start with two classes that are usually NOT creatively named but commonly confused for one another: Yin and Restorative. They are most often interchanged by people because they are both done on the ground, without much movement, have restorative results for the body and can have props BUT they are very different in their approaches and goals.

Yin
Props: depends on instructor
Heated: not normally

This is a practice with one goal: reaching the fascia, ligaments and connective tissue of the body. The yang practices (pretty much all other practices, except restorative) work your muscles but none of them access deep enough to reach this fascia and over time it gets shorter and tighter and that makes the body stiffer. If you want to envision the fascia think of the silver skin on a slab of meat, how attached it is, how hard it can be to even get the point of a knife through it and then how difficult it can be to remove it, how strong it is. Yin, gently and safely, stresses this material through long holds of 2-5 minutes. You may do a posture that is similar to one in your regular practice, like lizard for example, but in Yin it is called dragon because when you hold it for 3 minutes? IT BREATHES FIRE INTO YOUR HIPS OMFG. Here’s the thing though, you don’t use your muscles to hold these postures. I know. The trick is to totally surrender to your connective tissues, to relax into every posture and let go. If you grip? You aren’t going to get that benefit. Now, depending on the instructor, you may or may not use props. Some instructors will want you to use minimal props, maybe a block, maybe a blanket. Others will tell you to load up on the props, knowing you won’t actually be able to let go of the muscular effort without them. It’s a practice to get to that level of release with your body screaming at you. It truly is, but it is SO beneficial. Over time you may see growth in your flexibility, you may just see less stiffness, you may never never notice anything at all-if you started it early enough avoid the stiffness ever taking hold in the first place.

The other thing to note about a Yin practice? Probably the most important thing to note about a Yin practice? Keeping the mind calm and still when your body is screaming and you are attempting to hold it still for long periods of time is…difficult. Usually when the mind starts telling you to GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT, people start fidgeting RULL BAD. It’s good to always bring focus back to your breath or have a mantra to repeat to yourself as a distraction from the body. Especially if you don’t have already have a strong meditation practice. Sometimes depending on the area of the body, unexpected emotions can be released during these long holds, and again the focus needs to be brought back to the breath, the body needs to remain still, the muscles unclenched. I would consider Yin an advanced practice for these reasons. Many people can’t or don’t want to handle stillness.

Restorative
Props: all of them
Heated: not normally

This is a practice with one goal: relaxation. I like to call it guided adult nap time with props. Your body gets more rejuvenation out of 1 hour of restorative than it does out of 3 hours of sleep. It’s a deep rest. It’s like what you feel in savasana but imagine a whole hour of that. My former restorative teacher was THE BEST, we all walked out of her class like blissful little zombies. If you are dealing with a lot of stress in your life? If you aren’t sleeping? If you have a strong, body-depleting flow practice? If you are a runner or cyclist or do some other active exercise? If you have chronic illness? You owe it to yourself to get into a restorative class ASAP. It also holds poses for longer periods of time but you are EXTREMELY supported by blankets, blocks, bolsters, sandbags and straps. Your eyes are closed. There is typically soothing music. The lights are low. Feel free to pop an eye pillow over your eyes or cover your head with a blanket. MANY people fall completely asleep. There is no stress of any kind.

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You can do this practice at home (actually either of them, once you are experienced, but Yin has too much possibility of injury to try it at home without knowledge and a strong studio practice first). I have professional props, which you can buy online via Amazon, other websites or your local studio if they offer them, but if you don’t want to do that you can certainly use items from around your house to make do. Here’s a post about using things from around your house as props. In that photo of me above, I am fighting a wicked migraine so I have an additional item: an ace bandage wrapped around my head as prescribed by BKS Iyengar (and in one of the books, Relax and Renew by Judith Lasater, we are using in my Restorative Yoga Teacher Training in a couple of weeks). That isn’t a normal happening in a restorative class but it totally helped, definitely recommend.

So that’s Yin vs. Restorative. I hope it cleared some things up for you or maybe opened your eyes to some classes you might not have thought to try before. Let me know if there is something specific you’d like to see next!

First Community Class

I realized today that I just essentially stopped blogging about school before we even made it to the halfway point and that’s largely because the process soundly kicked my ass both mentally and physically. In case you didn’t see it elsewhere, I did in fact graduate and I am even beyond just a certified yoga instructor but an actual 200 RYT because I went ahead and registered myself with The Yoga Alliance. I have continued my education since school ended (it’s been almost two months now), have tried things that I thought were beyond my skill level and was successful, and am kicking around the idea of attending a yoga retreat in India next year.

I have lots of thoughts about the whole experience and where I am in it but they are pretty jumbled as life is pretty jumbled and well…that’s not what this post is about, I mainly bring any of this up to get this space up to current and then I can always go back and delve (maybe).

Anyway, as part of our graduation we were asked to sign up to teach $5 community classes. These classes are open to any one of any skill level and they are to help us cut our teeth as fledging yoga teachers. I taught one of my two committed classes Saturday.

Here is my playlist for the class
Ben Harper: The Three of Us
Hozier: Work Song
Hozier: Arsonist’s Lullabye
Lera Lynn: True Detective (Curly Tonic & Franz S Bootleg)
Broken Social Scene: Sweetest Kill
Lorde: Buzzcut Season
Moby: Down Slow
Depeche Mode: Heaven
The Civil Wars: Billie Jean (live)
Beck: Morning
Damien Rice: Grey Room
Cat Power: Wild is the Wind
Siri Sadhana Kaur: Ra Ma Da Sa

I thought about sharing the sequence and the best way to do that in this space and unfortunately, I haven’t gotten that fully sorted yet. In the meantime, I thought at least the music would be a good thing. It was intended to be a slow-flow, grounded class and I think after MUCH agonizing on choice, the music worked really well for that.

Yoga Teacher Training Theology & Philosophy: Sutras, Bhakti and Kirtan

This weekend we made our shift from asana study to our theology and philosophy studies. We started with two days on the yoga sutras (which is an insane amount of information to pack into two days) and then our final day was spent learning a bit about Bhakti and participating in a kirtan.

From Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Bhakti, (“devotion,” from Sanskrit bhaj, “to share,” “to love”), in Hinduism, a movement emphasizing the mutual intense emotional attachment and love of a devotee toward a personal god and of the god for the devotee. According to the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu religious text, the path of bhakti (bhakti-marga) can be contrasted with two other religious approaches, the path of knowledge (jnana) and the path of ritual and good works (karma).

Their focus is on the divine masculine (Krishna) and the divine feminine (Rama) and many of their devotions are expressed through song and dance. We had a very popular group come and interact with us for the Kirtan (call and response chanting) and one of the gentlemen is so hugely knowledgeable on all religions, it was amazing the smriti (recall or memory) that he has for detail and comparison across the platforms. And yet even with all that knowledge it was never heavy or overwhelming, judging or strict, he comes from such a place of lightness and acceptance.

We sang several songs and danced around the room with hands in the air clapping. It was so cathartic and freeing, such a wonderful experience, if you ever have the opportunity to attend one? I highly recommend it. ESPECIALLY if it’s a Mayapuris event. When their time was up, none of us was really ready for it to be over so when we heard that they would be closing the Texas Yoga Conference at the nearby Hare Krishna temple in a couple of hours (well after we’d be wrapping up our class that day) several of us decided to go together and check it out together (after first stopping off for a beer and snacks at a very close bar, because isn’t that how you handle your religious devotions? snacks and alcohol before temple?).

I have rarely spent much time in church in my life and have never been to a temple of this sort before it was a true experience. We were greeted warmly at the door and then we removed our shoes and placed them in the numbered racks and hurried inside to meet up with one of our teachers. In temple the men and women are usually separate and shoulders are to be covered (I assume modesty in dress period but at the very least shoulders covered was definitely asked) it was later explained to us (we received a private tour by Gaura Vani-the gentleman I mentioned above) that temple is solely for the devotions to God and as such the sexuality of self is set aside in that space and time. The Kirtan was already in progress when we got there so we sat on the floor cross legged and joined in on the clapping but were also being informed as to where we should and shouldn’t turn our bodies and I guess slacked off on our clapping because a lovely older gentleman appeared between me and my classmate Margaret and started enthusiastically clapping and gave us both encouraging pats on our backs. HAHA.

When the Mayapuris were with us at school earlier in the day, we were encouraged to just sing out from the heart and not fret about pronouncing the words. Dance, dance out from the heart and not worry about the steps. So in that spirit when things really ramped up? We did the same. We danced. We sort of tried to sing (the Kirtan at the temple was much more complicated than the ones we had slowly learned at school) and we jumped in the air together with members of the temple. We bowed our heads on our knees (essentially child’s pose with tucked arms) and even though we had no idea of the prayers that were being spoken we joined in on their calls of Jai (victory). We were accepted warmly and openly with no judgements for obviously being new there, in our yoga clothes and sweatshirts, not knowing the words, not knowing the proper procedures. It was so lovely. Truly.

On the tour we learned that actual carved portion of the temple was all hand done and sent over in pieces from India and that the large statues of the deities are redressed twice a day. There are smaller statues that are taken out for the festivals and those too are also redressed twice a day. Their clothing (all pink this day, not sure if it’s always pink) is crusted in jewels and they are draped in flowers. That they value the lineage of the teacher so much so that there is a statue of the teacher in the temple and then huge paintings of his teacher and his teacher’s teacher and so on and so forth.

Next weekend is the Bhagavad Gita with the professor from Rutgers so I expect my brain is going to melt.

YTT Weekend Three: yesterday yoga ninja badass, today decrepit old lady

I feel very Bridget Jones about writing this update today. I had planned on beginning the weekend three update with the statement “Am yoga ninja badass” since I did (and held) two arm balances that I have never done before, have never arm balanced before at all, on Sunday and was riding that high. Of course then I woke up and my 40 year old body brought my ass right back to the reality of the facts. The facts that I spent an entire weekend work-shopping inversions and arm balance poses while fighting a migraine. So less “yoga ninja bad-ass” more “the Bridg that fell on her ass sliding down the fire pole” here.

My group lead teacher taught the entire weekend, she is a tiny adorable drill Sargent and this shit was no joke. We spent most of our practice time, which was A LOT, building our bodies up to inversions and arm balance. This meant various chest, heart and shoulder openers, lots of work on the trapezius muscles, deep hip crease opening, deep work on the inner groin, core work, wrist opening…you name it we probably tore it a new one.

My word for this year is “try” so even with the migraine I did as much as I reasonably could without making my eyeballs want to auooga right out of my head and onto the floor. I also went and got a B12 shot Saturday before class to help speed up the recovery so I could participate even more. I fully did shoulder stand but I have a lot of work to do on my shoulders (super tight and restricted) before I have the range of motion I need to get into headstand properly. Some funny things happened toward the end of the night both days: 1) when we pulled our mats to the wall three of us couldn’t participate fully so we were on the windows and the rest were on the wall it was like we were wearing those blue placards. 2) I was the example of what it looks like when you have tight shoulders in handstand and everyone was so concerned for me, like thought I was in pain concerned, I was totally fine. 3) we did our togetherness mantra but Sarah went lower and slower than usual so it sounded like a funeral durge, it was hilarious. 4) Stacey was making inappropriate jokes anytime Sarah talked about using the strap or putting it where you like it and I could not stop laughing. I think week 3 is where you really start feeling the ass kicking.

Saturday night I ordered two props as soon as I got home, to help me with the body work I need to focus on. I ordered a yoga strap and another yoga blanket to pair with the one Willy got me as part of my bday. I need another cork block (Willy got me one of the hugger mugger cork blocks I asked for too), a lacrosse ball, bolster and probably a body roller yet (Stacey recommended the body roller because of my shoulder issues) so I hopefully will continue to round out my props really soon.

Sunday was all about the arm balances and we broke down and/or attempted 6 different arm balances, some on our backs using straps or in the air with straps. Of course the two dudes were like instantly busting out the strength but it was fun to see the girls be able to get into the poses as well. We noticed that the guys tended to have an easier time with extended poses while the girls had an easier time with compact poses (except Lolasana, that just sucks for everyone, legs are effing heavy yo) When I got into crow, we had just given another girl a bunch of feedback so no one was really watching me. I was up for a while and finally said “can someone look at me please?” which made Stacey bust out laughing and then people clapped for me. Haha. Totally not what I was trying to get, the clapping I mean, I just needed to know if my tailbone was down like it should be because I was focusing so hard on not falling I literally couldn’t feel it at that point.

When it came time to try bhujapidasana I just essentially bent over and did it. I also crossed ankles in the pose and switched sides. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend Two

Where weekend one was physically demanding with all the many Surya Namaskars, weekend two was mentally taxing with all the many notes. We broke down standing poses and it was hours upon hours of note taking and discussion over each part of the body in various standing poses. I think I left feeling even more fried this weekend than the previous if possible. I think sitting on a yoga studio floor for that many hours, hunched over a notebook, and just writing period, was a lot to take.

But, I’m really getting ahead of myself because Friday night we started with a quick practice and then lecture around home practice. It encompassed the importance of setting one up, the different methods of approaching setting up a home practice, goal setting, writing vision statements for our home practice and finally an exercise to help us set poses for that practice by using the first method of approach. In the exercise we picked 5 favorite poses, added a warm up pose, child’s pose and savasana and tried to see if these things could all work together to form a coherent sequence.

I’ll just tell you that in my case, no, not at all. I tend to gravitate to binds, balance poses and more folded poses by nature (you get INSTANT feedback about the state of your body when you unfurl from a bind) and trying to connect mostly floor poses with one standing pose without adding all the transitions I wanted was problematic for me. So I decided to table it and see what came up later on in the weekend, if anything, that might help me.

The next morning we had a pretty intense practice, which a lot of people were surprised about because the instructor leading is most known for her gentle classes, gentle this was not. After class we were quizzed on what we thought the energetics of the practice might be, what the end goal was. The class was primarily laterals, lots of open poses but any back bending was gentle and not extreme. The energetics/goal: grounded energy.

We did one small bit of practice teaching but they switched it up and allowed us to just partner with whomever we were next to, it was a nice change and my new partner and I complement each other well, he is very precision alignment driven and I am very modification listen to your body driven.

At the end of this day a different instructor lead us through one of the inquiries of the seven movement principles in Donna Farhi’s book Yoga Mind Body & Spirit and our homework this night was to pick one of the three bodies she covers and try covering an inquiry as part of our home practice. So the next morning before the final day of school for the weekend I decided to revisit my tabled “favorites home practice” and add it to this and see what came out of it. It was a challenge for me to break out of my usual habit of starting practice by lighting my candle and saying my mantras for loved ones and instead trying to meditate first straight out of the gate with full “monkey mind”. I gave it a full ten minutes of concentrated effort before rolling into a practice that was to be focused on the “glandular body” which I translated to chakras because of their correlation and my own knowledge and comfort level. I ran through a somewhat freeform progression but with the 5 favorites incorporated and kept a focus on the chakra relevant to the pose, making sure my breath was present at all times. When I hit savasana I also made it a point to just lightly tap each chakra point and take a full inhale and exhale before moving to the next one.

I am still working on writing this all out because like a dummy I didn’t immediately journal it and my mind is a mess with all the info being flooded into it right now. One of my home practice goals is having a journal on my altar that I will write in immediately prior to and after practice to keep track of what is working for me and what isn’t. I think it would be really helpful for me to gain that point of clarity.

Sunday was more of the same with the break down of poses and thankfully we were given a reprieve on the group teach, but I know I probably shouldn’t think that way because the longer it gets put off the more nervous I will be the next time. But UGH. UGH. I would like to feel more confident the next time, like this isn’t all moving too fast for me or my brain.

After class I once again attended the least restorative restorative class ever and this week she really wanted us to get into supta varjasana (supported) because of all the benefits but to get there you really have to do a lot of quad stretching and hip flexor work and THAT ISN’T RESTORATIVE. So we were stretching our quads against the wall and doing standing varjasana and holy moly. It’s awesome going to this class because she’s going to be our anatomy teacher and if I decide to get my 85 hrs toward pre/post natal qualification with The Yoga Alliance she’ll be my instructor and she is a WEALTH of knowledge but I am not considering it restorative anymore. It’s just PROP BASED HATHA. That’s it.

Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend Two Outfits

I know I said I would post the weekend two update today but it’s a lot of info and I already uploaded the outfit pics so I’m going in this order instead.

It’s cold and rainy here. Every day, cold and rainy. I got on a tear about leg warmers because our studio is half glass windows but apparently it’s past time when all the regular stores have them available and the ones I really wanted are more than I want to spend on leg warmers. (HOW ARE THERE BIKINIS IN STORES? HOW?) I’ll probably end up getting them, eventually, but in the meantime I found some good options from a dance supply store and will go back to get more if the weather doesn’t warm up soon.

Friday
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I call this my “yoga matryoshka doll” look because there are so many layers of clothing.
Beanie: TOMS for Target
Infinity Scarf: Target
Raincoat: Target
Fingerless Gloves: Target
Wellies: Hunter (Amazon)
Black legwarmers: Fancy Dancer Boutique (local dance supply) new
Yoga pants: Kyodan (TJ Maxx) new
Gray open cardigan: Costco
Black cinch top: Löle (REI) new
Neon sports bra: Target

Saturday

I wore the same: raincoat, rain boots, scarf, cardigan and legwarmers this day.
Yoga pants: Betsey Johnson (TJ Maxx)
Side cinch top: Prana (REI) new
Sports bra: Target

Sunday

I have decided that Sunday is comfy day. By Sunday I am completely tanking and I stay for restorative class after school anyway so I am going to pick up a couple more pairs of harem style or relaxed pants to round out a month’s worth (rotating 4 Sundays) and just be a schlumpadinka on this day.
Purple legwarmers: Fancy Dancer Boutique (local dance supply) new
Parachute style yoga pants: Kyodan (TJ Maxx)
Quote muscle tee: Love Couture
Sports bra: Target

Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend One Aftermath and Assignments

When last we left our intrepid yoga teacher trainee, she had just done ALL THE MANY SUN SALUTATIONS for days on end, had to practice teach with a partner, practice teach a whole room and follow the whole shebang with the least restorative restorative yoga class ever.

So where do we go from here? Well. I go to not being able to lift arms fully overhead for an entire day. I stood on my tip toes in order to get the reach I would need to grab anything I wanted. I go to not getting any sleep because of deep muscle soreness. I wake up with a migraine Tuesday morning. And then? I go right back to class. You probably don’t do anything of these things but I have a 3 additional class per week requirement I have to meet and am voluntarily getting my ass kicked on the weekends.

I attended class with my favorite teacher Tuesday (and it met my “you have to take one of your three classes with one of the three of us per week” requirement), but lets be clear, she’s not easy or chill. My body and my head screamed at me for most of the class but one of my fellow trainees was there and we commiserated a bit and were able to laugh (mainly about restorative actually kicking our asses) so that was a huge benefit.

Wednesday night Willy came home sick, so much so that he stayed home the next two days and slept in the office since then, and the dogs have been utter chaos (Frank threw a tantrum over Bailey having toys he didn’t and started eating our dining table in protest) it’s been raining and cold so they aren’t getting enough play time, it’s just nuts around here (the whining is breaking me, I swear). And on top of that it was week one trying to adjust with the new school routine, I have A TON of reading to do and I feel like the house and my responsibilities with cooking and other chores have just completely spun out. I have a pile of ironing which is enormous and just sitting there mocking me daily. Plus, this sinus and chest funk is still here because it’s so cold and wet and just BLEAH.

Our homework this week was to fill out asana breakdowns for downward facing dog and warrior I. The breakdowns asked for specific muscle and body part alignment in each pose along with what the energetics of the pose are, any complications, warnings or modifications. Y’all. We basically were given this homework without a lot of instruction or guidance and left to our own devices and then the greater majority of us freaked right the fuck out. As one of my fave classmates asked “do they even realize the personality types they have up in here?” Several of the students spent two hours on the homework and used multiple books plus the internet trying to get the answers because NOT ONE RESOURCE has the specific alignment for all of the body parts on our sheets. They may have a few or they may focus on ONE, but none have all of them. It was MADDENING.

So that’s all the bad stuff, let me talk about something interesting I have noticed. The typical drama subjects are still pulling their BS right now and I didn’t feel the instant fire of 1000 suns in anger about it. I am upset about what’s going on, because it’s not right, but it’s more detached and sad than furious. I am removed and staying that way. Interesting, no? Now it could just be that I am bone level weary or it could be that I am focusing my energies somewhere more “worthy” or it could just be that the work I am doing is making some changes on what they are able to affect in me or it could be the magic of my 40th birthday on the horizon, who knows. It’s still wrong, it’s still upsetting, I’m just reallllly embracing that whole weird “not my circus, not my monkeys” mindset.

Cut to Friday, I turn in my homework, run off to class (my final of the three for the week) which happens to fall right before school for the night so it’s convenient but I’m just holding out hope that Friday school isn’t going to be super hardcore since I’m stacking like this, and it seems I’m not alone. Several trainees are in class with me and one of my teachers is also attending. Class? Class features SURYA NAMASKAR A AND B. GODDESS POSE. WARRIOR II AND III. HALF MOON POSE. *weep*

Weekend two recap coming tomorrow!

Yoga Teacher Training: Outfits for Weekend One

When I freak out about things or stress out about things I tend to try and get my appearance in line 1) because when I stress my mother’s voice creeps back in with allllll her criticisms on my appearance and 2) it’s an easy thing to control when I feel out of control.

So I made sure that every piece of yoga apparel I owned was washed and ready to go for school. I also crowd sourced on twitter for the best places to round out the remaining holes in my wardrobe, namely tops. I get really heated in class, my instructor loves to turn off all the fans and then the heater kicks on because it’s winter and I WANT TO DIE, so I want to wear as few layers possible. Ideally that means tops with integrated bras, which have been much harder for me to locate than I expected. I am not overly well endowed but I have had a kid and gravity is a bitch, ya know? I need some support.

Anyway, here’s what I wore the opening weekend. I figure I am not the only person that cares about stuff like this.

Point of note: our weather here has been in the 40-50 range at the top, so I probably should be wearing a coat but what isn’t shown in the first two pics is my fave GIANT black infinity scarf that is crazy warm and I wore the same warm fuzzy boots every day.

Day One
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Long sleeve top: Cynthia Rowley (TJ Maxx) new
Black ruched side tank: Old Navy
Sports bra: Target
Patterned yoga pants: RDX (TJ Maxx)
Fuzzy boots: Bear Paws (Nordstrom Rack)

Day Two

Long sleeve top: Vans (gift from Sprog many moons ago, not technically yoga gear)
Coral Tank: Kyodan (TJ Maxx)
Yoga pants: Mondetta Performance Gear (TJ Maxx)

Day Three

Long sleeve ruched top: C9 by Target
Black Tank: Work Out Life (TJ Maxx)
Harem style yoga pants: Mondetta Performance Gear (TJ Maxx)
Pink cowl scarf: Target

Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend One

First some background and housekeeping: the yoga teacher training I am signed up for is my 200 hr teaching. It’s comprised of 3 hrs on Friday, 6 hrs on Saturday and 4 hrs on Sundays with the additional requirement of 3 studio classes a week, 8 books for our reading list and a 9th that we are to do a book report on, we also are tasked with growing our home practice and have a monthly journal we need to submit as part of that, weekly class review sheets and whatever homework is assigned by our instructors (we have three overall-Stacey, Rhia, Sarah- and one as a group leader) one sveda weekend (this means service and it’s cleaning and setting up, breaking down the studio) and it’s highly recommended that we meet once a week with our study buddy.

So. It’s A lot.

This weekend was the opening weekend and I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect. Originally I had been told that every slot had been filled-20 people. I’m not sure what happened between that point and this point but as of right now there are 13 of us in the program and the 13th (my study buddy) was only added within the last week, long after signups had closed (special favor as she’s new to the area).

Friday night was somewhat low-key, opening circle introductions and Stacey asked us to say what we had for lunch as one of our “this is who I am” statements. It was a funny way to get some insight into people because most of the group had recently been traveling for the holidays. We have two men in our group which is nice, I always like to have a male perspective on poses and how it affects their bodies or where their ability in poses falls vs ours. We closed this night with a commitment ceremony, offering the group our commitment to them, to the training, most people offered being available, being present, I offered being a safe place as the studio is for me.

Saturday morning on the drive in, I teared up a little bit. I feel kind of like a dork for that but I really did. Having Sprog so young, I never got the chance to go to college and getting a sort of formal education now after all these years? It’s a really big deal to me. It feels very surreal and like I want to do it justice. It’s also scary as hell because this is a huge time, body and soul commitment and I am not a spring chicken, I am not clear of health…it’s just…I hope it goes well.

Saturday began the very rigorous practice days. Not to say that we didn’t work up a sweat on Friday, because we did, but we also did a lot of housekeeping talk, learned our togetherness mantra (or tried, it’s entirely in sanskrit and I don’t think that any of us is anywhere close to getting this yet) we were assigned our group leaders and small groups and things of that sort. Saturday? Saturday the hammer fell. This weekend was Surya Namaskar weekend, this translates to all the many sun salutations. ALL THE MANY SUN SALUTATIONS. Sun Salutation A is comprised of mountain pose, standing forward fold, half standing forward fold, standing forward fold again, step back to plank (or hop to chaturanga) cobra pose, downward facing dog, standing forward bend, half standing forward fold and mountain pose.

We practiced this several times together as a group as part of an almost two hour long full practice. Then we broke down each piece of the progression and dissected body alignment and positioning, using classmates as models. Stacey would pull a group and have them stand, directing their bodies into proper alignment so we could see the changes in them as they normally stand vs how they should be if all the proper muscle groups are engaged or relaxed. Stacey is hyper flexible and mentioned that has its own drawbacks, there are many poses that do absolutely nothing for her if she doesn’t actively engage her muscle groups, that she can flop right over into forward fold without actually working anything but for someone with short or tight hamstrings it’s vastly different for them to keep a straight spine. One of the guys asked to see that and she called me as the model. I have to bend my knees A LOT in that position to keep a forward tilt on my hips and length in my spine instead of having a cat spine.

Each pose was broken down in this way: demonstration, questions, modification to our own understanding of the pose, attempting it again. And then we had to practice teach with our buddy. We could not use any notes or cheat sheet and we were supposed to do it in sanskrit It was really hard to hear with everyone talking in every different direction and hard to get the sanskrit right. I had some doom feelings start to well up because I knew that the only thing that would follow individual practice teach would be group teach but they didn’t say anything about it, tricky, just closed the evening with another full practice, the togetherness mantra and homework assignment.

Our homework was writing out the progression for Surya Namaskar A and submitting it to our group leader before class the next morning. I practiced in the shower that night. I looked up the sanskrit pronunciation of the words (I still can’t get downward dog right in sanskrit). I had a fitful night’s sleep because that many planks, chaturangas, downward facing dogs and various other poses over two days already started taking the toll on my body and the muscle soreness started before I fell asleep.

Sunday I was seriously dragging ass when I left for class, so tired, so sore, sinus madness. What pumped me up and prepped me for the new day? Blasting old school hard rock and metal and driving very fast on the freeway. I sang along to Ozzy, Megadeath and Crüe and felt much better. I’m not sure that’s very yogic of me but maybe I’m just a different kind of yogi.

Sunday we began much the same way, on the mat, for Surya Namaskar B which has some of the same poses as A but includes chair pose (hate) and warrior one and we spent A LOT OF TIME doing and holding chair pose because a discussion formed around feet together or feet apart for chair. Stacey (and formal training) says feet together, Rhia (and me most the time) says feet apart but feet apart is a bit harder (and quite a bit harder when in a static hold) so that’s a drawback. My issue is that I have super bony ankles and feet together has bone on bone contact which is painful and distracts me from the pose.

So after our practice, it was time for group teach, HA HA HA and at first Stacey called someone else to go first but since there is an odd number in the room my mat ended up forward of the group and she changed her mind. SIGH. First picked on to teach the group Surya Namaskar A. I wanted to hork. I couldn’t even tell you what I said or what it looked like when people were doing the poses, it’s like the most ultimate of tunnel vision. I certainly hope that next weekend when we have to do this again, I get a little bit better. After I went, I ran back up to my mat and the next person down the line carried through the same progression. We did Surya Namaskar A 9 times and Surya Namaskar B 4 times.

5 of us stayed after school to attend a restorative class thinking that would be an awesome way to knock out one of our 3 required studio classes and help our bodies after the weekend. And then the universe laughed in our stupid faces because our instructor started class with SUPPORTED HATHA POSES: STANDING FORWARD FOLD AND DOWNWARD FACING DOG. I laughed y’all. I seriously could not believe I was doing ANOTHER EFFING FORWARD FOLD. There is not enough support in the world that would take away the crying on the inside.

Y’all, breathing hurts. I can barely raise my arms. I think the people that do 108 sun salutations to ring in the New Year are out of their effing minds.