Feeds:
Posts
Comments

YOGANIDRA AND HELLBENT

Last night I had a dreammmm about external hip rotation and that I was in full yoga nidrasana. I have had several external hip rotation fantasy dreams. Then I wake up and think I can do it, but am WRONG.

I read Hellbent last week in about two days. I resisted when it was going around the studio when it came out because I already know Bikram is a fraud and the rape allegations. I already knew enough and knew that at one time I did drink that Kool Aid. I wanted to be a Bikram instructor, but when I did a one day workshop with him several years ago I got it. I got it was schtick and he is this bizarre clown. After reading what the training is like, I realize it is a gift sometimes to not receive what you intend to manifest. The author came to the same conclusion that I have always felt about Bikram.

He could have offered so much more.

Bikram yoga is definitely for the intensity freaks though and the author Benjamin Lorr, has seen it all and been through it all, competitions, the teacher training, the Esak Garcia Jedi Fight Club bootcamps. He knows the major players. I was shocked he went back a second time to the backbend camp. I follow the Jedi Fight Club on Facebook. It looks like a fun group:

jedi

Yoga competitions have been a big deal in India for a long time. People who are non Bikram people say it is very “nonyogic”. I personally don’t have a problem with it. Hey, if I were younger, I might go to the bootcamp. I hope Esak allows them to drink water though. He came to our studio a while back and was pretty intense, but focused in a good way and delivered a great class.

The author goes to great length to study the effect of extreme heat on the body and obviously the effect of not enough water is just down right dangerous. There are not really any conclusive studies. It’s like everything else, probably very harmful to some and for others their bodies just get used to it. When I practiced a lot of Bikram the only time it was a problem when I was tired, ate too much or too little. When you engage regularly in anything intense you do make changes. You have to be of very eastern European background to be able to practice Bikram six days a week and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Either the drinking goes or the yoga. Ashtanga is like that too though. Serious six day a week early morning Mysore people don’t stay up all night or eat heavy food. It just doesn’t work.

So if you can adapt to the extreme heat, and some people just can’t, and you make major lifestyle changes, less alcohol and healthier food, you are going to have healing and great testimonials. Benjamin includes a lot of transformation stories and they are good ones. I teach in a Hot studio and we hear them on a DAILY basis. That the yoga changes something in people’s lives for the best. Bikram has always made these great claims and let’s just say it does not cure everything. That is the dogma of the practice I never entertained. It doesn’t cure cancer etc or whatever blather the Bikram trained teachers talk on and on about. Snake oil.

Benjamin’s section on the teacher training was hilarious. He recounts a class early in the training where he, and other’s practically die. I would never last a day in that training. No one is locking me in the room and I would not be afraid of the Bikram goons walking around making you stay awake watching movies at 3:00 am. It really sounds like they spend 11 weeks doing nothing but memorizing dialogue, taking two classes a day, and listening to Bikram spew a lot of his garbage. I have heard a lot of the nonsense from his teachers and early on learned to turn off what they were saying and just enjoy the practice.

My favorite part of the book was the section on Tony Sanchez and how he cut off the Bikram umbilical cord. Bikram wanted him to end his engagement. Um, good Tony that you cut your ties. Tony is the best hope for this style of yoga. He doesn’t insist that yoga has to be practiced in extreme heat, he has studied the lineage, is humble, ACTUALLY PRACTICES YOGA, and is everything Bikram isn’t. In other words, he has integrity, study, and practice over dogma.

I feel for the people and students he let down. The same thing happened to John Friend and will happen again in the yoga world. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to be close to their idol. It is always hard when your idol falls and you realize you are – COMPLICIT. People experience guilt. That anyone would refer to Bikram as a guru though, is just sad and pathetic. A system led by a narcissist begets more narcissism. That is just a fact, whether it is yoga, politics, or any other organized group. It is okay to pick the wrong teacher. You can walk away. You can be wrong and not find out till later. It is just human. It is human to remain in denial too. The system invites it. Any system.

“Flexibility is a very temporary result of yoga, but the patterns last forever.”  Richard Freeman

 

So the last session with that Iyengar teacher was sort of amazing.  But I am always amazed and impressed by yoga teachers who are REALLY experienced and have taught a LONG TIME and have WATCHED AND LEARNED FROM STUDENTS.  Like they KNOW what is wrong by looking at students and how to FIX it.  So here is my moment. I always have them.  She tells us to get bolsters for supta virasana and I am like oh f—- my knees.   I had just come off a month, literally the day before, of my Hot yoga challenge. One of the things I was looking for, besides getting my back bending back, which I DID, was getting more flexion in my knees. I got a MINIMAL amount.  I can not lay back in Hot yoga in this pose and can sit on two blocks on a good day.  Three on a bad. In Iyengar they want you to wrap your knees close in a strap and lay on bolsters.  So I get the blocks out and she says to go get as many bolsters as I need to lie back.  I get three. Because how can you even stack three let alone four and I come back and she says what is wrong with my knees. I tell her arthritis and she says out loud does anyone else here have arthritis in their knees and of course there are several laying back on bolsters that raise their hand.  She looks at me and says “you have to work on your issues”.  DING DING DING DING She says to the group of teachers YOU ALL have to work on your issues.  Most of us are insecure about our issues.  But students have them.  What we learn HERE, by watching and paying ATTENTION will allow us to help our students later.  This manner of learning to teach, through the eyes of someone EXPERIENCED, allows for continual revelation. It is the small things. Lack of action, lack of intention, lack of consciousness.  There is SO MUCH TO LEARN.  You learn as much from your own practice as others. I know teachers who DON’T practice.

 

virasana

 

And I am like oh yeah, just avoiding the issues won’t help the issues. I say this all the time when I am teaching.
So since that day I decided to just do Iyengar yoga pretty much and focus on these issues.  And study Iyengar. It is funny how those teachers can refer to Light on Yoga for pretty much any answer.  She says, do you all have the book? Well PICK IT UP once in a while.  So funny.  HAHA what good is the book doing on the shelf. She says she is on her THIRD COPY she has used them so much.

 

chair

And then, you know I have this constant struggle with what to practice.  And I keep finding out my FAVORITE Ashtanga teachers also practice IYENGAR or have studied it.  (Freeman, Ezraty, Garrigues)  SO yesterday I am watching this AMAZING Maty Ezraty interview:

 

 

I studied with her last summer. The five day teaching immersion it was VERY little how to I bind in Marichy B/D.  Actually it was NONE of that, but it was more how to work through your issues with alignment rather than just push through it.  So in the interview she talks about the differences and then how to STUDY one form to make the other BETTER.  And she is so right. There is no right path.  I have seen a lot of discussion on inversions and whether they are safe blah blah blah and then some cop out nonsense on NOT teaching them. So do you not practice yourself? Is that a good idea?  What is a teacher? I don’t know.  So then I see this from Garrigues:

 

“But inversions, they – I mean, it kinda gets into a whole subject, but they have to be done properly, but if they are done properly, they’re the most amazing anti-aging thing, like, incredible health-giving benefits and youth – keeping you youthful, but – so the Iyengar people do it in the afternoon just ’cause it takes longer, and so it is a nice time to do it if you can carve out the time, just because, like you guys were saying, the Ashtanga practice is so demanding, and so it’s a – what I think is – I think it’s the kind of worst thing in a way, the biggest shadow aspect, or one of them, is the – how the inversions are getting kind of cut out of the practice or getting way less emphasis because of how tiring the practice is and how much emphasis is being put on the postures and the series, and then by the time you get to that part, you’ve spent it all. And so I am not a big fan of that. I think that, especially as you get older – and partly because the practice – remember, it’s not about – I mean, its main thing is about meditation, really, and meditation does require stopping the body, you know what I mean? There is moving meditation, but really, at some point, you just have to stop your body and stop the thoughts going through.” – David Garrigues

So doing the extra practice.  Studying. Svadhyaya.  WORK ON YOUR STUFF.  Watch.  Be conscious.  Be aware.  PRACTICE

 

DAY 29 REFLECTION

One more class.   I have to say the very best part of this is the many nice people who asked me how I was doing and congratulated me every day. You all are great yogis. I have loved practicing with people I haven’t practiced with for a long time and the new practitioners. It has also been great practicing with those in the Hot yoga training. I know what you guys are doing is a lot tougher than this.  I am so there for all of you.  The teachers I LOVE.  The Inner Fire Yoga Hot Yoga Teachers are amazing.

My thoughts beyond that at this point beyond being ready to have a day off soon is as follows:

It has been great getting some aspects of this practice back.  I have developed more strength and stamina.  My back bending is so much better. I am a little tired in general, but I also have spurts of energy and generally feel good period.  I would say daily things improve right now. I do need a day off.  If I do more hot challenges it will be like seven in a row, to not lose what I lost.  Also my knee is doing very well. It is definitely better and I am walking with little or no limp.

My final thoughts on this and my thoughts throughout the month continue to be why. I think the fact that anyone, including myself, questions it reflects the answer.  Really any discussion of it reflects that.  Why is there even discussion.  Throughout the month I had many thoughts and opinions and feelings about it and spent a lot of MENTAL energy, or what I call monkey committee thoughts, on the process.  But once you get on your mat every single day, the monkeys go away. I am not really thinking about it much any more. It is a PATTERN now and I am not engaging in a lot of DISCUSSION.  Doing a challenge like this is only effective when you get to the point of not discussing and just doing.  THEN it becomes what it is supposed to be. A meditation.  That means not even thinking of it continually in any way, such as “I can’t WAIT to get on my mat.”  You just do it.  If you think otherwise, once the challenge is done, you probably won’t continue because you see an ending point.  Committing to 30 days or whatever you do, is a commitment to being committed to discipline which allows your boundaries to expand, not get smaller.

Right now I am planning on another 30 challenge, doing something else, for May. I want to cultivate more discipline, more health, and more strength.  A lot changes in 30 days in your life, but having consistent practice allows you to be true to yourself and to not be distracted by trivia or a whole lotta bullshit.

 

On Friday, I am going to a day long Iyengar workshop.  I haven’t done a headstand or shoulderstand  all month. I think my next 30 day challenge will be to do full primary to the Sharath tape, which is a shitstorm for me, but I won’t be blogging about it. I am also adding another layer to that mix.  Like I said, I won’t be blogging about it.  IT is the discipline I enjoy.  I will still do some Hot yoga as a supplemental strengthening practice. I gained a LOT of STRENGTH and STAMINA.

 

I will blog about the workshops I am going to Friday.  One more to go with this challenge, consider it DONE.

 

1908201_10153375360414610_6337780651021333781_n

HOT YOGA BACKBEND

One of the benefits of a regular Hot Yoga 26 pose practice for me is that my back bending has become stronger and deeper in my 22 days.  Yesterday I had a student tell me one of the things they experience in the early opening poses is that their particular body is not warmed up for the opening spine sequence.

backbend

 

According to Hot yoga 26 pose theory the beginning pranayama is the prep.  That is if you REALLY push the breathing.  The deep breathing oxygenates the body and since the room is so warm the muscles get softer and more open.  For me this pose feels very good and strong after the deep side bending for a minute on each side.  It reinforces the use of strong legs in back bending.  The arms over the head forces the core muscles to work hard too.  If you don’t have the support of leg and trunk strength you just won’t go very far even if you are very mobile in the spine. I love the forward bend afterwards.  I love this sequence of the series.

 

The next back bends are grouped in a series of four back strengthening poses that end with a full range back bend.

The first in the series is Bhujangasana, the cobra pose.  This pose is articulated with the focus on building back strength to lift and bend mostly the thoracic spine, using the hands as a last resort.  The great thing about this pose it is safe and helpful for almost any level of student.  It also encourages the action of bringing the shoulders back and down and pushing the shoulder blades forward. If you are a vinyasa practitioner these actions will help you in chaturanga. I often wish even more advanced vinyasa practitioners would take this pose over a poorly aligned up dog, but they don’t listen to me.

backbend 1

 

The next pose is salabhasana where the leg is lifted independently and with both together.  This forces lower back strength. I hadn’t done this pose in a long time before I started the challenge.  During my first class I engaged the proper action to lift both legs.  Literally nothing lifted.  Not even a toe. This is so counter intuitive for the brain and it was like I FORGOT how to do it.  The second class, I lifted a little.  The shoulder and arm positions are problematic for many students. This is good action however for a series that doesn’t cultivate a lot of upper body strength with the shoulders supporting anything at all. That is why vinyasa practitioners resist.  Hot yoga practitioners who take vinyasa struggle with upper body strength, however, they usually have nice open shoulders with a lot of range of movement.

backbend2

 

Poorna Salabhasana uses full back body strength to lift.  This pose also feels good.

backbend3

 

Next is bow pulling pose.   The prior poses warm up nicely to prepare for this pose. It is a little more advanced and many people can’t reach their feet.  Knee alignment is important. The knees should not be visible in the mirror. I am guilty of this too.

backbend7

 

Ustrasana is pretty much dhanurasana only on the shins.  This comes after supta virasana where you get a change to elongate the quads, another important element in back bending. The hips have to move forward and you need quad strength and stretch.  This pose is harder for me in the hot room. Some days it is easier than others, but in a normal environment this pose has always been available to me.  So I don’t know if it is the heat or just being tired later in the sequence.  This is the pose that allows you to open to kapotasana so again, leg strength is crucial.

 

backbend5

 

Day 22 was good practice, but I am tired today. I get to practice earlier today.  Last night was too late. Late does not work for me on work nights.

I am looking forward to it being over just because I am tired and would like a day off. I don’t want to have to do two in a day. No way. I taught a class on Tuesday and then tried to take the class afterwards.  It was a disaster and I barely made it through.

I am also anxious to get back and play with more backbends and to use props and my Iyengar chair after my challenge, now that my back has opened up quite a bit.
The Master of Back Bending:

backbend6

 

That’s how I like it, with walls and straps and blankets and bolsters!

whyiquitmyyogaclass

 

Yesterday I completed Day 20 of 30.  Last week there was a melt down day and I am slowly recovering from that.  Here are the positives of it so far:

  • Daily studio practice with community is enjoyable.
  • The Inner Fire Yoga hot yoga teachers are amazing and gifted.
  • My body is getting stronger
  • My knee is doing better, however the chair poses are a struggle.
  • I am getting a deeper back bend.  This is a great sequence for cultivating deep back bending and strengthening.
  • My skin is soft.
  • I eat and sleep better
  • I have periods of high energy

Here are the negatives:

  • My facial skin is broke out and red.
  • My hair is a disaster.
  • I have deep energy lulls some days.
  • There are some body imbalances that would not allow ME personally to continue this as my main practice (that is only for ME, I am not making that as a judgement call for any one else.) This was never in the plan anyways.
  • I miss my Ashtanga and Iyengar practices.

Ongoing, my plan is to continue this practice one to three times a week.  The logistics of it are kind of a nightmare for me on a daily basis.  Sometimes I have to wait until too late at night to go. I am NOT a night practitioner.  There is a lot of driving involved to practice daily.  Also a LOT of laundry to do.  I am really looking forward to getting back to Iyengar and Ashtanga practice. I have some workshops in both coming up at the beginning of May.  My teacher Richard Freeman is in Chicago in September too.  I will enjoy taking a few Hot yoga classes weekly to be around the nice students and teachers.  It is also a nice practice for focus.  There is frequently loud music booming in the next room. I enjoy that this practice allows space for mental focus and calmness.  I have a lot of MENTAL struggle with getting to class.  Yesterday I spent the whole day pretty much thinking about how much I did NOT want to take the 5:45 class.  About ten minutes into class I was glad I was there and I felt really good afterwards.

 

Over the next few days I am going to have some posts about my thoughts on some of the key poses of Hot yoga, their alignment, benefits, and how to improve them.

 

e6

 

DAY 16

Feel awful, tired and don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. Don’t know why I did it period.  Have a ton of anxiety.  That is it.

To briefly outline the first twelve days of Hot Yoga challenge, it would look like this:

Days 1 to 5:  Not much going on the yoga poses, even the ones I can normally do.  The main issue is nausea and dizziness after almost every pose in the standing series.  I used to do the three balance poses fairly well, but they aren’t there at all.  I am focusing on keeping my standing leg straight for the duration of the pose rather than going deeper.  I can not keep the leg straight for 60 seconds at this point.  I can’t stay the duration of most of the first set.  I fidget between poses and have to keep my gaze down due to the dizziness. On the floor I could not lift my legs during salabhasana.  When I try to lift both legs up together engaging all of my back strength literally nothing lifts off the floor. I can’t take my heels in ustrasana, which is normally very available to me.

Days 6-10:  The nausea and dizziness are gone, except the day after I had my phlebotomy lab where they take a great deal of blood to keep the iron levels in my blood in a normal range. I felt good that morning, but almost blacked out at Dandayamana-Dhanurasana.  The standing poses were pretty much done for me after that.  The floor series was fine.  I was dizzy for an hour afterwards.  The sanskrit pronunciations are driving me crazy after the Nicolai Bachman workshops I attended a few months ago.  I have to research the Sanskrit words in this series to check the pronunciation.  Finally I can take my heels in Ustrasana the second set.  I lift my feet three to four inches now in Salabhasana.  The standing balance poses are coming back. It drives me insane that people still kick out in standing head to knee with the standing leg bent. It drove me crazy teaching it.  I actually saw a local studio put out a video of someone demonstrating this pose with a bent standing leg.  NO NO NO NO, that is NOT right.   I finally can kick out with the straight leg standing on a straight leg for a short period of time. I keep the core as engaged as my standing leg to support the low back. The rounded spine forward bends are different for me. I never teach them this way and I know if I don’t support it correctly, low back pain will result.

Days 11-12:  These were the best days so far. I can see progress in the poses and feel a lot of strength and focus coming back.  This is my favorite thing about the series.  I never have to hear the word ‘playlist’ in regards to this practice.  Don’t even use that word with me discussing yoga. I hear this constantly. “I love her/his classes.  He/she has such a great playlist.”  Snore, boring, snoozefest, yawn.  I love a Hot yoga class when everyone is focused on what they are doing and breathing and they remain still between poses.  That recovery period allows for intense practice in the poses.  The quiet time is essential to settle the mind so you can go into the next pose.  Love this.  There is nothing like it.  Ruddy Ruddy at Inner Fire Yoga KNOWS how to hold space like this in his classes.

Here are some other tips for the practice:

Water and Sleep are your number one friends. I take 32 ounces to bed at night and drink it all night and am still thirsty in the morning. If you take a morning class you have to be careful to prehydrate because you get so naturally dehydrated over night.

If water and sleep are your number one friends, alcohol is your arch enemy. I had two margaritas on Saturday very early in the evening. I was fine the next day but won’t habitually do that.

Food management is crucial.  For a morning class you should be hydrated and have light food, a banana or a piece of toast.  That is it.  For an after work class I eat a heavier lunch four hours earlier.

I spend a lot of time in showers, washing hair, and washing clothes.

I want to start adding back some Ashtanga and Iyengar this week.  I am going to another Iyengar workshop all day on the first of May and there is also an Ashtanga workshop in the area I want to attend. I haven’t done a sun salutation in 12 days. I miss it.  After the 30 days the plan it to continue this 4-5 days a week with other yoga for a couple of months. It is great conditioning and such an excellent foundational practice.  I lost so much from stopping it. I love the Hot yoga people at my studio and enjoy seeing them and practicing with them. I also love the Inner Fire Hot yoga teachers.

Here is some Kino love for you today:

 

 

Also some love from two of the three naughty Decorah eaglets.  The baby is sleeping under mom, or actually I think that is dad.  Bonking buddies.

 

DECORAh

 

 

On April 1 I started a 30 day Hot Yoga challenge.  Many ask why.  Here are the reasons:

1.  To detox.

2. To get back to a hard daily practice for a while to make my Ashtanga/Iyengar practice stronger.

3. Everyone thinks I won’t make it and will quit.

4.  Hot Yoga is also emotionally cleansing.  Hence the title, I need it obviously. (Also no Facebook backlash on how “unyogic”, whatever that means, I am.   It is my blog and I can write what I want.)

5.  It sure will keep me from drinking alcohol.  After today’s class all I want is a Coke. Nectar of the gods.

6.  It is 90 minutes of the day I am not distracted by other negativity or fundamentalism. (Christian or yoga opinions or otherwise.)

7.  I ALWAYS feel great after class.  ALWAYS.

 

This used to be my main practice and I was rather established in it before I moved on to other styles, such as Forrest, Ashtanga, Iyengar etc.  Well, that is all gone now and I really am not very established at all.  Some of the poses I was relatively open in are not attainable.  During the first few days I am exploring how to get SLOWLY back to these postures.  It is a meditation in that respect.  I am really HOLDING the foot until my standing leg is STRAIGHT (not hyperextended) before I kick out.  I didn’t do that the first time around. I practiced the kick out and worked on straight legs later. I got them, but that was a bad idea.  I always taught it that way and I notice in classes about half the students still do that.

The most troubling aspect is getting used to the heat again. I feel like I am in a head spin when I go into poses. I have to come out, over the 4 days, I have built up to the longer holds. I am still not there.  My head spins and I have to bend over.  I won’t get sick, because I KNOW not to go in with food in my stomach.  Only water.  Pre-hydration is ESSENTIAL.  I still lug in 32 ounces of water but I know it is too late if I am dehydrated at all.  Going in a morning class with any alcohol from the night before even a glass of wine is DEATH.  For me anyways.  It comes out FAST but it feels AWFUL.  Today I just want that COKE.  Today the room was extra hot so it was difficult, but my body is stronger.

 

(Here they are the three Decorah eaglets)  LOVE LOVE LOVE

 

 

11072781_831393003563987_3197168398304913949_o

Ashtanga and Iyengar are BOTH strengthening styles of yoga, but here is the thing and I have always experienced it this way.  There is always something you aren’t getting.  My low back and something in my hips is working DIFFERENTLY in these poses. It is probably the balance work for the hips and the variety and amount of backbends.  I can not grab my heels in Ustrasana, although I can at home.  Every time I drop my head back I feel like fainting.

Today the class was enjoyable because the other students were SO FOCUSED.  It makes me focused.  I love the INTENSITY of the FOCUS in Hot yoga.  You are in the room and are not in the room.  I have noticed people doing alternative poses in these classes this week and that is a distraction for me.  No one was doing that today.  Who told these other students that is okay? It isn’t for this style, unless you are modifying for a contraindication, not because “Oh I think I will throw a pigeon pose in here.”  WHAT?  Not in my time of teaching it.  Not happening.

So I am back tomorrow again in the morning.  My hope is that in the next few days I can stop being so dizzy, be able to hold the poses the full length, and see some of my old backbend come back.

I have a great deal of energy right now. I am cleaning, writing posts, moving around, but I also know I will TANK at some point this afternoon.  Sleep has been delightful.

I will post more on progress through out the week along with my specific view on some of the Hot Yoga poses.

IRISH YOGI

~ an ashtanga journey through the different stages of life ~

body divine yoga

unlock your kundalini power, ignite your third eye, awaken your inner oracle

IYENGAR YOGA BLOG

Este é um site para divulgar ensinamentos e notícias que envolvam a prática de Iyengar yoga, bem como o estudo e aplicação na vida cotidiana dos Yoga Sutras de Patanjali. Namaskar!

Home Yoga Practice

Practicing Svadhyaya by reflecting on learnings in yoga class

IRISH ASHTANGI

~ a classical journey through eight limbs

The Flexi Foodie

Low-fat, plant-based, whole foods, yummy recipes & healthy living tips

Serene Flavorful

inspiration yoga pretty things tasty things fearless kindness

The Confluence Countdown

Ashtanga yoga news and perspective daily, except Saturdays & Moon Days, from two practitioners seeking to deepen their Sadhana

The Shift Has Hit The Fan

One person's perspective on the Earth's energetic shift

Tales from the Yogic Path

Fingers Pointing to the Moon

Nion Alchemy

Better Living Through Metaphysics

elysha lenkin: mind body soul stylist

new york editorial, commercial, kids, personal stylist for the mind, body and soul

Yoga Ph.D.

Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body

Spirit Wonk

Meditation. Yoga. Buddhism. Self-expression.

Fork and Beans

Encouraging adults to start playing more with their food.

Up(per Midwest)ward Facing Dog

Practicing gratitude, patience, peace, and laghu vajrasana. In the cold.

Prana and Peaches

Yoga, Health, Life

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 506 other followers