Teach the teacher daily lesson 1/29/2013

Daily lesson from January 29, 2013: (Teach the teacher)

Blood. Sweat. And tears.

Not whatcha usually think of when thinkin’ ’bout yoga!

And yet, after chatting with a wise student after class, who gently reminded me to simply, “teach what you know, my dear,” a few hours later I realized I had experienced all three in the past 24 hours.

Blood. Sweat. Tears.

A bloody toe that I was just too damn busy to deal with that cracked open again on my mat this afternoon, turning my pretty green Manduka an icky shade of crimson.

Sweat. And no, not the ‘good’ sweat that comes from a heated vinyasa practice. But sweat on my brow before bed last night as I allowed my imagination to run wild with worst-case scenarios of a seriously amped-up teaching schedule beginning next week.

Tears. Yes tears at continued frustration over handstands that continue to result in cartwheels. Why won’t they just stick?

So when my wonderful, wise student ‘teacher’ calmly suggested that I relax and simply teach what I know, I immediately recognized that I had gotten way ahead of myself with anticipation and frustration.

She had no idea what was going on in my head. She was simply sharing with me after class a new version of matsyasana she learned in another workshop that I might want to see. I was intrigued, and offered my version, explaining that what she was showing me was new to me.

Perhaps she sensed my quick self-recrimination of not being familiar with her new version of matsyasana (fish pose).

Perhaps she saw me thinking: “loser girl, how come you don’t know this? How come you don’t know EVERYTHING about yoga?”

Wow. Was I that obvious? Have I been so absorbed in perfection that I’m spewing blood, sweat, and tears on my mat and beyond?

Thank you, THANK YOU, sweet student of mine, for gently reminding me to relax, rejoice, and teach what I know.


a walk on the suburban wild side


So it snowed about an inch last night. My little VW beetle was perfectly capable of plowing through, but after an invigorating 90 minute yoga practice at home with the BF in our suburban apartment home studio, driving anywhere just felt all wrong this gorgeous day.

We were pining for a long walk, cuppa Joe, and a spin through the local CVS. Big fun in the burbs.

Simple enough. CVS and Starbucks are a mile or two away. We’re fit. Love to walk. Hand in hand. Even bought a ‘walking trails of NJ’ guide a few days ago for future springtime treks.

Sunshine flooding into our studio, Ganesha mural smiling down on us promising to remove any obstacles between here and there, we rose out of svasana, swapped our Prana pants for parkas, and headed outdoors.

Since moving to the burbs (a temporary tolerance until we can work in an urban lifestyle that doesn’t include 2+hours of fanny time behind the wheel for my fiance), we’ve developed an unconscious (until now) reticence toward conquering any errands without fanny time behind the wheel. Walk? Nah, we’ll just drive.

But not today.

The first five minutes were awesome. Glove in glove, sidewalk shoveled, “hey, baby – this was a GREAT idea!”

Things go downhill from there. Literally.

The long drive out of our apartment complex is seriously cambered. Meaning, unless your right leg is a foot shorter than your left, be prepared to stroll at a 30 degree angle. Oh, and the 3-foot high speed bumps need to be navigated around as they encroach into the measly 3-inch wide shoulders. No sidewalks here. We’re in the burbs, remember?

Back on level ground, we approach the highway.

“Hey, babe. Should we walk on this side or that?” A little quibble ensues…

“Into oncoming traffic so they can see us.”

“No babe. The oncoming side curves to the left, so it’s a blind corner and they’ll smack right into us before they knew what hit their car. Was that a human. Or just another deer?”

A truce – we alternate left and right another mile or so.

So much for hand in hand though. No sidewalks still. Which means single-file trekking is our only option.

After conquering the bridge and keeping the motorist dirt/snow sludge spray below waist level, we then have another executive decision to make.

“Um, how do we cross the 7-lane intersection that doesn’t offer the convenience of a pedestrian crosswalk, babe?”

The BF, taking on role as city planner, works out a navigation plan and assures me it’s the safest option. We proceed to high tail it at the first break in traffic and pray to anyone above we make it to other side unscathed.

Joy upon joy we do, and finally settle into a cushy Starbucks banquet with a cuppa Joe.

Next big decision. Walk back or hitch hike?

Happy suburban trails!


Teach the teacher daily lesson 1/25/2013

Daily lesson from January 25, 2013: (Teach the teacher)

2012-11-26 17.41.33

A lovely brunette with a bright pink mat and iron will stopped me after svasana to share that finally, FINALLY, she was beginning to develop upper body strength. Her chatturangas were seriously beginning to ROCK.

What is it with women and upper body strength? Why do so many of us despise building it? I know men whose biggest exertion of the day consisted of opening a tightly sealed bottle of water (for bird-handed gals like me). And yet, upon cue, have been able to pound out 25 pushups with relative ease. Only to return to the sofa to watch other men exert themselves athletically in the game of the day. (Mind you this is by no means the current man in my life, who flows gracefully and willingly through daily yoga practice with me.)

But for so many women, especially those with tall, lanky frames like me and the lovely brunette I chatted with after class, developing upper body strength takes time. Discipline. Commitment. Pain. An IRON WILL.

Pushups, chatturangas, long-held planks often begin with a banana back, drooped head, red face, several f*** yous to anyone within earshot, and a commitment to conquering a distinct natural disadvantage to the dudes who don’t even have to try.

Here’s the cool thing, though. At some point, our sheer will pays off. Big time. Because we know how much time and effort it took to arrive at the effortless chatturanga, we appreciate it more. And needn’t wait for our mate to yank us off the sofa in a dare to perform on cue.

So ladies. I dare you – keep at it! I, and my lovely brunette student, are proof positive that upper body strength can be yours.

Teach the teacher daily lesson 1/23/2013

Daily lesson from January 23, 2013: (Teach the teacher)

This lesson comes from a different vantage point – as a student sandwiched between two other students in another instructor’s class. This little exercise of recording a lesson from every class I teach is extending into classes I partake in as well. Addicting!

Today’s lesson is all about the ladies. So fellas, here’s your opportunity to scroll forward to the next blog. Unless of course you want to be an informed  fella.

On my left side, (me being the tuna salad in the middle – or roasted veggies if you’re vegan), one half the sandwich engages with the other half (on my right) by declaring, “I’m just fine, dear. Except I’m a little hormonal today!”

Big laugh on my right: “Ah, the glories of menopause. Been there done that.” Or something like that. And on the humorous, candid, no holds barred talk on the female transition process it goes between these confident women until opening Ohms.

Here’s where my lesson comes in. Growing up in a reserved, Catholic-ish household meant these were things you just didn’t discuss. Let alone laugh about. Go get a book, mask the jacket inside a bigger book, hide in a library corner and figure it all out on your own.

But damn, we ladies all go through endless hormonal changes on this journey of life. And if we can’t talk about it, laugh about it, shout about it and accept the process with humor and grace, then what are we to do?

On this theme, I’ll share an awesome portion of a poem I came across while scrolling through a cool blog you really ought to check out. Here it is, along with a link to her blog:

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.

A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.

Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Solstice of Redemption

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.

A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.

Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Now go check out the blog:  awaketolife.wordpress.com

Teach the teacher daily lesson 1/22/2013

Daily lesson from January 22, 2013: (Teach the teacher)

“Oh my goodness! I used to sit like that as a kid!”

Typically, at the end of class, students quietly open their eyes, bow, and whisper namaste.

But this perky front row yogi was ready to fly out of lotus with joy upon witnessing the instructor (yours truly) perched comfortably in virasana (knees together, heels hugging booty).

I always sit this way, because I like it. And because lotus wreaks havoc on my cement-block glutes (years of running will do that to you). I also understand many yogis hate virasana, and have a much easier time in sukasana (‘easy’ cross-legged seat, but not easy at all for me), or even lotus. So at the end of svasana, I instruct students to find a comfortable seat of their choice at the front of the mat.

But even with that offering, I’m usually still sitting solo in virasana, admiring all the happy, opened hips in front of me. But my teacher today, in the front row, quickly snuggled into virasana after seeing this was just fine by me, and beamed big time. Being a kid again will do that to ya.

This got me thinking even further, how did sit as a kid? In virasana, of course. And on the floor. That’s where all the toys were by golly!

So let’s all be kids again, and get down on the floor. Our hips will be a helluva lot happier.

Teach the teacher daily lesson 1/18/2013

Daily lesson from January 18, 2013: (Teach the teacher)

Mindfulness. Gratitude. Powerful words. But I confess, it seems to me that today, these words are thrown around so randomly (a late night infomercial pushing hair removal had an ingratiated spokeswoman screaming “gratitude!! for her baby soft skin) to such degree, I find myself sighing every time I see or hear them. On Facebook. Dr. Oz. Health and wellness apps. Even the ‘hair be gone’ infomercial (or some silly brand).

But two amazing students this morning, with different experiences, and for different reasons, shared personal stories that drove the importance of mindfulness and gratitude home for me.

Student ‘A’ was new to my class, and wanted to make me aware that, in the spirit of practicing mindfulness, she would be backing WAY off any and all back openers, since she tweaked her lower spine a month ago trying to push her way into a too-deep version of wheel. No excuses, no whining about how she wished it didn’t happen or how it set her back. Just a declaration, with a big grateful smile, that today’s class would be an even greater opportunity for her to practice mindfully.

Student ‘B’ is a regular, and always enters the studio with a giant smile and positive energy that is infectious. I hadn’t seen her the past few classes, and heard from another regular she’d been suffering from the flu. She made it today, big smile and energy to share, albeit with a stash of tissues and slower practice. After class she shared that the flu challenged her attitude and played on her moods, but she chose to be grateful that the flu was temporary. She chose to be grateful for a healthy body that is healing and working toward a full recovery.

Thank you ladies. In thinking back on an injury I suffered last summer (strained serratus anterior), I would have done well to replace grimacing through painful chatturangas with mindfulness and gentler modifications to this strenuous pose. I would have done well to be grateful for my body’s ability to heal and rebuild, and given it the proper rest it needed to recover from a painful injury. It eventually did, but took longer than necessary because I allowed my ego and impatience to get in the way, thus impeding the healing process.

Hair removal? Perhaps during my next bout of insomnia I’ll come across that infomercial again and find a connection between gratitude and baby soft skin. Nah, probably not.