It's now 8:45pm and its the first chance I've had all day to sit down and record present-day events. It's been non stop, even before the sun had a chance to bathe the earth in its halcyon glow. Luckily, I had my one day of rest yesterday, as my teacher Cody states, "Saturdays are the traditional day of rest in Ashtanga yoga" (I did some research and this was actually formatted to fit moon cycles, as we are the least "grounded" on these days. Some food for thought...).
Today marks the first full day of teacher training we have had, 9 hours to be exact. Our day played out roughly like this:
2 hours of non-stop, intense Ashtanga Vinyasas (a certain style of physical yoga).
15 minute break.
1 hour of lecture on Ujjayi breathing and Bahndas (muscle contraction).
2 hours of vinyasa flows, style A (where we actually taught for our first time, I'll dive into that later...).
1 hour lunch break (I actually did my yogi meal, yay! It was very difficult not to talk with everyone around me).
20 minute nap time (yes, you heard me, group nap time. I think everyone actually fell asleep on their mats too, we were pretty exhausted).
1 hour worth of meditation teaching and seated meditation.
1 & 1/2 hours worth of vinyasa flows, style B (2nd time teaching the group).
Where do I even begin? There was so much material and topics covered today its frankly a bit overwhelming. But, I will do my best to condense what we've learned, as our teachers would like us to reflect and write down what we were taught after class, as to help solidify the knowledge in our mind. So this blog is actually turning out to be a great addition to my practice (yay for crossing two "Ts' with one stroke of the pen! Or should I say virtual "T" and keyboard? Anyways...).
First, our teachers re-affirmed to us, our daily expectations and disciplines during these next 3 months:
1. Daily yoga practice, 1 hour of Ashtanga Yoga with 5 minutes of final Shavasana. Cody states if you don't do this final resting pose, you won't "seal" in your energy. "It's like not doing yoga at all" (good to know, as I prefer my work outs to count for something lol).
2. 20 minutes of meditation every day, post yoga.
3. Daily yoga meal.
4. Daily gratitude journal (which I have yet to start, but I may just blog this. I figure no one would mind reading what I am thankful for).
5. Daily act of kindness (this goes back to sending out that positive karma into the world). Speaking of which, I can check that off my list for today. Funny story, maybe to personal, but while in the bathroom I noticed no toilet paper in one of the stalls (thankfully) and had to use another. How may you ask, is this related to an act of kindness? Well, I made the good effort and put toilet paper in that stall that had none. You are welcome random stranger, you can now enjoy the fruits of your labor and rest in peace knowing you have the means to cleanse they-self. You are welcome. Good karma = check!
Next was covering the 5 Ashtanga Yoga Relevants (otherwise known as the 5 reasons or things that make Ashtanga, Ashtanga, verses all the other styles of yoga out there):
1. Vinyasa - movement and breath together, the physical side of the practice.
2. Uppeka - mental balance or equinemity. Cody defines this as, "when you get so deep in your practice and breath, you forget about everything else" (LOVE this. This is currently my top reason I practice yoga).
3. Bandhas - Energy locks by muscle contraction. Two particular muscle areas in particular.
Uddiyana Bandha - located two fingers width below your abdomen, scooping up and in.
Mula Bandha - Lifting and contracting your pelvic floor muscles (would you like to hear the most comical thing read in the handbook all day? "Mula Bandha is activated by drawing energy through the perineal muscles and lower abdominal region. The anus and navel region are contracted". Try saying this phrase in your next class, "now alright students, I would like everyone to contract their anuses". PROBABLY not the most polite thing to say but really funny to think about saying. We all concluded in class that stating this phrase in a work setting would most definitely get you sent straight to Human Resources).
4. Ujjayi Pranayama - "Victorious breathing". The act of creating physical heat and energy in your body purely with breath (pretty cool if you ask me).
5. Drishti - A gaze or focal point (this is used to focus your attention, so much that you can observe how each form feels).
SO after all of these topics in-depthly covered we got down to the nitty gritty of actually utilizing them in practice!
We flowed through 5 Sun Salutation A vinyasa's with the teacher:
Hands at heart center, forward fold, halfway lift, hand plant, plank, up dog, down dog for 5 breaths, jump through to hands, swan dive up.
That was the easy part. Cody looked at us and said "everyone grab a partner, you are going to teach them now, without the yogi terms. Partners act like you've never done yoga in your life"... Like teaching someone else for the first time wasn't nerve racking enough, on top of that, you cannot tell them to do a down dog, you have to legit tell them how to properly align their body. "Exhale and bring your hips back and up, focal point through your knees, pull your abdomens in, engage your bandhas". Yeah, that was to explain one movement.
I think the whole class can agree, you don't realize how much instruction from a teacher you are actually receiving, until you are the one trying to convey this message in 3 seconds during one breath cycle before you have to cue the next move (if you can even remember what the next position is anymore). SO yeah, this whole teaching thing is going to take awhile. But overall, I'd say we all did pretty well for our first day.
After making complete fools of ourselves and our nerves revved up to 110%, they let us off for an hour lunch break. When we returned we were pleasantly surprised to be awarded with a 20 minute nap (its not just for kids my friends!). This was the most awesomely strange thing since my adulthood-ism. Everyone lined up on their yoga mats, with meditation pillows, blankets and flickering candles everywhere. I was out like a light in 3 minutes and it did feel quite refreshing, a bit too refreshing as I fell asleep during meditation shortly after, 5 different times…I caught my body falling over, when I was supposed to be sitting up straight (thank goodness everyone else had their eyes closed, as to not watch this whole sleepy battle between me and gravity play out numorous times).
Note to self, get more sleep before 9 hour class day on Sunday.
To end, we were guided through a full Sun Salutation B series 5 times my Patience:
Hands at heart center, arms up, sit in chair, forward fold, half way lift, plant hands, plank, up dog, down dog, right leg through, warrior one, plank, up dog, down dog, left leg through, warrior one, plank, up dog, down dog, jump through to forward fold, half way lift, chair pose, stand up hands at heart center.
Then we had to teach to our fellow students. AND I taught everyone in the class at once, including my teacher...yes, I volunteered myself (after I did such, I had an out of body experience where my body kept walking forward to the middle of the room but my mind stayed behind asking the burning question, did you REALLY just actively throw yourself under a bus?...Yup.) It went about as well as expected and I froze in the middle of instructing a down dog, but, I did learn a lot, hurrah for that!
By the way, if you are still actively reading this blog by the way I commend you. And thank you for your active interest in my ramblings of the day. I assume every Sunday my blogs will be the longest of the week, considering so much will take place on these days. But if your into that sort of knowledge based thing maybe you will enjoy reading these long segiments of mine, and I’ll get the benefit of helping my brain sort through all I’ve learned, maybe even memorizing a thing or two along the way.
To end the night, I took a lovely picture of my dinner (I hoping to get better at this whole making food look good in the camera business, it will take some dedication and practice in itself so bear with me):
1.Salmon filet with freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary & oregano
2.Organic/vegan edamame past noodles
I haven’t quite started my vegan diet yet like quite a few in the class are participating in for the next 3 months, but I am slowly starting.
It is quite the feat to give up all animal products in ones diet, cheese, dairy, meat, etc. After this salmon fillet is gone though I plan on doing my best, just to see if I can make it three months and also how I feel both physically and mentally! I’ll let you know how that goes as well.
I almost forgot! My grateful journaling entry: I am grateful, for the time and means to be apart of this program. Despite my busy schedule and the fact there is always something else to put ones money towards, I am grateful I cast all doubt aside and jumped in feet first. Grateful for the courage and strength to follow my heart.
For now, as they say in Sanskrit, shubharātrī (good night)