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YIN THAI Yoga Workshop

By | Life Inspiration from a Yogi | No Comments

Last night I treated my boyfriend’s mom and myself to two hours of relaxation & massage at Backwards Yoga.  Sarah and Kela took over the room of 14 yogis and transformed it into a gentle class focused on movement that allowed gentle stretching and massaging.  When I first heard about this class I assumed it might be like a typical massage- but Thai massage is much different.  Sarah was certified in Thailand (how cool is that?!) to do thai massage and although it is hands on as well, it more focuses on the body moving itself rather than her digging into tissue with her hands.

We flowed through mini sequences including gentle twists, pigeon, down dog, seated, lizard, and more.  Each pose we held for 3-5 minutes (not breaths… MINUTES) which I’ll admit was a struggle for me.  Sometimes poses just aren’t comfortable, and moving with them helps me to keep my mind off of pushing myself to get deeper.  But when you’re holding pigeon pose for 3-5 minutes.. there’s not much else to think about than the burning in my hip!

But yoga is about challenging yourself, and not just physically!  This Yin Thai workshop was a great way to explore each pose with depth that you had to surrender to with your breath.  My mind wandered at times, but after a while I got more into what we were doing.  While in pigeon, Sarah massaged me by pressing what I would assume to be trigger points up my calf and hamstring of my back leg.  There were some spots that felt sore to the touch, but I also felt an instant release of relaxation by bringing awareness to that certain point.

Overall, I’m glad we took the two hours to relax and become more aware in such a calming way.  Sarah and Kela both have great energy and just being around good people made me feel relaxed and rejuvenated!  If you guys get the chance to try out Thai Massage or Yin yoga… I would encourage you to try it!  And be ready for that Savasana adjustment… its INCREDIBLE.

Namaste, Angela

What’s the “108 Sun Sal Challenge” really like?

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Every other time I’ve been invited to try out the infamous “108 Sun Salutations Challenge” I politely (or deliberately) have declined.  First of all, that is a lot of work.  Second of all, WHY?!  Well, I finally gave in after being guilt-tripped by fellow teacher trainee, Mike Kaney, who is always up for death-by-yoga challenges… and let me tell you folks- those are the friends you need to have!

I walked into the studio surrounded by four other brave souls ready to face the challenge with our only tool seeming to be a group of numbered popsicle sticks.  Okay, WAY less intimidating than having to remember how to count to 108 without losing your place.. all the work would be moving sticks all while flowing through the same movements over and over… and over and over… again.  Ready, set, start.

At first I felt really strong.  We did the first couple together and right away I connected with my breath and fell into the rhythm of the music.  Even as we took over to go at our own pace, I felt confident that I could do maybe at least half… then the mind games took over.  There were 14 popsicle sticks in front of me, numbered once at the top (1-14) and then again at the bottom (15-27)… we would each stick twice to complete one set… 4 sets of 27 and we would be at the magic number 108.

The first two sets went by fairly quickly, it was a little harder to lower down into chatarunga than it was to begin with, but I felt strong and like I was accomplishing something.  Not only is this a physical practice, but its emotionally and spiritually moving as you think about what you’re working through/working towards.  The winter solstice signifies the darkest day of the year and a turning point in the seasons so that we are now in “Winter”.  As someone who has long struggled with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) the sun not making much of an appearance is a real struggle.  The energy this challenge brought to me was awesome and a great time to reflect on the fact that wherever you’re at in life, good or bad, nothing stays this way.

The third set was certainly the most challenging.  I was sinking back into child’s pose every few sun sal’s to catch my breath and felt like I really wouldn’t be able to finish.  We were all having light hearted conversation during the time which helped keep our minds off the burning in our shoulders and legs… but 108 is a big number.  By the fourth set however I felt a sense of empowerment that can only come from the brink of certain death.  Kela reminded us of our modifications and to not sacrifice my form.. I quickly dropped to my knees for the “lower down Chatarunga” portion and utilized child’s pose when necessary.  I reminded myself that yoga is not only a physical workout, but a full body and mind experience.

the 108 Sun Saluatations Challenge is something I would recommend to anyone!  Its a CHALLENGE, but the more you’ve done your homework (aka practiced) the easier it will get, and I can’t wait until next time to see how different my body feels.  After completing the challenge I felt refocused and like I could conquer whatever life (or yoga) throws at me.  This is all so temporary- experience as much as you can and be in the moment– even if its a struggle at the time, its an amazing experience!  Merry Christmas!!

 

Namaste,

Angela

Foam-rolling, Backbending, and Bear Crawls… oh my!

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Last weekend was a great one at Backwards Yoga- I was lucky enough to attend two workshops with Clarissa and it was AWESOME.

 

First of all, if you’ve never attended another class (or not often) with a teacher other than your go-to… I HIGHLY recommend it!  No matter how much you enjoy one person’s classes, I can guarantee another person will say something differently that will resonate with you.  One example of this was Clarissa saying “you will feel feedback in your outer hip”.  Hearing feedback was the perfect way that my brain needed to register a more neutral approach towards the sensations that sometimes feel hard to breathe through.  The way she stated this so simply reminded me to be gentle and LISTEN to my body, something that has never clicked with me until she said it that way.

 

Friday night we worked on back-bending.  As someone with a spine injury, backbends have become scary to me and an area I haven’t worked on as much as I should.  Clarissa was so helpful in assisting us and giving us time to work through whatever we need to in order to get a little closer to our edge.  I think that’s my favorite thing about workshops- you get the time to play with someone there to help you.  At home, I have all the time in the world (sometimes) to work on things, but with no one there to tell me I’m not gonna injure myself.. its a little scary to experiment at times.

 

Sunday provided another opportunity to work through my body and listen.  Foam-rolling was something I thought I knew enough about to be able to do effectively.  I ran cross-country & track in high school and our coaches/teachers told us how you’d sit on this hard foam and just roll back & forth while you breathed through inevitable pain.  To make an understatement, majority of the class had been doing it incorrectly.  Its scary how many people are put in a position of power and able to “teach” people without them knowing what they’re doing!  That’s why certifications and courses and workshops with true professionals are so important.  ALWAYS question why you’re doing something and look to improve!  I probably could’ve seriously injured myself if I’d foam-rolled consistently the way I had been doing it, luckily I’d been too lazy & barely ever did it.  After taking Clarissa’s class I have such a better understanding and appreciation for the process.  Taking care of my muscles and building up my body properly has a whole new meaning to me!

 

Thank you, Clarissa for taking such great care of us at Backwards this weekend!  Keep an eye out on the schedule for her name folks, you don’t want to miss practicing with her.

 

Namaste, Angela

Breaking the Samskara Chain

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Over the last 18 days I have participated in “The Yogi Assignment” 30-day program book by Kino MacGregor.  It has been full of wonderful prompts to think about while practicing as well as challenges and assignments to better incorporate the yoga lifestyle into your everyday routine.  Day 18- “Breaking the Samskara Chain” really resonated with me so I wanted to share with all of you.  I highly encourage you to read this book (if you asked me I’d even lend it to you!) as it really does encourage deeper thinking to get to the heart of yoga.

Day 18 talks about students asking a guru about tightness and inflexibility within the body.  Instead of responding with suggestions of physical modifications, he would say, “Oh many samskaras there are”.  Samskaras refer to the past experiences and traumas that are kept within our bodies and minds, and the idea that those old patterns/habits are the source of physical stiffness through yoga.

There was a time when I would have seen this way of thinking as “out there” and not applicable to my life.  But the more I’ve gone through life and my practice, I know this to be true.  Not only do my physical traumas, like my scar tissue from a broken collar bone, affect my flexibility… but I know I hold other non-physical traumas within my body as well.

Samskaras are patterns imprinted in our consciousness that can be tough to change.  I like to think they’re difficult to change because we aren’t totally aware of their presence.  Instead of being drawn down in life by this “undertow” of that past baggage, yoga reveals even the deepest samskaras hidden within the body.  When I think of all the poses I am unable to even attempt, let alone do with ease, I now think about the samskaras those poses will release.  Not only that, but my journey of letting go of the past and creating new habits and fresh energy within me that will take me there.

Namaste, Angela