Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 28/29: Reflecting on the Last Month

Thursday, March 29, 2012
Yin Yoga w/ Jess Kerr
5:45 – 7:15 p.m.

I was feeling like I needed a bit of a break from the Pitta-stoking Ashtanga practice today — it had been a good stretch since my last day off, especially considering the intense workouts during the David Garrigues workshop last weekend. So, I took a Yin Yoga class with Jess, which was just what the doctor ordered. Yin Yoga is great for evening out the imbalance that can happen with too much vigorous practice, especially for someone like me who is pretty Pitta-dominant to begin with. The longer, meditative Yin Yoga has a cooling, stabilizing effect that helps quell the fire that can build in a daily Ashtanga practice. For me, a Pitta-imbalance causes me to get more irritable, impatient and I get an acidic feeling in my stomach and tend to get skin break outs.

Jess read us an amazing poem during meditation that I found especially affirming at the end of my first month of Yoga teacher training, and the beginning of Spring.

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
A beautiful reminder to slow down, pay attention to the wondrous life happening around you, and within you, and to really live your life to it's fullest potential.


Friday, March 30, 2012
Led Primary Series w/ Deb C.
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.

This morning was fantastic. The room was full of great energy, and it felt really satisfying to let go of all of the concentrated work I'd been doing on the asanas all week and just flow. It also allowed me to observe the progress I've made over the past month, not just in the postures and vinyasa, but in my daily life.

It's hard to believe that it's only been a month since I started this journal — so much transformation has already occurred that it seems like it's been at least a year. I've become physically stronger, more flexible and my thoughts and emotions have been more focussed and balanced, and I'm approaching everything with a new outlook and greater intention.

Save the occasional glass of wine or beer on Friday night, I've quit drinking, and feel much more clear and in control of my mind because of it. Or, maybe it's because I've become more in control of my mind that I've quit drinking? I'm not trying to be cute, it's really hard to say what comes first. I do know that I consider all of my actions to a greater degree now. The daily practice gives you something to measure against, and the repercussions of your decisions the night before will be felt the next morning on the mat. Whether it's staying up an extra hour to watch American Idol, having that bowl of guacamole and chips after 9 p.m. or enjoying a glass of wine with dinner — they'll all have an effect on your practice, and it causes to you to weigh every choice. The mat truly is a mirror, and can be unforgiving if you let it.

I've also been learning that I need to be forgiving of myself — that my practice won't be perfect every day and that's perfectly fine. As long as I listen to my body and heart and give it what it needs, and not what my pesky ego might be trying to convince me I need or don't need, it's all good. The rewards themselves are the best way of discerning what the difference is. When I do something that truly nourishes my body and soul, the rewards are immediate.

It's that feeling when, after an especially sweaty and intense practice, you bring yourself back to seated position following Savasana, and you find yourself smiling from ear to ear, your heart unconsciously lifting and opening to greet your hands as they're brought together in a prayer to the divine energy that is present in all of us — the veil lifted through this simple practice that has been passed down to us through the grace and wisdom of our gurus.

In honour of my past and current teachers (Deborah, Asrael, Michelle, Jess — thank you!) all the yogis at Harmony Yoga Duncan, guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and his guru, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. 

Many thanks to my beautiful wife, Debbie, who has been so supportive of me throughout this journey and who, I hope, will continue to allow me to use her as a guinea pig as I find my way as a teacher. Your patience, receptivity, courage and encouragement are a priceless gift. 



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