Before class, I met up a bit early with my group members, Mae and KJ, and we talked about how we were feeling and what was going on with us a little bit. These two ladies decided to take me in, as a pregnant woman, and will have some notes to take and papers to collect for me when I'm gone from the training in June. I am so appreciative of them for taking me into their group and am excited to meet with them and get to know them better. We were talking about times to meet outside of class and as we were talking, I realized - I have no time. When are we supposed to get together to study when the test comes? When will I ever find time to meet outside of training, work and my family? Time is definitely not on my side lately but I hope I can make it work, I really did enjoy our brief 15 minute chat before class.
Last night we listened to an awesome lecture by Mary Beth, the owner of Desert Song, about the 8 limbs of yoga. We were told to read some pages in Light on Yoga before class, so we had a basis for understanding before her lecture - woo! I always love having a base and am happy that what she was talking about not only resonated with me because I've heard in my yoga practice, but also because I read it in the book before class. It was a great lecture and I didn't watch the clock at all, before I knew it, it was time to go home.
We talked mostly about the 8 limbs of yoga:
Yamas: Social ethical precepts – how we live in life/society:
- Ahimsa: Non violence, non harming – begins with self.
- Satya: Truthfulness
- Asteya: Non stealing, coveting something that’s not yours and saying it’s yours.
- Brahmacharya: Celibacy – living your life in moderation, not in excess of anything.
- Aparigraha – Accumulation of things, non attachment to possessions.
Niyamas: Personal, ethical aspects of the disciplines of ourselves.
- Saucha: Clarity, purity
- Santosha: Contentment, happiness, appreciation, gratitude.
- Tapas: Fire, energetic burning, awaking the fire within yourself.
- Svadhyaya: Self inquiry, mindfulness.
- Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrendering to the life force.
Asanas: Keep us balanced, healthy life.
- Postures and Bandhas: Control of energy in the body.
- Mudras: Hand positions
Pranayama: Breath control.
Pratyahara: Turning inward with your senses.
Dhyana: Unbroken mental focus.
Samadhi (the final limb): Super consciousness, self realization.
Yoga sutras are threads of knowledge and are broken up into 4 different chapters (pada):
- Samadhi: Enlightenment
- Sadhana: Practice
- Vibhuti: Supernatural powers
- Kaivalya: Liberation, freedom
February 5th (and 6th)-
Mary Beth lectured again for part of the night about "taking the seat of the student" and "taking the seat of the teacher." She wanted to impart on us how important it was to be a yoga teacher, and what that means in our personal and public lives. I am sure this lecture was very useful to students in class who are not teachers, for their day job, but for me, it was basically the same ethics/rules that I have to follow in being a high school teacher. I didn't learn much because the same principles apply, even more so I think, in being a public school teacher.
I did enjoy some parts of her lecture and took note of the following:
"In your mind – what does it mean to be a student?" "Open minded, receiver, take direction, surrender, humble, thankful, curious, respectful."
- "What is student-ship?" Don’t be a teacher when you are in the seat of the student. Then everyone grows and learns. Teaches us discipline, responsibility and respect – primary virtues. When you are a yoga student there is reverence.
- We show up with “beginner’s mind.” Honor the teacher and the teachings, the teacher reflects the teachings. “A respectful student is most likely to be a respected teacher.”
"What does it mean to be a teacher?" "Patience, entertaining, knowledge, calm, relaxed, comfortable, observant, classroom management, intuition, sincere interest, love, encouragement.
- The goal of an asana practice is foremost a spiritual practice. Attitude of first honoring ourselves, our body, then you can honor others as well. The way you treat yourself is the way you will treat others. Self care most important, “body is a temple of your spirit.”
- Teach love. If you love them, then they will respect you.
- Make everyone feel included and that they feel good when they leave, better than when they came.
- Yoga is an art and we express it through our body. When you come to a class you are participating in a group adventure.
- We call it grace, it supports us all.
- 4 gates of speech when you are teaching, Sufi practice:
- Are the words truthful?
- Are they necessary?
- Are they beneficial?
- Are they kind?
- Many students look to their teachers as mentors. Some students come for emotional/spiritual alignment, not always just physical.
- Create an environment that is safe and sacred. Get within your own center, people may challenge you at times. Hard shell sometimes. Deflect criticism and have value, know that you have value. Your teachings are important.
- Such a privilege to be a yoga teacher. Share what you’ve learned.
Yoga means to join and it brings us back to our true nature, like peeling an onion. A discipline and aligning with nature.
Anusara means “flowing with grace.” Following your heart, to be in the flow, flow with the universe.
Mind, body, spirit. Everything is supreme consciousness.
- Focuses on principals of alignment and also the students’ intrinsic goodness.
- Foundations of Anusara: Attitude, alignment and action. These three things separated yoga from other forms of exercise.
- Attitude: Attitude is believed to transform us, help us go to our next level. Not physical, it’s our attitude. “Element of intention, intention is why we practice.” Why are you in class? Within our attitude we bring balance to our life.
- Alignment: Placement of body in the pose.
- Spatial positioning: Express through our practice, are we expressing our intention?
- Dynamic symmetry: How well our posture reflects our attitude.
- The universal principles of alignment help in all aspects of this. The importance of them is that we all have this optimal blueprint of alignment in our body.
- Action: The power and energetic process through which attitude is expressed, the source behind action in our practice is attitude. Action is the physical manifestation of our willpower, our ability to find balance between effort and surrender.
- Main principles of action are muscular and organic energy. Muscles are hugging in and the organic is the ability to extend back out.
- Focal points: core of the pelvis, bottom of the heart, center of the upper palate.
- Muscular – primary flow of energy and creates stability strength and integration.
- Active vs passive
- Active is a conscious hugging of muscle to bone.
- Passive is when we move into a pose and it creates integration, like melting the heart.
- Muscular active and passive is surrender.
- Must be established before organic. A container for the energy first and then the energy can flow out. Creates boundary and resistance that the organic energy can expand into.
- Organic energy is an expression of attitude and primary flow of energy. Creates expansion, length and opening in the body.
- Active: powerfully extending out from the focal point.
- Passive: relaxing the body and allowing body to soften against the flow for example shavasana.
- Movement of Energy
- Muscular energy draws up from foundation to focal point and organic draws from focal point out.
- Movement of organic energy is out to extremities and then down the core to the foundation.
- Muscular energy hugs in and then organic moves out.
- Grounds the body anchors foundation – by using muscular to ground down and organic to flow out.
- Balanced action occurs when there is balance between muscular/organic energy in every part of the body in the pose. This allows for full expression, optimizes flexibility and strength which helps us create healing and optimal health.
- Loops/spirals are secondary.
- Loops are circular flows of subtle energy that rotate on the sagittal plane and interconnect like gears. Generally rotate in opposite directions, how you refine a pose.
- Ankle, shin, thigh, pelvic, kidney, shoulder and skull loop.
- Starts in back body, the loops – connection to everything, universe, universal.
- Inner and outer spiral:
- Inner runs from the feet up through the pelvis to T12 (thorasic spine). Expands and broadens, creates space.
- Outer spiral: Runs from waistline area around T12 to feet. Going opposite direction.
- Balanced action:
- Inner spiral always precedes outer spiral. Make space first and then move into that space.
- Outer in upper body is called contracting.
Universal principles of alignment:
- All going on in the same pose, all the time.
- Starts with setting foundation and opening to grace. Establish foundation first.
It seems as though they are giving us this knowledge so that we can feel/experience these things in our own practice, and then be able to teach others how to feel/experience them as well. I never thought of teaching yoga like this, but it totally makes sense. Find the principles yourself, then go out and teach them to others. As of Saturday afternoon my head felt like it was about to explode, so many concepts/information, so many notes. How can I possibly remember all of this?!
We also practiced Tadasana and alignment with Heidi, first thing Saturday morning. I was so tired and felt so rushed leaving the house, and just didn't want to leave. Saturdays are tough after two days of yoga training already, I wish it was just Friday or just Saturday, both is really hard for me.
Heidi was really knowledgeable about alignment and had us practice everything she was talking about (so did Debbie). It was tough to listen, then practice, then sit and take notes and listen, then get up again and practice. I wish it had been practice practice, then listen listen or vice versa. The up and down really got to me and I was soooooooo tired when I left, despite the tea my new friend Becca bought me (thanks girl!).
Mary Beth took some pictures but they came to me super tiny, hopefully you can see us practicing the principles Heidi was teaching:
Lunch was fun but short (only 25 minutes) because we got to sit together, outside in the sunshine and just talk like normal people. I loved it and hope to do more of that, and get more time for it. I feel like time is just not on my side, so I hope our teachers allow time for us to sit, chat and get comfortable with each other more often. 25 minutes is not long enough!
Today, I am in zombie mode. So happy this week is an off week, a three day weekend and Valentine's Day! Hopefully some of my energy returns to enjoy it! :)