Friday, October 28, 2011

This getting soft is hard work

We work really hard in my Tai Chi class. I wasn't looking at my watch during this week's class, but I swear we did this one move (Step Up, Deflect, Intercept, and Punch - catchy name) for about 15 minutes. Then we went and did another move (Single Whip) for another 15 minutes.  That’s pretty intense work.

My left shoulder was already tender from where I bruised it in a fall nearly two months ago. I couldn't figure out why it hurt so much this morning until I remembered which particular moves we were doing last night. The "Intercept" move is basically a shoulder rotation, followed by a forward thrust.  Oof!

I’m glad I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. I will definitely be having her work on my left shoulder, neck, and even the left side of my back which is sore from the trunk rotation of the movement. I’m also thrilled to be able to tell her that I’m sore from a workout, rather than from working too intently at the computer. *grin*

My teacher (Sifu) says that there is an ease in the way we perform the form because of how hard we work in class.  An ease that you don't even see in other practitioners of the particular form that we practice, which itself is based on body mechanics. He has us work to refine and refine the movements like we did last night so that eventually we develop a softness and ease in the form.  

I am clearly not there yet. But then, I have only been taking classes for seven months. The softness will come, in time, I’m sure. I just may have to wait a few years for it to develop. Until then...practice, practice, practice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yoga for a sick day

I was sick today and spent most of the day in bed. I guess I have the cold that's been going around my office. But aside from a little nasal discharge, and a tight feeling in my chest, my only real symptom is fatigue. I have been really tired all day.

This surprised me, because I didn't think I was all that sick. I expected to perk up in the afternoon, at least enough to feel like doing the dishes. But I didn't feel like moving at all.

The only thing that got me out of bed was this blog. I was like, "I should do some restorative yoga and then write about it. Wouldn't that be cool?"

So finally, after reading up on yoga to help the immune system, I pulled myself out of bed and onto the mat. I stopped for a shower first, in the hopes that it would warm me up and make me feel better. I did some gentle breath of fire, followed by cat & cow, supported bridge pose, supported fish pose, and finally legs-up-the-wall.

You know what? I do feel better. Good enough to put away dishes and write this entry, at least. Of course, I will probably fall right back into bed any minute now...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A student!

Last week no one showed up to my first scheduled Gentle Yoga class. I was a bit disappointed, but actually I was mostly fine with it. Having no students gave me a chance to bring in the props I have gathered and find a place to store them in the back room of Pearls of Wisdom, where I’m giving the class. I was also able to figure how to set up my classroom to best use the space, and then do the practice – a dry run or dress rehearsal, if you will. It’s all good.

Yesterday, though, I actually had a student! She was enthused and ready to do yoga. However, it wasn’t the student I was expecting. I was expecting to have a woman who has had wrist surgery and can’t put much pressure on her wrist, including getting up from sitting on the floor. So I had planned a session entirely of poses in a chair and standing poses. The student who did come is experiencing plantar fasciitis and has no trouble getting on the floor. So I had to switch gears in the middle of my planned set of poses and try to address her foot issues.

What a great learning experience for me. We did some foot stretches and I taught her a couple of good massage techniques to use. I also did some good leg stretches with her: seated wide angle forward bend, cobblers pose and garland pose. I missed some good poses for plantar fasciitis, though, like Warrior I and staff pose. So much for thinking on my feet! I’ll have to add those to the workout if she returns.

For my first time out teaching I felt awkward; my instruction patter didn’t flow and having to switch gears through me off. But I don’t think I did all that badly, either. Remembering how nervous and awkward I was the first time I taught pranayama, I think I did okay. :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaching yoga

Today is a big day for me. Today I start teaching my first ongoing yoga class: Gentle Yoga For Inflexible People. I'm teaching on a volunteer/donation only basis, which I feel is right since I haven't yet even begun a yoga teacher training.  

I have been planning this class for almost two months now. I haven't said anything here because I didn't want to jinx it, in case I changed my mind or it didn't happen for some reason. is the day! It's happening!

I have put this class together based on the yoga that I have been able to do as I have regained my strength and flexibility over the past year or two. I'm also using a lot of material from Peggy Cappy's Yoga For The Rest Of Us book and DVD series of traditional yoga modified for various body types and abilities. The DVDs in particular are useful; Peggy's students in her videos are of varying ages - including above age 70 - and she demonstrates poses modified for their varying levels of flexibility. 

The meditation class I've been teaching this year has expanded to include a short warm-up and breathing (pranayama) exercises. Teaching this class has been incredibly rewarding and fun for me. I'm having a ball with it! I have been having more fun than I've had since I went to massage school. When I am teaching I feel completely in the moment. A sure sign that I'm doing something right. 

From this joy, the idea came to me to expand my teaching to include a yoga class. Plus, I feel certain that the practice will benefit me as well, by helping me get stronger and prepare me for an faster-paced traditional hatha yoga class. My goal is to start attending a regular yoga class in the winter, and hopefully start yoga teacher training next fall.   

But first, tonight's class. Several of my students from the mediation class have promised to attend this evening. I have practiced; I know the poses and routine I'm going to do. I am just about as ready as I can be. I am nervous, but really excited as well.