The theme this week was adventure. My wise friend, Allegra, said to me, "it's really the spirit of adventure that you bring to anything you do that is the real adventure". That helped me feel adventure in smaller, day to day things.
You don't have to climb a mountaintop or fly across the world to have an adventure. Those are fun things to do, but the real adventure is the intention and effort and heart you put into it whatever you're doing, whether climbing a mountain or taking a yoga class. Like with the hiking example, reaching the peak is exciting, but the adventure was every step to get there and all the vistas along the way. As with your yoga practice, attaining new poses feels great, but the adventure was being curious and showing up and experimenting and being mindful as you took deep breath after deep breath.
The real adventure is the connection to the present moment, to the strength available to you, to enjoying moving your body and the ease & freedom that come with it.
My invitation was to let your commitment to the adventure/to the process inspire you, not the result. Remembering that the truth of who you are does not depend on executing a flawless yoga pose.
So we had some fun as we explored hamstrings today ... an adventure in and of itself :) Thanks for coming out. Our sequence included lunges, surya namaskar, warrior poses, parsvottanasana, tree, a partner squat, handstand, variations of side plank and hanumanasana. We ended with the hamstring strengthener, bridge, to compliment all the hamstring stretching today. Namaste, Lynn
This week's theme was humanity flow. Yoga is more than alignment and the outer shape of the pose. The yoga is how we feel once we're in the pose. Through yoga we connect with our humanity and then we can share our humanity with those around us. Our hearts connect. I think that's a big part of the healing and joy of the practice, and what makes it so powerful, intimate and connecting. You get to come back to your heart again and again.
So, we focused on heart opening poses this week: backbends. But not a practice of building toward a few bigger backbends at the end of practice. We focused throughout on cobra, locust, sphinx and eventually supta virasana with yogis exploring a closing backbend of their choice.
Aligned shoulders are a big part of feeling good in backbends. Shoulders can be tricky & vulnerable. In a vinyasa flow class, students commonly strengthen the pushing muscles on the front of the shoulders more through poses like plank, chataranga, and up dog. Often what is needed is to strengthen the complementary pulling muscles inside the scapula (shoulder/wing bones on your back). When we get injured, often a common component of an injury is doing too much of one thing and not enough of another.
I had students focus on strengthening the pulling muscles on their upper back; the muscles between the scapula & the spine. In our flows, we warmed up with locust, sphinx and variations of cobra instead of up dog. While there is nothing wrong with up dog, for this practice I wanted to offer students tools to warm up and strengthen their pulling muscles. When students learn better technique there is less risk and they get stronger faster.
Another pose that helped deepen this learning was warrior 2. We did warrior 2 with are arms overhead and light fists with our hands. Then I asked students to feel like they were doing a pull-up, and very slowly pull their elbows down and out until they reached shoulder height. I encouraged students to try and keep the activation of their inner shoulder muscles as they straightened their arms parallel to the floor. To round out our practice, we had fun with some core work, balancing and twisting and going upside down in handstand. Namaste, Lynn
The image above is one my teachers, Kathryn Budig, reminding us to be playful (hint, hint .... next week's theme!)
This past week we incorporated longer holds into our asana practice. With lots of vinyasa, and a nice variety of twists and balancing poses, we sprinkled in about 6 longer holds ( 1 minute each ).
When we can give ourselves time and space to just be in a pose, and we can resist the urge to get out of the pose, then we can start to see our mental and physical states transform. We might enter the pose fragile, noisy, distracted .... and we can end the pose quiet in the mind and free in the body. My teacher, Darren Rhodes, calls this "shape shift to state shift". So with these shapes, your breath, your focus & intentions ... you can shift your state to be who you want to be and how you want to be today.
We opened with ujjayi breath, then a minute of dog to plank followed by 2 minutes of half salutations. Onto surya namaskar, a playful kick up to handstand, and then deep into our longer holds. I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that the highlight of class was the minute hold in boat pose! Class concluded with pigeon, camel and students could pick their finishing posture then onward to a deep, integrating savasana to experience letting go as a beautiful counter to the strong asana practice. Namaste, Lynn
Class this week was a deep, strong Earth flow. We focused on getting into the legs, feet, hips ... into that grounded strength. The theme: "you lack nothing" reminds us that we can always show up, learn, try, grow, but we don't need improving.
Yoga is a state where nothing is missing. The real work of yoga is to create a deeper place of ease inside. In class we experienced both letting go and feeling grounded & supported. So we could feel that this day lacks nothing, this moment lacks nothing, this pose lacks nothing.
Students were encouraged to be themselves, not a perfected or improved upon version of themselves. They were invited to call on their strength and acceptance. We started with breath and students thought about what they wanted to create with their practice as they set an intention. We warmed the body with surya namaskar followed by strong standing poses including humble Warrior 1 and humble Warrior 2. Core work and crow occupied the middle of class. Onward to parvottanasana and revolved triangle. Once students felt grounded in their strength, we twisted and opened any stuck places students might be harboring feeling of insecurity, inadequacy, unworthiness. Then we moved into balancing poses and backbends. Throughout, the contemplation was "how can I experience letting go while equally tapping into the experience of feeling supported and grounded?" This Earth flow touches on concept of the first Chakra, the root chakra, muladhara, which include a sense of safety, security, belonging and home. When balanced, you feel stability in your life.
I bow to the place in you where the entire universe dwells; I bow to the place in you that is love, light, peace and truth; when you are in that place in you & I am in that place in me ... we are one. Namaste, Lynn