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So I taught MY first class on Thursday. And by that I mean it is MY class… 4:30 every Thursday every week from now until forever… or you know, for a while.

They added me to the teacher’s page… check me and the studio out!

Teaching yoga is a such a high. I get towards the end of a class and just think, how did I get here? It’s done already? I just talked for a whole 75 minutes? It’s crazy! But I love it… and I love hearing that people actually enjoy my classes. It makes me feel so accomplished.

This week my class was focused on the first chakra, the root chakra, and opening it and thus grounding ourselves. The lesson I sort of tried to get across is that the idea of grounding is one of those things that you can take off the mat with you and into your real life. The more grounded you are in your values and your family and your career, the further you can grow. In yoga you will often hear, at least in the classes I have taken, that to reach up you need to ground down. The act of pushing down, rooting your feet, firming your legs, allows the upper part of you to reach even higher. For example, in bridge pose you need to push down with your feet and your shoulders and your head to lift your hips higher. Without the grounding you cannot lift very high. We also went into handstand and practiced using our hands to ground down, because sometimes your life gets turned upside down and you need to figure out how to be grounded in the chaos as well. So, in handstand you are literally upside down and learning how to find a new, unfamiliar grounding.

Did I mention I love yoga?

I’m seriously contemplating sending in an application for the Kripalu 500hr teacher training. It’s expensive, but you have 10 years to complete it… and they have financial aid and scholarships available. I love learning and I always have… and I just want to keep learning about yoga and being able to share that with other people.

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Last week I ordered the book “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield, after my yoga mentor said that I should read it. It is described as an “important book written on meditation, the process of inner transformation, and the integration of spiritual practice into our American way of life.” I’m always up for reading things that will further my knowledge of myself and yoga… though I am currently working on about 3 of such books: “Meditations from the Mat,” “Yoga from the inside out,” and “Happy Yoga.” Plus, I’m re-reading “Appetites” which is perhaps the only memoir of an anorexic I have read that goes much further than merely appetite for food. So, we’ll see how I do with this book as well.

I definately think that I should read it though. Meditation has never come easy to me, which I don’t think is unusual. I suppose I could blame it on the fact that when I took a quiz in my teacher training about which dosha I was, it said I was vata. My elements are space and air and supposedly I am often anxious and find it difficult to sit still and settle down. Whenever I try meditating I become very aware of my body. My muscles and bones start to ache and I get itchy and my back starts to hurt.

However, meditation is an extremely important part of yoga. In fact what most westerners consider to be yoga (poses to tone the buns and thighs) is merely one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. Meditation is encompassed in the higher limbs and these poses are meant to move the body in specific ways to make it easier to sit in meditation; it’s easier to sit after you’ve moved.

There are many different techniques to assist in meditation. Some people use mala beads, others mala beads in conjuction with a mantra (aka japa). Some simply use breath. A few months ago I decided to try to find a mantra that I related to that I could repeat when I attempted to meditate. The one I ended up choosing was the mantra of green tara… and this is where the username “Om tare” comes from.

“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha” is the mantra. The first thing that drew me to it was that Green Tara is a female, and that spoke to the feminist in me. “Tare Tuttare Ture” is a play on Tara’s name and it is supposed to represent three levels of salvation. Tara protects us against ordinary wordly dangers and spiritual dangers which cause individual suffering and she also protects us from narrowmindedness by leading us to use these two salvations to help save others.

It took me a while to figure out how to say this at the same time that I worked on breathing so that I didn’t feel like I was rushing. However I then read an article on Ajapa-Japa meditation, which means you constantly repeat the mantra without paying particular attention to how it works with the breath, which is supposed to aid in concentration as it doesn’t allow for time to think of other things… so I tend to do that, though I find regular japa meditation more relaxing.

The only other meditation I found that worked for me was trataka, or eye cleansing. What we did was sit in a dark room with a candle about 6 inches from our eyes and stared at it until our eyes watered (the cleansing part). We then closed our eyes and it was really interesting. You know when you look at fireworks and then close your eyes and can still see the fireworks? That’s essentially what happened. When you close your eyes you still see the candle and so it gives you a visual focus, right where your third eye would be, even though your eyes are still closed. I thought it was pretty cool.

My life was changed by yoga about a year ago when it became the main catalyst for me to overcome anorexia. Ever since I have been practicing daily and graduated a 200 hour teacher training one month ago. I am constantly learning about yoga and about myself in an attempt to spread the benefits of such a holistic practice.