The two hours I spend on my yoga mat every day have taught me more about myself than most of my other lessons and experiences combined. I regularly run head first into my limits. The practice is actually set up that way – you don’t get to stop until you can’t do a posture – until, in a sense anyhow, you fail. And in a Mysore room, that means “failing” in front of others. While I know there are many advantages to practicing in a group, it also means that nothing happens behind closed doors. It’s all right there.
The practice of yoga fosters connection. It leads us to connect with the community and with the teacher. The connections that we build with our co-practitioners in a Mysore room or consistent practice setting lead us to trust our community and feel safe and supported. The trust that we build in our relationships with our teachers and even with fellow students makes vulnerability truly possible. And, of course, the ultimate...
I love summer. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love the long days, the warm nights, and the unstructured time of it all.
All this said, summer can be a tough time to maintain a yoga practice. Between heat, humidity, travel, more outdoor activities than usual, happy hours and barbecues its easy to get distracted and not want to practice, or to feel less than optimal while practicing. Oh, and did I mention it smells particularly stinky?
Here are my tips of the trade to prepare for and recover from those steamy practices when your mat feels like a slip-n-slide.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – it’s hard to replenish the amount of fluids we lose during a sweaty practice. Sweating is our bodies way of regulating our body temperature. The nervous system works to stimulate our glands to release sweat. When we sweat we release more than just fluids – our bodies lose electrolytes like chloride, potassium, and sodium. To better replenish yourself after practice try...
“In the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”
With each week, month, year of practice I find it more difficult to remember what it felt like to be a beginner. I try to remember those first months of practice. Back to when my body was full of new sensations and my mind was so focused on what I was trying to do that I couldn’t possibly be anywhere else except for in that moment. I didn’t worry about alignment or wardrobe malfunctions, if I smelled or how the pose three poses from now is going to go because I didn’t know what was coming next and I was too uncomfortable to care.
New students in my Mysore room are the best reminder for me of what it was like to be new to this practice. The students usually seem a little confused, because they don’t know how to do a sun salutation or what is coming next. They look around the room with curiosity and wonder because it is all brand new. They may be...
Starting an Ashtanga practice is hard – keeping it? Well that’s damn near impossible. Here are my tips for staying with it.
Get excited! The yoga sutras teach us to practice for a long time with devotion and enthusiasm. Think of all the benefit that comes out of your yoga practice – a clearer mind, stronger body, community, friends, transformation – and get on your mat excited about what the practice holds for you.
Lets also address the long time part of this sutra. A long time: let go of the idea of accomplishment, cling to the idea of consistent practice. Yoga is the state where you work hard without caring about the result.
Find out what motivates you and keep that in your mind every single day. Maybe its that post yoga high, maybe it’s the latte you treat yourself to after practice, maybe its better arms, better sex, better sleep. It could be that you are more compassionate to your partner, coworkers, children – or yourself. Maybe you are...
t’s that time of year again. I’ve noticed sniffles in the Mysore room, week long absences, and occasionally people doing their full practice in the closing room because they are sick. And this past week some bug hit me too.
I went to the doctor on Monday with a high fever and described my symptoms. “Have you been in contact with anyone who is sick?” she asked me. Most likely — since I am in close contact with about 35 different bodies a morning. Her follow up question, “Are you sore?” My response — pretty much all the time.
I might be a little hard to diagnose and over the years of practice I have developed a high tolerance for discomfort. Frequently as Ashtangis we are told to work through it. And sometimes that is the case — but as always it is wise to use discernment.
You are sore from doing a lot of yoga or other physical activity, sleeping funny etc.
Practice! Scale it back if you need to, but...
I’m often asked why I do what I do, but I never question it. I know that yoga has always been my path. And even though I don’t know where it will lead, I’m sure I’ll find out.
Yoga is all about making connections. It starts in our very first class when we connect our breath and our movement, and it develops as we try to connect our bodies and minds, our muscles and bones, our front sides to our backs. We connect our postures with vinyasas, and we connect advanced postures to foundational ones. We connect to our environment, the universe, and maybe, the divine.
What’s more, we eventually start to connect what we learn on the mat to the rest of our lives. Our fears and aversions in practice are mirrors of our fears and aversions away from the mat. The practice becomes a metaphor for life and an important way to know ourselves more intimately. The journey is the destination – this is more than just some meaningless bit of motivation. When we’re...
It’s been an exciting week in the Mysore room – so many of you have had major breakthroughs in your practices. It’s such an inspiration to see all of your months and years of practice pay off, and I’m so happy to be your cheerleader on the sidelines.
Without a doubt, breakthroughs in the practice are exhilarating. The process of the impossible becoming possible and then the possible becoming easy, keeps us coming back to our mats. The countless practices, the near misses, the falls, the frustration from finger tips that are always just out of reach – it all pays off when the landing, the catch, the drop back, the standing, the whatever becomes a reality.
As much as I hate to admit it, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a big breakthrough in my own practice. And, of course, this can be frustrating and humbling, but I don’t take the easy way out. I keep getting on the mat, and I constantly remind myself that there is no such...
One of my favorite things about teaching Mysore is how it makes me feel appreciated. I have a great group of students, and rarely does one leave the room in the morning without thanking me. And one of the things that I love most about practicing is how grateful it makes me feel to my own teacher, the lineage, and my ability to do what I love.
As we enter the holiday season, it seems like an appropriate time to address gratitude. Gratitude is an affirmation of the gifts and goodness we have received. And sometimes, gratitude is difficult because life is difficult. Navigating the holidays on top of all of the other daily responsibilities can be a bit overwhelming and leave us feeling worn down and anxious for the hoopla to be over.
Gratitude is a practice, and just like everything else, it gets easier the more you exercise it. The more effort you put into feeling gratitude, the more effortless the feeling will become in the future. The mind works – whatever you put into it will...
Lately I have been struck by the redundancy of my Instagram feed – and feeling a little uninspired by it. I hardly bother to scroll through it anymore because I already know most of what I am going to see.
I’m not the most interesting person – I follow primarily yoga teachers, practitioners, studios, clothing brands, and magazines. And you know what I have noticed – none of the pictures look real to me – or at least they aren’t anything near my reality.
I’m tired of seeing highly curated yoga photos, featuring a narrow range of body types, taken in exotic locations, wearing expensive fitness clothing, and showcasing largely advanced asana that might make Ashtanga specifically, and yoga in general, seem unapproachable.
Aside from the fact that it totally makes me jealous, I’m also worried that the culture of yoga is changing and that we are perpetuating it with all of our likes and follows. And I fear that some people are missing the...
The journey of yoga begins when we acknowledge our humanity. Yoga should make us feel more ordinary, less extraordinary. It should make us kinder, more tolerant, peaceful, happy and humble. The practice of yoga connects us more deeply to the web of life. And once we realize this the practice begins.
Old patterns die hard – if they die at all. We continue to suffer because we don’t remember correctly. We make the same mistakes, do the same things, repeat the same patterns. Our samskaras, habitual patterns that cause us pain, show up in our actions on and off the mat. The mind works with memory and our minds are tricky – they try to keep us from practicing because when we are practicing well the mind begins to dissolve. So practice slowing down, being present and aware and maybe you’ll be able to break some of your patterns on and off the mat.
You need a solid foundation. Over the course of the intensive we spent more time on sun salutations and standing poses...