Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Squirrels Multiplied!

Squirrel in Bakasana (crow pose)

I shouldn't call my kids' class Squirrel Yoga, I should call it Rabbit Yoga because this week they rapidly multiplied!

Last week I had 3 students. This week I had 11 students! The kids must have enjoyed the class because a few from the first week returned and brought friends! Awe-some.

Granted the middle-schoolers were still super squirrely, but We meowed in Cat pose and moo'd in Cow pose, and I could tell that the kids really wanted to get it. I noticed that the kids squirreled, giggled, and talked the most when they couldn't figure out the pose or they felt uncomfortable. Honestly, the most success I had with getting them to focus was in Tadasana! Simply standing there, faced forward, and bringing focus to each individual body part really brought them to center.

I brought my bag-o-ambiance to decorate the classroom and during savasana I turned off all the lights. It turns out there are no windows in the classroom and my little battery-operated tea-lights don't provide much light, so it was COMPLETELY black. haha... ooops! - maybe I'd better find a lamp or Christmas lights or something!

Next week I'll simplify the practice so the poses are less twisty and more straightforward and less poses in general. I want the kids to feel empowered that they are succeeding in yoga! So next week: more balancing postures, less chaturangas, and more time on the floor. I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living The American Dream

I'm not sure what the real definition of "The America Dream" is (I'm pretty sure it has to do with white-picket-fences), but The American Dream that I strive for is this:

Get paid to do what you love.

For a brief moment on Monday I felt this feeling for the first time since my college summer camp job.

In an attempt to find a market for myself in a community with a yoga studio on every corner, I've opted to go a different route: Yoga Parties. It's an excuse to get friends together, do a healthy activity, and maybe eat some food. How it works is this: You host the event and invite your friends and then I show up with my bag-o-ambiance, help set up, and then teach a yoga class all in the comfort of your own home! (or wherever else you want to hold the event).

On Monday night a student from the yoga studio I work at hired me to teach at her Yoga Party! My very first. It was a blast! I showed up 30 minutes early to help her move her living room furniture into the bedroom and set up the ambiance. There were 6 students at completely different levels from yogi-first-timer to advanced-yogi. I taught a 1.5 hour Vinyasa Flow class. I feel like the class went really well! The atmosphere was light and the students vacillated between focus and laughter. Afterwards the party host brought out snacks and everyone sat in a circle on the floor and chowed down. It seemed like everyone had a great time!

Until I get certified (June) my Yoga Party teacher fee is by donation (tips, if you will). Once I get more established I'll set rates. So get 'em while they're hot!

Contact me if you'd like to host a Yoga Party! Classes can go from 30min - 1.5hours from really mellow to super athletic - it's your party, it's your choice!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Falling Asleep on Roofs and Other Weekend Tales

A common misconception is that since I work every day I don't get to have fun. This is Not.True.At.All. Take this weekend for example...

The weather was beautiful! For three whole days the stars aligned and the sun gods worked in our favor. It was 80-85 degrees with clear blue skies and a slight breeze. I feel a smile spread across my face just thinking about it!

After having a housewarming slumber party Thursday night with my BFF Larissa (she just moved here last week!!!), I woke up bright and early excited to greet the day! I had breakfast and tea in her little bungalow and then jumped on my bike and rode toward downtown.

my old garden, oh how I miss thee
As I rode through my old neighborhood, I realized how much I missed that side of town and that when I return from my next traveling stint I'm going to move back there! Feeling free feels gooooood.

I ran into my friend Patrick who was also on his bike and we made our way toward his house. He showed me his garden, a few of our friends stopped by to say hi, and THEN he gave me an egg right after it came out of the chicken! PLOP! I took the egg, rode home, made breakfast (again -- there's no shame in eating two breakfasts!) Then I went to work.

Russian River

 I got off work Saturday at 1 and made a plan to head to the river! My friend Cole came over and after spending an hour discussing which river beach to go to, we slowly made our way out there. It took a couple of trips to get out the door because we kept forgetting things and then we had to stop for beer. But it had to be good beer and it had to be canned (no glass bottles allowed on the beach!) so we stopped again. But then Cole decided he was hungry so we stopped again at the grocery store. The whole endeavor reminded me of this episode of Portlandia.

Although the river is only about 20 minutes from my house, we arrived at 4 o'clock! whoops. Luckily it was still sunny and warm!

snacky time
catching some rays

We left the river as the sun was setting. I had made plans for that evening but since we didn't get home until 9pm we opted to stay in. My roommate told us there was a meteor shower so everyone in the building crawled up to the roof, where I promptly passed out. Luckily I didn't roll off!

On Sunday, my yoga studio had a booth at an Earth Day event downtown where I worked the whole day. It was a Stretch Shack where people from the streets could come in and be assisted in yoga poses. No, I don't mean street people as in homeless people... but then again, I did assist a homeless woman do yoga so there's that. But most of our stretchers were little kids -- adorable kids. So much fun!

I'm laying on the blue mat on the right :)
After cleaning up the Stretch Shack, I met my old friend Curtis, his wife, and their friends at a local brewpub for dinner. His niece has traveled the world studying and teaching yoga so I picked her brain particularly about India! She seemed to not have any trouble traveling alone through India and really loved it there! So I'm considering putting India back on my Asia travel itinerary. We shall see...

That was my work-filled weekend! How was yours? ;)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blog Re-Design - Open to Suggestions!

Hi y'all.

I'm looking at redesigning my blog (again!) and I'm looking for suggestions! For you, what makes a blog aesthetically pleasing? What widgets do you find useful, and where do you get them? Is there any additional content you'd like to see on here?

I'm keeping the same focus (yoga and travel), but my aim is to make this blog look professional and beautimous!

Please leave a comment below with your fabulous insight!


Thursday, April 19, 2012


One by one each of my body parts are going on strike. After taking a fall on my mountain bike one year ago, my right shoulder and right wrist haven't been the same. It's made getting into Wheel pose really wonky.

Last week my right foot was stomped on by an overzealous bouquet-catcher wearing stilettos at my friend Erin's wedding. On Sunday I messed up my left knee in Ashtanga class. And today I realized that my left shoulder was giving me problems!
alignment... oh yeahhhh

Therefore, today seemed like a PERFECT day to hit up a Viniyoga class!

I've mentioned before that as part of my Yoga Teacher Training we are required to try different styles of yoga and compare them to Power Vinyasa Yoga.

After an hour-and-a-half class I really didn't see many similarities between Viniyoga and Power Yoga other than that they both use props for modifications. Viniyoga appears to be 'roll around on your back yoga'. When athletes claim that yoga is too easy, this may be what they are referring too.

The class started and ended on the floor with a few standing poses thrown in. Viniyoga is all about making microscopic changes to your pose alignment to adjust for injury, etc. The teacher even showed me how to make Child's Pose easier on my shoulder - awesome!

I liked the teacher, I liked the studio, and afterwards I felt so relaxed I almost fell asleep! But Viniyoga is way too mellow for me so for now I'll stick to Power Yoga thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Squirrel Yoga - Day 2

Remember last week when I taught my first community class to a team of Squirrel Children? I taught there again today, but with the noticeable absence of Squirrels.

Only one kid from last week returned. And she brought a friend.

I could chalk this up to my own personal failure as a teacher, but instead I'm relishing in the fact that this girl felt the benefits of yoga enough to come back! Perhaps the other kids had other things to do today. Or maybe because the class now starts 15 minutes later, the three kids who had to leave early last time decided it wasn't worth it to go to yoga for a whopping fifteen minutes. Whatever the reason, it's NOT about me.

After attending a lecture last weekend on Yogic Philosophy,  I'm focusing my energy this week on Letting Go. Attachment to things and ideas will only impede me on the path toward Enlightenment.

 The weather today was GORGEOUS. Clear blue skies and about 75 degrees. I pulled up to the middle school feeling bummed that I had to spend the next hour indoors, when I realized that I had the power to bring the class outside! So my three students grabbed mats and we walked to a grassy spot far from buildings and the parking lot. (Yes, THREE students - two kids and one mellow Boys & Girls Club facilitator).

In turns out that doing yoga on the grass is kinda lumpy, so I cut out all the balancing postures. The students were considerably less squirrely than last week and I was more grounded as a teacher. I really felt like I brought more of myself into my teaching than last time! After the girls complained that their arms were killing them because I MADE them do 4 push-ups (aka chatarangas) on the same day they had to run for PE, I switched gears to a more mellow yoga class.

I could tell that yoga had worked it's relaxation magic on the students because on the walk back to the building they were quiet and looked a little dazed.

My First Ashtanga Primary Series

As part of my yoga teacher certification program the students are required to try out different styles of yoga and write reports about our experiences.

On Sunday morning, I walked into my very first Ashtanga class ever and I was instantly greeted with a bright smile from the woman at the desk. She gave my two fellow teacher trainees and I warm welcomes when she learned it was our first time at this studio. I felt instantly at ease. As an yoga studio employee I was reminded how it's so important to make nervous new students feel welcome when they first enter!

Anxiety set in, however, when the instructor, walked in and bombarded us with questions and warnings about the Ashtanga practice.

Instructor: “Have you ever done Ashtanga before?”

Nervous Teacher Trainees: “No, but we practice Power Yoga regularly and we hear there are some similarities.”

Instructor: “Well this class isn’t easy and it’s going to be a struggle for you to keep up. Most people do their own practice without a teacher present. Unfortunately the instructor who normally teaches this class isn’t here to teach you (he’s a celebrity) so you’re stuck with me.”


We were all sorts of confused walking into the class. How were we supposed to do a personal practice through the entire primary series when the poses aren’t even posted?! So we placed our mats down, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best!

The class itself was 2 hours long. It turns out we were actually supposed to follow the teacher and the ‘by ourself’ kind was a style called Mysore. To be honest, I really liked the style. The series started out with Sun A’s and Sun B’s and moved into poses that I was mostly already familiar with. The poses weren’t too difficult but they did offer some variation to the tried and true poses that I’m super familiar with (for example: Janu Sirsasana A,B,C,D... l-m-n-o-p). I'm pushing the edge on a few of the Power Yoga postures, so it was cool to see how the poses could be deepened.

To be honest, I think I would have LOVED the practice but the teacher didn't really teach. She merely said the pose names in Sanskrit and expected us all to go directly into the pose even when us newbies had never seen or heard of that pose before. My friends and I looked at each other confused as we tried to copy the yogis on the mats facing us, which was extra confusing when deciphering lefts and rights. 

As I struggled to figure out what I was supposed to do, the instructor often approached me and said things like, “No. DON’T do that, do THIS” or “You’re doing it WRONG” or when I we were supposed to get in a super pretzely posture: “What’s wrong? Are you not flexible enough for Lotus?” - to which I replied, “I can do Lotus, I just don’t know where I’m supposed to put my feet and arms”. After I went into the pose, the instructor informed me that I was too flexible. It was all very strange.

I’m not saying all this to be hyper-critical of the Ashtanga instructor, but merely to illustrate that I experienced first-hand why teachers should act empowering and that certain words will tear the student to the ground! I felt my insides shrink whenever the instructor approached me with negativity and had to remind myself that I’m actually pretty good at doing yoga, I just haven’t memorized this sequence! I felt lucky that I practice Power Yoga 6 days/week, otherwise there would be no way I’d been able to keep up! There is no way a beginner could have survived in that class.

All in all it was a good experience! I could definitely see how Power Yoga has evolved from Ashtanga: begin with sun salutations, continue with other standing poses, and then to the floor. Other than the pose sequence there were more differences: Ashtanga begins and ends with chanting, the instructor spoke mostly in Sanskrit (not only the pose names but also counting and explaining the type of breath), and no props are allowed.

I’ll definitely try out Ashtanga again, but maybe next time with a different teacher...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fear Of Death = More Vacations

Recently I've developed a completely unfounded fear of death. It's the same fear that pops up whenever I feel that I'm not living my life to its fullest. In the past several months I've operated under Mission Survival - doing anything I can to make a buck and living paycheck to paycheck. I work Every.Single.Day. Gone are days where I'd take my backpack into the wilderness and spend 4 days communing with nature! Gone are the weekends in the Bay visiting friends! Now I squeeze all my fun into Monday and Thursday afternoons.

This must change. Starting: NOW.

Like most people, I have a very long bucket list filled with everything I want to do before I die. Unlike most people, I have a crazy desire to accomplish it all in the next year. Not that you die at age 30, but it IS my Magical Grown-up Age....


The more vacations I go on, the more ALIVE I feel! That's just who I am. So I'm going to Florida.

I haven't been to Florida since I was 6 years old and my great aunt locked my brother and I in a basement for several days. I'm pretty sure this time will be different. First of all, she's dead. Second, I'm an adult now and can leave basements on my own accord. And third, I'm going to be staying with my cousins who from their facebook profiles appear to be fun, non-psychotic people. I dunno, I haven't seen them in 20 years. But one cousin is also a yoga teacher and in my experience, yoga teachers aren't really the 'lock em in a basement and throw away the key type'. I.Can't.Wait.


From now on, if I get invited to do something or go somewhere and I reallyreallyreallyreally want to do it, then dagnabbit I'm going to even if I can't technically afford it! I do have that tax return just aching to be spend on wild fun adventures in exotic locales! muahahaha

In other news, I might start getting paid to teach yoga! Maybe. I'll find out tonight...! More about that later :)

Soon this will be me. (Thanks GoogleImages!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My First Community Class

"Well THAT was interesting..." Those are the precise words uttered by one of my students as they left my community class yesterday. I taught yoga at the Boys and Girls Club at a local middle school. The kids were between the ages of 12 and 14. Eight kids showed up. By the end there were only 3 left.

The vibe was really weird to start. The class began with the B&GC facilitator yelling at the kids while I was introducing myself. In my experience Yelling and Yoga are typically mutually exclusive. She immediately kicked out two kids and then she left. I started them off seated, eyes closed, and breathing, rolling their heads from side to side.

It was challenging to keep the squirrels, I mean kids, focused on themselves. Their little eyes kept darting to see what everyone else around them was doing. And they giggled themselves all the way to reclined pigeon. What worked best was cueing a focal point in every single pose and giving them a number of breaths to count (i.e. take 5 deep breaths here) in the longer held poses.

At the end of the Grounding Series three of the kids had to leave for soccer practice.

I gave the remaining girls a really long savasana complete with music (I KNEW I could use that battery-operated iHome for something!). As I brought the girls to seated for Namaste I could see something had changed - they had hit the zen spot! At the end I asked them how they felt. "Relaxed", one replied. The other two nodded druggily.

Next week I will work with them more in the beginning to set the tone as they walk into class and have them leave the frenetic B&GC vibe at the door. I'd also like to make a stronger effort to connect with the kids. It felt very middle school: I am the teacher and you are the student. I'd rather the students feel like we're all in it together! Also, usually I am Air and Fire all.the.time. For this class I tried to bring in the Water and Earth but then I lost the Fire and joy! blarg. I think I was too focused on getting them to calm down that I forgot that yoga is supposed to be fun! I've been teaching classes for my friends (successfully, I might add) and now I see that teaching yoga to hormonal youths is waaaay different.

"Well that WAS interesting" -- my thoughts exactly. If just one student got something out of my class (which I think happened) then I'll be happy. And if not, well, I'll try again for next week!