Friday, July 31, 2009

Finding Balance

The topic of balance seems to be a prevalent one for me this week as I'm trying to find balance between work, house chores and projects, yoga, puppies, and the odd moment or two for relaxing.

In yoga I've been playing around with a balance sequence I learned at the Matthew Sweeney workshop where one transitions from Utthita Padangusthasana (Hand to Big Toe pose) to Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) and back again. I don't know why this one fascinates me; maybe it has something to do with the fluidity and concentration required.

At home I've been trying to find balance between getting my daily/weekly chores done while working on some outside projects. I took it upon myself this summer to build a retaining wall. I started during a dry spell, and now, a mere 3 weeks later, it's been a project between the rainstorms. If you've ever started a landscaping project, you know that you have to keep moving otherwise you end up with other issues (like erosion which can undo all your hard work).



And there is the garden. Green, sort-of growing, and in need of cultivating and
weeding. If it ever stops raining.



But what really grabbed my attention was Lolly's post on balance this week: Lolly Knitting Around.

Here is an excerpt: Finding balance – no matter what kind of balance it is: emotionally, figuratively, financially, physically - can be a difficult task. There are complete self-help courses on finding the work/life balance, on balancing your relationships, balancing your finances.

One of the major draws for people interested in yoga is learning how to balance – both balancing on one foot (or one hand!) but also finding the balance in your own life to avoid stress. Personally, yoga has helped me greatly in this way: balancing my emotions (not as quick to anger or sadness), as well as feeling more stability as I physically walk through the world.



When you think about it, learning to be balanced is more than just trying to stand on one foot. When were feeling balanced in all aspects of our lives, we're more centered, grounded, and open to new possibilities and opportunities emotionally and physically.

Go ahead, give it a try. I think you'll like being balanced too, and remember, it's okay to fall down. Just get back up again!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yogin

This was a delight to watch... (sorry, I haven't figured out how to get it to link directly).

From YouTube: Yogin is a short animation telling the story of a young yogi challenging an old master to a yoga battle. The egotistical challenger thinks he has what is necessary to take on the master however he fails to realize there is more to yoga then physical postures.

Yogin

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Workshop: Matthew Sweeney

Whew! It's been a super busy week and I just couldn't face getting on the computer again when I got home. I finally have a quiet moment this cold Saturday morning and I'm watching the Tour de France while I catch up on my blogs.

I attended a workshop with Matthew last year and was very impressed and inspired. When I saw he was coming back to the Yoga House this year I made sure it was on my calendar. He did not disappoint. I've cheated and cut and pasted the workshop description because really, it WAS EXACTLY this.

What I particularly liked, was while Matthew does instruct and teach the Ashtanga sequence, he acknowledges that it is NOT for everyone and that there are times and places where other sequences are necessary. Matthews background covers several styles of yoga (including Iyengar) which I felt really made him a well rounded, exacting, instructor.

For example, the Friday night Vinyasa session is a PERFECT way to end the week and start the weekend. Many Ashtanga workshop weekends start with a Primary practice on Friday night, then you come back Saturday morning and do it AGAIN, then do a partial session Saturday afternoon...you get the picture and by Sunday afternoon you are just exhausted mentally and physically. NOT SO in Matthews session. Several of us commented how relaxed and refreshed we felt after Friday nights sequence.

Saturday I loved how we focused on technique. This is what I want from a workshop and why I signed up again this year. Sunday morning was another Vinyasa sequence. I had to depart after the morning session to drive back to Duluth and pick up my hounds from the kennel. I didn't mind. My mind was full of concepts, ideas, and notes and it was nice to be able to just drive and digest.

If you enjoy a vinyasa or Ashtanga style class, enjoy working on the mechanics of a yoga practice, you would probably enjoy one of Matthew's workshops.



From the Yoga House workshop description: This weekend workshop is an informative and practical exploration of Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. It will include traditional Ashtanga Yoga, therapeutic Vinyasa sequences and Yoga philosophy. It is a unique opportunity for both novice and advanced Yoga enthusiasts to practice under the tutelage of an international and advanced Yoga teacher.

Matthew delivers these workshops with enthusiasm and a fun-filled atmosphere to allow you to explore the joy of Yoga. The latest aspects of Matthew’s workshop series include flowing led practices and insightful guidance on various hints, tricks and techniques for some of the more intricate aspects of Asana practice. These sessions are useful for Yoga practitioners from any tradition and are not just aimed at traditional Ashtanga Yoga students.


FRIDAY, July 10 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Gentle Alternative Vinyasa Sequence (I) Chandra Krama: The Moon Sequence
Beginning with a short introduction about the workshop and Vinyasa Yoga this class will commence with Moon Sequence. Feeling tired? Depleted? Injured? Or otherwise a bit low? This sequence is a gentle flowing Vinyasa form accessible for all levels. Although this sequence was originally intended for practice on the full moon, the new moon and during the menstrual cycle, it is appropriate at any time for women and men. The sequence focuses on the hips, groin, lower spine and abdominals, which will feel awake and alive after moving through the postures. It takes pressure off the neck, shoulders and wrists (common from the standard jumps in the Ashtanga series) and is useful as a regular alternative to the intense heat of the traditional Ashtanga. Whether old or young this sequence is great for any age. Some Yoga experience is recommended.


SATURDAY, July 11 9:30 – 12:30 PM
Jumping Through and Jump
This class will explore the methods and techniques necessary to implement greater ease and ability with jumping through and jumping back. This class will begin with a warm up based on the traditional series and then explore the jumps in Surya Namaskara followed by the jumps in and out of the sitting postures - both cross-legged and straight-legged. These useful techniques have been comprehensively developed over many years and are applicable for students of any level. ing Back

2:00 – 4:30 PM
Vinyasa, Back Bending and Mula Bandha

This class will begin with a short Vinyasa warm up. This will be followed by exploring variations of back bending and drop bac ks. Simple hands on exercises will be provided to increase awareness of the articulation of the lower spine, pelvic floor and psoas muscles. This session will also include some practical advice for understanding and applying the mula bandha, or root lock and will conclude with a group discussion on Yoga Philosophy.

SUNDAY, July 12 9:30 – 12:30 PM
Alternative Vinyasa Sequence (II) Simha Krama: The Lion Sequence

This sequence is the second series that Matthew has designed. The Lion Sequence flows from the Moon Sequence, introducing postures that expand upon concepts begun in the latter series. It involves exploration of different standing postures, therapeutic back bends, a shoulder opening sequence and a playful approach to various inversion postures. This sequence can be a useful alternative to the traditional Intermediate Series where you may find certain postures (or the whole sequence) becoming either too painful, impossible or simply inappropriate for you.

2:00 - 4:30 PM
Headstand, Handstand and Meditation

This class will begin with a short warm up, followed by an exploration of headstand and handstand. A combination of easy to follow techniques and a fun atmosphere of learning will infuse this session. This class will finish with the subtle aspects of Yoga including Pranayama (breathing exercises), Meditation and a final question and answer session.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Workshop weekend!

Okay, maybe I slowed down too much? I just realized it's been over two weeks since I had a post!

My exciting news is I'm heading to the Twin Cities this weekend to attend a workshop hosted by the Yoga House, Edina and led by Matthew Sweeney. I realized it's been almost 6 months since I've been to something for myself. Too long!

(Picture from yogahouse.net)
Matthew teaches in the Ashtanga tradition, but what I loved about his workshop last year was he doesn't spend 3 days doing just the Primary Series. He really moves outside of the box for a great in depth workshop experience.

Check out his schedule below:

This weekend workshop is an informative and practical exploration of Ashtanga Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. It will include traditional Ashtanga Yoga, therapeutic Vinyasa sequences and Yoga philosophy. It is a unique opportunity for both novice and advanced Yoga enthusiasts to practice under the tutelage of an international and advanced Yoga teacher.

Matthew delivers these workshops with enthusiasm and a fun-filled atmosphere to allow you to explore the joy of Yoga. The latest aspects of Matthew’s workshop series include flowing led practices and insightful guidance on various hints, tricks and techniques for some of the more intricate aspects of Asana practice. These sessions are useful for Yoga practitioners from any tradition and are not just aimed at traditional Ashtanga Yoga students.


FRIDAY, July 10 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Gentle Alternative Vinyasa Sequence (I) Chandra Krama: The Moon Sequence
Beginning with a short introduction about the workshop and Vinyasa Yoga this class will commence with Moon Sequence. Feeling tired? Depleted? Injured? Or otherwise a bit low? This sequence is a gentle flowing Vinyasa form accessible for all levels. Although this sequence was originally intended for practice on the full moon, the new moon and during the menstrual cycle, it is appropriate at any time for women and men. The sequence focuses on the hips, groin, lower spine and abdominals, which will feel awake and alive after moving through the postures. It takes pressure off the neck, shoulders and wrists (common from the standard jumps in the Ashtanga series) and is useful as a regular alternative to the intense heat of the traditional Ashtanga. Whether old or young this sequence is great for any age. Some Yoga experience is recommended.

SATURDAY, July 11 9:30 – 12:30 PM
Jumping Through and Jumping Back
This class will explore the methods and techniques necessary to implement greater ease and ability with jumping through and jumping back. This class will begin with a warm up based on the traditional series and then explore the jumps in Surya Namaskara followed by the jumps in and out of the sitting postures - both cross-legged and straight-legged. These useful techniques have been comprehensively developed over many years and are applicable for students of any level.

2:00 – 4:30 PM
Vinyasa, Back Bending and Mula Bandha
This class will begin with a short Vinyasa warm up. This will be followed by exploring variations of back bending and drop bac ks. Simple hands on exercises will be provided to increase awareness of the articulation of the lower spine, pelvic floor and psoas muscles. This session will also include some practical advice for understanding and applying the mula bandha, or root lock and will conclude with a group discussion on Yoga Philosophy.

SUNDAY, July 12 9:30 – 12:30 PM
Alternative Vinyasa Sequence (II) Simha Krama: The Lion Sequence
This sequence is the second series that Matthew has designed. The Lion Sequence flows from the Moon Sequence, introducing postures that expand upon concepts begun in the latter series. It involves exploration of different standing postures, therapeutic back bends, a shoulder opening sequence and a playful approach to various inversion postures. This sequence can be a useful alternative to the traditional Intermediate Series where you may find certain postures (or the whole sequence) becoming either too painful, impossible or simply inappropriate for you.

2:00 - 4:30 PM
Headstand, Handstand and Meditation
This class will begin with a short warm up, followed by an exploration of headstand and handstand. A combination of easy to follow techniques and a fun atmosphere of learning will infuse this session. This class will finish with the subtle aspects of Yoga including Pranayama (breathing exercises), Meditation and a final question and answer session.


Doesn't that sound like fun? It is! I haven't done the Lion Sequence before so I am looking forward to experiencing it. And I won't be able to stay for the Headstand sequence because I need to pick up my hounds from Pookie Prison by 5:00p and I have to account for a three hour drive back north. So please check back next week when I review the weekend!