If the only prayer you ever say is Thank You, that will suffice. (Meister Eckart)
Unspoken gratitude does no one any good. (Church sign)
I’ve been pondering what I wanted to talk about for my final post for 2010. Class structure perhaps? Class dynamics? Pontificate on how my year has been (which I did over on my other blog). But the answer came to me after my Karma Ashtanga Session last night – to simply say thank you.
The studio I attend and lead classes at takes two weeks off three times a year. Usually my Monday night class ends up being off for three weeks because there is a holiday in there somewhere that typically lands on a Monday. This break I made the suggestion to do a Karma class: I would donate my time and class would be a flat rate – no punch cards or season passes. Monies raised would go to a local food shelf.
It was a delightful success for our studio! The students seemed pleased to have the opportunity to practice over break, the studio was pleased, and I was thankful and grateful at the support. I don’t know how much we raised, it wasn’t a HUGE amount, but it was enough that it will make a small difference.
Isn’t that what it’s about? Making small changes for the better that eventually add up? I like to believe it is.
And so, here at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, I’d like to say Thank You! To everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my humble blog, to say Namaste to those of you who come to my classes and join together in community, and to express my gratitude to the universe as a whole. I look forward to seeing what 2011 will bring.
10 characters you may encounter in yoga class: 1. “The warrior” – The fellow to the left of you begins to take ujjayi breathing to the next level. You know how teachers will say, “Make your breath sound like the ocean at the back of your throat”? Well, now you feel like you’re at the beach…in the middle of a typhoon.
2. “The invader” – The person to the right of you places their mat directly beside yours, with not even an inch of room. Your hands are constantly brushing against one another awkwardly as you move through Sun Salutations. You take a step forward, hoping to stagger yourself against them. They take a step forward. You take a step back. They take a step back. You give up and resign yourself to whispering “sorry” throughout class as various body parts continue to make contact.
3. “The grunter” – The fellow behind you with very tight hips and hamstrings will grunt and moan loudly as he moves from one position to another. “Unhhhhh,” he cries. “Ahhhh,” he moans. You feel uncomfortable as you splay into a wide-legged forward bend.
4. “The show-off” – The girl in front of you, a former gymnast and ballerina, springs deftly into full splits with ease and grace. She gazes around the room, smiling sympathetically at those who can barely spread their legs at all (also ensuring that everyone has noticed her and her perky bun). You stare at her coldly as your sweaty hands fumble to support yourself with blocks.
5. “The freestyler” – The woman in the corner pays no mind to the teacher’s instruction. She hangs passively in a forward bend as the rest of you suckers struggle through a core series. She deftly moves into headstand as everyone else swivels into Trikonasana. You can’t help but stare.
6. “The hoarder” – This man waits by the practice room door 20 minutes before class begins to make sure that he can dart in and grab his goodies. He immediately snags a bolster, four blocks, two straps, and three blankets and stockpiles them – fortress-style – around his mat, leaving limited supply for the rest of the class. You stare sadly at your one, “well-worn” block.
7. “The au-naturale” – This boy has committed himself to an eco-friendly lifestyle, meaning he shaves once every two weeks and refuses to use deodorant. His hands are stained with soil from planting trees before class and he emits a natural, “earthy” scent. Sweat begins to dampen his hemp shirt. You hold your breath and vow to submit an anonymous submission to the suggestion box after class.
8. “The talker” – This woman turns to you in Downward Dog and begins to tell you about the day she’s had. Can you believe she was late for work in the morning because her kids didn’t want to eat breakfast? She sneaks in a few words every chance she gets, leaving you feeling like the bad kid in high school who passed notes behind the teacher’s back.
9. “The latecomer” – The door opens halfway through class and in comes the latecomer. She saunters to the front of the room and asks you to move over so she can have some space. She then proceeds to slap her mat down loudly and let out a loud sigh as she settles onto her back. The teacher smiles at her graciously as she joins the rest of you. You feel anything but gracious inside.
10. “The mat man” – This man needs to place his mat in the exact same spot every single time. Much like the hoarder, he will hover anxiously outside the door to ensure that he can rush into the room and place his mat directly in front of the door, for the “best ventilation”. You have become accustomed to stepping around him as you enter class.
Earlier this year there was a great on-line discussion regarding the Bhagavad Gita over on Yoga Demystified via Elephant Journal: what was it, some themes, and thoughts and clarifications. Bob Weisenberg did a fantastic job moderating and guiding the conversation.
Well guess what! He's back with another thematic look at this amazing text. They are about 4 weeks in (my apologies for finding this late), but the past discussion are just facinating as the current.
Please, if you have some time, stop over and check it out. There is really a lot of great wisdom being shared.
I had the opportunity this morning, to try a new style of yoga: Sivananda Yoga; as taught by Thomas N of Duluth at the local YMCA.
From wikipedia.com: Sivananda Yoga, after teachings of Swami Sivananda, is a non-proprietary form of hatha yoga in which the training focuses on preserving the health and wellness of the practitioner. Sivananda Yoga teachers are all graduates of the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course, and students widely range in age and degrees of ability. Unlike Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga's more athletic program involving Bandhas, Sivananda training revolves around frequent relaxation, and emphasizes full, yogic breathing.
The Sivananda training system aims to retain the vitality of the body, retard the decaying process, and decrease chance of disease, by simply and naturally cultivating the body. The system philosophies are summarized in 5 principles.
Five points of Yoga Proper breathing: Pranayama Exercise: Asanas Relaxation: Savasana Diet: Vegetarian. A yogic diet is encouraged, limited to sattvic foods, void of rajasic foods as well as tamasic foods Positive thinking and meditation: Vedanta and Dhyana
A session of training typically starts with every practitioner resting in Savasana, and begin with Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma, preceding rounds of Sūrya namaskāra, before the standard program of the 12 basic asanas. A session averages 90 minutes, and the traditional program may be followed flexibly by the instructor, allowing for some variation.
The description above, pretty much sums the session as I experienced it and for my A-type personality, strong Ashtanga/Vinyasa inclination, go-go-go mentality, this was exactly what I needed. Class unfortunately was only 1 hour, and seriously, I could have used a full hour and a half. I enjoyed the pranyama, sitting reflectively in a quiet - somewhat dark - room, I loved the seamless integration of philosphy and anatomy tidbits into the session. I know we didn't get to everything as this was only the second session and there was background info to be touched on, but with time I suspect more will be incorporated. I hope to make future sessions (weather permitting!).