Tag Archives: Flow

Power Vinyasa Yoga

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Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.

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It is very hot

I feel like I am dying.

I must be dying

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Five minutes later
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I feel like I am sweating out my organs

I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.

I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.

I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.

The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.

I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures. 

I’ve lost count.

I may vomit.

I’m still on my knees.

I try another posture.

Golden.

We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners. 

Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.

Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more. 

I leave the class.

My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.

 Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”

Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”

“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.

I smile again. “Okay.”

Inside my head, “No thanks.”

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If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.

This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.

But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:

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It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.

But this time something is different. Something is much different.

I can breathe.

I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.

I find my breath.

My muscles loosen.

I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.

I’m bending backwards and stretching forward

And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I’m still sweating. 

It’s okay.

I’m flowing.

I try not to loose focus.

These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am. 

That’s okay.

This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.

I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.

“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.

I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.

I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.

I return to downward dog.

I flow.

“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.

Class is coming to an end. 

I’m not dizzy.

I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.

I feel alive.

I’m ready for my day.

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LibsYoga

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T’ai Chi: The art of relaxation

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6340244044_26476c4537_b  Photo Courtsesy: Landahlauts FLICKR

I’ve been unusually stressed lately. I feel insecure as I’ve gained what feels like a significant amount of winter weight; my current freelamce job comes to a close at the end of the month; and my personal endeavor also approaches a giant transition as I  complete my first hobby year. The combination of the three has caused a less than smooth ride since the turn of the calendar year and I am searching for balance once again – the balance I found during meditation earlier in the year. I imagine we all have these moments- where the waves keep knocking the ship we’re on–despite several previous months of smooth sailing.

When my friend asks me if I’d like to do a t’ai chi class with her, I don’t think twice . “This will be perfect- right before my long work trip to Arizona.”

As Kim and I arrive at our introductory course-, I already feel calmer. There is a silence in the room – and our instructors are so zen that I begin to believe that t’ai chi must secretly be some sedative type drug- and not an active class-despite always seeing people doing the exercises in the parks.

We watch as our set of instructors simultaneously go through their routine. Seven minutes later-after just watching- I already feel a weight off my shoulders. It feels as though a silent dance with relaxation is gracefully puiretting in front of me. It’s really quite beautiful.

Then it’s our turn. We begin to drift into our first movement- thoughts enter my mind.

I know – I’m not supposed to be thinking, but I am.

I feel as though this is the first time I’ve done something so relaxed in weeks. I feel like it’s the first time my thoughts have come through without white noise- without distraction- without a block. Normally, I would chase thoughts away – but instead, here and now, I welcome them – and I step, sway and breathe into them. We seem to be speaking to one another — the thoughts and me that is. I breathe again into them as though I am meditating on them.

As we pivot on our right foot and bring our arms up, I recognize the stress I’ve endured the last few weeks. I work on a reality crime television series so rarely there is a break in the action- but tonight there is.

I’ve already broken my resolution of not worrying about that which I cannot control – but t’ai chi let’s me focus on how I can face that resolution and make a comeback. Right here , right now- I  am centered.. I know, again, I shouldn’t be conversing with my thoughts – but I am. I am calm. I am cool. I am collected. I hear a song play in my head – I feel the moves smoothly transition from one to the next and like meditation, I begin to a feel a greater sense of grounded-ness– a greater sense of balance–a greater sense of “it’s all going to be okay.”

Shift weight left- return to center , arms on strings – I continue to follow effortlessly— this is definitely what calm means.

As a teacher fixes my posture- I remain still while my inner dialogue continues . “You’re going to be just fine Libs — no you’re going to be great .”

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Special Thanks
T’ai Chi Chuan
School of T’ai Chi Chuan
www.taichichuan.org

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