Thursday, August 8, 2013

Breakthroughs in Unexpected Places

Yesterday I spent about 12 hours in the car with my husband driving down to Pigeon Forge, TN for a vacation with his family. He drove the whole way - my Prius has never gotten such poor gas mileage. By the time we got there, I was exhausted and a little stressed. We met with the rest of the family who then hung out by the pool while my husband, his sister, nephew and I went to the store and shopped for  groceries for the week. When we got home we made dinner and went to bed. I thought I would sleep in the next day, but I didn't.

I awoke around 8:30 wide awake. Maybe it was the 2 phone calls I received from prospective students (yes, even when I'm on vacation, I'm still working in some way), but I was just not sleepy. I checked email, Facebook, got up and looked outside, and made myself some Chai I'd gotten from the store. I grabbed a clementine and decided to set up my yoga mat in the middle of our room. So, I slid the coffee table out of the way, set up and lit my incense, and got my ipod ready to go.

As I climbed on my mat, my husband was over my shoulder making an egg, eating it, and then plopping himself on the couch right in front of my mat to check his emails and texts. I thought about asking him to leave, but I decided to just practice. I only looked at him once, he was so nose-deep in his phone he wasn't even paying attention to me. "Good," I thought, "do your thing, and I'll do mine."

I began with some deep breaths in child's pose, got into my downward dog and explored my body a little. I actually didn't feel as tight as I thought that I would. This was a good sign. Normally after such a long car-ride, I would be a mess, but for some reason, things were feeling pretty good. After playing around in Down Dog and feeling things out, I migrated to my Sun Salutations - 2 or 3, then some Surya B's. I chuckled to myself as I took my first Utkatasana (Chair Pose), making a mental note how it was one of the most disliked poses of students, and here I was doing it of my own free will. It felt good - solid. I proceeded with my Warriors and variations there-of, going through Namaskar after Namaskar, flowing until I had a good beading of sweat going. I was also surprised that I could get that going, given the A/C temp in the room (I did notch the temp up before I began to practice, but only to 74).

I felt out some balance postures, worked with some variations of more standing postures, then went for my crow. My wrist had been bothering me for weeks so I hadn't been able to do much with arm balances, but crow was pretty solid too. I kept giving myself mental "nods" each time I went for a pose and felt it with ease. I decided to do a few backbends while I was warm, and even a quick couple hip openers, then I came back down to the mat and got into Dolphin. I hesitated, wondering if I should try Sirsasana (Headstand). It was another pose I hadn't been able to perform in many years - due to emergency abdominal surgeries and general core weakness due to my good old fractured spine that had been acting up since.

I decided not to hesitate, took Headstand prep, walked up, and instead of kicking up like I always had, took one bent leg up slowly and brought the other one up to meet it. "Whoa," my mind thought. This was a first. I'd never ever taken a Headstand with ease and control before. I slowly extended one and then both legs up in the air and there I was - Headstand, Baby! I couldn't believe it.

Now this is normally when most people fall. I realized at this moment my husband had gotten up and gone into the kitchen or bedroom. He was still mulling around on texts and phone calls. I had tuned him out. I wanted him to see me, damn it! But alas, he did not. I slowly came out of Headstand and took child's pose. I did a couple more salutations wondering if it was a fluke. "Was it just a fluke?" I had to know. So, I took Headstand prep, lifted one bent knee, then the other to meet it, slowly lifting one and then both legs up - just as before - and there I was, Headstand number 2, with ease and control.

I got down, did some more Namaskars, then some deeper stretches: Pigeon, 1/2 Forward Fold, Cobbler, etc. As I was stretching, I wondered if I'd crossed that bridge into new territory in my practice. You know that bridge, the one you cross when you aren't paying attention?

I took a couple of Navasanas (Boat poses) to strengthen my core and thought, "Why not? After all, third time's a charm."

I took Headstand prep, and popped up in my 3rd Headstand - with ease and control. I came out just as my husband rounded the corner, but I think he successfully missed all three. So I asked him to spot me for Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand). "Why not?"

I told him what to do, put my shin into his hand and told him to apply gentle pressure as I raised my other leg up. He helped me get both legs straight. It was a challenge and I certainly would have fallen without him, but, it was suddenly within the realm of possibility for me. Something I would have never thought would happen.

After that I took my bridge and went up into Shoulder Stand. "Ah," I thought, "Here it is, my tension and restriction." I took my legs back slightly over my head towards a Halasana (plow) and was immediately humbled. And there it was, the point I was looking for in my practice - the part where I was reminded that there was still a lot of work to do.

I came to my back, did a few last postures, then took Savasana for about 5 minutes. By the end I felt amazingly open, calm and happy. I showered and asked my husband if he wanted to take a drive to the Great Smokey National Park, where we took a short hike to Laurel Falls, which we hiked up in record time because we had to rush back to meet the fam for a trip to Dollywood.

My intention for my practice was to just stretch out after the long ride. I never intended to tackle any challenging postures - and never thought in those circumstances that I'd actually be able to have a break-through. Yet, there it was. Maybe all the stars had aligned perfectly for me today. Maybe I just went with the flow and somehow managed to get out of my own way. Maybe I've actually worked through some blocks in my practice. Who knows how or why. Today was a good yoga day. Tomorrow will probably be a little more humbling...that's just how it goes. But for now...I will enjoy it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vibrational Healing at Medford Yoga

I don't know if it was the new memory foam mattress on my bed or knowing I was going to take a yoga class with Crystal Bowls this morning, but I woke up happy and feeling good! I quickly ran through my morning routine and headed out to the Medford Yoga studio, a studio I've long wanted to check out. I am so glad that I did. First of all, it is a beautiful studio. From the hand-paintings to the decorations and the fabulous open window ceiling, it was just a stunning place to visit.

The woman at the counter was very nice and gave me a personal tour of the studio, which includes several treatment rooms in the back for Pilates reformer classes, Chiropractic care and Massage Therapy. They have a small second yoga room that they use for workshops and trainings too.

The large, spacious, lit yoga room felt like practicing in the atrium of a beautiful hotel. The many plants that adorned the studio made for a truly "vacation-like" experience.

When I arrived, so were several others, which was a nice change up from the many other studios I'd visited where folks were running in at the last minute. Maybe because it is such a beautiful studio, people were coming in, setting up, and either meditating or relaxing. The Crystal Bowls were already set up in a circle at the front of the room, and to the left of where the teacher would be, were three sets of cards: Goddess, Oracle and Angel. Some people were picking cards to use for meditation/contemplation, so after a few minutes, I did as well. Here are the cards I got. I welcome any thoughts on an intuitive reading!

We began our class with an option to lie on our back or stay in a seated position, as our teacher discussed vibration, sound, and the healing aspects of each. Then she began singing the bowls as we lie there taking in the healing vibrational sounds. I have no idea how long it was, but I could have lay there forever!

The rest of the class was nice. A few opening stretches, some easy Sun Salutations with lunge variations, then some balancing postures, a Frog pose, some twists, and other stretches. She wove in thoughts on yoga, life and sound, returning to the theme of the class and reminding us that yoga is a deeper practice than just the postures. At the end of the sequence she brought us to savasana for more bowl vibrations. I have to say, I am feeling FABULOUS!

Just before savasana when we were doing bridge pose and a few other things on the back, I just happened to open my eyes. On the bright yellow wall and just over my head was a grasshopper. I breathed through my initial panic, and immediately wondered what the totem was for a grasshopper. I had no idea. I watched the little bugger crawl up the wall a little at a time until I got up and slid my mat over just enough so if he fell off the wall, it wouldn't be onto my face...because I know I wouldn't have been all yoga-like had that happened! As he worked up the the top of the wall, he suddenly flew off and I watched him fly to the other side of the room until I lost him in the greenery of a plant. When I came home I looked up the meaning:

Grasshopper Totem Symbolism

Again, more than happy to hear any intuitive hits about this and the cards I drew!

So as I made my way out of the Medford Yoga Studio and checked out the little shop, and took a printed schedule, I checked in again to see just how amazing I was feeling. Is it the memory foam mattress? The Yoga? The Bowls? Or are my stars just all aligned nicely today? Maybe it's a little bit of it all, but who cares why? Just feeling immensely blessed...and a little hungry.