Hi readers!

Today in school we had a professional development day, which in half day preschool means we didn’t have any students. My coworker and I went to observe another general education preschool in the district this morning.

As we arrived in the classroom, we heard a tiny bell chime, and then absolute silence. When we entered the classroom, the students noticed us, but none of them said anything, and we all sat in silence for exactly 3 minutes. Another tiny chime, and the teacher calmly directed the class’s attention to the board as the day began. Every student in the school had just begun his day with 3 minutes of silent meditation.

It is amazing to see a group of 4-5 year olds attending so perfectly to themselves. This is something that I know I and many other students of yoga struggle with when we are practicing savasana.

Savasana is one of the poses I am focusing on throughout this challenge. Focus, in general has been something I have tried to work on lately, and I have found it has effected my whole practice in a very positive way. When my internal monologue is limited to “breathe in, breathe out, don’t be afraid,” the teacher dialogue still has a way of seeping through my brain and into my body. I am finding my postures are improving, and that I am able to go much deeper into them than before. Most importantly, I am learning how to stay more present, that makes me happier in class, and happier in my life.

Practicing these mental skills in savasana makes them easier to access in the rest of the postures. Practicing this meditation in the other postures, helps me to use it in my life. At work, at home, with my friends. As thoughts and feelings come to me, I am more easily able to feel them and then move on without getting caught up in the meaning or the drama of a situation.

Watching those preschoolers practice meditation this morning, I was struck by the notion of how much it could improve their ability to think, learn, problem solve, make friends. There was an element of calm that was very pervasive throughout the school. It was beautiful to see these children and adults using the practice of meditation to improve their lives. It made me realize how important it is to practice being calm, centered, and relaxed.

Mindfully yours,

-C

There is a moment in every yoga class where I am convinced that I am not going to make it.

It usually comes right before we hit the floor. At the end of the standing series my muscles are shaking, there is sweat dripping into my eyes, my feet slip on the mat, my lungs threaten to burst, and, if I’m doing it right, I don’t even know my own name. This is the crux of the class, and I always know if I get through that few minutes, that it will all be downhill from there. If I can handle those few minutes of pain and suffering and exhaustion, I can handle anything.

Life, like yoga, come’s in series. There is a crux of each episode, and if you can get through it chances are you will have a moment to breathe. You will finish the standing series, hit the floor, and take your two-minute savasana. The problem is, life isn’t a set. You don’t know what pose is coming next, you don’t know when you will finally get to lie down. You have to just plug along, and be satisfied knowing that eventually you will make it through the crux of the situation.

I feel like I’ve hit the crux of my current situation, struggled through it, and I’m starting to wind down. I might not be in savasana yet, but I’m getting close. I am happier than I have been in a long time, although that happiness is tinged with a distinct pain sensation. Remember not to assign value to sensation, simply feel it, and allow it to wash over you. Winston Churchill said, “when you’re going through Hell, keep going.” Has anyone read Dante’s Divine Comedy? Dante kept going, he travelled through the depths of hell, into purgatory, through that, and do you know what he found? True love. So anytime you think you can’t make it, relax. You’re savasana is on its way.

-C

Hello friends,

Yesterday, my good friend Hilary suggested we head to Bikrams, so off we went.  I was a little nervous, because I still haven’t been going as regularly as I’d like, and I was anticipating a difficult class.  Attitude is everything, however; so I steeled my nerves and went for it.

Point 1:  We went to the West End studio, which is very, very different from the Kits one.  It is much smaller, which is both good and bad.  The bad part is the facilities aren’t nearly as nice, and since the room is small, it was really crowded, which made it quite stuffy in there.  This wouldn’t have been a huge problem, had the teacher been more aware and in control of the temperature and climate of the room, but she wasn’t.  The bright side of the closer quarters, is that the mirrors are closer.  There were only three rows of students, so even if one was in the back, she would be able to have a clear view of herself.  Being able to watch yourself do the poses is so important in Bikrams for focus and in order to improve, and especially to gain a deeper understanding of your own body and the way it moves.  This can be difficult in a large class.  Other people are distracting, the mirrors are far away, and it is easy to get lost in the crowd.

Point 2:  The class was taught by a teacher I hadn’t had often before.  I had trouble finding a single focus for the class, and I find I usually do best when I have something in mind to work on.  One focus the teacher seemed to be encouraging, was finding a stillness in the practice.

Unlike other types of yoga I have done, where I feel there is a stillness to the postures, Bikrams for me is often about adjustment.  As I am getting into the pose, I am constantly scanning my body, adjusting for balance, trying to move deeper into the posture.  There is a lot of movement that happens in each pose, save for the last 5 seconds of so.  In addition to that movement, I find that because I’m sweaty, when we are taking our standing savasana, I want to wipe my face, drink water, adjust my hair, or scratch and itch instead of appreciating the opportunity for stillness and reflection and calm.

As I focused on remaining still during these standing savasanas, I noticed my body started to feel better and better.  The stillness not only improved my focus, but it actually helped physically as it slowed my heart rate and breathing.  It helped me prepare both physically and mentally for the next posture.

So much of exercise these days and so much of life in general seems to be driven by movement.  We have endless errands to run, we want to get on the treadmill for a straight 30 minutes so we can go to our meeting or drive to our date etc etc etc.  It is refreshing to be able to take a true moment of calm once in a while.  I think I will strive to find those moments in my life outside the yoga studio.