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Tag Archives: yoga
I was a slightly overwhelmed mama of four, running a summer camp with my husband and struggling to find any sense of balance and connection with myself. I was finding some peace, adventure and strength on my mat at Spynga. So when the dates for the spring intensive Yoga Teacher Training were released, I had to find a way. It was no small feat to manage a 225-hour commitment, but thankfully I was supported by my husband (who managed our family and business not to mention made my lunches complete with love notes of encouragement), my family, and the community at Spynga that had so quickly become a second home. The program itself was a hands-on experience, rich in content with brilliant teachers. But it was so much more than that…
I am often asked by new students how many times a week should they practice to “nail” their chaturanga, arm balance or inversion. My answer is always the same. Be safe and start slow. Practice once or twice a week, see how the body feels and increase the days of practice from there. The benefits of a regular practice go far beyond perfecting a plank, crow or handstand.
I am not a gymnast, I have never been a gymnast, nor will I ever be a gymnast!!! However here I am at 41 obsessing with handstands and handstand walking. It wasn’t until I mastered the hollow body position that this dream became a reality. I am actually walking on my hands!!! @jillrs75 Achieving this goal of mine would not have been possible without the time and dedication spent perfecting a solid hollow body position. So what is it? It is basically one of the hardest elements I have incorporated into my training and my classes. I am not saying this to scare you but to prepare you for what will be a rewarding yet huge challenge. So picture the shape of a banana or a hammock, this is the image you want to match when performing your Hollow. If you follow the instructions below point by point you can and will Hollow!
Spynga is special. It’s so much more than a studio to take a yoga or spin class. Spynga is a community of people that care. I’ve learned this first hand while undergoing breast cancer treatment over the past several months. I felt like I had my very own cheering squad, pushing me through to the end of my treatments. There would be days when I would not feel great but I knew that if I could make it to a class, I would always feel better. Clients and staff would always offer words of encouragement, share personal stories and ask how I was doing. This caring community spirit helped get me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had spent the previous two years getting “fit for 40”. My plan was to spin, sculpt and sweat my way into the next decade. My birthday came and I never felt better. I had achieved my goal! I was fit at 40!
However, a few months later my world would be turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At my annual physical my doctor found a lump and a biopsy was done the next day. Five days later I received my diagnosis and I was in complete shock. I was scheduled for surgery and was told that I would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I couldn’t understand how a fit person that has a healthy diet and feels great can be diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist told me that because I was younger than the average patient and because I was physically fit I would have an easier recovery.
I would soon come to realize that achieving my “fit for 40” goal would mean much more than looking good in a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit provided me with the foundation for a quick recovery from major surgery and the ability to tolerate months of cancer treatments.
Moms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)
I remember when I began falling in love with vinyasa; not just the style of a vinyasa yoga but the beautiful sequence that is inserted between postures, that fosters heat in the body, the intense flow from the strength demanded, and the feeling of space as the body is rinsed of residual sensations from holding the previous posture. When I first began practicing, each vinyasa felt like a treat for my body; the dessert after releasing (sometimes escaping) from a series of long held postures to wash out whatever sequences we did, like they never happened but you can continue to build and feel the effects within. It was my opportunity to feel every muscle and joint working to support each other in this dance with breathe.
For clarity, the vinyasa sequence itself is low push up (aka Chaturanga), upward dog and downward dog that you will no doubt repeat 50 times in a typical power, vinyasa, Ashtanga or any other “flow” style of yoga these days.
These are 3 separate postures, merged together into a three-way relationship that not only build strength but opens the front and back body sequentially.
Each posture, with its own nuances, alignment, muscle actions, and kinesthetic qualities, that when joined together, asks us to see how they compliment each other through the use of breath and movement.
So here I am reemerging from the newborn baby bubble at 6 weeks post- pardum where, I think, you can finally semi catch your breath. Recovery from the wild ride of labour and delivery is hopefully becoming a distant nightmare or dream, depending on your experience and your body is healing, at least on the surface. Personally, I am knee deep in sleep deprivation mode where it is natural to feel like you have left your brain on most days and where 2-3 hours of snooze time feels like you drifted off for just a moment. Since my mind has been mostly occupied with feeding, poop, devising inventive ways to settle a fussy infant, and incorporating a toddler into this all – It was sadly foreign albeit natural, to turn my attention inwards.
I took my first breath with a vinyasa level 2 yoga class yesterday and besides reliving moments of childbirth again in certain poses, it was incredibly humbling on the mat for this veteran teacher and student of yoga. I have been stretching periodically since giving birth to Theodora. Mostly a few sun salutations to shake out the legs from sitting and nursing, forward folds with arms following over head to reverse my caved in chest from hovering over baby day in and day out, breathwork to get through the initial pain of breast feeding and meditating any chance I get….or is that sleeping?