Tag Archives: ashtanga

Day 4: Primary Series Express

Remember yesterday when I said I was going to get up for my roommate’s 7am vinyasa flow this morning?  Well, that didn’t happen.  I couldn’t quite get my act together so early in the morning, especially since I would have had to leave straight from the studio to go to the hospital where I teach yoga in the Pediatric department to renew my “volunteer” status (I use quotations marks because, as I talked about in this post, I am sponsored by the wonderful Starlight Children’s Foundation).

However, the wonderful thing about yoga is that it not only improves your physical flexibility on the mat, but also helps you to be flexible in your every day life.  The fact that I didn’t make it to the studio was not an invitation to beat myself up over it; after all, my practiced hadn’t been sacrificed, just changed.  Instead, I pressed snooze two extra times (my best friend will tell you that’s quite an improvement from college), got up, grabbed my laptop and rolled out my mat in my living room.  In just a few clicks, I’d found my favorite g0-to quick practice from Yoga Today, which I actually access through YouTube: Adi’s Primary Series Express.  Though I definitely prefer at least a full hour of practice, if not more, this is a really well-rounded class to do when you are pressed for time.

The Primary Series Express is a shortened version of the 90-minute Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga.  Ashtanga is a really powerful style of yoga that incorporates a lot of push ups and lift ups and jump throughs, of which the latter two I am still working on.  In case you aren’t sure what a lift up or a jump through look like, you can see examples here and here.  And no, it is not lost on me how ridiculously easy both of these yogis make it look.

Aside from a mat, yoga blocks are probably the best investment you can make for your practice–they are extremely versatile and can bring your yoga experience to a whole new level!

Oh sure, Michael Taylor, I will just bend my knees a few extra times and take a big deep breath to warm up and then I will lift myself up light as a feather.  No problem.  Except…that advice kind of helped me.  You see, recently when I practiced my jump through (using blocks under my hands of course!) I would end up majorly stubbing a toe or falling over completely.  This was strange only because I used to be able to do it (again, WITH blocks!) without much of a problem.  Something was getting in my head and I wasn’t sure what it was.  So today, after watching (…and scoffing) at these two videos, I gave it another go, taking some deep breaths before and voilà!  My legs were through.  It wasn’t pretty, but I got there, and now I can continue moving forward.  Which just shows how powerful taking a deep breath and focusing on the task at hand can be; it’s something I tell Charles all the time during school, but clearly need to work on myself.

What’s a pose that has been challenging to you?

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30-Day Challenge: Days 1 and 2

Good morning friends!

Yesterday I told you all about my 30-day challenge.  What I failed to tell you is that I officially started it on Monday!  So let me take a few minutes to fill you in on the classes I took.

Since I was in Harrisburg visiting my man-friend, I practiced at a studio called Just Plain Yoga in Camp Hill, PA that I discovered last month.  There are a bunch of yoga studios in the Harrisburg area, but I originally chose this one for the variety of classes they offer and the convenience of the schedule.  I chose to go back this week because I loved the teacher I had and everyone was so stinkin’ nice.

On Monday morning, I took their Hatha 1-2 class, which was described as an all-level “moderate to mildly dynamic” class, which was pretty accurate.  It was slow-paced in that we held each pose for a while, but by no means was it cake.  In fact, for me, having to hold poses for a long time can be extremely difficult.  That’s when the chitta vritti (sanskrit for “mind chatter” and more fondly referred to as monkey mind) really gets going.  “How much longer am I going to be here?” or “What will she make us do next?” start to get in the way of the breath and being in the moment.  During this class I tried to make a conscious effort to really focus on my breath during these long holds.  Don’t get me wrong, more than once I silently cursed our sweet teacher for keeping us in bound side angle pose for so long, but that is why yoga is a practice–because we are constantly working on it.  Overall, it was a good class–and even more noteworthy is that it was my man-friend’s first yoga class ever!  He’s taking the challenge too 🙂

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This guy seems to have triumphed over his monkey mind 🙂

On Tuesday, I went back to JPY to take their Vinyasa flow, which was the first class I took there last month.  When that first class began, I mistook the teacher’s soft-spoken directions to mean that the class was going to be easy and relaxing.  Boy was I wrong!  Anne is Ashtanga-trained, so there were tons of chaturangas and power poses throughout the class to make me sweat.  Therefore, after Monday’s slower-paced class, I was excited to switch it up a little bit.

Anne didn’t disappoint.  In addition to several rounds of Sun Salutations A and B to get the body warm and the heart pumping, she included plenty of slow 5-counts lowering into push-up, plus some core work (knee-to-elbow planks anyone?).  And as in the first class, she offered up yogi’s choice of inversion at the end of class.  My neck has been feeling pretty sore lately, so I’m abstaining from my headstand practice for the time-being (which has been quite the test for my ego, but I’ll talk about that another time); therefore I decided to work on my handstand, which I still practice against the wall.  She gave me a great tip for finding my balance in the pose: Move back a bit from the wall, kick up into handstand and find the wall with your feet.  Bend one knee so that just the big toe is touching the wall as you lift the other foot up straight.  As you continue to lift and straighten the one leg, the toe touching the wall will gradually start to come off the wall…theoretically at least.  This wasn’t a magic fix for getting my handstand away from the wall, but it did allow me to play around with the balance.  Maybe by the end of this 30 days I will break my dependency for the wall!

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If I have to be on a headstand hiatus, at least I can enjoy the cutest attempt ever!

I have yet to practice today; I had to say goodbye to the man-friend and Harrisburg at the ungodly hour of 5am (the golden hour of meditation for many yogis, but not this girl) to make it back to NYC for work.  My goal is to do a practice with Yoga Today later this evening.  Worst case I will roll out the mat for a few sun salutations before I inevitably collapse into bed tonight!

Several of you have said you will join me in the challenge.  Keep me posted on your journeys!

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