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Having Trouble Practicing? Yoga Goals.

I hit another dry spell, just four classes in two weeks. (I usually do a bit of stretching and meditating in the mornings, but my asanas were being neglected.) I did two home practices, but they petered into staring at the wall, and not in a meditative way. I’ve started the Yoga Anatomy and Application of Breath-Centered Yoga classes on Wednesdays, so I have all this great new information to explore, but I have just not been excited to move.

When I get out of my practice habit, all sorts of justifications and confused rationalizations arise. Like, isn’t walking a meditation anyways? I walk a lot! Aren’t asanas just intended to clear the mind for meditation? I meditate! Yoga is not just asanas, and I keep up the other parts, so aren’t I still practicing yoga? It’s like when I am so far past needing a haircut that I tell myself it’s actually a new, shaggy layered cut that looks really good. (Photos eventually advise me this is not the case.) Plus, I’m trying to stop doing things I think I should do, and start doing things I really want to do. (It’s my secret plan for growing up.) And yoga (asana practice) is in this weird place where I love doing it, but I don’t often want to do it. I used to practice very very athletically, and I think there’s all that memory of stress and strain that’s off-putting. Or I’m just laaaaaaaa-zyyyyyyyyyy. (And my boyfriend was living here for a week! It’s all his fault!)

Actually, I don’t have a regular lifestyle right now, and that’s probably the real root. Each day is different, each week is different, which means there’s a lot more decisions to make. And opportunities to skip. When I committed to Julianna’s Wednesday morning class, I went every week. The commitment got me out of bed when I didn’t want to get up, and gradually created positive associations for doing so.

But then I’ve had this whole other drama of wanting to practice on my own. I used to teach the morning classes at Om Factory, and it was usually just me and Fara (the owner), so I got to teach whatever I felt like each day, and practice too. It was the best. I had to show up, since I was teaching, but it ended up being this sweet buddy practice where I came up with a million new vinyasa routines. So obviously I do more when someone is watching me, but of course what matters is what you do when nobody is looking…

I got a good tip from Ariel (my new favorite teacher, why have I not blogged about him yet? Another Laughing Lotus expatriate, he and Julianna are the best and although this blog purports to be about good classes, I have not posted about either of them. Looks like I’m trying to hog them for myself). I told him I was having trouble practicing vinyasa at home, and I was wondering if I should keep trying to go with the flow, or go back to more of a set sequence. He said that when he started practicing at home, he would think of a pose he wanted to get into, and then think how he needed to prepare the body to get into it: open the hips, square the hips, etc., and then write that down.

So, I’m going to think a little bit further ahead. I get so “be here now” with all the present-moment focus of meditation, that I forget that it’s okay to be goal-oriented. I have been approaching my home practices one pose at a time, “how do I feel right now and which pose should come next,” instead of “which pose do I feel like doing, and how am i going to get there,” — acknowledging the preparatory work that is needed. The stream-of-consciousness flow can come later, not in the difficult opening minutes.

And, I’m going to try to commit to a regular time. (Note that I can’t even commit to saying “I commit” yet.) 4pm has been good lately; it’s when I hit my afternoon work slump, and there are a lot of teacher-focused (or cheap/community) classes then if I decide to go out for class. Plus, I read that Vatas (and people with sleep disorders) do better practicing in the evening, since it clears their minds for sleep. Finally I can let go of my guilt at not doing the almighty morning practice!

I guess the biggest lesson for me here is that while it’s good to keep a sense of perspective, there’s help to be found if you look for it.

Back in the Sub-addle Again

The south studio at Om Factory
The south studio at Om Factory

I’m subbing a class this weekend at Om Factory! I haven’t taught there in months, and I’ve been missing the wonderful people and space (tho everyone will be away at a Fire Island retreat, natch).

The space is definitely one of the nicest in New York; Fara (the owner) is an architect and he designed it all. There are two large studios, a library and a kitchen. The quiet hum of sewing machines continues no matter what the hour, from garment shops throughout the building, but we just pretend it’s the ocean.

Mark your calendar:
Saturday, 9:30am–11:00am
Open-level Vinyasa
265 W 37th St, 17th floor

Yoga Log

I’ve quit my day job and started this yoga log. I’ve been practicing yoga about 7 years now, and it’s still hard to keep up a regular practice sometimes. Mine has evolved considerably according to my lifestyle, job, diet, and location.

When I first moved to New York it was strongly athletic, very fast paced (Bikram, Ashtanga, and Atmananda) — those were the only classes that really seemed to clear my stress. Kundalini also provided a fun alternative. Later, I wanted to slow down and study the poses in a bit more detail, so I tried Iyengar, Sivananda and more traditional Hatha. Now I’m back to Vinyasa and Kundalini. The current goal is to alternate Vinyasa days (sweat, stretch, strengthen, shine) with Kundalini or Pilates days (core and gland balance) or restorative sessions as desired. There’s a lot to say on each of these styles but I will address each one later.

There are a few somewhat unrelated blogs that have inspired this effort. Half of Me, Dress a Day, Jane in Progress… It’s amazing how a simple story from someone’s daily life can inspire your own. Monkey see, monkey do. So I thought a blog might help me practice more, help me notice more about my own practice, and provide ideas for anyone else out there trying to live a healthier life, or to use yoga for transformation.

Yogi Bhajan (the man who brought Kundalini yoga to the West, and who can be seen on the Yogi Tea boxes) said that women should break a sweat every day. I think it’s true, and for everyone.

This is kind of a cheesy entry but it’s a start.