Learned another great tip from Harshada at Abhaya last night:
If your legs start to fall asleep during meditation, switch to Baddha Konasana (Butterfly / Cobbler Pose) for a minute. Press the soles of the feet together. That should return some blood flow to the legs and wake them up.
Last night’s meditation built on Tara’s class about the three focal points: at the perineum, the heart, and the roof of the mouth. For each pose, the focal point is the one bearing most of the weight (usually lowest in space). So standing poses are focused on the pelvis, arm balances are focused on the heart, inversions are focused on the soft palette (generally). Tara had us imagine an egg at each one (as a symbol of rebirth, for Easter), drawing the muscular energy to this point and then opening away from it. Harshada had us silently repeat the syllable Ram at each one, slowly raising the vibration from the base of the spine into the skull. It was like sinking into a warm bath; super hypnotic.
Tara Glazier, the brilliant anatomy and philosophy teacher I am lucky enough to study regularly with, is leading a retreat to Costa Rica next month. I just booked my ticket! There are some budget spots left — only $900 to share a beach cabana — as well as some larger, gorgeous rooms with pools and things for $1700–$2200. She’ll be accompanied by James Bae, a healer and acupuncturist.
The days will be filled with two complete Asana practices, meditation, breath work, and individual healing sessions with James where he integrates his knowledge of Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, yoga therapeutics, and acupuncture. Three organic, whole food meals will be provided daily. There is the option to take part in the many activities the Osa provides such as surfing, bird watching, rainforest hiking, waterfall tours, or simply relaxing in a hammock near the beach.
I can’t recommend Tara highly enough; she’s translated the sometimes murky language of Anusara into real benefits in my yoga practice. She corrected the habits that were causing my sciatic pain, and has totally reshaped poses like Pigeon, Down Dog, and Handstand so that I’m feeling secure and healthy in all my joints. If you’re a seasoned yoga practitioner, you’ll learn a lot of great details; if you’re newer, you’ll learn them correctly. And I am always impressed by her ability to dish out complex Indian philosophy without losing the rhythm of sequencing at all.
Student: Why do I feel like I’m pulling my shoulder out if its socket? [in Visvamitrasana]
Tara: You might be!
This wake-up call drew a big round of laughter from the class. It’s easy to forget that the asanas are serious challenges for the body. (She went on to explain that we need to draw the shoulder strongly back into its socket to counteract the force of the leg.)
I’m still chewing on an idea from yoga this morning, a delicious treat. Even better than weekend pastries.
Tara Glazier, the owner of Abhaya Yoga in Dumbo, was teaching us the concept of arm spirals. (It’s an alignment refinement she said she just figured out last week, after 10 years of practice.) We would internally rotate the arms, rounding the shoulders, to feel the width across the upper back, the spreading between the shoulder blades, and the expansion of the breath in the back of the body.
On Friday I stopped through Dumbo on my way home. A friend was having a party in her workspace there, and my can’t-make-it excuse (“I’m supposed to go to yoga”) held no water once she informed me that her office had a yoga studio ON THE SAME FLOOR. So, 6:30 yoga; 8:00 party it was. ($10 new student specials help with spontaneity.)
Abhaya Yoga just opened last week. It’s the only yoga studio in Dumbo, so it’s a welcome addition to the beautiful waterfront. (They lead free classes in the park at 2pm Saturdays.) The views from 10 Jay Street are ridiculous, so I was excited to test my focus against them.