It’s day 12 and I am feeling pretty sore. Yesterday, I was also sore. I had to force myself to go to the 9:30am class at Hot & Soul Yoga and getting there wasn’t easy. It actually crossed my mind to just simply say I went to my am class without actually going. A very un-yogic thought! In the end, I couldn’t just lie about it, it’s not only lying to our LBG fans, but it’s lying to myself as well. So I sucked it up, tight hamstrings, back pain and all I and went.
Naturally, I felt fabulous when I was finished. This is the reminder I need to give myself today and every day until 30, no matter how sore you are, you will always feel better when you leave the class. This little revelation got me thinking about the things that I’ve learned and need to share so far in this journey.
1. Never forget water and food and find your balance! As a yoga teacher and holistic health coach, I’m pretty aware of keeping my body nourished and hydrated. Sweating in a hot yoga class takes that to a whole other level. As much water as you think you need, drink more. Don’t eat or drink too much before class, but be sure to not drink too little! Remember to eat as well as hydrate after. If you end up with a migraine, your blood sugar may be low. Eat some fruit, drink juice and drink more water!
2. Traffic in Jersey sucks. A day in the life of Live. Breathe. Grow. usually involves a lot of travel. We drive between southern shore points to central Jersey to western and northern jersey on a daily basis. Squeezing in yoga classes all over the state doesn’t make it any easier. On Monday we went from Red Bank to Woodbridge…attempting to take a 9:30am class in Livingston. We didn’t make the class (traffic) so we bumped up our 1pm meeting in Jersey City and Hoboken to 10am and decided to take the the noon class in Livingston. Missed the 12pm (traffic from Hoboken to Livingston) and finished off meetings in Westfield. Attempted to take a 6pm class at Colts Neck Hot Yoga and missed it (traffic) so Nancy and I finished the day off at separate studios at a 7:45pm class.
Music when used, is important. I am open to practice to all kinds of music but Maggie Mae by Rod Stewart during savasana is NOT ok. While I prefer my quiet hatha classes, as a Soul Sweat teacher the rockin play list is an integral part of the class. When I put together a play list for my Soul Sweat classes, or any practice for that matter I am acutely aware of the music I thread together. I am aware of it’s energy, the lyrics, the rhythm of the flow. I thread the songs together completely cognizant of the affect and effect it will have on my students. Lyrics and tempo make a difference. I don’t put my favorite songs on shuffle. Savasana is important, in fact, the most important pose in any yoga class. Settling down is impossible when you’re listening to a rocking 70s love ballad. Yoga teachers of the world, I beg you be as mindful about your play list as you are when piecing asanas together for your class!
4. It’s not easy getting to yoga classes. (See also, lesson 1). We all lead busy lives. I’ve realized that no matter how busy my schedule is, not matter how many classes I teach, there’s no excuse for letting my personal practice slide. However little time you have, there is always space for a yoga practice. Creating space for a yoga practice 2-3 times a week is a piece of cake compared to making it to class every day!
5. Hot Yoga is sweaty and sweaty is good. There’s a certain satisfaction leaving a class dripping wet. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something. Sweating flushes out toxins, helps our skin shed dead cells and it makes you glow. My skin has never felt softer, more supple or more clear. Who needs to pay for a facial when you can go to a hot yoga class and get a great work out too?
6. The mirror is your best friend and your worst enemy. Some studios have mirrors, some dont. Some teachers tell you to focus on the mirror, some tell you to avoid it. Which is correct? Neither and both. I have a love hate relationship with the mirror. When it’s there, my internal critic won’t shut up. When it’s gone, I long for it wondering if my alignment is where it needs to be. The true challenge is to have the ability to look in the mirror without your internal critic and to see the beauty that is reflected back at you, without the supposed flaws.
7. Your practice will ebb and flow. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you felt yesterday, how solid your practice was compared to today or what progress you’re making. Each day you come to the mat is a new day. Ask yourself, how am I feeling in this very moment? That is where you are and that is perfect.
8. Honor your body, always. Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. Yoga teachers are there to guide you in that union. If you’re in a class and something doesn’t feel right for your body, honor that. There have been days in this challenge where my body simply could not do all 26 Bikram postures, or where I simply couldn’t flow through another surya namaskar vinyasa and I am sure there will be more. In those times, I felt no remorse for not “keeping up with” the class. I have had teachers say, “push through it” don’t “cheat” the posture. For me, there is no cheating in a posture, there is just me, listening to what my body needs and what I can handle. Modifications, blocks and props are your friends. They are not the easy way out. They help you develop and improve your asana and honor where you are in the moment. Honor your body, where you are, always.
9. Everyone is a beginner. Even the most seasoned practitioner or teacher has something to learn. I began my yoga journey at the age of 19. I have done 2, 200 hour trainings and well over 200 hours of additional workshops and trainings since 2001. I am a beginner. It’s important to come to your mat each time as a beginner, curious and open to something new. Each teacher and every class has something new to offer. The biggest mistake we can make is that we know more than everyone else in the room or that there isn’t something more to learn.
10. Your core is the key to your strength. As a teacher, I understand that the strength of your core is the key to almost every asana, and maybe life. I don’t just mean the beauty of flat belly and the strength of 6-pack abs. Yes, a strong core will allow you to tackle asanas like pincha mayurasana, but your core is more than physical strength. Your core is your emotional strength as well, It’s where your desire, laughter, joy, goals, passion and intensity reside. It’s the fire in your belly. A strong center will guide you through any challenge, physically and emotionally.
We’re almost half way through! I can’t wait to see what will unfold in the next 18 days!