Session 2

November 18-20, 2011

With nearly a month since our first session together, I was eager to jump into Session 2. In just a month’s time, winter had arrived and we funnel onto our backjack, pillow, yoga mat, blanket to being our 3 days together.

7am on Friday, we open with kirtan and meditation. The kirtan we practice includes repeating a chant or mantra together while making a side-to-side motion with our feet and bodies. This particular morning, I enjoyed warming up with the kirtan and noticed how much more grounded the room felt after we sang and moved. I am also grateful for these transition times that allow for a gentle arrival. Kinda like the way a good yoga class draws the yogi more acutely into the present moment.

Later that morning, we discuss our experiences participating in yoga classes in our communities. I am fascinated to find so many venues for class: health club, community center, small home studio, large corporate yoga studio, spiritual centers…  Each person had a slightly different perspective on their class:  music was too loud, teacher had their eyes closed most of the class, no spiritual element incorporated, an out of place “ohm” in the middle of class, English name of the pose used in place of Sanskrit… While our experiences were varied, what we all shared was the opportunity to practice yoga with others, which is truly a gift.

The sharing is rich and I realize that my strengths lie in creating a healing space for people whereas my challenge will be to remember the Sanskrit name, for example. I will also be studying on how to provide ample instruction, including benefits and contraindications, but not too much. There are others in class that will excel in other ways. I trust that the right students for me will arrive, just as I have found a particular teacher’s style to reasonate with me.

In the last month, I notice that my food cravings have changed. The ashram recommends a sattvic diet, one devoid of meat, mushrooms, garlic and onions. I have given up eating beef, something I did for many years in college after seeing a cow slaughtered. This change has been coming for awhile, though the deal was sealed after watching the movie “King Corn”.  Crazy truth about the “corn” grown in my birth state of Iowa and the devastating effects of a culture that relies on corn syrup and cheap to market beef.

For the past 2 years, I have given up a favorite food. The first trial year I gave up bacon, something I savored to eat on many weekends. I found while I missed it, I treasured the choice I was making to be more conscious of the food I was putting into my body. After the year was up, I find I rarely eat bacon now and when I do it is such a treat. The next year, I picked potatoe chips since I could eat a whole bag and feel miserable as a result. I just have zero willpower. This includes “pop chips” yum, anything that is made out of potatoes basically. Corn chips I voted in and snack on them occasionally. 2012 is the year of no beef, though I haven’t eaten it since my 40th birthday on November 4, 2011. Head start 🙂

One of the benefits of Sahaj yoga is practing advanced breathing techniques. Unlike many other systems, the breath is held on the exhalation up to 8 counts, for advanced practitioners. The breathe should never be strained. I am enjoying this practice and notice that when I am dehydrated, tired, or just a bit out of sorts I am not able to hold the exhalation as long.  Those moments are an opportunity to have patience and compassion for myself, knowing I am exactly where I need to be.

We had the opportunity to study bones and muscles with a guest teacher, Deborah. She is a yoga teacher as well as an anatomy enthusiast! Much of this was review for me, muscle contraction and extension, agonist and antagonist but not in the context of yoga postures. Later in the weekend, we learned about the esoteric body or the chakra system.

One of the last teachings for the weekend includes forming sequences for a class. This is a rich discussion and a million possible combinations. We talk about the various elements of a complete yoga class and how to alot time for warm-up, “apex” and cool down.

We complete each day with kirtan and meditation. I notice for myself that I can fluctuate between totally engrossed in my meditation to being totally bored, tired, and impatient. Sometimes in the same day, and I have practicing meditation for many years! I suppose that is why they call it a practice.

Namaste.

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