Kat Ryan’s YTT Blog
A little play on the beach @ long point
-Today is the 40th Day-
If you’ve been reading along with me over the past few months you might remember the 40 day personal yogasana practice I committed to doing as part of the Atlas Studio/Twisted Fish Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).
In case you weren’t following along, or you need a refresh:
The commitment was for all the teachers in training to design a practice for ourselves based on our “body reading”. We learned how to identify the misalignments in our posture and bodies and also used the joint freeing series (Structural Yoga Therapy book by Mukunda Stiles) to identify specific areas of our bodies where we need to stretch the tight bits and strengthen the weak bits. We could then identify the yoga postures that would work these parts of our bodies the ways that we needed.
So, the challenge was to do this sequence of postures, that maybe we don’t usually do – but we really need – and to challenge “tapas” or the discipline it takes to get to the mat – and practice the same sequence of not our favouirte postures– every day for 40- days.
This postures and sequence we built followed the Ashtanga style and the primary series (which I wasn’t too familiar with prior to this training). Ashtanga is a challenging style with postures ordered particularly.Typically each posture flows with an inhale and an exhale.
In my practice I was specifically focusing on correcting a slight ‘knock knee’, tension in the right side of my neck, and weakness in the fronts of my thighs.
For the knock knees, I needed to
stretch the adductors (specifically the gracilis – a muscle on the inner-most thigh)
strengthen the gluteus medius (or abductors, internal hip rotators)
stretch &strengthen the popliteus*
(this one took us awhile to figure out – it is not a common place to work!)
For the neck I needed to stretch the right SCM muscle and strengthen the left ( the muscle that runs along the side of the neck – the one you feel when you tilt your head toward your shoulder)
for the thigh I needed to stretch the Psoas and strengthen the gluteus maximus and hamstrings
There is more! But, that could be a lot of boring anatomy ramblings!
So, all the postures were selected to work on these specific areas that need work!
Yoga in Action!
My personal practice ran at around 40 minutes – some days it was a little longer, some days a little shorter.
And TODAY is the 40 day of that practice commitment – a milestone of sorts – I DID IT!
I actually can’t believe it has been 40 days. I’ve practiced a lot, noticed a lot, learned and experienced a lot through this practice.
Here are the “STATS”:
– Out of 40 days I did my personal practice 36 days – (1 of those days I practiced just not the personal practice) –which is pretty OK, considering in classic ashtanga teachings, yoga asana should not be practiced on full or new moons – and there were those!
– I struggled most with keeping my mind from wandering without another teacher to lead me through the sequence.
– I found my edge in practicing the same sequence everyday – spoiled yogi moment – I missed just doing whatever I want in the time I had.
– Favourite Music Mixes for my practice (I use 8 tracks a lot):
o “Yoga Mix Flowering” http://8tracks.com/rita-dertkin/yoga-mix-flowering
§ Great for a morning or evening practice, instrumental, flowy.
§ One of my very favourites – some traditional Indian beats revved up! Great for when you need to get amped up. Good for power.
o “Zen Sunrise” http://8tracks.com/m23/zen-sunrise
§ If you can handle a few lyrics in your yoga tunes – this is a really good one, some cool tunes to flow to!
o “Yoga Mix 1” – Move to this http://8tracks.com/lanahawaii/yoga-mix-i
§ Nice beats to flow to – not to fast, not to slow – not too upbeat not too down tempo – juuuuussst right J
– Most transformed postures from the first day of practice to the last:
o Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
o Upward Facing Dog (Ardo Mukha Svanasana)
o Big Toe Pose & Variations (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
– SAVASANA is still one of my most CHALLENGING postures – I always come out TOO soon.
– I most commonly would practice between 9 and 11 when Nash usually goes down for his morning nap. It’s best to practice first thing – but Nash does not get up predictably so that was difficult.
– I usually find aversion practicing in the evening. However, a few times I had to in order to get the daily practice in and I found I really liked the evening, after dinner, before bed practice. Easier to focus and great prep for relaxed sleep.
Some days when I hadn’t yet done my practice, I longed for it – some days I loathed it and wanted to avoid it as much as possible – but I didn’t.
I missed playing with all the postures I really love and am good at J I missed practicing headstands and arm balances, practicing with Meghan Currie & Kathryn Budig and trying out new practices online …
but some days I got to fit in some time with them – when I had the time.
I still kept my weekly date with Christie @ the Twisted Fish – I need a dose of her magic every week 🙂 POWER FLOW class is my favourite – always different and always a challenge. You never know what you are going to get – but you know you will work hard and that Christie will bring something to the class, whether its her words or actions and it will be just what you needed.
There is always so much work to be done. I had to check my ego at the door a few times.
I recorded myself doing my practice on this the 40 day –
I don’t use a mirror, so I never get to see myself practice, I only depend on my own ability to notice when my body is not quite in alignment or remind myself to extend through my neck or the crown of my head, or align my knee or my arm.
When I watched my practiced I noticed lots of room for improvement – but it was good for me to see.
I noticed a need to extend the cervical spine (back of neck) in my pikes from Uttanasana (Forward bend).
I need to work on engaging my arms and keeping the shoulder, elbows and wrists in line.
I still need to focus of those damn knees!
I am so inspired my Meghan Currie – I love to watch her videos of her practice. If you have ever watched one of her videos you know what I mean – and if you haven’t I will put a link to her YouTube channel Here:
I really encourage you to explore her videos and you will see she has an amazing presence.
She has made these videos just chilling in her apartment & in locations all around the world – she is magical.
I would like to record a video of me playing around somewhere cool sometime too – and I will.
But I wanted to record and share this milestone practice, the 40 day – with no extra postures or little gems that I am particularly good at (leaving the ego out of it) – just the exact sequence I practiced every day for the past 40.
I thought of neat places where I could record a practice for today, but instead I decided to be honest – to record my practice where I do this practice 98% of the time – to leave my hair a just woke up mess – to wear whatever I woke up in (which would be what I practice in usually).
Note too that I’ve never set this up before – so next time I will know better to put the camera much further away – because you can’t see the lower part of my legs or feet :/ which is too bad – but you can see my head – a lot of the time anyways 🙂 Next time in a few weeks I’ll make a better thought out attempt – I’m not re-doing this one – because, that would be a little fake – this was the 40 day, and the practice that happened in those moments.
So here I am sharing it with you all, some realness – no illusions – messy hair, dirty feet and all!
I wish I would have recorded my practice on the first day to compare, but I know how far I have come.
Oh YEAH and this happened too:
Yoga Teacher Training round TWO
I can’t believe it was LAST weekend already that we had the second round of teacher training.
Again, it was four days (Friday-Monday) from 6am till 630 pm- some early, long, full days of learning invaluable life lessons. You learn fairly quickly, I think, that yoga lessons are life lessons. The weekend began Friday morning at 6 am at the BEACH with Christie.
The YTT’s and a few other yogis joined the beach session. I have never done yoga in the sand on the beach – 6 am at the beach is a pretty awesome time & place. I love the colours and the quiet sounds of the waves and the gulls 🙂 pure sweetness.
Christie led us through an Ashtanga practice – classic postures, without frills.
It was HARD to do yoga in the sand – the sand is moving around as you are moving around – a new challenge. And you better not have an aversion to a sandy mat if you are practicing on the beach!
Practice followed by the necessary COFFEE and check in.
We then were able to observe and/or play during Christie’s GENTLE YOGA class.
I used to take this class twice a week when I was pregnant. It is an awesome class, makes you feel really good and it is obvious from the FULL studio, that others think so as well. It made me realize I need a little more gentle in my life – instead of being a power junkie!
Anatomy was the focus of this weekend – learning alllll about the human body- all about all the bones, muscles, bodily structures and functions and systems (nervous, digestive) and how they work together, how they work with us, our lives and with yoga. Anyone who has studied human anatomy knows how wide this subject spans – I mean the human body is a pretty intense working of some complex systems that have very different structures and functions that seem to work together in just the right way to enable us to be and move in the incredible ways that we do.
To learn we need to do the book work – the readings, the diagrams, etc. We also need to SEE and DO. To learn as yoga teachers, we do a posture and identify which muscles are working (stretching or strengthening) and the proper alignments of bones. We also learn how to modify postures for those who need it – maybe there is a back problem, an injury, high blood pressure – we need to know how we can make it accessible and safe for everyone.
In yoga we can stimulate the nervous system, circulatory system and digestive systems and stretch and/or strengthen nearly every part of the body – in just one practice. In a 75 minute practice you could manage to touch every part of your body, inside and out and do some extreme good. An added bonus – you will probably walk away from your mat with a smile on your face.
Throughout the weekend we were able to observe and partake in lots of yoga. On top of our every morning Ashtanga practice, we were able to observe and/or flow with Denise as she led both a gentle class and a power class on Saturday and the lovely Mandy led a class for beginners on Sunday. Christie led a community yoga class at the Simcoe Friendship Festival on Monday too – a nice outdoors class with some Twisted Yogi’s in attendance!
Check out the studio schedule (click), there is really something for every person in every body.
It was really good to both do and see yoga this weekend. It’s two different experiences to do yoga and to observe yoga. It was good as a prospective teacher to really see how detailed a class can be – I learned when I tried to write down all the cues Denise was giving during a class! Wow! & My body felt the work of all the different types of yoga each morning when I woke up (and the effects of sitting on the floor of the yoga studio day after day).
So, coming out of the weekend we learned A LOT about the human body and have the task of learning, understanding and applying all this new body knowledge.
This is how to make a really good yoga teacher – one that really understands all the bodies he/she will encounter. This makes safe, effective yoga. It’s a lot of work – but I am so happy to be in a program that emphasizes this part of being a yoga teacher the way it does.
Now I talked earlier about the culmination of my 40 day practice. WAIT, there is more.
We are still to practice daily – but we can change up our practice, while keeping those postures that we really need in order to work our bodies, but learning from our 40 days about what we should change and what we need more of.
AND NOW WE ADD… Dun-dadadadaaaaa
Pranayama & Meditation Challenge!
My next post I will get into Pranayama and Mediation more – and update on how I am doing on the challenge, but a quickie on pranayama and meditation:
Pranayama is the fourth limb in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and in the simplest terms it is the Breath –but it is a little more involved than that.
The word prana, literally means “primary or vital air”
Yes, we breathe all the time – constantly in fact, it IS OUR LIFE – without breathing, we would be dead. It is important.
In yoga we focus on breath a lot – “breath awareness”- we always move with the breath, come back to the breath and begin and end our practice with focused breathing. If you can do nothing else in a yoga class, JUST BREATHE (this is true when you find yourself in any situation in life – take a deep breath).
In a yoga class you will often be instructed to breathe into a certain part of your body, or to watch your breath. You might think it is intuitive – to know how to breath, but every person, every yogi must “learn” how to breath. ( and yes, there is an anatomy of breathing)
This is a very important teaching.
Check out this link on Pranayama:
There are many types and practices of pranayama, to name a few:
Diaphragmatic and abdominal breathing
Wave motion breathing ( i Love)
Complete yoga breath
Ujjaye Pranayama (that darth vader sounding breath)
I am working with the Kapalbhati breath – or the skull shining breath. This is a deep, sharp exhale out through the nose as the core contracts –you don’t actively inhale – it will just happen.
I am committing to do this breathing exercise for 3 minutes for now (which is around 6 cycles of 30 breaths at a moderate pace). It’s harder than you think. I find myself breaking a sweat – I know… breaking a sweat breathing seems strange…. or maybe just cool.
Part II is the MEDITATION practice. Meditation is really just a practice of calming and silencing the mind – and then it can get deeper with different meditation techniques. But to start – it is just calming and silencing that busy mind of yours! (and mine too!)
Meditation is difficult for me – obviously, if Savasana is one of my biggest challengers, meditation would be too.
There are all types of meditation techniques one can use. Anything from breath awareness exercises (bringing in that pranayama I mentioned above) to candle gazing, visualizations, again, I will get into these next post – you can learn alllll about it, as I do.
It really is JUST BEING for a few minutes a day – why is this so difficult? Just to turn it all off for a few moments?
If you think of how much TV you watch, or time you spend on facebook – you probably have ten or even just five short minutes of time to sit and breathe and think of … nothing at all. It would probably be good for all of us just to take this time, just to learn how to create calmness internally.
This came up on my Facebook feed yesterday – and I clicked it – Love this:
“6 Lazy Ways to Get Happier, Sexier, Healthier, Richer”
(you know you would have clicked it too! 🙂 )
So, I have been meditating for 6 minutes after my morning practice since last weekend I am working on using the complete yoga breath meditation – some days I’ve been focused, and actually meditating (perhaps)- but the journey will continue – I’m figuring it out.
So to sum it up – I finished my 40 day personal practice commitment and we had a great second yoga teacher training weekend at Twisted Fish with Denise! – learned so much, over filling with information. Getting to know the human body and the yoga body is a cool little trip – getting to know yourself and the people you are with 13 hours a day is even cooler 🙂 A few more weeks and lots more work and we will be back at it again!
Next week I will post more about Pranayama and Meditation, I’m looking forward to learning more as I look into writing this post!
Oh, and here is my little recipe for this post – I ate this every morning for breakfast during the YTT weekend 2:
Chia Banana Porridge
This delicious little mash is great for when you have to be somewhere early in the morning and need something to take on the go.
– Mason Jar (I used a 500 mL)
– 1 mashed banana
– 2 tbsp chia seed
– big scoop of plain 0% greek yogurt
– Unsweetened almond milk (I don’t know how much I used, maybe 1 cup, use less if you want it really thick )
**Optionals: cinnamon, honey, pumpkin seeds, strawberries, blueberries, peaches (whatever fruit you choose)
Just toss the mashed banana in the mason jar, in goes the chia seeds, yogurt, almond milk and shake shake shake!
I threw some fresh strawberries from our garden on top one day, some cinnamon and blueberries another.
Leave it in the fridge overnight and in the morning the chia seeds will have expanded and you will have a nice cool porridge that is sweet and delicious – not to mention AMAZING for you.
Try out different variations of this and see what you like!
So there it is! My little contribution for this time around! Now, I’m working on a display about the benefits of yoga for the twisted fish window (Nash and I playing with bristol board … he likes the crumpled up pieces! 🙂
! Next time will be all about Pranayama and Mediation – – – It should be good – read along!
I encourage all you yogi’s out there to challenge yourself like we did in the 40 day asana challenge and now with pranayama and meditation!
Take part in a 30 day challenge at a studio maybe – have the support of a group – do it with a friend. Try and see what happens.
Or maybe yoga every day doesn’t work for you
10 minutes is do able for everyone – just breath – or meditate – or sit and smile, that works too.
Until Next Time,
Sending out Peace,
Kat: Posted on July-20-13 1:05 PM