Archive for October, 2011

Raw Recipes


One Badass s blade, nuts, organic chocolate, dates, gogi berries = my first attempt at raw!  Plus student Eric gave me more home made kraut. So fun. 

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I always blamed my lack of ability to get into lotus as merely being due to tight piriformis so I worked on a lot of pigeons and seated poses with deep external rotation with some results. However, recently I found part of the reason was the tight IT band. It is that sheath of fascia in the picture that runs all along the outside of the knee and below it.

I assumed my tight knees were due to the meniscus tears and no doubt my long recovery from that and my limited range of motion did tighten up my knees but now that I work a lot in this area I am starting to see results. VERY SLOWLY.

I have been reading about IT band syndrome which is prevalent in a lot of runners and bikers. I find that when I bike a lot this area does tighten up. Since it is very WHITE tissue, it takes extra long to stretch.

Luckily you can pretty much work into this daily through yoga and stretching. I have been working on this for at least 15 minutes a day, along with the knee work I am doing to unbind my knees. It is taking a LONG TIME however. You have to be patient. The hip rotators open much quicker being softer tissue.

Yin type of stretching works the best. A lot of people think Yin is yoga for pussies but I disagree. It is HARD and INTENSE if you are working into your struggle areas. I have seen people shake and tremble in long Yin holds. If you are a wet noodle as far as flexibility then I suppose you wouldn’t feel too much but I haven’t really seen any one like that yet in yoga. Almost everyone has some struggle point, even if they aren’t aware.

This morning I was sitting in gomukhasana before the power flow class I attended started and I was at the point of pain pretty quickly just sitting there. It was a good warm up for movement though and I felt pretty good once we moved into down dog.

Anyway I will be focusing on this for a the next few days in my power flow with some new ideas. Opening this way can lead you into other delightful deep poses.

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Yesterday, almost every yoga blog and yoga studio linked to this article on CNN about the benefits of yoga/stretching for back pain and issues.

Whoa. Hold on there a bit. I think people just read the first few paragraphs because if you are trying to reinforce yoga as a practice beneficial just read the WHOLE ARTICLE and it says people who experience back pain should avoid vinyasa or power yoga. That seems pretty harsh but the article in general suggests that incorporating yoga/stretching at the appropriate level and with a knowledgeable instructor.

For a practitioner with back pain, it is imperative that they specifically address the type of back pain they have if they are approaching a yoga class for the first time. They should be specific about the place of the pain and what it stems from. If they have an injury or have had surgery, they should tell the teacher. A knowledgeable teacher should be able to give modifications or suggestions for practice that focus on the specific issue. For example, a student with a herniated disc should be given specific modifications and they would differ from another student with a compromised SI joint.

If the teacher tells you to ‘just don’t do it if it hurts’ or ‘be compassionate to your back’, that is good advise but not enough. Especially if the student is trying out vinyasa or power flow at the beginner level.

I don’t necessarily feel that vinyasa or power flow are bad for the back pain student, but they should probably avoid a class that moves fast. If they are able to find someone to give them modifications to use in class, it is more likely they won’t be mindful in a fast class. In a slower paced class, they can practice with the modifications as a priority.

It is probably best to try a private yoga class once or twice before venturing to learn to work within the limits of your injury/pain. That would be true for any injury. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the yoga teacher doesn’t have a specific answer, they more than likely know someone who does and can refer you to a teacher who has worked a lot with specific issues with back pain. A lot of yoga teachers themselves have issues with the back and that may have been what brought them to yoga.

Most important do your homework and read the WHOLE article.

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Practicing Stillness


I am not avoiding my blog but have been busy with Inner Fire Yoga teacher trainees.  We had a great weekend.  I am so impressed with their growth and passion for yoga.  Aren’t they cute?
Look for a longer post tomorrow.

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My week has been a success. I developed a long INTERMEDIATE to ADVANCED backbend flow. It is long though. I will teach part tomorrow.

The one I am working on is more shoulders though.

I cleaned and got the new food processor working and made my own pie crust and cherry pie for my husband.

I worked on diving osprey. My hips, however, need a break. I did a lot of biking. I developed five full classes for each of the first five chakras.

So right now am finishing the backbend sequence and will decide what to teach tomorrow and Saturday. I have a LOT of good stuff. I should definitely retire from my day job.

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Today’s Pose

Um. Okay. Much more difficult than it looks. I always figure anything on a tripod is not too difficult. It was fun trying it though. Super hilarious. I love it when people will try anything. I tried some methods of support and that helped. Walls. Blocks.

I get how to get into it too so that is a start. Anyone can start from some form of runners lunge. In order to have an open body you do have to open your mind up to some level of possibility. Even if it IS impossible. Just being open to trying.

So fun.

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I am on staycation this week and can catch up on yoga blogging. Staycation is long bike rides this week (the weather is great), long asana sessions, a little yoga working, longer meditation practice, and long resting. I slept until past seven and was DEEP in dreamland and subconscious before I woke up.

This is what I am working on today:

That is Ana Forrest, of course, and she calls this pose Diving Osprey. My work is to figure how to warm up, and prepare for it. So I will work on that this week. Here is a picture of Cat, one of Ana’s senior teachers doing the pose:

I think that is an interesting angle. I am sure they both move this into an arm balance but I want to work towards the pose. I am at the point of sort of getting my head behind my ankle or ankle behind my head and this doesn’t have a lot of external hip rotation so it is doable.

I haven’t looked this pose up yet to find the Sanskrit equivalent but Ana is really great about making up new poses. Yoga is so organic and changing these days that the possibilities are endless. I am sure there is some form of this but since it is a form of standing forward bend I don’t know. If I look in Iyengar I am going to bet this is an ankle behind the neck without the lifted leg. It is more derivative of needle and tripod headstand. Still mulling this one.

Other than that I have a new bird in the backyard I am trying to entice. A huge bluejay is back there. The other birds seem a little scared but he is too big for the feeder. He might move on so am trying to find unsalted peanuts in the shell to entice him.

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Driving Too Fast

Just got back from Milwaukee. Was I driving too fast or did I see that right? jobsinwisconsin.com/walker/gofuckyourself?????????

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A practice can be balanced within the framework of an individual practice or over time. Normally over the course of 3 or 4 days in my own practice and in teaching, I balance it all out. My backbend days are over an hour and up to two hours. That doesn’t mean two hours of urdhva dhanurasana, it means warming up and cooling down from deeper backbends. Hips openers could be another day.

This morning was abs and inversions. I will also practice standing poses and arm balances later today.

As far as abs, there are many approaches you can take. Abs can be worked every day. I love nauli:

It is actually a cleansing practice but how much deeper in your abs can you get. The above uddiyana bandha is gorgeous. You can do crunches. But. I am just saying. My nauli looks NOTHING like this or my uddiyana but the work is there. I also do Ana Forrest ab work, elbow to knee, abs with a mat. Torture. Torture. Torture.

You need the heat and strength to do this:

Practicing abs and upside downs in the morning makes sense. It builds heat. It wakes you up and it balances you so you are not all in the abs but you aren’t all in the upsides downs. I switch off to give my arms a break. I also did some deep lunge and leg work to invert with strong and not weak cold legs.

So later, bike ride. Long bike ride. It is so gorgeous out on the country but I have to be careful because the huge farm machinery is OUT there on the country roads. Some of them are as wide as the road. The other day I saw a HUGE EAGLE. I see hawks all the time. I can probably look out my window NOW and see one any second. And of course there is the predator that lives in the back yard that stalks my bird feeder.

If he ever takes my Screech bird, I am afraid there is not forgiveness. However, the cardinal is a little big for the hawk to grab and eat. The Joan drive through bird feeder.

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If It Isn’t Hard

It probably isn’t worth much and EVERYONE would be doing it. I have said this before and will say it again. I have NEVER regretted doing the difficult thing even if it means failing or merely not displaying the thing I am learning or struggling with in the best light.

I also ALWAYS finish what I start even if it means trudging through it with fear, self-doubt, and/or comparing myself to someone who was on the same path but was showing more success in their efforts. The winning comes…in FINISHING. Not quitting. Quitting, whining, and feeling sorry for myself SUCKS.

When I went to my 500 hour yoga teacher training we worked every day for two weeks for 13 hours a day. We were tired. We complained. But the group I was with stuck it out and looking back I realize how remarkable the experience was. I met some amazing yogis, had several amazing teachers (Shar Lee) the best yoga teacher EVER. I leaned to meditate. And I worked with women TRUELY on the path of their SPIRIT and they were the epitome of the example of love, compassions, giving, and true SELFLESSNESS.

But it was hard. I was so tired many times I did not know if I would last. But I did. Recently I looked back at the journal I kept at that time and realized how much I have grown.

The hardest training I did was the Ana Forrest Advanced Teacher Training. For nine days we practiced advanced asana almost four hours a day plus practice while someone practice their teaching delivery. I was expected to try things I was NOT comfortable with and I was definitely way over my head. WAY OVER.

Also, I did not know anyone there. I had a great room mate and Ana’s staff was remarkable but some of the trainees, one in particular, was very MEAN to me as in a seventh grade way. It was hard and I wanted to quit. Because I did not quit I learned more about strength and spirit from Ana then I ever imagined and now a year later. I am fearless. Seriously. Three weeks ago I had someone threaten my life in a very serious and scary way. Long story. (One of my cars was stolen – ENUF SAID) My response. Bring it. Because you can’t have fear from me. Nope. Dude still knows where I live. Big lesson for car thieves. DON’T steal a car with ONSTAR.

To live any other way is living to way less than your full potential. I know now I can go to any yoga training, using that as an example of fearlessness since this IS a yoga blog, and I will NEVER have to worry about facing anything as hard as the Forrest Advanced Training. I am quite certain of that. BUT, I could be wrong.

Plus it moved my practice up to a level NOW a year later plus what I learned from the teacher training that I certainly would NOT want to have missed.

I work pretty hard in my practice, but also do not feel like you need to kick your booty EVERY DAY. As a matter of fact, I think that is a BAD idea. Yesterday I did a sixty minute hip opener at home, most on the floor and my hips and knees feel GREAT today. AND I learned a new yoga pose to help my knees. It is kind of a goal pose. I actually have improved over the past two months SO much with my knee focus that this pose is doable at some point and will FEEL so good in the low back.

Usually when I find myself mentally resisting something, a pose or whatever, I find it isn’t about the pose at all. I am displaying something about my emotional state. When I was young I had a LOT of people tell me I couldn’t do things and it would break me down. Now when someone even SUGGESTS it, I find it funny. I realize they are talking about themselves. HUGE BREAKTHROUGH. If you try to keep up I will just RUN FASTER.

Going for a bike ride later. We are experiencing BEAUTIFUL early October weather this week so a few last bike rides for me.

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