Photo credits to the Breitenbush website, from which I "borrowed" these pictures, since I did not bring a camera with me on the retreat.
I'm not sure where to start with how wonderful the yoga retreat was. Three days of yoga, soaking in hot springs, eating gluten-free vegan meals made mostly from organic veggies grown at Breitenbush, journaling, hiking, meditating, meeting new people and also having plenty of solitude. The schedule was: meditation and pranayama from 7 to 8 a.m., breakfast at 8, yoga from 10 to 1, lunch at 1, yoga from 4 to 6, dinner at 6. Then I soaked in the evening.
I learned a lot about my body, for example I think a lot of my chronic lower back pain is due to weakness in my outer hip muscles (gluteus medius) and stiffness in my upper back. Now I have exercises and postures to help with both of these issues, and I'm optimistic about my prospects for less lower back pain in the future.
Monday, July 27, 2009
In one week I'll embark on my first yoga retreat: four days and three nights at Breitenbush Hot Springs. I can't wait! So what does this picture of a Starbuck's coffee cup have to do with a yoga retreat? Well, I know from a previous trip to Breitenbush that they don't serve coffee. It's fine to bring your own, which is what I planned to do, but yesterday I decided to bite the bullet, detox from caffeine this week, and be caffeine-free for the retreat. So today is day two of detox. I'm tired and headachy, but it's not the end of the world. Mainly I'm excited, and more than a bit apprehensive, about my first yoga retreat. I know what to expect regarding the location: beautiful hot springs, wooded acres, cozy cabins, hearty vegetarian food, and an off-the-grid, get-away-from-it-all, restorative vibe. But a yoga retreat: six hours of yoga the first two days, four hours on the third day! Can I do it?
Friday, July 10, 2009
I prefer my yoga instruction to be live and in person, for the same reasons as most people: personalized feedback and adjustments, class energy, etc. But it's not always possible, and my self-led practice can get a bit stale. Lately I've been impressed by the (free!) Yoga Journal Podcasts featuring Jason Crandell. He has an effective way of communicating about alignment that I appreciate a lot. I keep an extra yoga mat in my office, and these 20 to 30 minute routines are perfect for my lunch hour yoga fix. I've done about half of the dozen or so episodes currently posted there, and I look forward to trying them all.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Last month, I applied for the mixed level Anusara workshop led by John Friend next month here in Portland, and today I got an email letting me know that I've been accepted to attend. Yay! It's a 2-day event, for 2 hours each day, and I'm so excited! A perfect kick-start right before I start teacher training in September. Woo!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I'm trying to keep up some semblance of a yoga practice while on a 2-week vacation in England, but it's not easy. Here I am trying to practice in the only available space at my mother-in-law Lilian's house: her dog Sophie's bed! I think Sophie wanted to join in the fun, don't you?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Today's picture brought to you by Natalie Dee; check out her comics cuz she's super funny!
My yoga thought for the day: backbends are better than coffee! So energizing, and without any crash. This morning's 7am backbending-focused class left me humming, and I went off and happily accomplished a crazy amount of stuff: cleaning, grocery shopping, painting a wall in our basement, buying fabric and sewing a beaded sash as a gift for one of Claire's teachers, being mom, making dinner, even doing another 20 minutes of yoga before bed. And no, I'm not manic. If anything, I hover more on the depressed end of the spectrum, though not lately.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
My daughter Claire learned to sew recently, and she's passing the knowledge on to me. A few weeks ago, we made this yoga bag together. I love it! I grew comfortable with the sewing machine while working on this project. I was very touched by Claire's patience and encouragement with me during this role reversal where she was teaching me something. (Claire is ten years old, but obviously a genius!)
The fabric and pattern are both Amy Butler designs, and the pattern is one of her free pattern downloads.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I'm a reader. When I am interested in a topic, my favorite thing to do is to read up on it, rather voraciously I might add. I've got a nice collection of knitting books, a growing collection of sewing books, more vegan cookbooks than I can ever hope to use, and of course in my office every variety of psychotherapy book, workbook, manual, handbook, etc. And I DO read these things! Like I said, I'm a reader.
Despite practicing yoga for years, it's only been the past couple of months that I've grown interested in yoga philosophy in its entirely, rather than just the physical asana part of it. So, guess what I've been doing when I'm not on the mat? You guessed it!
Here's what I've been straining my eyes with lately:
OK honestly, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga by H. David Coulter is the book I keep by my bedside, and I read it a few paragraphs at a time because it makes me sleepy! It's already helped me recognize some terms used by my teachers in yoga class, and I'll be learning all of this soon enough when/if I start teacher training. It feels like a "must-have" but I am not fascinated by it; perhaps this will change with more formal training.
I'm working my way through Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad-Gita by Swami Rama right now. I like to read it in bits, so I can digest the nuggets of wisdom. Previous attempts to read the Bhagavad-Gita have been frustrating, but this approach is working for me.
Yoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub is helpful for me to see a way of combining what I already do (therapy) with yoga.
I actually started with this book, The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, by T. K. V. Desikachar. It's a great introduction, not overwhelming but also not superficial in any way. I continue to refer to this book, and I imagine I will for some time. So far, this is my favorite yoga book that I've read.
So many more books are calling to me! Any recommendations?
Monday, June 1, 2009
I ripped this picture off from the Yoga Journal website -- sorry Yoga Journal! -- but I wanted an illustration of my most memorable pose from this morning's class. Inversions used to scare me, but now I have fun with them. Of course my pose was nowhere as aligned as the model's in this picture, and I did it against the wall for balance. But, yay me! A few months ago, the mere thought that I would attend a 7am yoga class on a day off would have had me in stitches, but now my world has turned upside down. Haha, get it?! I slay me.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The neti pot is my favorite tool for controlling seasonal allergies. Neti is Sanskrit for "nasal cleansing". Here's a wikipedia link to info on nasal irrigation if you're unfamiliar with the process. To paraphrase, saline solution is poured into one nostril and runs out through the other. This practice is a centuries old Ayurvedic technique and one of the disciplines of yoga.
It might sound gross at first, and indeed the first time I tried it several years ago, it felt weird enough that I wasn't sure I'd ever do it again. But it was so immediately helpful for my allergies that I was hooked. Now, a daily saline rinse with my little white pot during allergy season actually feels pleasant. I don't do anything fancy, in fact I think I commit several neti "don'ts" by using warm tap water and table salt. To which I reply, "Meh." I found this picture on the web, but it's the exact same neti pot that I have, purchased on the cheap at a drugstore.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
After about twelve years of weekly or so yoga, I have become immersed in daily yoga practice for the past couple of months. I'm starting this blog to document my yoga journey. I'm not sure where it's all heading, but for now, right here is just fine.
I had a light bulb moment about six weeks ago, when I ran across this Time magazine article about how therapists, including psychologists and psychiatrists, are increasingly incorporating yoga into traditional talk therapy. I'm a psychologist in private practice, and reading this article made me more excited about my career than I have felt in years.
After several hours of online research, I decided to do two things. First, to step up my yoga practice. Instead of (or in addition to) my weekly-yoga-class-at-the-gym routine, I started attending classes at a local yoga studio as frequently as I could -- four to five times a week, with a modest home practice on days that I don't take a class. I lucked out in terms of selecting a studio right off the bat where I felt at home. It's an Anusara studio, a yoga style that until now I was not familiar with. Its focus on alignment and heart-centered philosophy resonates very well with me. I feel great after every class, I look forward to every class, and my chronic back pain is getting better, as well.
Second, I decided to learn as much as I could about how therapists incorporate yoga into psychotherapy. It became clear pretty quickly that, in addition to my credentials as a psychologist, becoming a RYT (registered yoga teacher with a 200-hour training) would be a minimum requirement to legitimately call myself a yoga therapist, and to reasonably know what the heck I was doing with clients on a mat in my office. There is further training specific to therapy, but the RYT appears to be a standard prerequisite.
As luck would have it, the studio I'm going to offers teacher training. It starts in the fall, and applications are being accepted now! After a month or so of getting familiar with the teachers and classes, I turned in an application for teacher training. I'm not sure if I'll be accepted, actually. Maybe my yoga background isn't extensive enough. Maybe I'm not a good fit for their program. I don't know. But that's where I'm at right now.