When I completed my 200 hour yoga training, my lead teachers kept talking about having a home practice. I would go home and roll my yoga mat out and try to recreate a sequence I learned in class. Often, I would get a few poses in and and just get stuck. I’d be hanging out in a high lunge trying to think of what comes next.
Or I would “forget” to roll my mat out at all. Living in Austin in my 20’s meant that there was always a farmer’s market, new band, or food truck to explore. It wasn’t rare that I would be too tired to come to my mat between social time, work, and all the yoga I was doing in my training and regular classes.
Once I received my certification and began teaching, I still struggled with creating time for a regular personal practice, despite one of my favorite teachers telling me that real teaching starts at home. It wasn’t until I signed up for an Anusara Immersion that required a regular home practice as a pre-requisite that I finally began to settle into a steady practice. Continue reading “7 Benefits of a Consistent Practice”→
Teaching yoga in Central America means that I have few regular students. Most students are tourists in town for a week or two who decide to pop in for some yoga classes. I’ll ask people a little about their practice prior to our first class together to gauge their experience. I’ve found that I’m often then surprised by what I see on the yoga mat.
Many students tell me they’ve got a regular practice in power yoga or hot yoga and then appear to be beginner students as we move through our flow. My yoga background includes lots of viniyoga and anusara yoga, which are both practices with a strong focus on alignment and on keeping the body safe.
It’s been really sweet to see my Kundalini classes grow. Kundalini Yoga is different than Hatha Yoga in that it is a class that relies a lot more on the use of mantra, or chanting, and incorporates lots more meditation. I think of it as the “weird yoga”. You’re much more likely to find use of Mudra, or yoga positions for your hands, and different breathing techniques in a Kundalini yoga class.
I began offering Kundalini yoga classes for donation at the beginning of January because I so missed my Kundalini practice from Austin. While living in Austin, Kundalini was not the yoga that I practiced every day, but I did enjoy dropping in on a class once or twice a week. Once I began incorporating more Kundalini and Meditation into my daily practice here in Granada, I began to miss the experience that comes from gathering in a group to practice. Continue reading “Kriya to Balance the 10 Bodies”→
Feliz Ano Nuevo! The bombas exploded at midnight, lighting the night sky and filling the barrios with even more explosions than have been heard during the whole month of December. Nicaraguense set afire both fireworks that exploded individually and effigies of the old year — scarecrow men stuffed with firecrackers, newspapers, and messages of a happy new year. When the explosions quieted, the visiting began – house to house as neighbors visited neighbors and friends and families mingled. After 1 am, the crowds dispersed – either early to bed or out for late night fiestas celebrating until dawn broke the sky. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the Nicas don’t know how to party.
When we want to dive into a deeper, more meditative practice of yoga and listening to the mind, our modern lives require that we consciously create that space. That might mean creating an area for meditation in your home – a room or corner dedicated to deep thought or introspection. It might mean that you find a group of people meeting regularly at your local yoga studio, zen buddha center, or something similar, and show up for class. Or, it might mean that you take a length of time to retreat, to an organized event like a 10 Vipassana Meditation Center, or simply to the wilderness. In my life, I have always, always, always found a deep heart connection simply by surrounding myself with trees. I have sweet memories from my childhood when I would trek off to the small woods behind my elementary school and spend hours taking in the loamy scent of decaying leaves and swampy mud and stare up at the tree tops and the sky beyond, feeling connected to all those trees growing tall over my head with roots intertwining under the earth beneath me. One of my favorite hiding spots as a young girl was a tremendous pine tree with boughs that spread out wide but a quiet, clear space in the center. I would soften enter that tree and stay under it’s cool, green protection for hours, and would seek it out specifically when I was upset about something. I always found that quiet space with the scent of time cooling and calming. That said, I find myself ready now to move on from Granada and towards the wilderness. As I prepare to make this change, I”m also finding my practice move away from a strongly physical practice and more towards a yin yoga, Kundalini yoga, pranayama, and meditative practice.
Granada has been the perfect place to transition to life in Central America. Being the wealthiest city in Nicaragua, it offers many niceties to extranjeros such as opportunities for western food, a lively and active Calzada where the cerveza flows and the conversation raps all night, and opportunities to escape the oppressive heat in cool blue pools. Continue reading “Una Oportunidad para el Silencio”→
I’ve mentioned before that I think a lot about what I say in a yoga class. I’m sure I put more emphasis on it than there needs to be. After all, who hasn’t tuned out their yoga teachers at times just to sink into their practice? However, you never know who’s listening at any time, and when that one word or phrase you say will sink in and make a difference in your students’ practice.
Small, white geckos are prevalent here in Nicaragua. Due to the open floor plan of most houses, they are a frequent sight running up walls into small corners or climbing beams in search of insects. Their official name is in fact the House Gecko. They leave behind them tiny piles of poop, which I have the unfortunate luck of attracting. Is that good luck, perhaps, being blessed by gecko poo bouncing off my head and slipping down the front of my shirt? No se, pero it is a source of amusement. Continue reading “…and then a gecko ran by”→
I’ve had some interesting experiences as I work with students here in Nicaragua that have presented as challenges. I view a challenge as an opportunity to learn something new about the world and something new about myself, so I welcome these learning experiences. I also welcome your feedback on how you work with students who throw curveballs.
The first challenging experience came when I was teaching a class with only two students. This isn’t unusual for classes here at the gym. Las turistas wax and wane, so our classes at the gym can go from a full house to unexpected private lessons within a day. On this particular day, I had two students who were friends with each other. One student was a long time yoga practitioner, and the other was new to yoga. Continue reading “Students as Teachers”→
When I was a brand spanking new teacher, the first class I was given to teach was called Hatha Star, which meant yoga for beginners. Talk about a challenge! I felt then, and still feel that it takes an advanced teacher to be able to break the practice of yoga down for beginners. The class was a wonderful tool for me as a student of yoga and a teacher, as it forced me very quickly to find my voice as a teacher, to be extremely specific in what I was asking of my students, and to break down my own yoga practice to allow me to serve it in bite-sized pieces to the students coming to my classes. While I enjoyed the challenge of teaching new students, I also welcomed the opportunity to teach classes that moved a little faster. When that opportunity arose, I took it and left behind my Hatha Star class, so I was only a teacher of beginner’s yoga for a short while.
One of my motivations for moving to Granada and living/teaching at a yoga studio was to teach more yoga. Despite the fact that I’ve been teaching for a little more than two years now (a fact that still astounds me), I very much feel like a new teacher. I stutter my words sometimes as I’m describing which limb to extend, confuse left side with right, and wonder whether the sequences I create are bringing the most benefit to the students in the room. At home in Austin, even though it felt like I was living, breathing, eating, sleeping yoga, I was only teaching two classes a week. Those classes were my islands. In those 150 minutes, I would reconnect with the mysteries of yoga, the infinite nature of the breath, and the stillness of bodies in motion. I yearned to teach more, but the realities of managing a yoga studio meant there was only so much time available for stepping into the role of teacher.