Pranayama in Practice

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a weekend workshop called Pranayama in Practice, led by Anita Theart, C-IAYT.  This was a part of the 300-hour advanced teacher training through HereNowYoga.  I’m not currently working on my 300-hour certification, but I was really interested in this workshop.  To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into.  I thought this would be something to help me teach about 5 minutes of pranayama at the beginning of a yoga class.  Nope.  And thank goodness that’s not all it was.

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According to Gary Kraftsow, one of Anita’s teachers, “the ancient masters specifically developed the practice of pranayama (regulation of breath) to balance the emotions, clarify the mental processes, and ultimately to integrate them into one effectively functioning whole.” Anita gave us with a beautiful quote, “Asana prepares the breath for pranayama, pranayama prepares the mind for meditation, and meditation prepares the heart for surrender.”

I didn’t realize what a complex subject pranayama could be.  We learned how to find our own breath capacity, and how to use that knowledge to create our own practice.  I have started with a samana ratio practice.  Every morning I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and play a metronome app to help me use the correct ratio.  It was actually very easy to get started.  Anita is very passionate about pranayama – her own personal practice and teaching it to others.  She really inspired me to dive right in.  It’s also been a great opportunity for me to add my meditation practice after I finish pranayama.  I typically practice my asana later in the day.

One very important lesson that I learned from Anita is that you can’t teach anything that you don’t practice yourself.  So that it where I’m starting with pranayama – at the beginning. I currently have no plans to teach pranayama, because I am still a beginner!  If you are located in the Birmingham, AL area and ever see a pranayama workshop being led by Anita Theart I highly recommend checking it out.  It just might change your life.

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Anita’s info from the HereNowYoga page:

It is the transformational and healing power of yoga that inspires Anita’s own dedication to personal practice, her teaching of yoga as well as her yoga therapy work. Her intention is to find the appropriate yoga tools and adaptations and to offer it in such a way that will meet the needs of her students and clients. She sees the breath as a vital key to this work. “Through the breath we link our bodies and minds and in this process we cultivate self-awareness which forms the foundation of self-transformation.”

She has a deep respect for the ancient teachings of this practice. All of her 1200 hours of training has been within the Krishnamacharya and Desikachar lineage. She is inspired to transfer these teachings with the highest possible integrity.

Anita’s credentials include:

  • Over 3000 hours of yoga teaching experience
  • Certified Viniyoga Therapist – 500 hour program – Studied with Gary Kraftsow at the American Viniyoga Institute
  • Certified Viniyoga Teacher – 500 hour level – Studied with Gary Kraftsow at the American Viniyoga Institute
  • Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher – 200 hour level – Studied with Nikki Meyers and Marcha Pappas at Citiyoga  School of Yoga and Health in Indianapolis
  • Member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists
  • Registered Nurse with the American Nursing Association
  • Reiki Master

 

Yoga Wall Class

This weekend I tried something new – a yoga wall class at Yoga and Therapy Center.  We are very lucky to have this studio in Birmingham.  It’s the first, and currently only, studio-based yoga wall in the state of Alabama.  This style of yoga pairs very well with the alignment based yoga that I was trained in.  As a matter of fact, the owner Kaye Sharp, is also a graduate of HereNowYoga Teacher Training.  She has done of wonderful job of explaining the benefits of the Great Yoga Wall, so I’m just going to direct you to her site.

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The class was super fun, but it’s more than just a fun trend.  I have sore muscles in places that I forgot existed!  It was such a unique experience and I can’t wait to go back.

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Teaching Yoga to Seniors/Chair Yoga Certification

This weekend I had the opportunity to continue my yoga teaching education with HereNowYoga’s Teaching Yoga for Seniors/ Chair Yoga Certification with India Henson + Becca Impello.  It was an amazing way to spend the weekend.  It was at Embody, which is where I did my 200 hour teacher training.  There were 6 of us there that had been through our 200 hour training together.  So not only did I learn an abundance of information, it was also really good for my soul to be back in that place with those women.

I look forward to using what I learned to help both the senior population and others that may have less mobility and need assistance from a chair or other props.  My intention is to share the practice of yoga with as many people as possible and learning the skills to do that is important.

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Embody Practice Center

 

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Becca demonstrating an assisted Savasana option.

 

For more information, please check out these teachers:

Becca Impello

India Henson

HereNowYoga

Namaste

A few new year thoughts – 2018 edition

First, I’d like to take a moment to give 2017 the credit it deserves.  I’ve seen many posting about how terrible it was and I’m a little scared to admit that was not my experience.  2017 was one of the best years of my life.  And I don’t say that lightly.  But to be fair – I was due.

Here are my intentions for 2018:

  1. No alcohol.  I took my last drink on November 10th, 2017 and I haven’t regretted it once.  Most people think that when someone quits it must be because they have a “problem”.  That is not always the case and was not the case for me.  But I can tell you that alcohol was not doing me any favors.  I may discuss this further at another time, but for now that’s all I have to say about that.IMG_0262(this awesome shirt came from the Home Podcast store)
  2. Save money.  I mentioned that 2017 was a great year, and part of that was investing in myself.  So I spent some money.  This year I’m going to reel in my spending and replenish my savings.
  3. Read at least 12 books.  Last year all my reading was dedicated to YTT.  This year I hope to dive into my ever-growing pile of books.  Right now I’m about to finish “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” by Brené Brown.  It’s the perfect book to go along with our current political and social culture.  I hope to read more than just 12, but I want to keep everything on this list attainable.
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  4. Improve general health – exercise, mindfulness, and diet.  I’m purposely keeping this one pretty general.  I want to go to the gym more (5am workouts help me stay focused on good health all day).  More yoga and meditation.  A mostly whole foods and plant rich diet.  I’d also eventually like to kick the Diet Mountain Dew habit.IMG_1434

What are your 2018 intentions?

Lunchtime Nature Walks

 

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I work a typical 8-5 job and I get the standard lunch hour.  But like many others, over the years I got into the habit of eating at my laptop or skipping lunch altogether.  I know that taking some time away is best.  I know that getting away from my phone and email is good for my mental health.  But yet, like so many other things that I know are good for me, I have gone against my better judgement and continued to sit my behind in my desk chair day after day.

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Until recently – that is.  Here in Alabama our summers are hot and steamy.  If you go outside for more than a few minutes you’re covered in sweat and followed by a cloud of mosquitos.  But now it’s the end of November and we are finally starting to experience some chillier temperatures.  It’s still in the 60s at lunchtime, but it’s perfect for a short walk.

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I’m lucky to be able to work from home, and my small community has some beautiful trails to explore.  Some parts have cement sidewalks – which is ideal for me to ramp up the speed a little bit and get the heart pumping.  But there are also dirt trails that wind around the water and big rocks.  Perfect for allowing me to slow down and enjoy the impressive scenery.

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My favorite part is a small rock on the edge of the water.  Once I’ve done most of my walking I find my rock and sit and meditate for a few minutes.  I close my eyes and listen to the water running beside me.  There is nothing like a little bit of nature to put you in a good mood and set the tone for the rest of the day.

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And of course my phone is set to “do not disturb”.

I allow myself enough time to come back home and eat a nice healthy lunch that is prepped and ready to eat in the fridge.

Self care is something that I need to continue to work at, but little steps like this each day are making a big difference.

Namaste.

Graduation!

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November 13th was the culmination of 8 months of study, practice, reading, meditation, hugs, tears, a yoga baby shower, and so much more.  It’s been almost 2 weeks since graduation and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this amazing period of my life.

We spent the day of graduation at Ruffner Mountain.  It was a beautiful day and we shared a walking meditation through the trails, a chilly yoga practice, graduation, and a potluck lunch with friends and family.  It’s a day that I will never forget.  I kept a yellow leaf that I found on our walk as a reminder of the experience.

I started yoga teacher training with no idea what to expect.  I was nervous and excited.  I wanted to learn as much about yoga as I possibly could.  I wanted to meet new people with similar ideas.  I wanted to step out of my box, which I had securely bricked myself into over the years.  I didn’t even really have any expectations of teaching.

Fast forward 8 months and I’ve changed so much.  I’m still unpacking everything that I learned and experienced.  One part of me is sad that this part of my journey is over.  Another is relieved that I can get back to my normal schedule.  As a mother of a nine year old, it’s hard to be away from my family one weekend every month.  Plus, I’m excited to see what happens next on this journey.

I’m still undecided about teaching.  I’ve had people approach me at a yoga class that I attend at my local civic center asking me to teach an additional class in the mornings.  I explained that I have some stage fright around teaching and they didn’t seem to mind.  So that is something that I’m exploring.  And the idea that people in my community want more yoga really gets me fired up.

If anyone is interested in a 200 hour YTT program and are located near the Birmingham, AL area, please consider HereNowYoga teach training.  They are also offering a 300 hour advanced training in Birmingham next year as well.

Namaste!

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