Yoga Date- Convention Center Style

On Saturday I went on a “Yoga Date” with a friend of mine. We are both yoga teachers, and mothers, so usually our hang outs are with our children, and include diapers, trips to go “pee pee”, occasional tantrums, and conversations about how yoga has helped save us from complete and total mental breakdown. “I felt like I was going to pull out all my hair and then I did some  sun salutations and now I feel completely renewed.”

My friend Melissa, who teaches Paddleboard Yoga, had a couple of free tickets to an event in Fort Lauderdale called the “Yoga Expo”. I usually avoid the big festivals and events, preferring to practice alone, or outside, but free tickets and a kid free date with my friend, was something I was really looking forward to.

We met up early in the morning and after pushing through some heavy traffic and getting a little lost, we arrived at the  Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

On the ride down, I drank both coffee and a coconut water. Not a good idea. Because when we pulled into the parking garage, my full bladder was about to explode. There was no way I could make it all the way to the crowded bathrooms!! We giggled and I nervously found a place  in the parking garage to squat down and empty my bladder. Parking garage yoga-malasana pose! My friend shielded me with a yoga mat.. I joked that we would get arrested, and all the yogis would talk about the peeing yoga teacher in the parking garage. We didn’t get arrested. And I felt so much better.

At the expo, we were surrounded by  a few thousand yoga practitioners. Everyone walking around with yoga mats, going from class to class, shopping, and eating “yoga” food. After checking it out and feeling a little overwhelmed, it was time to practice. The event was huge, offering 6 to 7 classes every hour. All day. The classes were packed. Flourescent lighting. We were doing downward facing dog to Beyonce, Pitbull, and some very weird songs about heartbreak.

To be honest, it was hard not to “judge” the experience. The place. The Yoga fashion trend.  The noise! It was so loud.  Once again, I was presented with a big lesson. Tame the mind. Yogananda  wrote that in his early training, his teacher wanted him to go  deep into meditation, but Yogananda was being swarmed by mosquitos. He kept swatting them, getting agitated, and could not meditate. His teacher sat there looking peaceful, deep in meditation, unphased by the mosquitos. His teacher told him to train his mind.

It is easy to relax the mind when in a peaceful setting. The real work is to relax the mind when we are in an uncomfortable setting. Convention center yoga. Take out the tools, and calm the mind. When I was able to get deeper into my breath and be present, the judgement melted away. Yoga always teaches us.

After a couple of flow classes, and with very exhausted legs, my friend and I drove home in the late afternoon. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, of mainstream yoga culture.  And while we both agreed that there are things we don’t resonate with, we both acknowledge that the truly important thing is that more and more people are being introduced and drawn to yoga. So many people find healing through yoga.

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Post Convention Center Yoga 🙂

Yoga is a path and the wisdom of Yoga unfolds at a natural organic pace. . Even after 18 years since my introduction, I know I am still a beginner. I am still learning and being challenged everyday.

Yes, “yoga” is a huge trend.  And yes, there are problems with our mainstream yoga culture. But truth be told, beyond the expensive yoga clothes,  is the actual practice. A very personal and profound practice. A practice that can truly help heal the world. 

 

~Tiff

 

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Yoga: Stage Sailing

Yesterday morning, I woke up, made a cup of hot Yerba Mate, and got ready to teach a yoga class. I picked great music, created  some fun flows, kissed my family, and headed to class.

Every  Monday and Friday, at 9am, I  teach yoga at a theatre downtown. I teach in the dance studio, a rehearsal room that we Yogis lovingly call the “cave.” It has a large curtained window, beautiful wooden floors and a fully mirrored wall. There are often chairs and props in our practice space, but we barely see them. I set up a little altar, we turn off the lights, and we flow. We have really tapped into some magic in that cave. I love that space.

Anyways, yesterday when I arrived to teach, I tried to unlock the door to the studio, but it wouldn’t unlock. I tried and tried but the door knob was broken. Feeling defeated, my head and shoulders instantly dropped, and my mind sarcastically said “Oh GREAT!”

I kept trying to get the door to open. But, as student after student arrived, I realized our only option was to practice yoga on the main stage. I wrote a little note, saying the class was moved, put the note on the door, and we all headed over for “Stage Yoga.”It took a few extra minutes to get everything figured out. We had to figure out how we to fit everyone, making sure no one would fall into the orchestra pit. Adventure Yoga!! It turned out there was exactly the right amount of space. We almost always practice with music, but yesterday we practiced without music. It felt good to practice with only the sound of the breath.

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Even though it was completely unexpected to practice on the stage, with a sailboat behind us, and a sea of empty chairs in front of us, it was still fun. And enormously beneficial.

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It was different than we had all planned, but it was good. We had to let go of any expectation of how class should look, and enjoy it for what it was. Life. Sometimes we make these plans, and they don’t turn out the way we expected.  Modify. Breathe.  And Enjoy. 

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“Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

~Tiff

Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

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Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.”  He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to).  He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal.  He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change. 

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher,  I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel. Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.”  With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff

 

Yoga: Lessons On And Off The Mat

So many people have started practicing yoga. And that is wonderful!  Such a beneficial practice, for the body, mind, and spirit. I believe it is through the teachings and practice of yoga and meditation that we are beginning to collectively change..and we need to!!!!

But let’s be real, there is some snobbery that can be found within the yoga community. Some straight up insanity in fact.. Like Bikram’s claim that his yoga is superior and all other styles are crap.  I remember many years ago, taking a Vinyasa Flow class.  I practiced next to a very strong woman.  After the class was over, I smiled and said to her, “Wow I loved that class it was so creative.” She said, clearly agitated, “Humph, how can they call that Vinyasa Flow, we didnt even do one vinyasa?”  In her mind, she had decided that Vinyasa Flow meant lots of plank, chaturanga, upward facing dog, and downward facing dog. And there could be no flexibility.

“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

Hindu proverb

Through the years I have taken and taught a lot of yoga classes, different styles, different teachers,different states, different countries.. And to be entirely honest, sometimes the critic pops up in my head starts judging and says “What the hell is this teacher doing?!?” But that is me being rigid in my thinking, in my belief of what a yoga practice should look like, how to sequence a class, etc (obviously the teaching needs to be safe). However, when I quiet my mind, and shift my awareness to my breath, and to whatever is being taught, those judgements dissolve,and I end up enjoying the class.  Often realizing it was exactly what I needed. Every yoga class can offer something beautiful..Intention.  

There are classes, styles, and teachers that will resonate well with us, but even those that don’t can provide valuable lessons.. about our bodies, about patience, about becoming more flexible, body, mind, and spirit

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Flexible Trees

Last night, I almost cancelled my yoga class due to rain…(it was going to be held on the beach). But instead, after a little coordinating, I taught the yoga class at a dive center in a hotel. Always a first for everything. Hahaha!  It was a great strong class. I talked with my students about the many different types of yoga, different teaching styles, and the importance of being flexible with their yoga practice. Stay open, we shouldn’t come into a yoga class with an expectation of how it should look, feel, or be. I shared with my students (my friends), one of my favorite Buddhist stories, a beautiful lesson, Here it is:

The True Sound Of Truth

“A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.

A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.

The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it!” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.” 

The spiritual path is full of many experiences and valuable lessons.. We must walk the path with flexibility….and realize the power of intention….

To The True Truth, Tiff

(I wrote this openly and honestly and dedicate it to my students from last nights yoga dive class!! hahaha)

The Buddhist story was copied from http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm