softening up

As I go through my yoga teacher training I am continually opening myself up to new forms and practices of yoga. I am normally a power yoga, vinyasa yoga, inversion, junkie. Fast pace, breath filled movement is the way to quieten my brain. Yin yoga and restorative freak me out. Being still for an hour!? Holding poses five plus minutes. Ugh! Yoga torture!

I am always filled with stress or really up tight but the fluid movement of vinyasa or the crazy amounts of Sun Salutations in a power yoga class really calm my sea of chaos. The other styles of yoga seem to make my chaos worse, even though my  mentors say that is what I need. The great thing about yoga teacher training is you experience a wide range of classes and I also observe multiple classes. Each teacher training weekend my mentors keep telling me to explore the softer side of myself and yoga. That I need to not be afraid of the quiet and see what the quiet does.

In my three months of teacher training I have made it through a two hour restorative class and more recently a yoga nidra class. I am even able to be quiet in corpse pose for more than 5 minutes, well depending on the class I took. But it took me a few years to even be still in savasana/corpse pose for at least 5 minutes.

My first successful “quiet” class was a 2 hour restorative class in my RYT training. Out of all my classmates/peers I was the only one dreading this class. I could not imagine just laying there in poses, being still, restoring myself. An hour I could see, but 2…as class started I used my blocks, bolsters, straps, and breath to calm down and restore my body. With the help of the instructor and beautiful adjustments I was able to be quiet. Except in pigeon. Pigeon is my worst pose, I cannot do it and seeing everyone else melt into it was very difficult. My perfectionist, competitive side came out. I almost cried. But even after that I was able to calm down and find my inner stillness. I will say, after that class it was the best I felt ever! It even lasted into the following days. My body moved better, my inner workings seemed to be calmer, and I felt peaceful. I woke up that next morning with an inner peace that I hadn’t felt in quite some time or ever. Now I cannot wait to do another one and then learn to teach it and pass on this wonderful practice!

On Sunday, I took my first yoga nidra class. For those of you not familiar with yoga nidra, it is also known as yoga sleep/sleep yoga. In this practice you will hover between this state of awake and sleep. It is without a doubt the strangest thing I have experienced. Luckily there were Tibetian singing bowls to help ease into the process of nidra. I definitely spent the first ten minutes of the time fidgeting around but as I gave myself up to the relaxation/guided meditation and the sounds of the singing bowls I started to fall into the nidra, well as much as I could. I started to meditate and do the meditation exercises focusing on my breath (thank you Hanh) and continued to focus on the nidra. The next hour I just spent time getting into my body, feeling the vibrations, not beating myself up when I fell out of the nidra. Just like the restorative class, this hour flew by! I thought I would be sleepy afterwards, but I was revitalized. Energized. And hungry! Starving. I was so thankful that I got to experience yoga nidra and just like restorative, I can’t wait to try it again.

Now I can go to my mentors and with joy say that I have been still for hours, and have finally made an intention to explore the soft side of myself. Not only in yoga, but with my daily life in practicing self-lovingkindness and gentleness. I even want to take these practices off the mat and into my life, and others lives. So I challenge you today to embrace your soft side or try a challenging practice. Peace, love, and namaste darlin’s!

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