Foundations

Foundations

May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift ~ Forever Young, Bob Dylan

I’ve been taking Rocket yoga for more than a year now.

Three times a week, I go to the same class with the same teacher. She mixes it up, and we fly and invert and lock and lift.

I rarely miss a class, so I figure I’ve practiced Rocket more than 100 times. How is it, then, that I’ve only recently realized that at every practice, we move through a foundational sequence before we take off?

Am I the only one who didn’t know we were putting on the undergarments of our practice before getting dressed for the rest?

Like most young girls, I was taught my first foundation lesson at an early age: to always wear nice underwear in case I’m in an accident and wind up in the hospital.

Foundations can last a lifetime, and that’s why every day, I’ve got on pretty underwear under there. And I think that’s also why we are working on a foundation at Rocket. It’s not just for that day’s practice, but for the rest of our practicing days.

Read More

Catch Me!

Catch Me!

"Upside down. Who's to say what's impossible and can't be found?" ~ Jack Johnson

I was in a very hot yoga practice, and we were more than halfway through. The day had only half begun, I was only half-caffeinated, and we were in Eagle Pose.

For some reason, I’ve been having trouble keeping my balance in Eagle. I try to find a point in front of me to clear my mind, so I don’t even have to think about balancing, but that only makes me think about it all the more, and over I go.

This day in Eagle, my mind is already moving quickly ahead. Usually, we do Eagle on both sides, right and then left, and then right and left again. Sometimes, after the second time around, we move into bound Warrior III and then into Standing Split.

And then I know what’s coming next. In fact, my mind is already there while I am wrapping myself up in Eagle. At that point, for those of us who want to, we get to pop into handstand or, at least, to try.

Read More

Adventure

Adventure

“So come out of your cave walking on your hands and see the world from upside down.” ~ The Cave, Mumford and Sons

The other night, I was at yoga, laying out my mat, unwinding it from its bag and doing the same from my day.

I prefer a spot against the wall, where I can try a few handstands without going overboard. I walk along my mat and talk with those nearby, enjoying the switch from my work day to my yoga night, chatting and pacing and popping into handstands.

And I wonder, where else, really, would this seem normal?

Read More

Silly

Silly

It’s been almost three years. Three years of handstands.

When I first started yoga, I would not go upside down. I knew I could do it, but it just felt so silly. I’d often goof around with my kids and only a couple years earlier, before even finding yoga, I had done a headstand on Skype for my daughter and her college roommates.

So, it’s not that I was never silly. It’s just that I was never so in public. And the yoga studio counted as being in public.

Then, one day, it was just my daughter and me in a private lesson. In my mind, this was not public, so upside down I went.

And then, almost every day thereafter, I only wanted to be upside down.

Headstands led to forearm stands. Forearm stands led to handstands. I could not get enough and still can’t.

And now I can’t remember what there was to ever feel so silly about.

Read More

Mentor

Mentor

'm learning from the other side at yoga.

I am relatively new to a nighttime practice, not so close to home.

And for this reason, most all of the yogis, save one or two, were strangers when I first arrived.

But the energy in the room seems to tie us together and, at the end of each practice, I often feel a sort of kinship with my classmates, even the ones I still don’t know.

In this class, half the room faces the other half. And now I’ve made some buddies on the other side.

Read More

Gratitude

Gratitude

I was trying to make a late evening yoga class, and it was a bit bumpy getting there.

I am a suburbanite but have found some classes downtown and, in the evening when there is no traffic, I can zip down there fairly quickly.

The studio is hot, the people are warm, and the energy is high.

I love stepping in.

But, the other night, the road was literally blocked, and I had to take a detour.

Read More

Suck It Up!

Suck It Up!

It seems like forever that I've been working on my handstands.

In every single class, I am upside down and trying to remain so. If I happen to be at a class where none are done, I stay after to work on mine.

At one point, I was in a class where we were all helping each other. Pressing down on my mat, I moved my feet as close to my hands as possible.

In my mind’s eye, I press down to go up. I want to pull in my belly and straddle my feet while raising them up to land a handstand.

Read More

Inversions

Inversions

Okay, let’s play with an inversion.

These are the words of my yoga instructor towards the end of each class. We get about five minutes to go upside down before our final stretches.

Any kind of inversion will do, as long as our legs are above our hearts.

Some people are in shoulder stand, on their backs with their feet in the air, arms tucked under the hips for support. Some people rest their legs up along the wall.

Others are in Headstand or Handstand or Forearm Stand, trying one and then another other and stopping in between to chat.

Read More

Sweet Spot

Sweet Spot

Handstands make me happy.

Sounds odd, but it is true!

This month, I learned something new in yoga. We are incorporating Handstands at the start of our Vinyasas, the transition sequence of which we do many, moving from a low push up to a high push up and back to a downward facing dog.

For me, it is great fun, and I cannot believe how elated I get over it.

Really, I never would have thought that I would be happiest upside down, but this is so, and the feeling lasts once I'm upright again.

Incorporating Handstands changes up the same old, and now the Vinyasas offer up an opportunity and a challenge as opposed to their normal reprieve from the practice.

Read More

Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey Sandwiches

Yoga is a mindful practice that spills over into other parts of life.

It lifts the spirits, calms the mind, deepens the soul and strengthens the body.

Not only does it tone the muscles, but it increases consciousness about what to feed those muscles.

Over the years, I would usually eat most any item on a menu. I never really steered clear of red meat, frequently ate salads topped with chicken, made a mean short rib barley soup and created comfort meals of meatloaf and my signature meatballs. Family celebrations would find us at the Palm, where I would order the Filet Mignon.

But that was all before yoga.

Read More

Influence

Influence

There are people in my life who influence me, some to whom I am very close; others who are really just passing through. It never really strikes me that I might be in a position myself to influence others.

Turns out, I am!

And that position is upside down.

Being upside down has become a highlight of my day.

The inversion segment of my yoga class is only about five minutes long, but it is the part of class that is the most fun for me.

During this time, we can practice anything we want as long as part of our body is upside down. Shoulder stand. Handstand. Forearm stand. Headstand.

It is our choice, and our instructor either walks around and helps us or leaves us be on the chance we might topple over with his attention.

Read More

Overboard

Last Friday I went overboard.

Faced a fear and lived to tell!

I consider my yoga mat a safe haven.

Like a Kindergartener who pulls out a mat during rest period, I am content to arrive at yoga, take my mat from the shelf, unroll it, and step to it.

My mat is longer than my body and less than a yard wide. And, best of all, it is purple, my favorite color since Kindergarten days.

The yoga practice takes place 100 percent on the mat. One yogi, one mat. Some classes can be so crowded that a person might be only inches from a neighbor, but each one’s mat honors a personal space.

The yoga mat is home to every student and to every asana.

Read More

Weightlessness

Weightlessness

was pretty lucky to have enjoyed a fairly carefree childhood.

I have great memories, especially of summer evenings, when all my neighborhood friends would gather on the front lawn to play games, ride bikes and stay out until it got dark

In my elementary school years, I was actually pretty adventurous. I used to hop on the back of my friend’s bike, and he would drive wild all over the streets, careening down the most hilly ones at top speed. 

We would do the same on his skateboard, riding double and hanging on for dear life.

He tied a stick to a rope to a tree, and I hopped on and swung over the backyard’s creek from one bank to the other, until I had to jump before risking getting stuck still over the water.

I would ride my bike with no hands, fearless, and walk on the stilts my dad made.

Read More