RYT 200

I just realized I never wrote about the completion of my RYT training. I guess it felt a little anti-climactic. We finished our instructor led training in May and were given a take-home written test to complete. I turned mine and received my certificate mid-June. And then I registered and paid the fee to Yoga Alliance to be officially RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher w/200 hours training)! Last month I finally started practicing-teaching, because I realized that’s really the only way I’ll start getting more comfortable with guiding sequences and cueing and spreading the yoga-love. It’s been great so far, definitely been improving (especially with differentiating my left and right limbs from students’ when mirroring) and I’m coming up on my 5th class next week. I’m glad that my students (group of friends) have been enjoying and coming back week to week.

ytt update

We’ve already gone through 7 of our 9 months of yoga teacher training. It’s hard to believe that time has passed so quickly, and there are only two months left!

This weekend we went through sequencing, which was actually much easier than I expected. I think that cue-ing is much harder for me than sequencing, though I’m sure both are improved drastically with practice and experience. Still not sure whether I’ll teach after getting my certification, but time will tell :)

I’ve barely been exercising at all since my running injury (knee) in October. Found out I gained 8 lbs in 5 months which I’m pretty unhappy about (though happy that it doesn’t show?)… I think it’s time to get back into a yoga routine. I’m excited to start at a new studio close to home, and hopefully can fit in pretty well.

But anyway, in the mean time, we had an hour of physical practice on Sunday morning before lecture/group work. My first physical practice in basically three months. Mark led us through some sun salutations, standing postures (up to utthita parsvokonasana and utthita trikonasana) and backbends (I only did setthu bandha saravangasana) and today I am sore! I wanted to make an interesting note – my trapezius, deltoids, oblique abdominals (all the way around), and glutes are sore. Quads not at all. I’m wondering if these are typically the muscles targeted by most standing postures for most people, or just if I’m more lacking in these muscles and can feel the soreness in them more. Will look into it in the coming weeks/months :)

today’s heyuan gym flow

Decided to log my flow from my “home” (Doubletree Heyuan) practice just now. 50 minutes total. Could have probably taken things a bit slower but the music/noises in the gym were too distracting. Not particularly sorry about my mixed sanskrit/English pose names…

In hindsight, the flow probably could have used some more seated stretches after navasana, along with some pigeon/lizard/quad stretches.

begin in seated meditation, breathe and set intention
cat cow x 5 ish
active child’s pose
child’s pose side bends
spinal balance, with elbow to knee x 5
“spinal balance half moon”
thread the needle

tadasana
standing side bends
half sun salutations x 2
sun salutation classical, knee to nose/outside/inside x 2 before hold in ajaneyasana, with side bend
sun salutation B, twists in first chair

tadasana
warrior 2
side angle/reverse warrior 2 flow x 3
side angle
triangle
“vinyasa” to other side and to next sequence

three legged dog to starfish, with two breath hold with hovering leg
crescent
crescent twist
“vinyasa” to other side and to next sequence

goddess, with shoulder stretches
prasarita padottanasana
prasarita twists
tripod headstand, with attempted leg twists (…not really)
center, then into crow
jump back into chaturanga and return to down dog

jump into malasana
with twist, with full bind on both sides
tadanasa
gorilla pose
fingers-to-toes-elbows-out

tadanasa
dancer
to warrior 3
to standing splits
to standing half pigeon
half pigeon arm balance
back to tadasana for other side

“vinyasa” to reset to down dog
jump through to navasana
straight legs, fingers to toes
bridge x2
wheel
happy baby
garudasana twists

savasana

split

What the heck suddenly I’m able to do the splits???

I’ve been ~5″ away from the ground for years, but had a stretching revelation last week where I realized I was still tensing my muscles when holding a stretch. I consciously let gravity take over my stretch (specifically, in goddess and anjaneyasana). And this weekend I tried front splits on a whim and voila! Can do! I thought it may have been a fluke (full moon? lol jk) but the next morning, a little tight but still able to get very close.

Prettty cooool to see progress with flexibility!

yj live! sf 2015

I spent the weekend (Thurs-Monday) at the Yoga Journal Live! San Francisco event, volunteering and taking classes from a handful of well known (I guess) teachers. One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was that hearing all the other teachers talk about what they thought yoga was really helped me figure out what I thought yoga was.

To me, yoga is about awareness, acceptance and stability. The physical practice uses the breath to help guide focus the mind in times of (muscular) effort. Off the mat, yoga practice continues in the form of mindfulness in all situations. Maybe, for example, being aware of ones faults, accepting them, and working toward minimizing consequential harm to oneself and others. Otherwise recognizing that we do not have complete control over the situations that we find ourselves in, and letting the associated negative thoughts come and go. Via the physical practice, yoga teaches us to let go of bias and see situations clearly even through emotional turmoil, like the disappointment of a perceived failure.

I feel grateful that even before I started yoga, I had a grounded personality and was generally able to stay relatively calm in times of distress. But I do think that as I’ve gotten older, and maybe with the help of yoga, I’m even more level headed than before and able to “take it as it comes.” I’ve been able to see and set my priorities more easily and therefore been able to maximize my experiences more fully.

Plus my triceps are so, so strong. SYKE! Just kidding. Wishing everybody a satisfying and successful step forward in their life’s journey today, no matter the size.

(Cross-posted on my yoga tumblr Posted on Categories fitness, personal, yogaLeave a comment on yj live! sf 2015

This weekend I’m going to the Yoga Journal Live! SF event, as a volunteer. Kind of a silly work-exchange program where the volunteers still have to pay $100 to go (actually $200 with a $100 refund?)… but considering that’s basically how much one class costs, I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about. And maybe learn a thing or two while hanging out in SF. I’m pretty excited to spend an extended amount of time in the city, which I’ve never done before. Staycation, kind of?

Last Friday Stanley and I had dinner with Jenn Song and Nick at Kyusu, and then dropped by the mall afterwards to look at rings at Tiffany’s. I was so sad that the torque ring was discontinued and needed a replacement “over-yonder” ring to fawn over. BUT it closed before we got there. So instead we just wandered around to get me a dark chocolate soft serve from Godiva (soo yummy) and into J Crew to check out the sale section. I found these pants for $29.99 in store, plus 50% off final sale, plus 15% student discount per Stanley, which meant A $14 pair of black pants for me! I’ve been wearing them every day since I got them (lol) so I figured it was ok if I went back to the mall and picked up another pair. Hehe. No shame. I’m happy to have found these new-favorite pants because my old-favorite grey Uniqlo pants (from 2008!) finally gave out with a broken butt-seam. Good-bye, old pants. Hello, new pants! (I mean, everyone has a favorite pair of pants that they want to wear every day right? I just allow myself to follow through with it. Laundry smaundry.)

Other thing – Sophie and I found Crispy M&Ms at Walmart last weekend! Apparently they’re back back for 2015. Now in light green packaging instead of blue. Why the change? No idea – apparently blue is now pretzel. So I got two packs. And have eaten them both.

Happy 2015!

For the past year or so I’ve been tooting the idea of a dreamy five-year plan; a new career path of physical therapist by day, yoga instructor by night. Sounds amazing – I’d get to participate in continual learning and further education in a field that seems so helpful and practical, especially as we all get older. Plus I’d benefit from my training as a PT to be a better yogi and yoga instructor. BUT ALAS I looked up DPT programs yesterday and tuition is so many dollars, and it seems backwards to essentially throw away the investment of my current engineering degree for a new one. It’s a net negative, because the time I could be spending working and making money, I’d instead be spending it on tuition ($75k!)… for a degree that I don’t really need. It feels spoiled and excessive to double-up on two irrelevant post-graduate degrees. So. I think I’m dropping this dream in lieu of bigger picture goals. Like you know, a house, a garden, furniture. If I hated my job/industry/field, it’d be more valid. But I am perfectly happy being an engineer. No major complaints. So there’s no real reason to change career paths after all.

In yoga news, I few weeks ago I did my first forearm stand! And last week I did my first scorpion! At this rate I’ll definitely be able to do handstand in a year and can validly get my RYT (registered yoga teacher) training done next fall. :) Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!

centuries

Basically all I blog about these days is exercising and yoga. Well. That’s cool, I guess…

I got an automated email from East West Yoga, congratulating me on my one year anniversary at the studio. So I (finally) registered my online account, and checked the visit history; I went to yoga 93 times from 7/8/2013 – 7/8/2014! Pretty solid. I should shoot for 100 in the next year :)

Also, I may have mentioned it before, but I’ve been tracking miles-run since the beginning of 2014, and I will almost surpass the 100 mile mark for the year as well. And it’s only July! What whaaat.

STR +3

Yesterday during yoga practice I was able to hold parsva bakasana (side crow) for a few breaths, which surprised me. For crow, next step is to practice straightening my arms :)

ALSO my instructor (Kristine) walked us through the transition to dwi pada viparita dandasana (… two-legged inverted staff pose) which I did for a few breaths, after which I felt super invigorated. It was a lot of fun! I’m not sure how well I did the pose, since you’re typically supposed to keep your neck and spine in one line while in a backbend and not twist (and look at the mirror), but maybe I’ll try to take a picture of myself at home later to see.

I really like arm balances and backbends and inversions – I don’t know if it’s because they’re more advanced poses, so I feel more satisfied being able to challenge myself, or because they’re stretches that open up the chest and shoulders and strengthen the core (which are important things in life!), but I really like them. So thaaattt’s coooool. Go yoga!

→ Also a note about Bikram: I’ve taken two more classes since jerk-man, and they’ve both been better. No matter the teacher, the dialog is the same (I found this here, but you can only see part of it as a sample from Scribd) as per Bikram’s “rules” and none of the teachers give very much feedback during the poses. I guess some people prefer this type of workout, since you just do what your trainer says and it doesn’t need to be fun. Not really my thing. But if I’m still mindful to my body while doing the 26 poses (aka not breaking my knees when they say I should), I do think that I’m improving my flexibility by stretching intensely while my muscles are warm (hot). Still, not worth spending the money and the lack of real engagement for Bikram. Regular hot vinyasa yoga would be superior, but I’m still fine with my normal-temperature yoga practices.

bikram is not yoga

The yoga philosophy goes something like this: Be open-minded and receptive in all things, listen to your body and follow your intuition. Breathe. Balance. Yoga is practice and continuous improvement.

I got a Groupon for 10 classes at Bikram Santa Clara for $30 – basically an intro special to try it out. I went to my first class yesterday and Man was I disappointed. I knew the basic structure of a Bikram class – 26 poses always in the same order, always a 90-minute class in an extremely heated (100+ deg F) and humid room. But I didn’t expect it to be so unrelenting. The “teacher” didn’t allow for modifications at all, whether to ease the pose or further enhance it. In pawanmuktasana (lying on your back, bring one knee to your chest and pull it into your ribcage/armpit) he was repeating how you should be pulling so hard your hip is hurting (…) but since my hips are relatively open I switched to half happy baby instead (instead of holding onto your bent knee, keep your calf at a right angle to your thigh and pull down on your foot) so I could feel the stretch. And immediately the instructor told to hold onto my knee instead. So I shot back with, “…but my hip doesn’t hurt” and he just looked glared at me and said to the class “There’s way too much talking going on in this class today” and ignored me. “If you have any questions you can ask any time before class or after class, but not during class.” (One other person in the class had asked him to clarify something in a previous standing pose: She asked, “The standing knee should be completely locked out? All the way the entire time?” which he had been repeating over and over, which is another issue because since when is it a good thing to lock any of your joints when they’re under pressure????)

Later on in supta vajrasana (start on your knees, separate knees and feet a few inches and sit between your ankles, eventually lie on your back all the way) I wasn’t attempting to do the full pose because it hurts my knees (I always use a block in this pose in my regular classes). He came over to demonstrate, I said I couldn’t do it because of my knees, and he chastised me for not being open minded about the pain being able to heal my knees. Essentially he said “no pain, no gain” which is total bullshit because it’s total bullshit.

9 classes to go, I’m too Asian to not use up the rest of the classes I paid for. I hope the other teachers aren’t as intense as he is, but not keeping my fingers crossed. Bikram the person is known to be a dick, so if that’s the “philosophy” he’s imbuing on his posse then I guess that’s what Bikram practice will be. How disappointing.