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Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's your favorite yoga class (or, moving slow doesn't come easy so I tried it)

Why? Now, what is your least favorite yoga class? Why?

I have been told and am slowing learning this: that things which you find most difficult or not desirable might be what you should explore! Trying to embrace this lesson, I brought to my yoga class this morning the ideas of moving slowly, cultivating a place of quiet, of silence...a meditative space...and one infused with non-judgement.

I am not a power vinyasa girl, but i do like to move, to challenge myself, and keep my mind busy. So practicing meditation does not come naturally for me...and therefore all the more reason to 'talk myself through it' as part of an experiment in Community Yoga this morning.

We started with a discussion of OM - what it means, what it is...what you can do with it, and what it can do for you. From there we moved to chanting OM - and new yoga people being shy, of course, i was the sole voice resonating the AUM sound - and I was happy to share my sound with the group and help them experience it.

And then, pranayama - practicing extending breath counts, evening the inhale and exhale, slowing them down consciously, and really really really going within. I found myself incredibly wrapped up in the explanation and the experience, taking my breath to a resonant cadence in an effort to embody and exemplify it for the group. And they returned the favor by emanating a wonderful sense of serenity, of being "in the moment," of trusting the experience! It was wonderful.

We started our asana practice with moving the spine in 6 directions, deep and slow, concentrating on the breath, and the range of motion of our bodies - not trying to force into a picture of a pose, but just going with what our bodies and breath were comfortable.

A little more breath work (breath of fire) while doing a low navasana (boat pose) to build some heat, then up slowly for some standing poses. We did some very slow transitions into balance poses...again, savoring the experience of it by letting the breath guide us - paying attention to which parts of our bodies we automatically allowed to become inactive and encouraging them to join the pose.

Deep Yin-style lunges helped open our hips, and then we worked our hamstrings in intense side-stretch (pyramid or parsvottanasana). From there we alternated chair pose to forward folds.

Back at the ground we sunk deeply into a savasana, communing with nature. The challenge was to be able to allow the thoughts to disperse with all the sensory distractions of being outside. We concluded savasana with a quick reading from the chapter on Pure Potentiality from Chopra's "Seven Spiritual Laws" book, and then returned to lengthening our breath counts to awaken us from our rest. 

I always like to invite comments about the experience of the class - to help me hone my teaching skills but also create and atmosphere of openness, of equality, of discourse... hearing that people were enjoying the process of noticing new things in their bodies, and even finding themselves able to really slow down and ENJOY a slow class made me feel...aglow!

So teaching this class was a particular challenge for me, working on suspending unnecessary humor, being very mindful of each soul in attendance, keeping the rhythm steady, but slow, and concentrating on the moment to moment experience rather than worrying and rushing from vinyasa to vinyasa. i found myself loving this experience more than I ever would have expected, and I gratefully thank those that came to share it with me!

Namaste!

Jackie

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