Monday, January 31, 2011

Something Brighter on the Wings of this Weather Front

Namaste Yogis of the NYC area and beyond! I'm updating ahead of schedule to fill you in on some exciting changes on the horizon...

My classes at Loom Studios, noon on Mondays and noon on Thursdays, will be 2:00p.m. on Monday and Thursday as of the first week in February. The Thursday class will be a donation class, so it'll be a great opportunity to check out Loom Studios in general, or me in particular! Take the L to Morgan Ave., and walk up Knickerbocker to Flushing Ave. The entrance to the shops is on the corner, and if you follow the maze around and back, you'll find our charming studio nestled near the laudromat, and the courtyard.

This week at Namaste in Willliamsburg, I'm covering two classes in addition to my regular schedule. The regular classes are Tuesday, 3:00 and 4:30, and Friday at noon. The extras are Thursday at 4:15, and Friday at 3:00. All my classes are open level, except for the Friday at 3:00, which is restorative.

On top of all these chances to unroll your mat and practice Omily, I'll be leading a Warriors Workshop at Namaste this Saturday from 4-6 p.m. This workshop will cover Warrior I, II, III, as well as Reverse or Peaceful, and Humble or Devotional Warriors. We will get very in depth in terms of technique and alignment, and we'll also take some time to talk about the philosophical and spiritual aspects of these poses. Why do yogis need to spend so much time being warriors anyway?? If you're a fan of the nitty-gritty, super-detailed, alignment focused nature of moments of my class, you are going to love this workshop. You should also know that the Warriors Workshop is the first of four in a series called "Spread Your Branches!" The other three will be about hip-openers, backbends, and inversions, and if you plan to do all four, you can sign up for all of them for the discounted rate of $65!

Namaste Yoga and Tranquility Center is on Grand Street, between Marcy and Havemeyer. Take the G or L to Lorimer/Metropolitan, or the J, M, or Z to Marcy Avenue. I am really looking forward to this one!

Of course, these classes will come and go, and maybe you aren't in a position to attend. There's still reason to be excited! In the coming weeks, I'm going to start publishing a weekly yoga podcast entitled, "Yoga 101: Living Omily One Pose at a Time." I'll spend around ten minutes breaking down one pose with its variations and modifications each week. Every two months or so, I'll publish a yoga sequence podcast, revolving around the poses we've been working on. Keep your eyes peeled! The first one will be on Mountain Pose.

If you're into this sort of thing, you'll have the option of following Omily Yoga on facebook, and twitter! It'll be an easier way to keep abreast of my changing schedule, and extra classes I've picked up for that week, any special workshops on the horizon, an update to my blog, and of course, the latest podcast! I'm a little freaked out at surrendering to that little pop culture bird, but let me breathe deeply and bow my heart in humble warrior. Everything I do is for my students.

Live Omily, whether it's in my class, someone else's, or on your own mat in your own heart,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't Make it Hurt so Good

I realized on Monday that I haven't felt sad, despondent, unsure, unworthy, or otherwise depressed in a remarkably long time. I don't remember when the last time was...well, the last time there were strong, negative emotions was September. Of course the reason I realized it is that Sunday night my husband and I had one of those talks about where I'm going with this yoga thing, and this circus thing, and this writing thing, and how I should channel my energy, efforts, and time into the enterprise most likely to make money, rather than the one that arrests the rhythm of my heart, pulling it into time with its own deafening beat. I managed to avoid all such conversations with my parents, at least up until I lived several states away and had the option of hanging up the phone, so maybe this is some form of corporeal penance. It, as always, left me questioning myself, my decisions, my life, and brought to light the possibly abnormal or bad fact that I have no role models in terms of lifestyles I want to emulate. I went to bed, and woke up Monday morning, feeling sad, despondent, unsure, unworthy, and selfish. Selfishness isn't an altogether uncommon negative emotion for me. I wish it was.

I might have avoided at least a portion of my ennui if I dragged myself out of bed at 8:20 as planned for the Mission Week Mass at church at 8:45, but I hadn't slept well, and was unable to resist the siren call of my cat snuggling under the covers with me. I got up later, felt awful, didn't feel worthy even of putting on clothes and teaching yoga, and almost ran late as a result, and while brushing my teeth remembered out of nowhere that though I had dreamt that I attended the Teacher Meeting at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, I in fact did not do so in real life. I did make it to my yoga class on time, but I was exhausted, and hoped that no one showed so I could just go home and be depressed some more. As fate would have it, four people did show, and my co-teacher and retiring-director Emily was there too! In spite, or perhaps on some level because of, my mental and emotional landscape, I taught an awesomely well-balanced, playful, challenging, useful class. At the end of the class I responded to a text from a teacher at another studio, letting her know I could sub her 3:00. She was quite grateful. Why the universe saw fit to make me such a useful person on this day I don't know, but it sure had a better effect on me than finding a quarter, or being offered free cookies or some such thing would have.

I ate lunch with Emily, collected my things, and headed for Namaste. I got there early, and had a lovely discussion about the school system with the director of that studio and her husband. I went from depression to elation in a six-hour period! Ah, the vacillations of the mind. They can move one to awe, in a bit of a horrifying way. But that's not the only point I was trying to make. The other was, that Sunday night, attempting to lull myself to sleep with the warmth of my husband's body and the sound of his breath, I detected...a strange sense of satisfaction, of wallowing and wrapping up in, my own desolation. My ego loved how self-centered these feelings were making me, even though the state was induced by fairly ego-bruising thoughts.

So, beating up on yourself, focusing on your weaknesses and failings, is no way to take your ego down to size, or manage it at all. There is a healthy kind of self-love; a self-love of the true self: the beautiful, strong, compassionate you who loves every being in the universe, not the petty, often selfish, small-minded you. I think, just go back and read the paragraph before this one. That's the really pivotal one. And maybe the next time your arms are really burning in Warrior Two, and your thought is, "I can hold out just two more breaths!" take your hands to Prayer. Your ego just might be a bit of a masochist.

Omily yours,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When it Rains, it Pours

For those of you who don't live in the NYC area, the weather in these parts yesterday was truly rotten: more or less raining sheets of ice inter-mixed with super-sloppy sleet. This is not a good recipe for full yoga classes. Everyone, teachers included, would rather have been cozy at home with a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tea...or maybe hot cocoa.

I counted my lucky stars that both of my classes were at the same studio, and my home and the studio are both within two blocks of the relevant train stations. I arrived for my 3:00 class at about 2:35, dispensed with a couple pounds of inclement weather gear, and flopped down with a sigh on the bench in the front room. It was good to know I would be indoors for the next three hours or so. I wasn't super surprised when no one turned up for the 3:00, and since I was scheduled to teach the 4:15, I opted for a self-guided practice instead of braving the elements to run a few errands. I already had a sequence in mind that I had put together for my classes that day, which I was itching to try out anyway, so I approached the mat with far less trepidation than I usually do when there's no teacher to tell me what to do next.

The sequence was really wonderful: a solid, soothing warm-up, a few sun salutations with gentle twisting, a simple warrior sequence, followed by a more exciting one, which had the effect of making me feel like a flower blossoming open to the sun. Try it! You'll likely want blocks within reach...

Warrior I; Humble Warrior; Revolved Side Angle; Pyramid Pose (aka Chin to Shin); Triangle

Flow through a Vinyasa.

Speaking of blossoming open to the sun, I also did Wild Thing, aka Rock Star, aka The Ecstatic Unfolding of the Joyful Heart, which felt so wonderful in the middle of a cold, wet January day, like defying the weather and opening myself to the universe, in spite of the instinctive urge to hunch my shoulders up to my ears and fold into my chest. Definitely another one you should play with! If you don't recognize the poses by name, don't panic! has pictures, and explanations of how to move into and out of each of them safely. I opened my hips with pigeon, took supported bridge for back bending, and supported tripod headstand for my inversion.

I taught a lovely, intimate 4:15 classes, washed the tea cups, struggled back into my boots, and set off for home, a very happy yogi. My husband did cancel my grilled cheese plans by stopping by the grocery for whole wheat pizza dough, mushrooms, and an Italian cheese blend, but pesto pizza is pretty far up there on the comfort food scale anyhow. We settled in to watch Julie and Julia, something I had been campaigning for for months. My husband never wants to see the same movie more than once, but I thrive on repeat viewings, and since the first one, I had read the books it was based on!

Ah, bliss...Well, not quite. Watching a movie about a not totally self-realized person writing a blog for lack of anything better to do only to have it become a huge success and lead to a book and a movie contract definitely stirred up some very un-yogi like thoughts for this not-so-successful blogger and aspiring writer. Not that this could be made into a book or a movie...and, I filled up a whole earlier post with the importance of not doing something for the sake of results that may or may not happen.

So, you can't predict where your day's going to go; which vacillation your brain is going to take next. I started out not thrilled over the weather, gave myself a beautiful practice, taught a good class, felt amazing going home, and then got riled up over a movie I had been wanting to watch for months! (To be fair, I do love that movie; the parts about Julia Child are just pure joy.) And this is why we do yoga in the first place: to quiet those vacillations. To get a bead on who we actually are deep down on the inside: not our ego (the pouty part that scans for comments first thing when I log in, and has kept me from teaching a seated wide legged forward fold because it's such a struggle for me to do), not our bodies (a part of the part that felt so satisfied after that practice, and so content to be eating fatty pizza). We are our soul, our Atman, the light within that we speak to when we say, "Namaste!" Maybe someday I'll get there...for now, I'm trying Wild Thing again. I won't give up if you won't!

Omily yours,

P.S. Perhaps I'll post more often so not quite so much gets squeezed into each one...check back often!