Learning to soar

Laura sitting upright in throne pose and twistingOn Boxing Day I got my first taste of yogaFLIGHT… and I was hooked!¬†sKY:: and slaDE came to yin yoga class I taught and hung around afterwards to introduce me to this incredible practice.

yogaFLIGHT is a form of acro yoga (i.e. acrobatics+yoga) that allows students to soar. It’s contact partner yoga that’s usually practiced in groups of three: one person to be the base (the guy on the bottom), one person is the flier (rising into the air atop the base), and one person acting as a spotter (making sure the flier and base are as safe as possible).

Being the base takes less strength than I thought. My husband (pictured acting as base in the photo) is able to fly with me as a base… and he’s got 50+ pounds and a lot more muscle than me! That being said, I love flying – that’s certainly when I’m happiest ūüôā

Since my first taste of yogaFLIGHT, I’ve joined Acro Yoga Vancouver for a couple classes and practiced with friends while on a beach vacation. Each time has been incredible!

On Saturday, February 2, I’m participating in a yogaFLIGHT workshop put on by¬†sKY:: and slaDE at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre. The workshop runs from 1-3pm and has limited space to make sure every participant gets the attention they need.

Although it might look intimidating, yogaFLIGHT can be an incredibly restorative practice – and it’s hugely fun! Between looks of intense concentration, I’ve generally got a huge smile on my face while flying. And I’m always looking forward to the next time…

Smile because it happened

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.Tonight I teach my lass class at Body Harmony. The present studio space is being redeveloped and the owner is taking a hiatus before re-opening in a new location.

While I’ve only been teaching there since spring, I’ve grown really attached to the space, other teachers, and, of course, the students. I’m going to miss teaching there and it’s hard not to feel melancholic about the transition.

Dr Seuss brings a little perspective to the situation. Instead of being sad that I won’t be at Body Harmony in the coming months, I’m focusing on being grateful that I’ve been able to teach and practice there.

Catching the tail end of the space farewell celebration tomorrow evening should help with the smiling part, too ūüôā On¬†Friday evening, Body Harmony teachers and students will be celebrating the space with live music and good food. Nothing like a party to drive away sadness!

And if you’re in the mood for a hatha class this evening, join me from 7:30-8:45pm tonight for the last evening class at this incarnation of Body Harmony!

I totally cheat at yoga

This article about being a¬†Yoga sinner from Recovering Yogi really stuck a cord with me. The author/yoga teacher suggests doing yoga poses while watching trashy TV (Millionaire Matchmaker, to be precise) and her student responds:¬†‚ÄĚDoesn‚Äôt that kind of go against the¬†idea¬†of yoga?‚ÄĚ

I think the idea of yoga depends a lot on the motivation behind it.

Some people practice yoga almost purely for physical reasons, some find spiritual solace or emotional well-being. Some just like the chance to lay still in relaxation at the end of a class without anyone poking them. These motivations vary greatly, can change frequently, and certainly affect how students practice.

For example: I generally like tuning into my breathing, letting my brain quiet, and connecting with my body during a yoga practice. Recently, however, I’ve been feeling off and haven’t been comfortable dwelling in my own head. A quiet meditative yoga practice will not work for me right now – I need something to get me out of my thoughts. So I’ve been ‘cheating’ and doing gentle yin postures at home while listening to Vinyl Cafe¬†podcasts.

I’m getting the physical benefits of stretching and relaxing my muscles, but instead of coming into a meditative state (which probably wouldn’t happen right now anyway), I get to escape into the Vinyl Cafe world and laugh¬†hysterically¬†as Stuart recounts Dave’s adventures taking care of six dogs. I suppose I could even call it laughter yoga ūüėČ

‘Cheating’ and being comfortable in my yoga practice is far more important than trying to force myself into something that isn’t going to work.

A dear friend gave me an awesome magnet a while back (shown on the side of our fridge above) that says “I totally cheat at yoga.” It reminds me to wholeheartedly embrace that idea and ensure my practice suits whatever motivation is getting me onto the mat in the first place!

Tell me what you want…

Laura with fellow yoga teacher Holly

I’ve had the¬†privilege¬†of teaching a few private yoga classes recently and I’m amazed how different it is teaching group and individual yoga sessions. A private yoga session is all about that student and their unique needs, which means I shape my teaching style much more to their preferences.

At first, I had a strong desire to fill the space with words and interact with the solo student all the time… but then it hit me that teaching that way is not going to work for everyone on every day. In fact, I wouldn’t respond well to constant attention from a teacher – I’d start to feel anxious and worried that my every move was being watched and possibly judged. I also sometimes want a really calm, chilled out practice and other times want something more energetic and invigorating.

So I thought about the questions I’d want a yoga teacher to ask me in a one-on-one session:

  • What kind of practice are you looking for?
    • Do you want to do more poses with shorter holds? Or fewer poses with longer holds?
    • Is the purpose to energize you? Or relax you? Or both!
  • Are there any particular areas you want to focus on? Or postures that really resonate with you?
    • Any areas that are particularly sensitive or need a different kind of attention?
  • What level of hands-on are you comfortable with?
    • Can I gently adjust you and apply a bit of pressure to settle you in poses? Or is verbal guidance better?
    • Are there any joints or areas you’re¬†nurturing¬†that shouldn’t be adjusted?
  • How much or how little instruction/guidance do you want?
    • Should I be quiet as much as possible? Or do you prefer reminders about breathing, relaxing, etc. and suggestions for deepening the pose or lessening the intensity?
    • Do you prefer a guided relaxation or quiet savasana at the end of the practice?

Now I ask private students for input on how they want to be taught. That’s one of the most amazing parts of solo yoga sessions – students can get precisely what they want and need!

If you’re lucky enough to get one-on-one yoga instruction, think about what you want to get out of that practice beforehand and odds are good that the teacher will be able to deliver.

In the immortal words of the Spice Girls, “Tell me what you want; what you really, really, want!”

Updated mellow music list

A few new mellow tunes that I’ve added into the rotation.¬†Take a look at the Listen page for a full list of songs that are great for a yoga practice and at the Meditate page¬†for meditation music I¬†recommend. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.

  • Holding a Heart by Girl Named Toby Holding a Heart - We Are - EP
  • Long Time Sun by Snatam Kaur Long Time Sun - Celebrate Peace
  • Never Ending Road (Amhr√°n Duit) by Loreena McKennitt Never Ending Road (Amhr√°n Duit) - An Ancient Muse
  • Where are you Going?¬†by Dave Matthews Band¬†Where Are You Going - Busted Stuff

Winter songs

Music that captures the seasonal spirit and works as a soundtrack to a yoga practice. Take a look at the Listen page for a full list of songs that are great for a yoga practice and at the Meditate page for meditation music I recommend. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.

  • In the Morning by Jack Johnson In the Morning - In the Morning - Single
  • Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) by Meiko Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) - Winter Songs
  • Misteltoe by Colbie Callait Mistletoe - Winter Songs
  • River¬†by Joni Mitchell¬†River - Blue
  • Song for a Winter‚Äôs Night by Sarah¬†McLachlan Song for a Winter's Night - Wintersong
  • Winter Song¬†by¬†Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson¬†Winter Song - Winter Songs

Mellow tunes for practicing yoga

Take a look at the Listen page for a full list of songs that are great for a yoga practice and at the Meditate page for meditation music I recommend. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.

  • Aad Guray¬†by Deva Premal¬†Aad Guray - Dakshina
  • Awake My Soul¬†by Mumford and Sons¬†Awake My Soul - Sigh No More
  • Costa Rica¬†(Acoustic Version) by Vince Vaccaro¬†Costa Rica (Acoustic Version) - Costa Rica (Acoustic Version)
  • Full of Grace¬†by Sarah McLachlan¬†Full of Grace - Surfacing
  • Hide & Seek 2¬†by Imogen Heap¬†Hide & Seek 2 - Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace
  • Homeless¬†by Paul Simon (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)¬†Homeless (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo) - Graceland
  • Into the West¬†by Howard Shore & Annie Lennox¬†Into the West - The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
  • Keep Breathing¬†by Ingrid Michaelson¬†Keep Breathing - Be OK
  • Lonely¬†by The Boom Booms¬†Lonely - Hot Rum!
  • Lost¬†by Anouk¬†Lost - Hotel New York
  • She’s Only Happy In the Sun¬†by Ben Harper¬†She's Only Happy In the Sun - Diamonds On the Inside
  • Song for Leaving¬†by¬†Brett Dennen¬†Song for Leaving - Loverboy
  • Till Kingdom Come¬†by Coldplay¬†Till Kingdom Come - X & Y
  • Tu Es Belle¬†by Toby¬†Tu Es Belle - Love Underground
  • You’ll Go Far¬†by Jenn Grant¬†You'll Go Far - Echoes