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Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Svâdhyâya Car Wash

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My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze for the 5th time.  “Who’s idea was it to start practicing daily?”  I jump out of bed and  trip on my way to the bathroom on the pile of books I am reading for my teacher training.  That’s a lot of books.

By now I know I am running behind a bit and skip my morning brew and race down to the studio.  The room is packed already and my spot is taken, not that I have a spot.  Who are all these people and who is that new guy in my spot?  I unroll my mat and start my practice, Mysore used to be my favourite class but today all these people are bugging me.  I feel so stiff, I can’t touch my knees without feeling my hamstrings scream in agony.  Why is that new guy in my spot breathing so loud?  Who does he think he is?  This teacher training is ruining my practice…all this self study…oh svâdhyâya!!

One of the best gifts one of my teachers gave me was when all this stuff arises, which it will,  you are in the car wash.  You can’t roll down the windows, you can’t open the doors and get out, you have to just keep going.  Self study brings up your stuff, your fears and so many emotions.  Your practice gets effected too as you are in your body now, this is YOGA.  Every move you make you start to dissect and figure out where you are in space and in your body.

You can suffer in it or celebrate the Svâdhyâya Car Wash. I choose to celebrate it.  Bring it on.  Well maybe not too much!

David Good is a student, yoga teacher,and our blog’s editor. He is also one of OG’s Teacher Trainees in the Effective Teaching: 300-hour Advanced Teacher Training and he has always loved car washes.

Ask the OG Team…

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You asked: I have an eating disorder. Can yoga and a Holistic Nutritionist help?
We asked OG’s Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Kate Leinweber.
Kate: The topic of disordered eating is vast and affects many men and women. Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and orthorexia. Although eating disorders do not only affect females it is estimated that 95% of diagnosed eating disorders are female. It doesn’t end there, disordered eating falls on the continuum between wellness and eating disorder and is something that few women escape in our society. It includes patterns such as frequent dieting, calorie counting, and excessive exercise and cleansing. In our society these characteristics have become a part of being a woman.
In discussing disordered eating it is necessary to question the experience of being female in our society today. Now more women than ever struggle with ideas of weight loss and obsess with body image.
The torture of disordered eating patterns has in fact become socially acceptable with the most extreme being Orthorexia which is an obsession with ingesting the most healthy foods. This is the one eating disorder that escapes social judgment and one that I suffered from. On the surface I appeared to be an extremely healthy vegan raw foodist. Underneath was a constant struggle to create perfection through my food.
Behind the labels and definitions, disordered eating is known as a process addiction and the root is that it provides a distraction from buried emotions. The path of healing involves being present with uncomfortable feelings.
Although society creates and the media perpetuates a disconnection of our body, community, and Mother Nature, there are many things we can do to regain a healthy sense of self and balanced eating habits. Yoga is a way to create and deepen the connection to your true self and to create a safe place in your body to experience emotion.
A Holistic Nutritionist will help develop the necessary tools of intuitive feeling and eating. The ability to differentiate physical hunger from the need for emotional nourishment will be addressed to transform negative emotions surrounding food and eating into a process of loving and accepting oneself.

Recommended Reading: Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D

Kate’s holistic model empowers each client with knowledge of how whole foods can sustain a healthy and whole body.

 

Thanks Kate.

Gateways

I have been thinking recently how much asana are like gateways. Each pose is a kind of portal, a corporeal threshold through which we enter into new, increasingly subtle relationships with our bodies and various forces or energetic patterns. The postures present us with a complex set of challenges that call upon particular mixtures of strength, flexibility, and equilibrium, and each of us responds differently to the call of different asana. What is the heart of a pose? What is its nature? What qualities does it elicit in us? What does it ask of us?

When I began practicing yoga, I was, as some beginners are, fixated on finding the external shape of a pose. My focus was directed outward, and I would look around me to see what other people were doing and then try to translate that shape into my own body. My efforts were often strenuous as I tried to coax, or more often, coerce my body into submission. Not being endowed with an especially patient nature, I wanted to move forward, to see progress, to measure my sense of my own development.

Perhaps fortunately, I had some physical impediments that prevented my practice from advancing as quickly as I wished. I was frequently handicapped with injuries and pain that threatened to sideline my physical practice completely. During the long months during which I had to curtail my practice and tailor poses to my recalcitrant body, I realized how limited and narrow my initial understanding of yoga was. I began to close my eyes as I was practicing, learning slowly to refine my ability to listen to my body and my breath. “Was I breathing?” asked Pat. Not much. “If I put my hand on the back of your heart, would I feel your breath?” she asked. Not really. There were a few days when I wasn’t able to move at all and I could only breathe, and this taught me the first rudimentary steps of patience and gratitude. It also showed me that even the apparently simplest, most fundamental actions, like breathing, were infinitely complex. Read the rest of this entry

Evolving Yoga

Yoga has a meant a number of different things to me over the years. It evolves with each distinct moment in my life taking shape in the way that is needed at that time. These days I have most of my profound yoga moments with my two-year-old son Izzy. Our journey began when Izzy was a curious one-year-old who started copying me while I practiced in my living room.  He would try to figure out how to make his body move in specific ways but the only pose that stuck was downward facing dog. I think he likes this pose because he can see the world through his legs upside down. I can tell that he enjoys this pose by the giggling that ensues every time we do the pose together. The only time I thought he would shelve his relationship with yoga was when he misjudged his floor to leg ratio and whacked his head on the hardwood. His first yoga injury ended with him in tears and the kids yoga cards thrown into the fireplace.

The next time yoga played a role with Izzy was during the summer while driving two hours to my in-laws’ cottage. Anyone who has a one and a half year old knows that driving trips at this stage can be tortuous. The adult in the front passenger seat ends up riding backwards while feeding, entertaining, or just picking up toys or pacifiers that fall down behind the seat. The difficulty with one particular drive was that I was alone with Izzy since my husband had to stay in the city to work. The drive began earnestly enough with a few requests for snacks which I had carefully placed within reaching distance to toss back to him at his request. Then we moved to music which lasted for the first few bars of each song before Izzy got bored and increasingly antsy. Then I just sang for him for a while. This was its own cruel version of entertainment. Read the rest of this entry