Monthly Archives: March 2010

Namaste, Wii

I am your student, Wii. Teach me.

balancing

in this you can see the balance board and how it's incorporated into some of the poses

I do not have a broken ankle - the socked foot is not mine.

probably swearing at the bossy trainer

thanks for the much-needed recognition, wii

This past Friday I tried Wii Fit for the first time. My friend Stephanie, previously mentioned in this post, has a Wii and offered it up for our post-dinner entertainment. I was eager to try the Yoga section – I am always way behind in trying new technology, so it’s no surprise that practically everyone in the world did the Wii version of Tree Pose before I did.

The first thing I did on Wii Fit was enter my height. The Wii balance board weighed me, and immediately pronounced me overweight. In flashing red text. On a bar graph.

Thanks a lot, Wii, I don’t remember asking you for your opinion. *glare*

So after the Wii was finished insulting me (or so I thought), we moved on to the yoga part. It’s not in a class format, so the poses aren’t linked together in any way, you just select which ones you want to do. Your trainer shows you how to do the pose, then you do them together. Some of them use the balance board, but some of them you just do on the floor.

The most interesting thing about the whole experience was the emphasis the game (because that’s what it is, in my opinion) puts on balance. The balance board is a sensitive, amazing tool that can detect incredibly slight shifts in balance. It depicts your balance on screen as a red dot, and gives you a goal range to keep it in (a yellow circle, a blue rectangle, etc). The more balanced you are, the more still and focused your dot will be.

It’s a really great way to help beginners turn their awareness to the four corners of their feet. They also have balance games, which I’m not as good at. I’m better at holding my balance than using it to shift slightly and “steer” in the balance games, but they’re fun nonetheless.

The first couple of poses I did, I didn’t really get what I was trying to do, and the Wii declared me a “Yoga Newcomer”. With the “overweight” still ringing in my ears, of course I couldn’t stand for that. I had to kick it into high gear.

After a while I got the hang of it, but I never reached the coveted “four star” rank. I did end up earning the “Yoga Trainer” title (three stars), so I guess that’s good enough!

I enjoyed the Wii version of yoga because it was really cool to see a visual depiction of my center of balance, but I also think there a couple of serious flaws with the thing. First of all, I don’t know that the balance it has you strive toward in the postures is always correct. I admit that my down dog might not be perfect, but in order to find the right posture according to the game, I had to come halfway into plank pose. It was awkward.

Also, some of the poses they offer are really advanced. Their “triangle” is actually revolved triangle, which is tough (especially after two Friday night cocktails). It’s crazy to think a “Yoga Newcomer” could actually come into revolved triangle as quickly and easily as the strangely colorless Wii trainer coaches us to.

All in all, I think the Wii Fit yoga is a cool introduction to yoga for someone who knows nothing about it. At times, it sets impossibly high standards, and it certainly can’t replace a knowledgeable teacher. But if it gets people interested, then I’m not going to complain. : )

Namaste,
Jamie

Something Cool –

Make your own at http://www.wordle.net

New look

Check out the new me!

I changed my blog’s look and feel tonight. No more stock wordpress template, this one is all me. The only thing I don’t like about it is this template has no room for a blogroll. So I’ll be working on getting up a Links page in addition to the About page.

I’m happy to receive suggestions about the new look : )

Namaste,
Jamie

Goals update: Part 1 of 4

It’s March 22, do you know where your new years resolution is?

Since the year is just about 25% over already (WHOA!), I decided to do an update about how I’m doing on the list of goals I made last December. So today I’ll blog a little bit about the goals I have attained already this year.

Completed goals:

  • Finish YogaFit Level 1 community service requirement and receive Level 1 certification.
  • Attend YogaFit Level 2. – Blogged about here and here.
  • Hold a headstand for ten breaths (with or without a wall). – Done with the wall, hope to do without the wall by the end of the year
  • Establish a solid yoga teaching schedule, with at least one regular class. – more here
  • Quit the gym.
  • Get a blogroll going with other yogi/nis/interesting bloggers – see the space to your right!
  • Re-read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
  • Take a week off from my full-time job (guilt-free) and spend it with my husband and dogs. – It was fabulous!
  • Spend a night in Chicago with my husband. – see Chicago yoga here.
  • Get in a career position that affords Andy and I both full medical, dental, and vision coverage.
  • Sing Karaoke in public. – I sang at a karaoke party. It was on private property, but in front of strangers, so I decided it counts.
  • Go to a zoo.
  • Eat nothing fried for two weeks. – This was tough. Not so tough because I love fried food (and I do, oh I do), but because I forgot how much is fried. Before I realized it, I had stolen a half-inch long French fry off of Andy’s plate at dinner. But it was just one and it was unintentional, so I decided it still counts.
  • Get family pictures done (me, the hubby, and the two dogs). – see them here.
  • Send Niko home happily.
  • Discover a new musician that I love. Ingrid Michaelson
  • Sell the clarinet(s) and use the money for yoga trainings. – this I can only consider half done, because I sold the clarinet, but I’m using the money to go to San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend to visit a friend from high school. But that will be just as awesome as a yoga training. And feel free to send Bay Area yoga studio recommendations my way!
  • Go rollerblading.
  • Find a good way to develop a home practice and join yogaglo.com – Joined yogaglo and reviewed it here. Home practice has its ups and downs.
  • Send someone flowers. – my mom

Year-long goals that I’m doing well on:

  • Always have my next book picked out while I’m reading my current book.
  • Read five books of non-fiction that aren’t memoirs. – have read three
  • Practice some sort of yoga (30 min minimum) every day for 30 days. Do this twice. – I did this in January, and blogged about it too many times to link it!
  • Write for On the Mat at least twice a week, every week.
  • Purchase a houseplant and keep it alive. – I didn’t purchase the plant, it was given to me in January. It’s currently still alive, although leaning precariously…
  • Use the credit cards only for emergencies (and remember that shopping at Target is not an emergency). – Haven’t put anything on the cards all year : )
  • Kiss Andy good night every night. – have only missed the nights one of us is out of town – and smooched over the phone those nights!
  • Call my grandparents on their birthdays. – successful so far
  • Continue limiting caffeine (1 drink per week if at all). – have probably had two caffeine drinks this year, if that.
  • No overdraft fees in 2010.
  • No speeding tickets in 2010. – although I did get pulled over for speeding…darn lead foot. I’m a yoga teacher, I’m not supposed to be in such a hurry all the time!
  • Go an entire day without checking any email, facebook, twitter, wordpress, etc. Spend the day doing productive things on this list. Do this six times. – have done this twice. Makes me feel equal parts panicked and liberated.

Confessions of a yogini with multiple personalities

Lately, I have been feeling a bit like an imposter. I don’t feel like just Jamie all day long, I feel like a different person during different parts of my day.

In the morning, I grudgingly wake up to my alarm and put on my cardigans and my dress pants, and I go to work. I work in a cubicle and sit at a computer most of the day. Since a lot of people in Bloomington-Normal do the same thing, the haughty and derisive around here have taken to calling us “corporate drones”.

I do not have an overwhelmingly important job, nothing vital hinges on my decisions, I do not own a Blackberry. At least on the good days, I do not feel like a drone. I can’t decide if these two sentences are contradictions are not.

My husband teaches three out of the four work nights of the week, so I have large chunks of evenings to myself. Now that the weather’s nice, sometimes I rollerblade down to the park and get some exercise. I walk my dogs. I spend a little bit of time each night fulfilling obligations: dishes, laundry, other chores. Sometimes I meet a friend for dinner or drinks. I spend lots of time reading blogs and keeping up with various internet things. Other than that, the majority of my free time is spent reclining on the couch, reading a novel. It is my favorite way to relax.

Once a week I take a yoga class and twice a week I teach. During these times, I feel most like myself — I feel like the happiest, most positive and clear-headed version of myself I can be.

When I am at work, you have to look hard for signs that I practice and teach yoga. I leave a few hints, but not many. The most obvious is that I can’t sit normally in a desk chair. I sit sideways, with my legs under the arm rest, or have one knee bent with my chin resting on it. I sit cross-legged a lot. I often do odd-looking stretches when my shoulders and back start to feel tense. I do not know how other people go all day without doing them! I almost always take off my shoes and leave them on the floor where my feet should be. I also wear very little makeup and jewelry, which is not yoga, per se, but relates more to Yoga Jamie than Corporate Jamie.

The dissonance of this situation hit me when last week when I was at class, as a student. I shared with some other students where I work and what I do, and it just felt strange coming out of my mouth while being Yoga Jamie. It didn’t seem like me, although I know I do it for nearly 40 hours every week. In the same way, when I am at work, I don’t feel like a yogini. No one I work with practices yoga regularly, and most of my co-workers know just the bare minimum about yoga, my teaching style, what I’m working on, what it means to me. Some of them read this blog, but that is likely the closest they will get to know Yoga Jamie.

I sometimes feel guilty pursuing other leisure activities besides yoga. I love yoga and as I said, I love Yoga Jamie. But I rarely practice at home, because – at least at this particular moment in time – I would rather do other things while I’m there. I want my blocks of time to read a novel, play with my dogs, visit friends. I don’t practice every day. I frequently chose to be Reading Jamie over Yoga Jamie.

There are lots of moments in my life where I think “I don’t live like a yoga teacher”. I don’t drink caffeine, but I almost always have a cocktail on the weekends. I love to sleep in whenever possible, sometimes even till (*gasp*) 9:30, a fact I hide with shame around my friends with children. I love to eat junk food and French fries and chicken. I don’t fit a yoga sterotype, or any stereotype.

I am sharing this because I want to know if it’s typical. Do other yoginis feel this way? What about those whose full-time job is to teach yoga? Is there still a gap to bridge between yoga and personal life? Do people with different hobbies feel this way, too – does someone passionate about painting, or cars, or writing, feel like a different person throughout other moments of the week?

More importantly, is yoga a unique passion because it informs the other moments of our lives? Because I can say “no” to my mat, am I exercising the balance I learned while I was on it? Since I can focus on being present as Reading Jamie and maintaining my breath as Corporate Jamie, am I always Yoga Jamie, whether I realize it or not?

Namaste,
Jamie

photo credit: http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/womens-health/fitness/yoga/article/-/6218203/em-yoga-em-for-workaholics/

More Les Mills musings

Recently, I met a co-owner of a local gym who is interested in bringing me on to teach yoga. It’s a really nice place with an intimate, community feeling. They participate in a system of group fitness classes that is Les Mills-esque, but not quite the same. While yoga is not included in the “system”, the owners are committed to keeping it on their schedule for the 9 or 10 dedicated yoginis who attend regularly.

First of all, I really admire this location for realizing that these group fitness systems address the needs of most, but not all, gym-goers. This particular gym strives to meet the needs of those who are left out. I think that seems like a place where I would enjoy teaching.

Second of all, she told me briefly about the other fitness classes they offer, one similar to Les Mills’s BodyFlow. She mentioned, with a bit of surprise, that her yoginis don’t generally attend this other class.

Why is this? I was not at all shocked that the quiet yoga community in this part of Illinois is, like me, resistant to other more mainstream fitness classes that include touches of yoga. These “yoga hybrid” classes seem to follow a recipe of yoga, pilates, tai chi, meditation, all wrapped up in a mind-body package.

My only experience with BodyFlow wasn’t a great one. I left feeling like the person who wrote the class had seen some asanas in movies or on TV and threw them intermittently into a pilates class, without really understanding the postures. The weird dance-like quality of the tai chi portion is probably offensive to tai chi practitioners, as well. The class definitely lacked a focus on modifications and safe alignment. The music was too loud and the poses way too challenging for people with limited fitness and flexibility. And, the instructor offered to let us SKIP the relaxation. Sigh.

It just seems that if yoga is your “thing”, you shy away from classes like these. Maybe for the same reasons that esteemed literary critics generally don’t join book clubs, and wine connessiours don’t drink Arbor Mist. It’s like a distilled version of your art form. It makes sense to me, but not it a way that I could pin down, without making it sound like we are all superior yoga snobs.

What about you, readers? Do you enjoy “yoga hybrid” classes? Do they feel cheap and narrow-minded to you, or do they do the opposite and open up all sorts of new ways to view poses?

Namaste,
Jamie

(photo from lesmills.com)

The Country Mouse Goes To The City, Volume 2

The last time I went to Chicago, I took pictures of my asanas in various parts of the city. This time, I decided to find some yoga on our trip. And let me tell you, it was not difficult. Yoga is everywhere!

First, corpse pose at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago:

Next, a lotus flower in the ballroom of our hotel. Is it really a lotus flower? Regardless, it looked beautiful and yogariffic to me.

A monkey at the zoo (disclaimer: I have always heard this pose called monkey in classes, but I know monkey also means a splits-type of pose. This is monkey to me).

Camel, which is a pose I never really saw the resemblance in (can someone help?)

Tree, thanks to a balancing bird:

And my favorite: Lion pose at the zoo, the museum, and the zoo gift shop (yes, that’s my hubby!)

Where have you found yoga?

Namaste,
Jamie