Monthly Archives: July 2010

My favorite spam comments

Oh spam. Most of the spam comments I get here are crude and worthless, but some are worth a laugh. One day, Miley Cyrus left me a comment! (cue rolling of the eyes) I also particularly loved the one that was just a list of about 1,000 printer model numbers.

Here are some of my other favorite spam comments:

  • A excellent washboard is one of individuals long cherished body qualities that numerous a gym goer desires. A whole industry has been produced close to this topic. Unfortunately, like a lot of the mainstream information available, the truth has been hidden from you, the general public in buy to maintain you within the dark and on a never ending cycle. They do this which means you will continue to make use of their items. But never see the results you would like.
  • Really sweet, I like do it yourself ideas. I’ve learned so much through doing my very own Do-it-yourself projects through the years, as well as ended up saving multitudes of money too :)
  • Test Attach,occasion proportion kill sexual significance able pocket flower person growth debt such absence slightly even now achievement air near sea east health central item left south save instance phone for high bridge court themselves wear call housing circle early family into its spend whole clear his duty where previously depend long supply tell last overall through vote emphasis draw display notice where concern experiment should latter together daughter fire trust light air company defendant necessary step care writer right clean subject star west means right education early prospect our survey
  • The chief complaint of most freak out assault sufferers may be the loss of manage they encounter during panic episodes. The irrational fear during these attacks, coupled with the host of frightening actual symptoms they encounter can make it really feel like the walls are closing in and they’re powerless to cease it.
  • You’re a lot more concerned about the state you’re in NOW than what might have triggered it All you want is to become free from the fear that’s holding you back from moving forward.
  • I have to say that jamieonthemat.wordpress.com is really a good website
  • This is the greatest nonsenese I ever heared off.
  • You need to collect more stuff, dude.

Oh the joys of blogging. Happy weekend!

Namaste,
Jamie

You mean it’s more complicated than “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone”?

Last weekend was my Anatomy and Alignment training, and going into it I was radiating positive energy and happiness.

Saturday night was a different story. Turns out, learning anatomy is difficult.

Friday night was full of mind-numbing traffic, driving around in an unfamiliar city, and extreme storms that (combined with an overzealous cricket and the generally uneasy hotel room feeling) made sleep next to impossible. I was feeling “off” in about every way on Saturday. 

More than anything though, it was frustrating for me to see people conversing fluently in this foreign language of anatomy while I tried to keep my head above water. Of course, most of these people have ACE certifications and/or work in the medical field and/or have degrees in Kinesiology, Physical Education, or Physical Training. I was completely out of my element.

Both days our 2 hour morning class was taught in purely anatomical terms. So, instead of “turn the palm towards the ceiling”, or teacher cued us to “supinate the forearm”. And instead of pointing the foot, she instructed us to plantarflex the foot. This was an enormously effective teaching tool, if kind of jarring for the student.

Luckily, on Sunday, things started sinking in. I still don’t know all the muscles in the body, and I never will unless I make an extreme career change. But I learned enough. I also learned these three extremely important things:

1)       I hyperextend everything. Elbows? Check. Knees? Check. Shoulders? You bet. More on this to come.

2)       Everything is connected. Your elbows are doing something weird? That affects the muscles between your ribs (serratus anterior, dontcha know). Your knee hurts? Perhaps your knee is fine – it’s your hip that’s arthritic. I already knew this in a floaty, spiritual, yoga way, but it was fun to learn the science behind it. No, seriously, it’s all connected.

3)       I can walk down the wall from Tadasana (mountain pose) to Urdvha Dhanurasana (wheel/backbend). The wheel is probably my #1 favorite pose, but I had never done it from standing before. It’s always nice to achieve a huge personal practice milestone on the path to becoming a teacher.

On Saturday night I declared that I needed a yoga BREAK! No more about the acetabulum for pete’s sake! But it was really just a lovers spat, and yoga and I made up quickly.

All in all, I left the weekend with more knowledge, more experience, and more love for yoga than before. YTT is just like everything else. You ride the ups and downs. Education is never wasted.

Namaste,
Jamie

Yoga: teaching the unteachable

As I get ready to leave for a YTT weekend – slowly creeping closer to the 200 RYT – here is what’s on my mind:

Can you ever really teach yoga?

You can teach someone to sew. You can teach someone to read. You can teach someone to do a cartwheel. These are all things that have an endpoint. Someday you’re done learning and you just say “I can ___”.

Yoga isn’t a skill. There aren’t people who can do yoga and people who can’t do yoga like there are people who can wiggle their ears and people who can’t.

So we aren’t really teaching yoga are we? We’re teaching mindfulness, breath, patience, compassion, persistence, faith, belief in ourselves, and belief in each other. We’re teaching love, understanding, and peace. And, like yoga, these aren’t things that can be mastered, checked off a list. They’re things that continue to grow, develop, and deepen inside of us.

I’m going to use this weekend to remind myself I’m guiding people into yoga, not teaching them. I’m introducing them to asanas and showing them the connection between the breath and the body, and they are learning yoga without me.

Namaste,
Jamie

Buying a new yoga mat

When I first started practicing yoga, it was exclusively in places where mats were provided. I never thought I needed my own mat, but one day I got stuck with a stinky one for a 75-minute class. Yuck.

I got my first mat for Christmas, as a gift from my parents. I was so excited!!

I love this picture - I look thrilled and Izzy looks confused.

When I started YogaFit training (nine months ago), I received a new mat. My treasured pink mat was relegated to “spare”, which I now loan to students in my private classes. I use my YogaFit mat exclusively, and it’s already flaking like crazy. Flaking isn’t a huge deal to me – my dog Rocky sheds a lot anyway, and the mat bits just come off when I lint roll my yoga clothes. But I think I spend enough time on the mat to justify buying one for the first time.

There are two big things to consider when purchasing a new mat.

First: how are you going to reuse your old one? Throwing it away means it will take a bajillion years to degrade in a landfill – if it ever does. Luckily, I have all sorts of yoga plans in my future which means I will be hanging on to both of my old mats for the time being. I know they will come in handy some day.

Second: what is most important to you when it comes to a mat? Stickiness? Attractiveness? Size? Brand? Price? Since this is the first time I get to research my own purchase, I’m taking the task very seriously. I’ve decided my two most important qualities are 1) Eco-Friendliness and 2) Stickiness. I want to make sure new my mat is made in the least harmful way possible, and I want it to actually stick to the floor. Otherwise, I won’t use it and no matter how Eco-Friendly it is, it’s wasteful if it sits in the corner.

Eco Yogini has written a lot about buying an eco-friendly yoga mat: here, here, and this post about ways to re-use your mat. The most important thing I’ve found is that just because a mat says it’s eco-friendly, doesn’t make it so. Some eco-friendly mats still use TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer), which we have reason to be wary of (check my links to EcoYogini for more).

The mat I am currently considering is prAna’s Natural Yoga Mat. It’s made of rubber, which is more sustainable than man-made plastic. prAna is famous for their Revolution Natural Sticky Mat, but it’s so large that I just can’t bring myself to buy it. I teach in relatively tight quarters twice a week and there’s just no room for it! The Natural Yoga Mat seems to be my best choice.

What decisions go into your yoga mat purchases? Do you have a Natural Yoga Mat by prAna? Any mat brands to avoid?

PS- more ways to reuse your mat here, here, here, here, and here. Now you have no excuses! : )

Namaste,
Jamie

Bring on the books

I am ready to start building a yoga library. I love all things books, which is obvious if you ever visit my home, and it’s time to get serious about the theory behind the asana.

Last week I issued a request on twitter for yoga book suggestions. I got a lot of responses (thanks @YogaSweetie, @sweatydarla, @yoga_mydrishti, @cmcriverdawn, and @MicheleLMBT!). Here are the suggestions I’ve received:

  • Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit – Donna Farhi
  • Teaching Yoga – Mark Stephens
  • Journey into Power – Baron Baptiste
  • The Inner Tradition of Yoga – Michael Stone
  • The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice – TKV Desikachar
  • Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness – Erich Schiffman
  • Yoga: A Gem for Women – Geeta Iyengar
  • Light on Yoga – BKS Iyengar

Are there anything important I’m missing? Of course the Gita is on my list for someday, too.

If you’ve read these books, what did you think?

Namaste,
Jamie

So you teach yoga, huh?

I have been surpised in the past few months by how many people find out I’m a yoga teacher. It comes up in conversation much more than I had expected.

I have told co-workers, grocery story cashiers, my dental hygienist, the woman who put me under for my wisdom teeth extraction, one of the VPs of the company I work for, etc, etc, all without necessarily meaning to. I have experienced a wide variety of responses to the conversation.

Here are some I’ve heard more than once:

  • Oh, yoga, my wife does that.
  • I used to do yoga but I stopped.
  • Yoga, huh? Would that stop my back from hurting?
  • I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.
  • So can you put your foot behind your head?
  • I’m too arthritic to do yoga.
  • I don’t like hippies.
  • Would that help me with my balance?
  • Does that make you more coordinated?
  • In high school I could stand on my head.
  • I’m too old for that.
  • I hate the yoga parts of P90X.
  • So is that like pilates?
  • If I come to your class, you’re not going to take photos of me, are you?
  • So I guess you’re a vegetarian then.
  • Have you gone to India?

And here are a few unique responses that I especially loved:

  • My wife does yoga in the living room with a DVD, and I poke her and try to make her fall over. She gets mad at me.
  • I went to a yoga class once and I had to leave the room to throw up.
  • I’m not putting on spandex and bending in those positions in front of people.

And today I got this one, which was a first:

No wonder you’re so calm and centered.

I guess my life’s work is complete : )

Namaste, and happy weekend. What do people say when they find out you’re a yogi/ni?
Jamie

Adjustable

I have always been an A student, a perfectionist, an overachiever.

The first time I received an adjustment in a yoga class I felt like I had earned a “B” on that pose — like I had been doing something “wrong”, and the teacher was “correcting” me.

Well there’s a reason it’s called an adjustment and not a correction, and as my practice evolved I realized that I love adjustments. They always take me into a deeper (and sometimes safer) expression of the pose, and I can feel everything click into place under the skilled hands of a teacher.

Any discomfort I previously had with a teacher touching me disappated as I realized that yoga teachers view the body scientifically. They aren’t looking at flab, errant hairs, or curves in the wrong places. They’re looking at bones, muscles, joints, and alignment. It’s the mark of a true professional when a teacher can wrap her arms around my waist in down dog, without making me feel uncomfortable.

So, as I’ve traveled along the adjustment journey, I now enjoying receiving. However, I am a bit wary of giving adjustments. In YogaFit (at least for the first few levels) they teach verbal adjustments addressed to the whole room. If I see a student whose knee is past her toes in a lunge, I’ll address the whole class with a verbal reminder. Usually this works, but sometimes people don’t have the body awareness to realize I’m talking to them.

I’ve gotten comfortable giving adjustments using my hand as a guide to where the body should be. I’ll place it on the floor and have them walk their foot towards it, I’ll hold it in the air and have them meet it when they’re over-extending in triangle. But I’m light years away from doing something like this:

even though I know it’s a lovely feeling, I’m just not ready to take it there yet. Maybe with time I will be able to do it outside of the gym setting.

At the gym, there’s little chance I’ll ever give an adjustment. People don’t come to the gym for that. Even the physical setup of the room — I teach on a “stage” elevated from the rest of the class by about a foot — makes adjusting seem like correcting.

Any suggestions from fellow teachers on this? Is there a time when it stops feeling forced to adjust students?

I’d also love to hear from students who have gotten adjustments that felt wrong, awkward, or uncomfortable.

PS – While writing this post, I remembered two blog posts from other lovely yoginis where they discussed the same thing. Check out LaGitane at Yoga Gypsy and Babs at Babs Babbles on adjustments.

PPS- And for Yoga Gone Wrong, check out YogaDork’s take on that inane teacher in Couple’s Retreat. Apparently Vince Vaughn has his own opinions about adjustments.

PPPS- All of this talk about Giving and Receiving makes me think of The Giver, one of my all-time favorite books and my selection for our book club this month. Check it out at Amazon if you haven’t read it.

PPPPS- haha just kidding. I swear I’m done now.

Namaste,
Jamie