Tag Archives: fancy yoga studios

Odds and Ends

happy Fall!

I am on my third week of my first ever “No Fear Yoga” session, which has confirmed my belief that beginners are definitely the most fun and most rewarding to teach. They are easily impressed, willing to try, and notice improvement almost immediately.

I have 13 people in my class (12 women, 1 men), ages ranging from early 20s to early 60s. About half of the class is friends/coworkers and half strangers who found me through the Parks and Rec catalogue. We do a lot of slow flow, gentle stretching, nothing too strenuous. My goal each time is to get them feeling good so they’ll come back. So far it’s working and I have two ladies in particular who stayed after class last time to ask me when my next session begins. : )

Private one-on-one lessons with K are going quite well. Two sessions ago we did headstands, last week we worked on shoulderstand. It’s lovely working with her!

Andy and I attended a community education class at the local community college on Saturday: “Massage Therapy for Friends and Family”. It was taught by a massage therapist/yoga instructor whose wife owns the fancy yoga studio in town (theirs is the 200 RYT I would be doing if you didn’t have to pay the thousands of dollars upfront!). For the first hour of class we discussed the background of massage and the instructor did a demonstration of his massage approach. Then we spent an hour giving and an hour receiving massage, playing around with approaches and techniques. It was really fun and relaxing.

There is so much overlap between massage and yoga. I’m sure Suburban Yogini could tell us more about it! His language and the overall principles he taught (breath deeply, move slowly, relax into every movement, follow your intuition) sounded awfully familiar.

Other than that we are keeping busy painting our bedroom, planning a Halloween party, and enjoying fall. : )

my view on a recent dog walk

Namaste,
Jamie

A field trip and some blanks

This week (on Wednesday) I organized a little “field trip” for one of my yoga classes.

This is the class that meets twice a week, with six women. One of them usually brings her 11-year-old daughter along. It’s a group of tightly-knit friends who have let me into their lives two hours a week, and I have very much enjoyed getting to know them.

I bought a newbie pass at the fancy yoga studio in town, which is good for three classes. I attended one of the Vinyasa Flow classes two weeks ago to scope it out, and decided it was appropriate for a field trip. Two of the ladies were able to go to class with me this week and more of them plan to attend in two weeks when I go again.

It was fun to be in the “student” role alongside my students, though hard to let go of my “teacher” half. At the fancy yoga studio she spoke almost exlusively in Sanskrit, and I was criticizing myself a bit for not teaching them more Sanskrit names. They would have had an easier time following along (but they ended up doing just fine anyway). The positioning of the room afforded me a view of both students and it was hard for me not to size them up and offer adjustments…it was great for me to practice turning that awareness inward.

Last night before class we had a good laugh about the trip. It’s common for this group to giggle during class, joke around, tease each other, and try things they wouldn’t in a studio — they’re not afraid to fail around their friends. The “church like” atmsophere of the studio class (look straight ahead, no whispering, this is serious stuff here) was majorly at odds with the way our classes generally go. Not to mention they got the “Rosetta Stone” experience of Sanskrit: full immersion!

If you ever get the opportunity to attend class with your students, I encourage you to go for it.  : )

On an unrelated note, Suburban Yogini has been doing blanks recently and I thought this would be a fun little thing right before the weekend.

1.  In the story of my life the actor who would play me would be Laura Linney. I think she’s so pretty in a wholesome, realistic way. She’s older than I am though so we’d have to get the timing just right.

2.  If I could change one thing about the world it would be more tolerance, less hate. More acceptance, less judgment.

3.  Yesterday I took a big step towards a future goal, and was reminded of just how much I love my hubby.

4.  My favourite comfort food is sweets. Things that are terrible for you but taste yummy.

5.  My new favourite blog find is A Little Pregnant. Julie has an amazing story.

6.  If I could meet any blog friend (who I haven’t met yet) in real life, I’d choose to meet Hmmm this is hard. Probably Y is for Yogini, because she’s just so sassy. But I think I’d have so much in common with all of you that it’s really tough to pick.

7. My favourite breakfast food is twofold: on workdays it has to be something sensible like granola or some healthy cereal, otherwise, it’s a long morning until lunch. But on the weekends I like to indulge with muffins or pancakes or big breakfast scrambles. So I guess I can’t really pick!

Namaste,
Jamie

My crazy schedule: finding balance off the mat

My teaching life is getting very exciting these days. Maybe some of you out there are wondering: “Jamie, are you super woman? How do you teach yoga and hold down a full-time job, friends, a marriage, a house and two dogs?” Well, I will attempt to answer that here.

For the past several months I have taught my private class with 2-6 ladies here in town on Sundays and Thursdays, and at the gym on Wednesdays and the occassional Saturday. I take yoga on Mondays nights. It was a schedule that worked great, leaving me all of Tuesday night to myself.

Then I had a very exciting opportunity fall into my lap: teaching through the Bloomington Parks and Recreation department for the fall (if you’re in the area, check out the link on the right hand side). It meant a lot more exposure and came with the potential to turn long-term. Of course, I jumped on it. I set up the class on Thursdays, which would mean I’d teach twice on Thursday evenings. That was fine, but something had to go.

Realistically, I realized I had to drop the gym. Although the ladies there are lovely, I also drooled at the idea of having Wednesday night free. It’s a much-needed “break” night in the middle of the week. Also, since I have such little time to devote to teaching while I try to find a balance with working full-time, I had to look at it in black and white. The gym pays me less and gives me access to a smaller sector of people.

So my last class at the gym will be September 1. My Bloomington Parks and Rec class starts on October 7, so I gave myself a nice break, teaching only twice a week, hoping to pursue taking more classes myself in that time. Or so I thought…

Then I got an exciting email from a colleague of Andy’s requesting one-on-one private lessons every other week on Tuesdays. If she had requested weekly, I would have had to consider turning her down. I had just dropped the gym and here I was adding another class? But bi-weekly is perfect because it gives me “off weeks” that I can see myself desperately needing.

So heading into the fall, it looks like this:

Sunday: 7:30 private group class
Monday: 5:30 take yoga class
Every other Tuesday: 7:30 one-on-one class
Wednesday: break day
Thursday: 5:30 Parks and Rec class, 7:30 private group class
Friday: break
Saturday: break

I will be busy for sure, but I think I’ve found a nice balance. In my “off” month of September I hope to show my face at the only (!) studio in Bloomington-Normal. I’m ashamed to admit that I have only been there once, it was a few years ago, and the class didn’t rock my world so I never went back. I think now is the time to correct that.

How do you find balance in your hectic, busy lives?

Namaste,
Jamie

PS- stay turned, tomorrow I’ll be talking about my first one-on-one session, with my new client, K.

Yogaglo!

I read about yogaglo on EcoYogini’s blog at just the perfect time. I was in the middle of a yoga slump, and tempted by the thought of quitting the gym. Introducing: yogaglo! For all of your practice-at-home needs! (enough links for you, there?)

So far, I give yogaglo an A+.

For those of you who don’t know, the yogaglo studio is located in Santa Monica, California. It’s a real live yoga studio with real live teachers and real live people of all levels who come in to practice. The only difference is, there’s a small camera in the back of the studio that records each class. About 24-48 hours after a class concludes, it gets posted on the website.

For $18 a month (or one and a half classes at the fancy studio in my area), you have unlimited access to the classes they post. You can take as many as you want, at any time of day. Classes are organized by teacher, style, level (1, 2, and 3), duration (from 5 minutes to 125 minutes), and category.

The advantages and disadvantages of yogaglo are closely intertwined with the advantages and disadvantages of a home practice. But since I began both at the same time, they have become one and the same for me, so I’m going to review them together here.

I think the main advantage of practicing at home is the lack of inhibition. I feel like I can take more risks in the comfort of my own home, whereas in a studio I might be too afraid of losing my balance, or just looking weird in the pose. I also talk out loud to myself and to the instructors, which is kind of funny. Usually, my hubby is in the next room writing, and I think he gets a kick out of my commentary.

Another advantage: yogaglo has LOTS of variety. They have so many different instructors and styles that I feel like I can practice for months without repeating a class unless I want to. I have been doing primarily 30-minute sessions, and they have a limited number of classes that are only 30 minutes. But I have gotten into mixing and matching classes: a 10 minute Vinyasa warmup and a 20 minute Anusara class. A 5 minute “yoga at work” stretch and a 25 minute Vinyasa class. The classes with shorter durations are almost always selections from 60 or 90-minute classes, and I applaud the site’s administrators for pulling out the warm ups and cool downs as separate sessions. People like me really appreciate that!

In one way, having the teacher in a tiny version on the laptop is actually preferable to being in a studio: you can move the teacher around! It’s awesome! If my laptop is in standard “class format” in front of me, and I know we’re going to be working on shoulderstands, I just move the computer right up by my head. No more craning awkwardly around my own body to see the instructor. Very cool and, if you pardon the lit-geek part of me, postmodern!

There are some cool things customizable to an account. Yogaglo donates 5% of their profits to non-profits, and I can choose which of the three I want my dues to benefit (they hope to add more organizations later on). Also, the account is portable. If I go visit my parents or am staying with a friend, I just find a computer with internet access and log in, and there’s my studio. They also have a commitment section, where it automatically logs your yogaglo hours, and you can log how much you practice elsewhere. They have a visual representation of a flower that “glows” when you reach 3.5 hours a week.

Of course, practicing at home also has its disadvantages. I feel much more prone to distraction than when I’m in a studio. While lying in savasana, I’m more likely to notice things like the paint job in the yoga room, the sound of the washer stopping, my cell phone buzzing in the other room, an errant toenail that’s annoying me. And there’s no one around to be annoyed when I stop the class to answer the phone (which I haven’t done yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time).

I also feel pretty distracted just by having my laptop there with me. My laptop does not represent yoga – it represents email, facebook, and other compulsive time-wasters. If I’m not feeling engaged or challenged, it’s easy to wonder about my inbox in the meantime. I don’t like this technologically obsessed side of me, but it’s there, so I’m accepting it.

Of course, the main disadvantage to any home practice is the chance that you’re settling into bad habits. It’s always good to visit a studio now and then to have someone keep an eye on your alignment!

For those who are interested, here is a complete list of categories offered by yogaglo:

Categories:

108 Sun Salutations
Absolute Beginner
Advanced Practice Anusara
Advanced Practice Vinyasa
Arm Balances
Backbend
Bhakti
Core Strengthening
Deep Relaxation
Gentle Yoga
Hip Opener
Inversions
Meditation
Partner Yoga
Pranayama
Restorative
Seated Poses
Shoulder Opener
Standing Poses
Sun Salutation Series
With Live Music
Workshops
Yin
Yoga at Work
Yoga Nidra

Namaste,
Jamie

30 Minutes for 31 Days: a Yoga Challenge

When I wrote my goals for 2010, I decided that I would pick two months of the year to aim for 30 minutes of yoga daily. I understand that this is the bare minimum for other more dedicated yogi/nis, but for me it is a lofty goal. Between the full-time job, the dogs, the household responsibilities, and the general desire to spend at least a little bit of time with my husband each day, it’s a great week for me if I practice three times. December did bring a little bit of a slump for this yogini, but I made it to class this Monday and I feel like I’m beginning the climb out of that hole.

If there is any time of year that I need a daily practice, it’s January. Historically, late January/early February are hard months for me. The holidays are over, so the bone-chilling cold isn’t quite as romantic anymore. My brain knows that spring is just around the corner, but my body deems it impossible. During this bleak time of year, I’m boggled by the idea that I actually – less than a year ago – went outside in a tank top.

I’m going into this expecting a challenge.  It will take foresight and planning. I will have to interpret “30 minutes of yoga” loosely on some days. Some days it might mean spending my lunch hour in a conference room doing shoulder rolls and meditating, or a slow cat/cow flow, child’s pose, and savasana for the thirty minutes before bed. Some days I might be up for more, and on those days I obviously won’t limit myself to just 30 minutes.

I am gathering some tools to help me.

  • My friend Sarah loaned me this DVD with five 30-ish minute yoga workouts. They are “AM Peak Performance Yoga”, “PM Peak Performance Yoga”, “AM Yoga for Weight Loss”, “PM Yoga for Weight Loss”, and “Stress Relief Yoga”. I’ll let you know what I think.
  • Motivation. I attend my level 2 training January 30-31. Daily practice will help me feel confident and fit when I go.
  • Class at the gym. My gym membership expires January 31, so there are still four classes I can attend there if I chose.
  • Yogaglo. I plan to start my free 15-day trial membership sometime towards the middle of the month – earlier if I am lacking inspiration.
  • Fancy yoga studio in Bloomington. I plan to try at least one class, hopefully more, keeping an open mind about different approaches to practice and remembering that $12 is less than I spend on some nights I go out to dinner out with my friends.
  • I ordered this kit. I found it because I was searching for some sort of yoga pillow to take to training with me. After level 1, I ached more from the two days of sitting on a gym floor than from any exercise I did while I was there. This kit cost just a little more than a good throw pillow for the couch, and comes with a nifty timing gadget and a DVD on restorative yoga. I hope it’ll be perfect for the days that I otherwise wouldn’t want to practice. I should get it a couple of weeks into the challenge.
  • This blog. I will write periodically about how the challenge is going.

If I do only 30 minutes of yoga every day in January, I will spend 15 and 1/2 hours practicing. That sounds delicious.

Wish me luck, and happy January!

Namaste,
Jamie

Confessions of an absent yogini

I have another confession to make. I am in (*gasp*) a yoga slump.

I have hit a wall. I am frustrated. I haven’t done yoga in a long time. So long that I feel sore all over and generally antsy. Small irritations are making me murderous and I feel melancholy and insecure. I know a class would ease this anxiety, but that’s just it: what class?

My only regular class I’ve been attending is on Mondays, and for lots of holiday-related reasons, that one is not working for me right now. I just can’t seem to get there. My community service teaching ended, so I don’t have that once-or-twice weekly yoga hit I can count on anymore. I don’t want to teach myself in my house because I’m at a place right now where I need a teacher. A really good one.

There’s a fancy yoga-only studio in town, and I should go there. Actually, “in town” is gracious – it’s probably more than 30 minutes away from my front door. Plus, it’s $12 a class and seriously? That’s kind of expensive. This is not Chicago. Also, I went once and didn’t really enjoy it. That was a year ago though, so I should give it another chance, but something is stopping me. And they don’t have any more classes till the first of the year so that is not going to help me for the next two weeks.

I just feel a general nagging sensation when I think about yoga. I need to do it, but I don’t feel motivated to find the time. I know that this will pass, but I need to deal with it until it does.

It also makes me feel like a fake. I am attending Level 2 training at the end of January. I love yoga. I want to teach yoga. I write about yoga. I read what other people write about yoga. So why on earth am I not doing it? I must be an imposter.

I will let you know when I reach an upswing. Until then, I’ll try to make the most of my shoulder rolls.

Namaste,
Jamie

A Cult or not a Cult? Regardless, it’s creepy.

My friend, Sarah, subscribes to Glamour magazine and brought me the December issue so I could read an article called “The Scary Yoga Obsession”. It’s about an organization, Dahn Yoga, that is being sued by 27 of its ex-participants (22 women and five men). “You need to write about this on your blog!” She said. And I agreed.

This is what happened: young, impressionable men and women attended a yoga class to find some peace and focus. They liked the class so much they came back for more. Over time, they became very involved at the Dahn Yoga center. They shelled out a lot of money (a LOT) for workshops and trainings. They loved the trainings and were told that if they wanted, Dahn Yoga could be their life. They took drastic measures to make this happen, so they could become a “master” and share the Dahn Yoga lifestyle with others. One woman moved to South Korea, the home of founder Ilchi Lee. One dropped out of MIT, broke up with her boyfriend, and devoted her life to the practice. Of the process, she says “It felt like you were falling in love, only much bigger, because you weren’t just falling in love with a person, but with a community, a practice and a lifestyle, all in one. It was everything. I felt like the luckiest person in the world.”

You can probably see where this is going. Gradually, one by one, they woke up and realized that they’d given up everything they cared about for this organization. And then it got ugly.

One woman started questioning her choices when she sold a $75,000 package of sessions to one couple, while she was only making $30,000 annually. She and a group approached the management with some constructive ideas about their positions. Shortly after, it was determined she should be transferred across the country to do “construction work” and be “re-educated”. The woman who moved to South Korea claims to have been sexually assaulted by Ilchi Lee himself. When she reported it, she was told not to question the integrity of the leader. It seems a lot of women had to experience something intensely insulting in order to leave.

The group of 27 is suing the Dahn Yoga organization for lots of money to counter their emotional and financial distress ($85,000 for yoga training – yowza), and the lawsuit includes a charge of sexual assault.

"I’ve been involved in a number of cults both as a leader and a follower. You have more fun as a follower but you make more money as a leader." (photo by NBC)

I have mixed feelings about this. The Dahn Yoga website looks pretty harmless (although I’m leery of the term “brain education”). There are lots of centers in Chicago and its suburbs, so within a couple hours for me, but I had never heard of it before. This leads me to think the centers themselves are neither pure evil nor super awesome. And the Glamour article does include – tucked in at the very end of the story – some comments from people in the Dahn Yoga community who think the lawsuits are a bunch of malarkey. Dahn Yoga started a blog to counter all the negative things being publicized about their organization, which is also worth checking out.

I’m sure there are lots of people all over the country who go to Dahn Yoga centers, practice a few times a week, and then leave. But how did the women in the story get so caught up? Was it their decision, or was there something more malicious at work?

I think this story just confirms something I already knew, which is this – you have to be your own advocate in life. There are people out there who will take advantage of you, and not everyone is looking out for your best interests. Some people learn this early on, and some never learn it. I am incredibly lucky because I didn’t have to lose myself to learn this lesson, like the women in the story did. I just had to have lots of confusing and frustrating and inane conversations with boyfriends, financial aid counselors, former employers, potential employers, credit card companies, medical providers, insurance companies, loan institutions, internet service providers, landlords, etc. to learn this: If you don’t stick up for yourself every single time, no one else will.

It sounds harsher than I mean it. In reality, I have my husband, my parents, and my friends (and my dogs!) to back me up when I need them. But they won’t always be there. I am my only constant, and I have to trust myself. I have to be my own advocate, and it can be a full-time job.

So I can see how someone who doesn’t know this could get swept up in a “cult” like this Dahn Yoga group, or really any other sensational organization, or religion, or drug, or glamorous career. If you aren’t constantly asking yourself “Is this what’s best for me? Am I doing the right thing? Should I take more time to think it over?” other people around you will convince you pretty quickly that it is, you are, and you shouldn’t. You have to ask yourself the hard questions, because people around you will give you the easy answers.

That being said, I probably won’t be checking out Dahn Yoga any time soon, because it kind of gives me the creeps.

Namaste,
Jamie