Adventures in Yoga Teaching – New Teacher Update!!

photo credit Etsy
photo credit Etsy

It’s been about three months since I finished my teacher training.

I’ve already learned a ton, check it:

  1. I love teaching yoga. I’m excited before I go to sleep and smiling when I wake up in the morning. 
  2. Can’t stop learning. ‘Required’ reading may longer be asked of me, but staying inspired is key. I’m reading a few things right now starting with The Bhagavad Gita and Pema Chödrön’s Start Where You Are. I love the practicality of Buddhism and Pema’s words consistently influence how I see the world and this in turn I think shows up in how I teach (at least I hope so).
  3. This learning has extended itself to taking as many classes as I can manage. It’s incredible how you can glean some insight from every teacher.
  4. I’m teaching as much as I can. This is for the obvious financial reasons, but you really need to sink your teeth in right away. The more you teach the better you get. This sounds fairly obvious, but if you are looking to become a teacher full-time (or even part-time) confidence is critical.
  5. Planning my classes has been helpful. I think no matter how experienced I get, I’ll always have an outline of what the class will look like. Now to talk out of the other side of my mouth, remaining flexible is just as important. If a class is more or less experienced, you’ve gotta modify your plans. As a teacher, I’m there to guide and inspire, not jam my ideas of yoga down their throats.
  6. Getting on sub lists gets you exposed to new students and potential clients if you teach privately! My sister said compared subbing to open houses for real estate agents. Sure you’re selling a house but you are also meeting more potential buyers for your business. (She’s so smart).
  7. Be authentic.

 

 

This journey has been pretty amazing so far. I’m not sure what’s down the road or around the corner. But boy I sure love the present.

 

This is yoga. And it is teaching me something every minute.

Namaste y’all.

 

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I Keep on Falling In and Out of Love with Bakasana

Bakasana
Bakasana (Photo credit: jetportal)

Learning how to approach failure can make the difference between taking a chance again and packing up your bat and ball.

Anything worth having is worth the work. When you’re flat on your face these words of encouragement ring hollow.

But there’s some merit in becoming good at failing and falling…

Crow pose is an arm balance posture in yoga. It’s not the hardest and it’s not the easiest. It is the foundation of lots of other arm balances.  Arm strength, core strength, balance and trust is required.

Teacher training helped break down the mechanics of arm balances, rigorous asana practice built strength and a free flowing mindset made room for joy in the falling.

But when I first approached Bakasana that wasn’t the case.

Whoo doggie…For weeks I squatted like a yogi and pushed myself up on my toes. Ready for lift-off. Nothing. I was afraid of falling forward. And then I did fall forward. A lot.

On other attempts I was convinced my arms weren’t strong enough. Time after time I’d one part right and another part of the pose needed an adjustment. So it went. Again and agin. I kept at it.

Zilch. The only thing that was getting stronger was my growing impatience. My impatience muscle is over developed.

Then things changed. Our teacher had us set up for crow. In my head I moaned (In truth, I probably moaned out loud).

You can do this, I told myself.

Hands planted. I took a slow inhale and exhale. I let go of the judgement of my other failed attempts. Turning my focus inside I was feel my forearms straighten and my toes leave the floor. I was balancing.

And balancing…And balancing.

Success. It felt like I had always been able to do it.

I still smile at the thought. I did it.

I did it!

Edison tried 1000 times before the light bulb worked (So the story goes) . With attempts that doesn’t work we’re given a opportunity to retool a thought process or abandon outdated ways of thinking.  The other side of learning from mistakes is the ability to get back up and try again.

Sam Wang a neuroscientist in Princeton co-wrote Welcome To Your Brain  and he states “The brain does well, what it does often”. So if we teach ourselves not to give up when missteps happen, we are ultimately working at becoming more successful.

The next time you find yourself with less than what you expected don’t worry. Setbacks are setups for success.

This is yoga. Fall down 99 times, get up 100.

Namaste y’all.

Rewrite Your Story

IMG_3049

Have you ever told yourself a story about yourself that wasn’t true? I was chubby as a kid in a family of striking beauty. I’m talking Gorgeous. I often felt like the tubby other. It probably didn’t help that I was one of two Black kids in my neighborhood during elementary school. Oh, and I had an African name. I felt like an alien on most days. On others, I felt even stranger.

It doesn’t really matter what others thought and that I lost weight etc, etc. Our inner voice is more powerful than the external chatter. I told myself a different story. I looked in the mirror and saw a woman I loved looking back.

And we all have better days than others. I just started running again.  I still have my yoga practice which is my life. But I think I had told myself that I was a runner in my 30’s and I can’t run now that I’m 40 (41ish). That’s kinda crap. One might even call that an excuse.  I hate excuses. And I’m not someone that likes to be told that I can’t do something, especially when I’m the silly person saying it. Sheesh.

I can run and have my practice. So, I’m writing a new story. I’m a yogini who runs. I like that story better.

This is yoga. And I can write whatever ending I choose. That’s pretty dope.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – Grocery Yoga (11 Tips to Keep It On Budget)

 

 

grocery store

 

The grocery store is a dangerous place for me when I’m hungry. But since I’ve been juicing and eating vegan I need to be there more often. Juicing tastes best when the veggies are fresh.  Making myself crazy about why I haven’t transitioned to a vegan diet creep up on my once in awhile, but mostly I bask in the glow of feeling great.

No really I glow. Juicing is hella amazing on the skin. Between increased blood flow, reduced stress, whole foods, slow cooking and an overall sense of peace, I am Buddha on the Mountaintop (Does anyone know the movie reference?)

Anyhoo- enough about me and my skin, I use the following tricks to make sure that my trip is healthy and under budget.

1Be edgy. Just about everything processed resides in the middle aisles. Shop the perimeter.

2Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. I know it’s been said before but it bears repeating. Your subconscious will begin to convince you that ice cream and potato chip are a legitimate food group. Really.

3Only have eyes for your list. You can’t overspend if you don’t check out cool things that aren’t on your list. You didn’t need the newly discovered item before you hit the store, so chances are you don’t need it.

4Shop alone. This is easy of you’re single. If the kids or spouse is in tow, shopping becomes a group trip and it’s super fun!!! But checking your bill after the fun is done can leave you with a shopping hangover you can’t get over.

5. Keep it real. Focus on real foods. This means they may expire more quickly but a menu plan will keep you on track. If it doesn’t expire for a year, it probably is best left out of your body.

6. Keep it simple. Foods with less ingredients are better for your. Try to keep it to 5 or less ingredients per items. It helps to if you can pronounce the ingredients.

7. Plan your trips. You don’t have to always make one big trip but try to eliminate unplanned trips to the store.

8. Menu plan. It’s a little extra work up front, but will pay off on the back end when you aren’t blowing the electric bill standing in front of the fridge deciding what to make everyone. This is also great on the waistline. Now there’s no excuse to miss a Meatless Monday, good for you, your wallet and the planet.

9. Don’t pay full price. Use the savings card stores offer. Use two supermarkets. Many stores running promotions at different times.

10. Keep Mother Earth healthy. Use canvas bags. 

11. Bag it. Check bagged produce. Grocers sometimes (more often than not) throw in extra into bags, making the deal even better than advertised. So check the scale. It could be worth it if you eat lots of apples, citrus and onions.

This is yoga. And it’s fresh, slow and oh so good.

Namaste y’all.

Cheap and simple lemon garlic chickpea roast.

This is going to be a glorious dinner!!! I’m going to make it and will report back! In Vegetables We Trust is an awesome blog.

In Vegetables We Trust

Just a quick post about a quick roast! This is not the most extravagant roast, but it is insanely cheap to make, and you can have everything in your cupboard and just throw it together. It’s also pretty quick on prep time as most the ingredients get banged together in the food processor. This would be killer with some chickpea gravy and mash ‘tators and kale’s pretty much its best friend, as it gets on so well with lemony flavours, heck top it with some caramelized onions to treat yourself!

lemon pepper chickpea loaf sandwich filler

Ingredients:

2 tins chickpeas, drained
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
pinch o’ salt.

Method:
Quickly pulse the onion in the food processor until chopped into a rough dice, then scoop into a mixing bowl. Add the garlic, a…

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Adventures in Hot Yoga – Half Locust Pose

Tony Parrish has a football yoga workout. This is pretty great for a variety of reasons.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a heat junkie. Can’t lie- it does something for me. The heat makes me pliable and that pliability helps me look deeper inside. With all that is going on with Bikram and his latest stroke of idiocy, it would seem easy to dismiss the practice.

I want to, I really do. The guy seems to have taken the yoga out of yoga. One thing I’ve learned though is that lessons are everywhere, the people we find distasteful can teach us the most.

I’ve learned from Bikram, beware the ego for it will take you over and take everything from you if you aren’t careful.

So hot yoga and I aren’t breaking up anytime soon. With all yoga I love when my body leads me to deconstruct a pose. It’s like learning it again, but inside out, or something like that. ,

Lately I’ve been focused on locust pose (pictured).

Before getting in it the teacher instructs, “Put your mouth to your mat”.

I always end up trying to sneak in a pucker- is that weird? Bear in mind you are already covered in sweat- this is the downhill part of class as far as I’m concerned.

After you ‘put your mouth to the mat, you roll onto your arms until they disappear underneath you. Doesn’t sound so hard- but- wait for it- your palms are facing down. If you don’t think this hurts- I’m not judging but you’re crazy. It was so painful at first I looked up at my teacher and I swear horns were sprouting from her head.

Mouth to the mat.

Roll on your arms so they disappear.

Palms down.

Lift one leg up.

Hold.

Then the other.

Hold.

Then- both. The first time I tried this it felt like my legs were glued to the floor. And I’m no punk. I can get my legs up much higher now- but one day I’d really love to look like the photo.

The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) has an article about Carpal Tunnel treatment and yoga. This pose is mentioned. Pretty cool.

Every time my practice deepens- I discover another little nugget about the world and myself. I’m less shy than I was and engage in conversations with strangers more often. This may sound strange coming from a yoga teacher, and frankly when I tell people I’m shy I get eye rolls and ‘Oh yeah, sure Oneika, you’re really shy.’ But I am, seriously.

I guess my point is that living and teaching yoga is a daily practice both on and off the mat. I love it and I love what it has done for my mind body and spirit. I feel different, I look different, I act different.

I am different.

But I do wonder if I’m starting to replace yoga for other things, like dating. Normally I’d obsess about it. But I’m not going to worry about it right now. I’ll let my yoga take me there.

This is yoga, heated up stretched out and lifted.

Namaste y’all.

 

half locust

Vegan Diaries – Kale Chips

 

My friend Patrice told me about about a tasty snack, kale chips. “O seriously, they taste just like potato chips.”

Real talk, I was a little suspicious. Nothing can mimic the taste of a potato chip except for a better potato chip. Because I trust her, I go for it.

We have not yet discussed (on this blog) how much I love kale, but I do (so stay tuned for a post.)! Off to the store I went.

 

So simple they were to make it seems impossible that they would be incredibly delicious.

 

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale

olive oil spray

sea salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Drizzle kale with olive oil spray and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

You will devour these. Patrice was right. She just moved the top of the Christmas card list. Just kidding, I never send cards but she knows how much I love her!!!!

This is yoga. And it’s crispy and delicious.

Namaste y’all.

PMS Yoga

standing_yoga_mudra

PMS can throw a monkey wrench in your life and yoga. I used to suffer from crippling cramps but since I’ve maintained a solid practice, they’ve diminished substantially, almost completely. Yoga gives the circulation a turbo boost which can help get rid of some bloating. Certain poses also aid in relieving some depression and the crankiness.

You may ask and wonder, well really how bad are said cramps, Oneika? Or are you saying that yoga is good for baby PMS, cramps that are inconvenient but bearable with a few Tylenol.

For the record, I had cramps that were roll around on the bathroom floor so the cold tiles can touch your face kind of bad. Heating pads, pain killers, legs up on pillows kind of bad. Counting the waves of pain in seconds so I could calculate when a break would come kind of bad.

For true.

Having endometriosis is just gravy on my crampy cake. And yoga has nearly eliminated all of that discomfort.

Serious as a heart attack.

I’ve listed a few poses that can assist in alleviating some of the PMS and period blahs….

Seated Twist

yogavibes-yoga-online-twist

This pose can help relieve that bloated feeling. Make sure to gently exhale. Seated twists also stimulate reproductive organs, this in turn can provide lubrication for the uterus which eases cramps. Sweet relief.

Cat/Cow Pose

image credit standardmoves.tumblr.com

I love cat/cow for so many reasons. It’s a wonderful way to warm up the spine and lower back. In addition, it’s a great way to connect your breath and body. Letting the tip of the inhale trigger the body to go in to cow pose and the almost inperceptible start of the exhale allows the tail to drop as the back rounds like a cat is an awesome way to warm up for ujjayi breathing. Breath control is great for PMS and cramps as it allows you to breathe into discomfort in order to relax muscles.

Bridge

Yoga (Bridge Pose) 

Bridge is another great choice (as are shoulder stands) because this pose provides nice stimulation for the thyroid boosting metabolism as well as provide the endocrine system with a little extra somethin’somethin as the kids used to say.

Child’s Pose

balasana 

Child’s pose gets the brain center activated and works the neurotransmitters to provide balance and a sense of calm.

Savasana

I know this seems like a no brainer but this is one of the best things you can do both before and during your period. Rest. Truly embrace savasana. Let the body go and have the earth support you. I have found that this helps me unclench my jaw and release all of my muscles so that I can sink deeper into my mat. This is great for cramps. And a bad mood. And a long day. And an overall icky day. You get it- savasana

This is yoga. It’s with you every day of the month.

Namaste y’all.

My Features Form with a Change in the Weather

snow city

My features form with a change in the weather

– ‘Mother’s Talk’, Tears for Fears

Two days ago a sleet storm graced the NYC area. Just lovely. I stepped outside after class and the streets were a slishy, slushy mess. It was dark and my open pores made my body feel like a sponge as I got full with cold air. I pulled my hat down over my ears and rolled my eyes at Mother Nature.

‘This is some ole bullshit.’ I grumbled to no one.

The streets were fairly empty and the snow still white, looked pretty. Sure I was cranky, but once I accepted the snow I could appreciate it the moment.

Accepting what ‘is‘ can be so hard. I think we are trained and socialized that run away from discomfort.

‘If it doesn’t feel good I don’t want to be near it’ seems to be a way of life for so many.

Imagine though, learning to stay with a feeling and see it through.

Imagine if we could learn to accept the icky parts of us without judgement or reservation?

That kind of revelation could change a life. If I can accept and then love all parts of me(warts and all), I’m ready and open to love every part of everyone.

This could come in handy especially when people I love try my patience (grrr).

We are imperfectly perfect.

If I can love Mother Nature with all her tantrums, I can certainly unconditionally love/accept myself when I have my own.

Everything we do puts us on the path to enlightenment.

This is yoga, for every season.

Namaste y’all.