Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Gayatri Mantra April 30, 2013

Filed under: meditation,music — R. H. Ward @ 1:51 pm
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I really enjoyed listening to this version of the Gayatri Mantra during savasana at the end of last night’s yoga class, so I thought I’d share it with you:

Here’s a transliteration of the Hindu text, which is drawn from the Rig Veda:

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

I looked around for a few different translations. Wikipedia has several nice ones, but they’re all male-centric, referring to the creator deity as a “he”. Here’s a non-gendered one I’ve read before:

Embracing Earth, Heaven and Beyond
The sacred source is revealed
Evoking the resplendent flame
The all-pervading light venerates us all.
(From The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi, page 108.)

Devi actually connects the mantra to Gayatri as a female creator and the mother of the Vedas (see pages 107-116). Devi writes, “From Divine Light, she creates all life.” I like thinking of the mantra in that spirit (especially since I used it for savasana during a prenatal yoga class!).

And another, simpler, translation that I quite like:

Let us meditate on the light of the sun which represents God, and may our thoughts be inspired by that divine light.


Meditating Machinery April 25, 2013

Filed under: Miscellaneous — R. H. Ward @ 1:03 pm
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Well, this is the most fascinating thing I’ve seen all week: Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won

This artist creates sculptures that fuse figures of Buddha and Bodhisattva with gears and moving metal parts. (Make sure to watch the videos.) The result is both beautiful and kind of creepy, both meditative and totally sci fi in a way I haven’t ever really seen before. I can imagine that watching the sculptures move would be a kind of meditation in and of itself. Enjoy!


It all comes back around April 23, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:45 pm

On Sunday morning, I got a massage. It had been a Christmas gift from my husband F. My massage therapist Sarah lives only a few blocks from my house, so I could walk over. Sarah has such a sense of calm about her that a massage pretty much includes an hourlong guided meditation too, and afterwards, I felt so rested it was like I’d had a full night’s sleep. Walking home, I remember thinking that yes, I’m YB’s mom now, but I’m still myself. Sunday evening, F and I had a great time with YB, dancing to Mountain Stage on the radio and playing the exciting new game Laundry Basket Head. We laughed and laughed. At bedtime, YB went down to sleep sweetly without any fighting. It was the kind of evening I always imagined when I was younger and thought about having kids someday.

Then YB woke up hungry at midnight, and again at 4 AM. We seem to be going through a growth spurt/ravenous beast phase. At the 4 AM waking, it took me 45 minutes to get her down again. I didn’t fall back to sleep myself until after 5:00;  YB woke up crying at 5:40, then the alarm went off at 5:55. Meanwhile, I’m dealing with YB’s latest gift from daycare – a cold this time – and my nose is running off my face. By the time I made it down to breakfast, I was grumpy as anything. No more massages for me, I thought. I’m not still myself, there’s no use pretending. All I am now is the thing that takes care of YB. I knew what I was getting into when we decided to have a baby; I knew that people with kids are perpetually exhausted and snot-covered. This is what I chose, so I’d better just give in and accept it. And then I remembered that I had to teach yoga that night and I wanted to cry.

Some mornings are bad exhausting mornings; some evenings are full of giggles and dancing. What I need to remember is that I signed up for both, and as hard as the exhausting times may feel, the wonderful times do balance it out: they’re the reason I wanted a child, the thing that I dreamed of. Even when I feel most worn out and used up, I’m still myself deep down, and that will always be there. I felt grumpy and frustrated and tired and sick all day Monday, but Monday night’s yoga class made me feel like myself again. It all comes back around.


Profound Wisdom from Bob Ross April 18, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:29 pm
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In a week in which some really horrible violence happened in Boston, and in which a large portion of the US Senate voted to support violence, I think it’s a good idea to revisit the words of someone with a gentle spirit: Bob Ross.

Not long ago, I posted about a great inspirational Bob Ross video. Yesterday I saw this collection of 20 Essential Life Lessons from Bob, complete with quotes and images, and I knew I had to share. I hope it makes you smile and think peaceful thoughts about happy trees and beautiful safe places.



A Class of One April 16, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:22 pm
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Last night I taught prenatal class, and my one student seemed to enjoy the practice, but it got me thinking: sometimes I think it’s easier to teach a class of four or six students than a class of one. For my one student, was able to reuse most of the sequence I designed for last week’s class (since she wasn’t there last week, and I had yet another stomach bug this weekend, which limited my ability to plan), while also tailoring the class to her ability level (at 27 weeks, she was capable of more activity than someone farther along). The downside to a class of one, though, is that it just feels kind of awkward: all my attention focused on one person holding a pose. Yep, she’s still holding it. How does she feel in there? Does she feel like I’m staring at her? To divert myself from thinking too much (and also, I admit, to aid my teaching, since I’m still a little rusty), I practiced along with her, but the questions still remained.

For yoga students in general, I can think of a variety of reasons why it would be unwelcome to be the only student – certainly it would be uncomfortable for a nervous beginner! Plus, there’s just a different mindset to “attending a yoga class” versus “taking a private yoga lesson”. If I’ve left the house thinking I’ll be getting one thing, I kind of have to rework my mental image of the event when I find I’m getting the other, even if a private yoga lesson is technically more valuable.

As a student myself, there are times when I would be happy to be a class of one, and other times when I’d really just like to blend into the back of the room, thanks. I can remember once when F and I drove out to a yoga studio an hour from our house for some tourist yoga, and we and one other guy were the only students. On that day, I was delighted for the extra attention and the chance to really get to know a new teacher style at a new studio. I can also remember occasions where I was running late, not feeling well, or just not feeling like doing yoga, but forced myself out the door anyway. On a day like that, even though I almost always  feel better by the end of class, I still wouldn’t want that only-student spotlight on myself.

As a yoga student, how do you feel when you’re the only student in the room? For any yoga teachers, how does it make you feel when you unexpectedly have to tailor your practice to a class of one?


Prenatal class and prenatal yoga sequence #2 April 11, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:02 pm
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On Monday night I taught the prenatal yoga class, and I have to say, it felt great. I was a little nervous but slipped right back into my “yoga teacher voice” without a problem. I remembered all the things I wanted to say, and I worked them in naturally – for example, talking about the need for both strength and flexibility in the pelvic floor while we practiced a wall-assisted squat. I was able to work the wall-assisted squat into the sequence in a natural way by moving us over closer to the wall for a balance pose (with only two students, I felt like I had a bit more freedom to work with the space). I’m grateful that Sarah set a precedent for using blankets and blocks in this class, because I think props can be enormously helpful for prenatal yoga (and props aren’t typically used at all at EEY). At the end of class, I tried a new guided meditation, and it flowed nicely. I felt awesome after class, and more importantly, my two students seemed to enjoy the practice. I hadn’t taught yoga in ten months, but it felt like I’d never left.

Here’s the sequence I taught:

  • Begin seated, with a centering moment
    • neck rolls
    • shoulder circles
    • arm stretches
  • Move to all fours
    • cat/cow (actually, cat/neutral, since cow is contraindicated for pregnancy)
    • hip circles
    • calf stretches
    • child’s pose
    • downward dog
  • Step up to forward fold
  • mountain pose
  • Warrior sequence
    • warrior 1
    • warrior 2
    • radiant warrior
    • triangle pose
    • goddess
    • wide-legged standing forward fold
  • Repeat standing sequence on the other side
  • balance pose at the wall: tree pose
  • wall-assisted squat
  • floor poses
    • cobbler pose
    • happy baby pose
    • pelvic tilts
  • inversion: legs up the wall
  • savasana with guided meditation

Prenatal Yoga: Teaching Prep April 9, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:24 pm

Last Monday night, I went to Sarah’s prenatal yoga class at East Eagle Yoga, with the idea that I could observe the class in preparation for teaching it in a few weeks. This was an all-around great idea. Arriving at the studio, I got to see J and a few of my other teacher training friends, who were wrapping up an earlier class. The prenatal class was great for me physically, a perfect workout for my recovering body (because I fell off the yoga wagon again: this time with an illness that led to an ear infection for YB and 3 1/2 days out of work and a possible sinus infection for me).

And professionally, it was great to observe Sarah teaching. She structured the class much the way I would, but she has so much experience with and passion for prenatal yoga, so I picked up some good language specific to the needs of a prenatal class. At one point, resting in mountain pose, Sarah talked about the importance of moving between tension and ease during childbirth: the ability to work hard during moments of tension and then relax completely in moments of ease. It was only a few words, but it really struck a chord with me, since if I hadn’t been able to relax completely between contractions, I don’t know how I would have made it through YB’s birth.

The other big thing I liked about Sarah’s class went beyond asana. She made time at the beginning of class for her students to talk about their pregnancies and share both physical and emotional concerns, and she shared some of her own worries as well, with her due date right around the corner. This felt so important, and it’s something I wish I’d had during my pregnancy. I’ll definitely be continuing this practice when I take over the class.

Overall, seeing Sarah teach refreshed my memory on the research I did last year when I was pregnant and teaching prenatal yoga. I feel like I can do this job in Sarah’s absence, do a good job of it, and offer something worthwhile to the students.


Stop Worrying April 4, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 12:49 pm
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I was impressed with this article: The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old — And How You Can Avoid It. The author, Karl Pillemer, asked hundreds of older Americans what they regretted most, and the answer was often that they regretted the time they spent worrying. Here’s a quote:

Their advice on this issue is devastatingly simple and direct: Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime. They suggested training yourself to reduce or eliminate worrying as the single most positive step you can make toward greater happiness. The elders conveyed, in urgent terms, that worry is an unnecessary barrier to joy and contentment.

The implications of Pillemer’s research are clear: don’t waste time on worry. Instead, go out and live your precious life! The article includes three tips for how to accomplish this, including focusing on the short term instead of the long term (present moment!), and practicing an attitude of acceptance. This strategy fits right in with what Patanjali tells us in the Yoga Sutras: when negative thoughts arise, positive ones should be thought of instead. For more ideas along these lines, check out my past post on Yoga & Emotions: Worry.

What do you think? What are your techniques to reduce how much you worry?


All of my peeps do yoga April 2, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:38 pm
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I hope you all had a happy Easter, a great Passover, or a pleasant spring holiday of your choice. (For more yoga peeps, check out this and this.)