The anahata chakra is my favourite chakra. It is the middle chakra, connecting earthly parts of ourselves with heavenly parts. It represents love, compassion, forgiveness. It is ruled by air and corresponds to the lungs, heart, circulatory system and the arms. Last night I taught a heart chakra class in a beautiful place to a small group of people I love. I felt pretty confident teaching which was unusual since one of my fellow yoga teacher training peers was there. I am always insanely nervous teaching other teachers. I did get my left and rights mixed up a few times which caused some long pauses but other than that I think it went well. I loved the space and would like to start teaching there every Sunday. I need at least five regular students to make it affordable. I have around eight students that come to my Sunday classes but the attendance is really all over the map. It makes it hard to predict and plan. I am learning that this is the case for many teachers in Victoria. So far almost all of my students are people I know. There is a small handful that are “friends of friends”… but really I am pretty familiar with everyone I teach. In some ways is is nice but I notice that I am developing some “bad teaching habits” because I know the people I teach. I would like to have a class of strangers so that I don’t get lazy with the class orientation. I think I need to write reminders on my hand or something like that. “Tell them where the bathroom is”, “Tell them your name”, “Ask them if they have any health issues”… you know those important little details?
I did a yoga practice entirely for me today.. no planning anything for any classes.. no thinking about the postures and/or alignment. No thinking about “how would I explain this to a class”. I just did postures I know (and like). It was lovely. I didn’t even do any challenging asanas that I am working on (like dancer and headstand). Nope.. just sun salutations, warriors, lunges, squats, cobbler, bridge. It was lovely and I felt great after. It was kind of like taking a holiday. Most refreshing. Why do I have such a hard time getting around to doing yoga again?
My physical asana practice has been kind of slow lately. I made the commitment to give myself an hour of practice a day. Yay! Go me!! Day 2 of this new routine myself, my son and my daughter all became sick. Sigh… Rather than fight it I am flowing with it. Rest not routine. Despite this “resting” I have still been learning a lot about yoga. I have been spending as much time as possible reading about chakras (in bed with kleenex and hot tea in hand).
The chakra series I am teaching is forcing me to delve a lot deeper into my own understanding of the chakras. Like I said, I am learning a lot. Not just about the chakras… I am learning a lot about myself too. This week I have been focusing on the Vissuddha Chakra (throat). It represents purification, honesty, creativity and communication. In a sense this is where our “higher truths” come from because this chakra works more on a spiritual plane than with everyday life.The demon of this chakra is LIES. Which brings me to my learning. What I am noticing as I work with this chakra is how often I lie to myself. Little lies but lies none the less. Often these lies come more from laziness than a blatent desire to deceive. I tell myself it is okay if I do “this” or “that” but I know deep down it isn’t.
At the moment one of the things I am looking honestly at how much time I waste on the internet. Don’t get me wrong. Wasting time is a good thing sometimes. But I can feel that I spend too much time browsing online. I can feel in my body that it isn’t good. I sit totally still, back hunched, staring at a screen. It drains me. Somehow I have justified to myself that is is healthier than television but really I am not so sure it is. Surfing the internet changes your brain. I can feel my attention span shorten. I can feel my body tighten.
Yoga has a funny way of doing this to me. It shows me things I might not want to look at it. It gives me clear honest messages. I can chose to take action with the messages I am given or not… but I can’t pretend I haven’t heard them. It forces me to look at myself with honesty.
When I was doing my yoga teacher training we spent a week on each chakra . The third chakra (Manipura) was by far my most challenging week. I was a wreck. I totally blew one of my practice teachings. I was completely unfocused, emotional and I swayed between being fragile and pissy the whole week. OBVIOUSLY this is an “energy” in my life I need to work on a little bit.
This week I teach the Manipura chakra. I am feeling totally confused about how to approach it. In general my teachings are very gentle. They are about acceptance and being honest with ourselves. I try to work on getting my students to feel at peace with themselves and their bodies. Third chakra has more to do with striving. The postures related to this chakra build heat. It is a masculine energy. Achievement, confidence, personal power.. these are all good things to have right? However I feel that so often striving to achieve can cause harm. It is just an energy that is counter intuitive to how I usually teach.
So how do I teach something that isn’t really natural for me? I suppose I just dive in and teach it regardless. It is good to push ourselves sometimes. And really…. there is a lightness in this chakra. This is where we feel proud. There is an innocent energy of a child here. Growing, learning, accomplishing and maybe even showing off a little bit. I am hoping we find some laughter in the class rather than frustration. I think I will leave the posture I have posted a picture of above out of the class though.
I have started teaching a chakra yoga class which I am loving. Each week we do different asanas that relate to a specific chakra. I always have LOTS to say in my notes but once the class gets going I never seem to get to any of it. I suppose that is okay. Simple is good.. besides I am still choking on my instructors a little bit when I teach. It is harder when the class is people I know. I found it a lot easier the other night when 3/4 of the class were strangers. When my nervousness boils up my tongue gets a bit tangled. I know what I want to say but it comes out wrong. I REALLY hope this will go away as I get more experience. Sometimes I forget the simplest things….like the word “thigh” or “rotate”. It’s just nerves but it sure makes me feel kind of dense.
What I do love about this class is the fact that I am FORCED to keep learning in preparation for the classes. It is really easy to get lazy and just repeat what you know but by taking on this “Chakra Series” I am having to study quite a bit. And I am learning a ton which is wonderful. Maybe next time I will even be less tongue tied and able to pass on some of this information to the students.
I taught my first real general public (not my friends) yoga class yesterday. It was a Gentle Hatha class with four students. We spent the first half of the class focusing on chest openers and then the last half working on the hips. I think it went well. I didn’t stutter or say “Um” too many times. One of the students was injured though. My first injured student. Woohoo? I was extremely grateful for all the anatomy lessons we did in my teacher training because when she used the “technical name” for what was hurting I actually knew what she was talking about. Anatomy isn’t really what I love about yoga but I think it is important to have the at least the basics down so when someone comes in and says they have “meniscus” or “psoas” damage I have a bit of clue what part of the body they are referring to.
I am up to teaching three classes a week now.. I am going to stay with that for a few weeks and see how it feels. If I feel like that amount is comfortable my next step is to start working towards teaching a class in an addictions recovery setting. Really that is what I am passionate about. Teaching yoga in a “mental health” or “addictions treatment” environment. If anyone has ideas of where to go for this.. or who to talk to about setting something up please let me know.
My own personal practice is chugging along but isn’t really ground breaking or amazing right now. I am still working through this knee injury and feel like I am having to relearn my body all over again. I try to look at the positive side of this (oh what a great learning experience!) but in all honesty I am still feeling a lot of frustration. I just keep reminding myself to mellow out on the striving. I say this to my students a lot but really I think a huge part of the reason I teach this aspect of yoga is because I SO DESPERATELY need to remind myself. “Slow down, no rushing.. patient and honest with our bodies”
Tomorrow I teach a chakra yoga class. I am LOVING teaching this one..I am learning so much preparing the classes.
Yay! Our main yoga training teachers are back in town and we are studying the chakras again. Our focus this week is on Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra. This chakra focuses on communication… both the speaking and listening parts of communication. The sanskrit word Visuddha means “purification.” To successfully reach and open the fifth chakra, the body must attain a certain level of purification, which helps to achieve the sensitivity needed for the subtler levels of the upper chakra.
This is the chakra that encourages us to speak our truth to the world and ourselves. It is about honesty and it’s demon is “LIES”. When this chakra is open and balanced it encourages personal expression, choice, willpower and knowing your personal life vision/goals. Unbalanced it can cause lying, addiction, fatigue and criticism. I think it is interesting because this is an area of my body that feels very alive.. however it is also the area that I almost always get sick in when I catch a bug. Sore throats are kind of common in my life.
I really enjoyed our “heart chakra” week at school. Things were a bit slowed down and there was more focus on meditation. Our pranyama for the week was Nadi Sodhana or alternate nostril breathing. It is a very relaxing breath that focuses on balancing our nasal cycles. Nasal cycles you ask??? More weird yoga stuff? Yes we have cycles of breathing when one nostril is more dominant. These cycles correlate directly to brain activity. Yet another reason I am determined to get rid of my allergies and the congestion that comes with them.
The Scientific Confirmation of Alternate Nostril Breathing
“Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle, something that was known by the yogis thousands of years ago. Scientists have recently found that we don’t breathe equally with both nostrils, that one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time and that this alternates approximately every two to three hours.
Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests. Similarly when the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.”
Ya.. yoga is fun.
I had another session of teaching my classmates last night. I decided to teach Yoga Nidra which thankfully fit within our “Anahata Chakra” themed week. I think it went well… way better than my last teaching with this group. I seem to get VERY NERVOUS teaching my classmates though. Way more nervous than when I teach anyone else. When I started the meditation my voice was shaking. It was so difficult to try to relax the group while I was so wound. I kept having to consciously drop my voice lower. “Go slower Julia.. slower.. you are supposed to be relaxing these people not giving them a pep talk.”
I seem to be really attracted to teaching slow yoga. I suspect part of that is because of my nervousness teaching. I really need to hear the words “slow down” when I teach. If I teach a relaxing style of yoga it reminds me to chill out and enjoy the teaching. I am curious to see if this changes as I get more experience teaching. My natural tendency is to be a bit of a hyper chatty Cathy so I am but surprised this is the direction I seem to be going in with my yoga teaching.
We started studying the Anahata Chakra last night (heart chakra) which was a huge relief. Anahata focuses on love, compassion, self care. Hear that?? SELF CARE. Yup. That is why I was so eager to get to this chakra. I really feel that I need a gentle soft approach to yoga these days. I still haven’t recovered from the exhaustion having a baby caused me these past couple years. I feel delicate and like I don’t have any reserves or resources to draw on when things get a little intense. Rest, relaxation, proper diet and deep sleep are kind of my top priorities at the moment. Losing the baby weight can come after.
We did a nice practice last night using dowels in our hands to keep awareness about our shoulders and back. There is a tendency in yoga to scrunch the shoulders up tight when moving into postures. The dowels helped remind us to keep them wide and open. I have used this technique in belly dance classes before. I thought it was interesting that the teacher focused on our shoulders and back during our “heart class”. The back of our heart should remain open too, not just the front of our bodies. Whenever I think of the heart chakra I automatically think of the front of the chest. It was helpful to be reminded that there is more to our bodies than our front side.