Getting in the Mudra - My Yoga Challenge - Week 2
This is a continuation of the post about Week 1 of my Yoga Challenge which explains the what // why // where // how of this challenge, and you can read it all here...
a symbolic hand gesture used in Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies and statuary, and in Indian dance
a movement or pose in yoga.
CLASS 6 - HATHA
Real Hatha. Like the kind I associate with Hatha. Without much flowing and more holding poses and breathing through them, but way more dynamic than yin, and a lot of focus on just being at peace.
EXCEPT I WAS NOT AT PEACE.
It was super weird. My head that morning felt like it was full to bursting. I tried to at least focus on trying to figure out how I could visually represent how full my head was with chaos, but my mind was too chaotic to come up with anything other than like a swirl of silver intergalactic nail polish which in no way represents what my mind felt like, before bouncing to wishing I had a job // to thinking about hiking // to worrying about sewing projects // to a rude email I got that morning // to ALL AT THE SAME TIME and who even cares about any of those things, why not just focus on the yoga?
Win some, lose some?
My neck was feeling absolutely terrible, especially where the straps of my yoga top sits, but I'm wondering if I'm building muscles and they are just sore and tired right now and they will get better soon? I went to bellyfit later that night and saw in the mirror that my arms are looking pretty strong, but holy hell I better work on my cardio! Bellyfit also demonstrated to me that yoga has been using my glutes and my abs, so yeah yoga! I think?
I also found out from a personal trainer friend (not my trainer, just my friend) that where my straps sit are your... trapz? and when you hold stress they get tense and they look like you've built muscle there. Which might explain why they've been hurting since I was a little kid.
Just so you know, guys I'm actually way more chill than I was as a little kid. Poor kindergarten Eva's head was full of chaos all of the damn time. All of the time.
CLASS 7- Hatha (With Julie Peters!)
I love Julie Peters' yoga instruction. She gets a "If you live in Vancouver and take yoga you should take one of her classes" rating from me. I didn't know she taught at Semperviva as I'm pretty sure she owns Ocean and Crow, which is a tiny little studio with a big heart +I love it there. When Kyle signed up through Class Pass for "Hatha with Julie Peters" I immediately Google Image Searched to make sure it was really going to be her so my heart wouldn't be broken if I had the name wrong.
On the topic of getting the names wrong, Semperviva and 33 Acres (yeah, somehow I'm talking about beer) have a very frustrating naming system. Semperviva has the Sun, Sea, City and Kits Beach Studios, which all kind of sound the same and in no way really explain where // what they are. 33 Acres has Ocean and Life beer and for the life of me I cannot remember which one I like better. It's a surprise all 3,333 times I've been there. I served both of these beers at my wedding. And I still don't know.
So Kyle took us to the Sea Studio on Granville Island instead of the Sun Studio which was quite a distance away. He made sure to get us there on time by using the karmic yoga practice of speeding and swearing so I arrived really one with the universe, relaxed and ready to hit some deep mediation.
As a warning, shit is about to get really "new-agey," but even Kyle really enjoyed the new-agey-ness of the practice so don't stop reading just yet. Julie's instruction makes discussion of things like goddesses really make sense + I find her words + tone line up perfectly with my practice + view of the world. For us scientisty types she's clearly done her research, and for my poet spirit she's clearly of the same heart.
Guess what! It's been raining in Vancouver. The word "deluge" comes to mind. Because of the weather Julie decided to speak to us about the moon goddess, Klinna Nitya “Always Wet” (the link goes to Julie's page about her book on moon goddesses.) Klinna Nitya is depicted as wet, covered in sweat (a goddess after my own heart) from all the work that she does. [Literal easy-Sunday morning conversation- "Eva, why is your shirt wet?" "Well, Kyle, I had a cup of coffee so obviously I'm having a combination of physiological + panic sweats, OK?"] She takes things in, they move around in her body and come out in sweat. She is holding a jeweled cup that she uses to collect her sweat so that she can offer all that she has taken in and changed and can also receive what others have to offer.
I felt very moved by the description of this goddess, and it touched on how I hope this yoga challenge will exist for me. I'm hoping that I can take the worry, and the confusion and the feelings of being overwhelmed, as well as the joy, and the beauty and my desire to create // move my body through yoga // then have something to share with people around me + my heart will be open and ready to receive what others have to offer.
Damn Julie! Yaasssssss.
We held our hands through many different mudras, but instead of holding our hands in prayer during the closing meditation and chant we held them in lotus mudra, like the jeweled cup. Ready to give and ready to receive. It was very powerful for me.
On a physical level of the class I have one very important note.
damn my bedonka donk is tiggghtttt
But not in a good way. Here is the question I asked Kyle on the way home, "in yoga, is your hip and your butt the same thing?"
He said it's not, - but to my big muscly butt sisters and brothers - do you find this to be true? I often find in hip openers that my butt is so tight and on fire that I can't feel my hip at all. Maybe my hip is being stretched but the overwhelming feeling of being stuck on my butt is incredibly distracting! Am I doing something wrong, or do I have to fix this butt problem before I can fix my hip problems?
You may recall I said my feet have been asleep for 2 years. They have gotten a lot better but they are still kind of sleepy, pins + needles every day. The physio said it's my sciatic nerve and in part because my butt is tight (humble brag?) it's crushed the nerve between my big ass muscles (you are free to read that as big-ass or big, ass muscles) and if I ever get a massage on my butt, my feet go immediately to sleep so I think these professionals may be onto something. I know I need to go to the physio, but let's be real. 1) All they are going to do is give me exercises to do that I will then be too lazy to do and 2) I need to get some health benefits before I can afford that.
Don't worry, when (2) happens, I'll go in and do my own personal follow-through on (1)
There were 2 resounding notable things from this class.
1) The instructor told us to imagine blue sky between each vertebrae
2) I got into a hip stretch and OH DEAR GOD WHY CAN I FEEL THIS IN MY EAR?!
It was a hip-heavy class which meant I was in quite a bit of pain the whole time, to the point where different non-related parts were screaming for me to stop. You know with heavy things like straightening my leg. Ugh. How, after all these classes is straightening my leg so nearly impossible?
It made me think about how to define "getting better" at yoga. Is it when I feel better in my daily life? And what is better? Is it more flexible, more calm, more peaceful? Is it when my hip stops hurting? If my neck is strong and in less pain, and then I have a bad night and wake up unable to move have I experienced a yoga setback or are they different? I don't know yet.
Savasana had an 80s influenced sax rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and I found it my deepest one yet. I think my mind does a good job of holding onto music to focus rather than on thoughts, silence is much harder for me to embrace. I also felt because I knew the song I could get really deep into it because I knew what was coming and all my energies could be focused on relaxing and letting the music flow over me.
CLASS 9- Hatha
Sunday evening and not my favourite class. I went with Kyle and he didn't like it much either- he found the instructor to be kind of confusing, like she would get halfway through the pose explanation before she realized she hadn't told us where to start. I also found it frustrating that I clearly wanted to be near the back of the class but it was sort of empty so she just pulled a mat up beside me, got everyone to turn to face the left and suddenly I was not just at the front of the class, I was blocking everyone's view of the instructor. Kyle has assured me that I don't need to freak out when this happens and look totally normal, but as a person with some "front of the class anxieties" non ideal!
I also found that she kept saying things like "take this time to listen to your body and embrace what it's telling you" without the introduction to any kind of mantra or discussion to hold onto, which I sort of felt meant you needed to already come to class prepped and mind-calmed, which isn't really why I go to class.
The big excitement is I almost did that move your body to the floor with your elbows in tight move. Almost back to pre-wedding strength! (That means in the lead-up to my wedding I got crazy fit and was strong-ish for the first time in my life and I think I'm getting back to it!)
The real kicker was
At the end she asked us all to leave the class in silence and she kept the room dark. I wiped off my mat and went to drop my sponge in the basket and leaned over....
AND SMASHED MY HEAD INTO THE GD WALL
Instant nausea // wondering where all my balancing practice went // why can't I tell how far my body is from the wall yet (I'm 31) shame
Oh, is whisper-screaming "fucccckkkk" and crying not honouring the class silence?
Damn that hurt for like an hour.
CLASS 10 - Hatha
Three joyful things about this class. And one reason why pre judgments are bad.
I arrived in class and it was filled with a slightly... older crowd.. and relaxed knowing that class was going to be a soft + gentle flow. Preconceived notions be damned it was the hardest Hatha class I've taken yet. Serves me right!
- NEW AGEY WARNING! Our instructor asked us to imagine our "healing colour" and the colour of the sky that day popped into my head immediately. I thought about how amazing it is how quickly my joy comes back with the sun. One sun-soaked walk with Mckee and suddenly I am one with the universe + mother earth + my body + my heart...
- I AM STRONGER + MORE FLEXIBLE!!! I was able to move from downward dog to putting my knee outside my elbow in plank // I remember trying that move the first week of January + being like "I swear I used to be able to do this, but literally this is torture" and in this class I was like- oh hell yeah, NBD.
- HOLY HOT DAMN if you can go to the Sea Studio during sunset you should. I could not close my eyes when the instuctor asked us to because I was way more centered watching the sky + sea + glass change all sorts of colours. Healing colours. I'll say it again. HOLY HOT DAMN.
Remember how I was wondering earlier this week how you can tell if you are getting better? Turns out you just find out one day in a joyful class.
Very solid way to celebrate the 50% mark. 10 more classes to go!