A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to shoot two episodes for a new yoga show on Veria Living Television (premieres on September 17th) thanks to my friend Bex at Bexlife.com. “Yoga Sutra Now” with Jai Sugrim is pretty unique in that it combines the physical asana practice with a master class in understanding the origins of each pose, movement, breathing technique, nutritional habits, and meditation practice as well as our thought processes. I had the chance to be a student in Jai’s class for the show.
I’m fairly confident in my yoga practice. I’ve been practicing on and off for over ten years. But as the day of the shoot came closer, I started freaking out. I hadn’t practiced yoga since my knee surgery. Was I really going to be able to confidently practice and move in and out of the poses? In preparation, I went to two classes to freshen up my practice and it felt great. I could feel the length and space return to my body and the space between my ribs literally expand.
The experience? Beyond what I was expecting. I thought that I was just going to show up and do some yoga. I know that it sounds hokey but it was more than that. In part, it was because the focus of both episodes really resonated with me – “Conscious Eating” and “Breaking Free of Negative Thoughts” – both are areas that I’ve been working on (struggling with?) lately.
But I was also forced to face one of my biggest fears – arm stands and inversions. I’ve never felt confident doing arm stands (aside from crow) and never have felt comfortable in an inversion (which is also why I loved Ilene’s post from last week). All morning, I had crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t have to do either of these.
Usually in class, I get away with doing headstand or armstand prep. I don’t really try because, frankly, I’m scared that I won’t be able to do it and I’m scared that I will be able to do it. A number of doubts tend to flood my mind – I’m not strong enough, I’m not flexible enough, or I’m going to fall down on top of someone, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. Inversions make you face your fears like nothing else so it was the perfect vehicle to talk about “Breaking Free of Negative Thoughts” during the second episode we taped.
People – I did my first ever forearm stand and it’s taped for a TV show. It was very well assisted with a strap around my elbows to keep my arms in the right place and with Jai catching and helping me up into the pose. I don’t care. I did it. it was very disorienting being upside down. I have no sense of my body’s direction or placement in space so I have a hard time adjusting my balance.
As soon as I was upside down, I could feel the fear explode in my body – pooling in my head and face like my blood and causing my legs to tense up. But then Jai reminded me to breathe (duh) and to zip my legs together. Once I did that, my body felt lighter and the pose felt easier. I could feel my whole body lengthen and reach up towards the ceiling. I scissored-kicked my legs back down. When I landed right-side up on the ground, I could feel that nervous giggle escape from my mouth.
I was initially drawn to yoga purely for its health and physical benefits. My first experience with yoga was a “Yoga for Runners” class through New York Road Runners Club. The class was taught by Beryl Bender Birch and her husband Thom was held in a school gym on the Upper East Side. Lately, I have been relishing and thriving in my yoga practice – the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of the practice.
I’m not sure what it is but I just feel very connected to it. It feels like it’s what I need right now and that it may provide me with some of the tools and insights that I’ve been striving for in my attempt to feel more present, purposeful and connected. Thoughts of Yoga Teacher Training have flitted through my head lately after following along on some other folks’ journey, especially Whitney over ate Live, Run, Love, Yoga. If you haven’t read her posts, I encourage you to do so. It’s definitely planted some seeds in my mind.
As I think about the possibility of Yoga Teacher Training, I feel that same fear start to bubble up in my stomach. It’s the absolute antithesis of what I “planned” on doing with my life, my Type A personality and overachieving/scientific sensibility. Maybe that’s one reason to consider it?
Do you practice yoga? Do you practice for the physical/health benefits or is there something more that drives your practice? What has your experience been?