Teacher Training: Misanthropic Yogini, RYT

My training is finished and beginning all over again. The past four days have felt like weeks. Graduation weekend was a blur.... So much yoga, so little sleep. Sunday was our last day, and I kicked us off that morning with my presentation. It went smoothly. I fashioned a 30 minute class based very closely on my home practice to share with the group. When it was all over, instead of feeling accomplished or relieved, I felt numb, just floating there in limbo waiting for some guiding force to beckon me in any direction. After the certificates were distributed to the graduates, we all looked at each other expectantly, all wondering what now?

That night, in the spirit of celebration, the boyfriend and I decided to make some changes. We rearranged the apartment: the yoga space has been moved, quite symbolically, from the back of our home to the front. The living room has been transformed into a lovely practice space, possibly even lovely enough for me to teach private sessions in our home. And now that yoga is something that the boyfriend and I share, having the space in a more central, open location seems fitting somehow. I had my first full practice since graduation in the new space this afternoon, and I feel compelled to say it: that was some damn good yoga.

I had been pouring over how to begin my job search over the past couple of weeks, wondering how to present myself as a capable teacher without a lick of professional experience on my resume. I'm happy to say things seemed to have worked out for themselves. Yesterday, just one day after YTT graduation, the studio owner offered me a teaching position, a regular gig! I taught my first class last night on very short notice, with just over an hour to prepare a sequence and playlist. He called me at close to 7 yesterday evening, and I went spinning into a mad dash -- Write a sequence! Shower! Playlist! What the hell kind of music should I play? Is my mp3 player charged? No?! I think the hurried preparation may have worked to my advantage: I had no time to get nervous. The class went really well.

It was a slow flow vinyasa, the Monday Night Wind Down at 8:45, so my job was to help people shed the baggage from their day and send them off to bed in a state of bliss. I did my best. There was so much more I wanted to say, things I didn't say that I feel I should have said and things I know I could have said better, but I'm beginning to sense that will always be the case. I had about 30 students show up, of varying experience levels, which was far more than I had expected. I led them through a gentle standing sequence, just enough to warm the body, then we came to the floor for some nice hip openers and twists. I think I saw at least a few yoga-stoned faces walking out of there after class. Mission accomplished. :)


A Bit of Home Practice

Had a lovely home practice last night after teacher training. My body felt light, my vinyasas were floaty, and my breath was strong and steady. It was very much what I needed, even if it meant I wouldn't be getting a lot of sleep... which it did, and I didn't. But it's fine, because the practice left me feeling strong and centered.

The tweaks in my back are beginning to smooth over. The mysterious crunching and stiffness have subsided, though it stills pinches from time to time if I'm not being careful, particularly when I'm teaching. I experienced my deepest paschimottanasana ever last night after my urdhva dhanurasanas. My forehead was practically resting on my ankles, and I wasn't pulling against any tension. My body just folded in half. Very cool.

I've been refining my warriors, trying to really lift up out of the hips with a straight spine without splaying my ribs, and they're feeling much better. My headstands have become nearly effortless, a very meditative experience. I've begun to focus on cultivating a deep, loud breath in my headstands and other inversions. It feels as though my lung capacity is somehow increased being upside down. I know inversions are supposed to be good for the respiratory system, among the many other benefits, but I'm not sure why. Is it simply the reversal of gravity, the lungs being decompressed?

Free handstands, on the other hand, are still evading me. I just can't find it without first pushing off the wall. I lieu of lots of handstands, I've been focusing more on floating, strengthening the root and navel locks. Jumping into pike position, with straight legs parallel to the floor, and shakti kicks, with knees pulled into the torso, has become a regular preparatory practice of mine. I had never been able to find the pike jumps before, but recently they're starting to happen for me. I credit my regular practice of sirsasana A and B with these new developments.

It's interesting to revisit my full ashtanga-inspired home practice just once or twice each week, rather than plodding through the whole thing every day. It allows me to really feel the effects of all the work I've done for teacher training -- the hours held in plank pose, the hundreds of vinyasas, the meticulous breakdown of the elements of the asanas. My practice has become very slow, very precise. No more flying through the transitions. I'm savouring every moment, quietly and faithfully following the breath.


Teacher Training: Week 11

This is it: the final lap, the last week of YTT. This coming weekend, I will be giving my presentation, demonstrating my newly developed teaching skills to the trainers, trainees, and studio staff; then I'm on my own... Hooray? There is one thing that I can say with certainty that I'll be pleased about when training is over: getting back to my daily home practice.

I've only been able to squeeze in one or two home practices each week for the past several weeks. This has begun to take it's toll. We (the trainees) are supposed to attend four studio classes per week in addition to classes on training days, which means a studio class every day. The classes are only an hour long, but with the transit, it's a two hour affair. This, plus teaching 90-minute classes to the boyfriend a few days a week has made home practice on most days impossible. While I am enjoying attending classes more and more -- practicing in the company of like-minded individuals -- it just isn't the same. My home practice is truly my meditation, my quiet time. The loud music, coughing, grunting, moaning, and even occasional chatter of restless students wears on me a little. And while, physically, the classes are almost always challenging and enjoyable, it just doesn't compare to carefully assessing the body every day, and giving it exactly what it needs. I miss my yoga space, I miss breathing along with the hum of the humidifier, I miss the quiet.

I'd like to say that I've been doing nothing but practice and study in this final week of teacher training; unfortunately, this last week of training corresponds with the first week of the fall semester, so I'm back in school and busy with homework already. Argh... all spread out nice and thin again. Next week should be easier, with training over and a more compact schedule at work. But then the yoga job search begins. No rest for this wicked yogini.

I have a rapidly expanding list of things I need to do in order to fulfill my dream of teaching yoga professionally. This list is amassing and beginning to loom over my head with a scary sense of foreboding. I'm experiencing an irrational sense of urgency. I feel as though I need to act fast, as though if I don't do it all right now, the whole training experience -- the significance of the journey, all my hard work, and everything I've learned -- will just fizzle and fade, like it never happened. But then again, I also feel as though it might be a good idea to rest, rejuvenate, and sit in silence with my knowledge. Maybe all this new growth needs to settle for a bit; perhaps the information should percolate before it can disseminate.

Clearly, I'm experiencing conflicted emotions: I'm raring to get myself out there, but also very tempted to just scurry back to the deep darkness of my cave. Suggestions? Guidance from my yoga teacher friends? I'm feeling a little lost here...

In preparation for the big weekend ahead, I've been keeping busy designing classes and trying out my best stuff on the boyfriend, whose become quite the dedicated practitioner himself, by the way. He's taking to this yoga stuff like a fish to water, even practicing on his own while I'm away! Last week, I came home from a class to find him on the living room floor, sitting in a deep, strong lunge, breathing fully and audibly. He's already so much stronger and more flexible than when we began, AND he's meditating. He's a hungry student. I'm very proud of him, and I like to think that at least a tiny bit of his growth can be attributed to my skilled and thoughtful teaching. Let's hope I can bring this confidence in my ability to communicate the practice to the studio this weekend.


Asana of the Week: Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana

This week's asana is Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana, or One-legged Upward Bow Pose. I've been taking some backbends with my coffee in mornings this past week and I'm pretty sure it's getting me through a long weekend of yoga teacher training. Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana is an opening yet empowering asymmetrical backbend. We generally associate backbends with feelings of vulnerability and maybe even volatility of emotion, but I find that the extended leg changes the energy of this backbend. It adds a sense of power among chaos as the body engages strongly and instinctively to accommodate the sudden added weight of the lifted leg.

Wait to try this pose until you can remain comfortable in Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow, or Wheel Pose) for at least ten steady breaths. Openness balanced with stability across the shoulders, and flexibility in the front body and thoracic spine are important here. Begin from Urdhva Dhanurasana by simply lifting one foot a few inches from the floor. If that feels okay, your shoulderblades remain strong on the back and the breath is steady, try drawing the knee up the centerline of the body toward the chest. If you're still feeling strong, push through the ball of the foot and point that foot to the sky. Bring the extended leg as vertical as possible, driving the grounded foot firmly down into the earth, being mindful of the shoulderblades drawing together and down the back as if to lift and support the rib cage. Keep the heads of the arm bones tightly sucked into the shoulder sockets and try to distribute the bend evenly along the length of the spine, being especially aware of sensation in the lower back as you press the hips to the sky.

I like to warm up to any version of Urdhva Dhanurasana with some shoulder openers. Gomukhasana (face-of-light or cow face pose) is an especially good preparatory stretch for the shoulders before attempting any big backbends. It's a good idea to prepare for eka pada urdhva dhanurasana with at least five breaths in Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) and one regular ol' Urdhva Dhanurasana before attempting any asymmetrical versions, then take another plain old UD after playing with the one-legged version. And always be sure to practice the asymmetrical versions on both sides.

The next step is lifting one hand to the thigh in a one-armed Urdhva Dhanurasana, then both the right leg AND the right hand, for example, to balance on the left foot and left hand. Sounds hard? Well, it looks hard, but I can't say for sure because I've never tried it. BKS Iyengar in his classic Light on Yoga rates the full pose a "12" on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 60.

Respectfully, I must cast a skeptical eye toward this scale of his. Bodies are wildly different from person to person. For example, Iyengar rates Hanumanasana a "32," a pose which is considerably more accessible to me, perhaps because of my gender. There are countless factors that influence the accessibility of the asanas for every individual, and I'm wary of any set scale of difficulty because of these inherent differences. I'm not going anywhere with this, really. I just wonder what his intention was in rating the poses this way, seems almost inhibiting. Iyengar people: any thoughts on this?


Teacher Training: Week 10

We're in the home stretch, folks. Just two weeks left of teacher training, and I'll be a bonafied, certified yoga teacher, ready and willing to serve your yoga needs. I think I hear my future students flocking in the distance...

Just kidding. I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed with the uncertainty of it all. I'm not sure what the plan of action is once training is over. To my dismay, we've been given little guidance on the process of actually entering the business of yoga: finding a job, auditioning, teaching privates, taxes, payments, insurance, earnings... the nasty little details. At this point, I'm thinking I'll just start visiting studios in town, drop in for classes, check out the situation, and try to network a little. I'll need to print some business cards and make a website. I'll also need to buy some mats. And props. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Teacher training is yet ongoing, and for the past couple of weeks has consisted of nothing but tough studio classes and teaching drills. We've begun teaching brief meditations, but other than that, it's pretty much asana all the time. This coming weekend I'm looking forward to more drills, honing my teaching voice, and Sunday we're having our energy workshop. Chakras: their locations, significance, purpose, etc... I'm looking forward to this, as well. Then the weekend after that is our last. We'll be giving presentations all weekend. Each person gets 20-30 minutes to lead a condensed class to the trainers, trainees, and studio staff. I feel well prepared. I've been teaching at least a few 90 minutes classes every week to my first and best student (the boyfriend) in addition to the work we do in training sessions. My only concern now is how to condense it all down to a full body class in 30 minutes without feeling rushed. I'm sure I'll think of something.

During the first few weeks of training we eliminated certain foods from our diets for a week at a time. We cut out dairy, sugar, gluten, and corn individually, then eliminated all of these together for a couple of weeks. The purpose of this nutritional experimentation was to force us to think about the foods we normally eat, how much we eat, and why we eat. We learned how these foods affect our bodies, whether or not they work for us, and if they do, how best to use them in our diets.

I learned that I don't need as much cheese or bread as I thought I did, and I learned that as long as I don't regularly or continually consume foods with high sugar content, I can use them for quick energy when I need them. Even though we've been given free reign with foods now, I have tried with varying success to maintain these shifts in my diet with an attitude toward moderation. Bread has slowly but surely crept back into my daily diet, but I maintain that I'm still eating less of it than I used to. My cheese intake has been cut back considerably, and I'm more mindful of where my sugars are coming from. Our ongoing nutritional challenge has been to drink one gallon of water per day. While I have not reached that goal every day, I have been drinking quite a bit of water, and the difference is noticeable in my skin tone and overall feeling of wellness. All in all, I really enjoyed these nutritional challenges and found them to be rather illuminating. I never expected this type of change from teacher training. It's been a pleasant surprise.

Another good habit I've developed through teacher training is my morning routine. For the first several weeks we all followed the same routine of movements, but a few weeks ago we were told to modify the routine, customize it to our own needs. Mine consists of some tai chi to warm the body and awaken the breath, some qi gong, stretches, surya A, a 5 minute headstand, some brief pranyama and 20 minutes of seated meditation. The whole things takes about 45 minutes, and boy does it wake me up! I love it. The sequence sends me floating smoothly and happily into my day. I intend to keep up the practice after training ends.


108th Post!

"It is said that the Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey (SwamiJ.com)."

Eight months or 107 posts ago, I began Damn Good Yoga. Around that time, my practice had plateaued. I had a steady, regular practice that I had come to depend on as a source of peace and strength, but felt as though something was missing. The impact that yoga was making on my life had become more obvious than ever in the state of my body and mind, but stepping into my yoga space at home, unrolling my mat every day had begun to feel lonely, even a little bit selfish. I continued to wonder if what I was doing, practicing without the guidance of a teacher, shut away in my little room was "real yoga."

Then I started poking around the internet, reading the practice blogs of other yogis and yoginis. Blogs like Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama at Home and The Reluctant Ashtangi, among others, written by dedicated home practitioners, inspired me to trust myself, to trust the practice, and brought me to the realization that it doesn't matter where, when, or with whom I do my yoga. People everywhere are waking up at ungodly hours to trek to the studio or shoving the coffee table out of the way, putting the dog in the other room, and unrolling their mats every day. And we're all in this together. No one practices alone.

This practice is built on a firm foundation, thousands of years old, and though it has evolved and continues to do so, we all build upon this same foundation with the ultimate goal, not of feats of strength or flexibility, but of arriving at our highest truth, embodying our best and brightest selves. So no matter which form we choose to practice, or how we use this practice in our lives, we all share in this act of humility. To practice yoga is to admit that we are not our best selves, that we are nowhere near to this highest expression.

In doing the practice, we commit to the difficult task that is the shedding of the layers that shield us from our truth. This molting can be itchy and uncomfortable, but it can also be extraordinarily liberating and the catalyst of profound change. I have found in these few years along my journey that the struggle is more than worth it, and I write this blog in hopes that my experiences can shed a little bit of light on the path for those around me, and perhaps some for those just peaking down the way, hoping for a glimpse of what's to come.

I'd like to express my thanks to all of you: readers, yoga bloggers, practitioners everywhere. I am inspired and enriched by your beautiful practices every day.


Asana of the Week: Eka Pada Galavasana

This week's asana is Eka Pada Galavasana, also known as flying pigeon or flying crow. It's one of my favorite arm balances because, in addition to the empowering sensation of taking flight that comes with balancing on the hands, it's also a delicious hip opener.

We practiced Eka Pada Galavasana in the class I attended this morning, then I was asked to teach it today during YTT. I love this pose, but I received many looks of resentment and bewilderment as I attempted to teach it to the group of trainees. Most of them wouldn't bother with trying to float the back leg... I looked up from my demonstration to see a bunch of people dangling their hands over their shin in a sad looking one-legged chair. I pleaded, "If you are not going to try to float the back leg, AT LEAST ground the hands and try shifting your weight forward..."

No response, and these are strong, capable yogis and yoginis we're talking about here. Granted, we had been practicing poses for a few hours by that point, but it was disheartening to see such a lack of enthusiasm from my peers, particularly since this pose, like many arm balances, is not really about the arm strength. Yes, you need strong shoulders and hands, but the trick to Eka Pada Galavasana is securing the shin across the upper arms to be used as a lever: on the right side, hook the right foot tightly behind and around the left upper arm, then snuggle the right knee way up into the right armpit. Keep the right foot flexed around the left arm, bend the elbows, press the right shin into the arm bones, and your hips will lift to the sky. If your left foot hovers off the floor, try extending it up and back. Easy peasy. Just make sure your hips are warm before you try it, and please, for Pete's sake, protect your knees with an active foot and stable position of the lower leg against the upper arms.

DO NOT try this if you have knee issues. One sweaty practice several weeks ago, I cranked my knee badly in this pose. I was slick with sweat, and my lower leg slipped down my arms as I began to lift into Eka Pada Galavasana. My knee made a horrifying succession of crunching noises, and has been a little strange ever since. Be careful.

Here's a strong sequence that prepares the hips nicely for flying pigeon. Play with balance, have fun, and be nice to your knees!
  1. Garudasana (Eagle Pose) - Begin with the right leg crossed over the left leg and the right arm crossed under the left arm.
  2. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3 w/ Garudasana arms)
  3. Eka Pada Utkatasana (One-legged Chair Pose)
  4. Ardha Baddha Padmotasana (Half Lotus Forward Fold)
  5. Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying pigeon) - Bend the left knee, plant the hands a few inches forward of your shoulders, and hook the right foot around your left upper arm, as near to the armpit as possible. Keep the foot flexed, and tuck the right knee tightly into your right armpit. Press the right shin into the upper arms, bend the elbows, bring the weight forward into your hands and play with floating the left foot from the floor.
  6. Vinyasa
  7. Repeat 1-6 on the opposite side.


Teacher Training: Week 9

This week has been dubbed the Week of Healing. We have been given the blessing to attend as many or as few classes as we like. Our assignment is to get a massage or two, take hot baths, and thoroughly relax. As a whole, I think the group really needed this. People are getting frustrated and a little bit scared. Break downs are happening more frequently. The energy of the trainee clan has morphed from receptive and jovial to something nervous and edgy. We have just three weeks left. To those of you who've gone through teaching training in the past, I ask: is this normal?

Training days have become grueling, tedious affairs of one person after another setting up a class and leading a short sequence of warm ups followed by a few poses. We take turns, playing the student until our turn rolls back around, when we have to assume the role of teacher, and lead a group of bored, tired, short-tempered students who seem to be stuck in the ninth circle of yoga hell. By Sunday afternoon, we were all ready to get out of there.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic... Personally, I don't mind it all that much, but suffice it to say that the vibes this weekend were not good.

I think I will be taking advantage of this extra free time I've been gifted with some yoga anatomy and/or philosophy reading (I can't decide, we'll see which takes it) and luxurious restorative sessions in my yoga space at home. That's the plan, anyway. Yesterday, I did not go to a class or practice at home, but chose to use the day to catch up on some things I've been neglecting in my life-encompassing yogic pursuits. I tidied up the apartment, vacuumed for the first time in weeks, disinfected the kitchen, hung out with the boyfriend, biked to the grocery store, and nearly finished a paper for my Art History class from start to finish all before heading off to work. Hoorah! It was not rest, exactly, but these things were needed in order to allow for relaxation to even begin to happen.

I'm still teaching the boyfriend 60-90 minute classes at home at least a few days a week. This past week, I decided to ween myself from my sequence notes, and taught the classes completely free of notes without any trouble. Though our classes take place in our living room, I have been maintaining as formal a class structure as possible and he has humored me faithfully. I cannot express how enormously helpful his involvement and support has been in my study and growth as a teacher. The joy it brings me to see him reacquaint himself with his body, to explore and breath and feel, assures me that I have made the right decision in choosing to share this path with others. He has begun to ask questions about how to access certain tensions in his body and what these sources of tension mean... I'm so excited for him, and though I can't say whether he'll want to continue with our classes once I'm on my way to teaching "real" classes, I can be glad with this seed that's been planted.


Asana of the Week: Ardha Chandrasana

Ardha chandrasana, otherwise known as half moon pose, is so named because if you squint your eyes -- almost close them, really -- then gaze softly through your eyelashes, crossing your eyes ever so slightly, the shape of this asana resembles that of a half moon. Kinda.

Ardha chandrasana is one of those poses that offers a little something for everyone. It's a heating pose, building strength in the legs and core. It's a heart opener, expanding the chest as the limbs reach in all directions. It's a stretch for the hamstring, inner thigh, and groin of the standing leg, and it's a fantastic focus builder, requiring lightness in the body and mind, moment-to-moment awareness, and grace.

The stabilizing muscles around the lower leg, ankle, and foot of the standing leg are working strongly in this pose, rapidly and subtly engaging and releasing, making tiny adjustments as we sway, perhaps imperceptibly, back and forth, side to side with the natural rhythms of the body -- stillness in motion. I find that when I practice ardha chandrasana, the lower leg and foot are where the sensation arises first. The effort then becomes spreading and relaxing the toes and grounding evenly through the four corners of the foot to avoid gripping the mat. And breathing. It may seem counterintuitive, but a deep, even breath will help you balance. When the breath stops, tension arises in the body. This tension will pull you out of the pose. Relax and breath to find your balance.

It is advisable to keep a micro-bend in the knee of the standing leg in this pose to engage the leg completely and protect the knee from undue stain and stress. It also makes the pose a little more challenging, a little more unsteady, demanding the full attention of the mind and total recruitment of the body. That's a good thing, right?

In a vinyasa practice, ardha chandrasana usually follows trikonasana in a sequence. It's a natural progression of the stretch in the inner thigh and the work of the back leg to fly forward onto the front foot and truly stack the hips. But if you really want to challenge your balance and feel something in your standing leg, try this, holding each pose for 3-5 deep breaths:
  1. Start in a high Cresent lunge, right foot forward.
  2. Exhale to hinge forward over the front thigh, inhale to Virabhadrasana III (warrior 3).
  3. Exhale the right hand to the floor 6-10 inches ahead of the right pinky toe, inhale to revolve open to Ardha chandrasana (half moon), left hand reaches to the sky.
  4. Exhale the left hand to the mat beneath the left shoulder, inhale to peel the right hand up, twisting to Parivritta ardha chandrasana (revolved half moon).
  5. Exhale the right hand down, both hands grounded beneath the shoulders, inhale to lengthen forward, then exhale to fold over the standing leg in Urdhva prasarita eka padasana (standing splits).
  6. Inhale to float back to crescent lunge.
  7. Exhale to vinyasa.
  8. Repeat with the left foot forward.


Teacher Training: Week 8

Just four weeks left of training. I am spending a good deal of time thinking and not thinking about what comes next. I have so many questions. Where do I look for my first job? What type of class should I design for my auditions? What, exactly, do my qualifications mean? This group of trainees is the first to come from this particular program hosted by this studio, and I'm wondering how we will be received. Fortunately and unfortunately, this is a town bursting with yoga. Studios of all types are popping up everywhere, but they're also putting out a lot of new teachers, and drawing more experienced teachers from other areas. It seems nearly everyone I talk to knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone else, who's been through YTT once or twice. Yikes.

It's an intimidating scenario, but all it really means is that I'll need to find a way to set myself apart (*insert toothy optimistic grin here). I've been practice teaching quite a bit, meeting with the other trainees and teaching full classes to my own budding yogi at home. Both forums are helping immensely. I also watched the first half of a Yoga Today class with Adi, my long-time yoga crush, and came away with a full page of notes on how to say things in intensely descriptive yet concise language. Her way of teaching really speaks to me; I credit her Yoga Today classes for propelling my practice into a whole new realm of peace and strength. It's those sneaky little verbs, like "claw the earth," "sweep the arms," and "present the heart" that awaken essential actions in the body through imagery and metaphor. I'm considering subscribing to the site again just to study her classes.

Our training session this past weekend was all teaching drills, beginning with setting up a class, leading the class through a series of warm up postures, Sun Salutations A and B, and then transitioning through a series of four or five asanas. Speaking with the flow of the breath is coming more naturally, and my intonation and projection is improving. I'm also getting better at talking while practicing along with the students without feeling winded; I wondered when that would happen. As far as I can tell, it looks like the rest of our training sessions together will be much like the last one, putting in as much time as possible practice teaching each other, refining our voices, figuring out how to communicate everything we've learned.


Home, Sweet Home

I had my first full home practice session today in about a week. It was truly glorious. There really is no place like home.

I've been spending a lot of time at the studio over the past couple of weeks, keeping my home practice to meditation, inversions, and intermittent brief restorative sessions. At first, it felt strange to be moving through my practice in silence, but very quickly the familiar rhythm of the breath against the hum of the humidifier wrapped me in it's lovely, familiar embrace. No music, no instruction -- just the breath, body, and mind.

I realized today that, as much as I've come to love going to classes daily and teaching the boyfriend at home, I have missed my solo practice immensely. I also realized that all this yoga is making me very, very strong. I floated through and hovered on every jump through and got every one of my jump backs easily, even the one right after my navasana/lift-up sets... I don't remember that happening before... ever. And it's interesting because I don't get to do a whole lot of those transitions in the classes I take at the studio - maybe one of each in an hour-long class, so it's not technique. It's pure strength and lightness from working more on my foundational practice. I'd venture to guess that the accumulated hours I've spent in plank pose along with the hundreds of times I've been reminded to tuck my tailbone since teacher training began might have something to do with it. Fundamentals, people. Just like coach said.

After a truly sublime savasana in my sacred space, I took a quick shower and headed off to the studio for one of my favorite classes of the week. It was delightful, as always. She taught the class with an emphasis on floating, practicing donkey kicks, aka shakti kicks, with every nearly every vinyasa. We were also given the option to try taking a handstand from standing splits, which was tempting, but I practice so many handstands with the help of the wall at home that I fear the worst would happen if I were to try handstanding at the studio: I'd kick up too strongly, do a backflip, hurt myself and probably someone else in the process. I never try it in the open, at least not wholeheartedly. That's probably something I should start working toward. I fear I'll never get off the wall if I don't start trying it now. What's the worst that could happen? Face plant? Bruised heels? Broken neck? Eek. Maybe I'll lay out some pillows... a mountain of pillows. They'll save me, right?