A beginner class? Sure, why not?!

I seem to find myself in Rockford, Illinois, every few weeks and I enjoy stopping by 815 Yoga! This morning I attended a class labeled “beginner flow.” Don’t let labels turn you off! I’m not a beginner — I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about 17 years. But I chose this class today for a couple of reasons. For one, it was at 8:30 a.m. and that worked well with my schedule. The other option was a 10:15 a.m. hot yoga. I haven’t yet tried hot yoga and I didn’t think I was ready for it today! But someday…

Since 815 is not my home studio, I don’t know the teachers and their styles. So in that sense, something new is brought to my practice. And also, I generally practice and teach a vinyasa flow or Ashtanga style. So being able to settle into poses and really think about them from a beginner’s perspective offered a welcome break and shook things up, so to speak.

I quickly settled into the practice. I enjoyed the slower pace and the ability to pay close attention to my breathing, posture, and alignment. The studio was slightly warmer than I was used to, and that warmth combined with the focus helped me get into the best-feeling wheel pose I’ve had in quite a while. My spine arched back effortlessly, whereas in the past few weeks it’s been pretty tight.

My yoga teacher training at Sun Moon Yoga Studios is helping me to embrace different styles of yoga and teaching me the importance of “letting go” of routine (as well as “letting go” of other things holding me back). I embraced this morning’s practice and if you get a chance to step into a different class or different studio, please give it a try!

The value of special yoga events

Mala

Photo Credit: wickenden Flickr via Compfight cc

If you’re lucky enough to live near a studio that offers special events and workshops, take advantage of it! I’ve been to two special yoga events in the last two months at SunMoon studios in Mankato.

Cacao

Photo Credit: esc.ape(d) Flickr via Compfight cc

In December, lightworker Amy Heilman visited to perform a cacao ceremony. As a group we slowly sipped the cacao drink, paying special attention to the taste of it, the feel of the cup in our hands, and meditating on the source of the drink — the sun that warmed the plant, the people who picked the plant, and its journey to here. We followed this with a vinyasa flow.

On January 18, I attended a vinyasa flow/meditation with background music provided by Kevin Paris. We set our intentions for 2018 and then practiced a calming, mindful vinyasa flow.

These type of special events stand out for the following reasons:

* A break in the routine. We go to our regular class, we teach our regular class, we work our regular jobs, etc. It’s nice to attend a class at a different time with a different teacher.

* Open up new experiences. I would not think of signing up for a cacao ceremony on my own. I had no idea what to expect, and I’m glad I had the experience. Same with live music — I had never done a yoga flow with a musician in the room.

* Sense of community. Both of these events were sold out. I saw women whom I’d known for years because we’d been in yoga classes before. I saw women whom I’d only recently met. I saw new faces. You can feel the energy in the room when people gather in a place like this to meditate, set intentions, and practice yoga.

After both of these events, I felt a little drugged, yet energized. Thursday had been a long day for me — I started the day with teaching the 6 a.m. yoga class at Fitness for 10 and ended the day with another yoga practice. When I went to bed I was tired, yet I wasn’t quite ready to settle down. When I did fall asleep, my sleep was deep and solid.

If you have a yoga studio near you and haven’t checked to see if they offer special events and workshops, I recommend you do so. Sign up for one — new experiences await.

2018: Spark

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I spent a couple of hours on Sunday, Dec. 31, with fellow yogis and other beautiful women at Melanie Williams‘ house to reflect on 2017 and set intentions for 2018. I’m so grateful for the time to think mindfully about accomplishments, challenges, and what I’d like to do in the new year.

When it came time to draw cards, I drew the one above. Or really, the card drew me. I couldn’t imagine a more meaningful card to set my 2018 intentions.

The text that goes along with the card is as follows:

“You are a clear channel for Divine creativity.

“There is a spark of creativity in you, and you have every reason to move forward with optimism and hope. Open yourself to inspiration and allow life to show you its beauty and your part in co-creating it. This is the perfect time to give birth to an idea, start a new relationship or job, or begin any endeavor. Attraction is high as you connect with others who can co-create joyous experiences and join with you in expressing the finer aspects of life. Watching a spark turn to a flame and stoking that fire is a gratifying activity.”

I spent most of 2017 not being able to work on my own projects. I was stuck in the past and one big project demanded all of my creative attention. I finally wrapped up that project (hopefully, for good) in mid-December and turned my attention to a long essay that’s been percolating for a while. I have missed creating my own things, so I believe that’s why I was drawn to that card.

I’ve only taught a couple of yoga classes so far but the process of creating a sequence feels a lot like writing. What do I want people to take away from a class/essay? How do I build from that core concept? How can I form a sequence (of words, of poses) that will yield the results I want my students/readers to come away with?

The “co-creating joyous experiences” pertains mightily to my yoga teaching. That is exactly what I intend to do in my classes! Please join me in creating joyous experiences for your body and soul!

I’m teaching at Fitness for 10 in Mankato at 6 a.m. Tuesdays/Thursdays.

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Oils, candles, and other good stuff at the center of the room at Melanie’s on New Year’s Eve.