does my yoga teacher care if… [some yoga FAQs]

this is for the lolz but also to be informative. i have definitely wondered all of these things at some point. and now that i have the authority* to answer them, i will share my responses with you.

does my yoga teacher care if i suck at yoga?

no! your teacher thinks it’s awesome that you are doing yoga whether it’s your first class or your 500th class. some teachers prefer teaching beginners the most because visible progress happens so quickly. others might like teaching yogis with more experience. but all yoga teachers love teaching yoga no matter what their students’ levels are.

does my yoga teacher care if i fart?

try not to, for your own sake (you’re the one stuck on your mat), but no – she doesn’t. a fart is just the human body doing its thing! on this general topic, for your own comfort i think it’s a good idea to avoid heavy meals for a good 2-3 hours before class and to avoid eating much at all for the hour preceding class.

does my yoga teacher care if i fart… while she’s giving me an adjustment?

this is probably the most likely and simultaneously the (seemingly) most embarrassing time you could fart in class – but nope, she still doesn’t care. your body is moving and being moved around in class. yoga can stimulate digestion (especially twists) and it’s perfectly normal for the winds in your body to travel around.

does my yoga teacher care if i am too old/young/fat/skinny/ugly/shy/tall/short/etc…?

no one is too old/young/fat/skinny/ugly/shy/tall/short/etc…, so NOPE! she thinks it’s marvelous that you are you and that you’re on your mat. my only precaution – if you have an injury that is healing, a past injury that still gives you trouble (or just makes you nervous), or you are pregnant, you should inform your teacher so she can give you appropriate modifications for the class.

does my yoga teacher care if i am late to class?

she might not care (or she might), but the other students will care (you are distracting them) and the studio will certainly care (you are annoying its patrons). try to be on time or early. if you’re rushing to yoga you might not get all the benefits you can from the practice.

does my yoga teacher care if my phone rings in class?

yes. you are disturbing your fellow students, your teacher, and yourself. please turn the phone off (or at least on silent) and leave it in the lobby of the studio, or, better yet, at home.

does my yoga teacher care if i’m gross?

are you gross because your teacher made you work up a sweat? then NO, certainly not. she thinks you’re awesome and your sweat is awesome too. are you gross because you haven’t showered in a week? then… please go take a shower before you come to class. there are 10 basic ethical guidelines that yogis should follow (5 yamas — how you treat others; 5 niyamas — how you treat yourself). one of the niyamas (self care) is saucha, or cleanliness. keep your body in good condition.

does my yoga teacher care if i’m not a vegetarian?

first, your yoga teacher doesn’t judge you for any decisions you make. and second, your yoga teacher probably isn’t vegetarian herself. according to a yoga journal poll, only ~12 percent of yogis are vegetarian (compared with ~3% of the general population in the US). the reasoning behind vegetarianism for yogis is one of those guidelines i mentioned earlier (a yama called ahimsa, meaning non-violence). sometimes practicing ahimsa means being kind to yourself as well. so eat the diet that is right for you. if being vegetarian is not practicing kindness towards yourself, then don’t be a vegetarian! just try to be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth and in your body.

are there any more yoga FAQs i can help with? have you ever wondered these things?

*i’m a certified 200-hour yoga instructor.

My Mysore Ashtanga Sequence

I started a morning Mysore Ashtanga yoga practice this week at Pure Yoga East. My practice so far consists of:

Surya Namaskar

  • 5 Sun A
  • 5 Sun B

Standing Poses (all 5B unless otherwise noted, and on the R & L sides if applicable)

  • Padangusthasana (hands to big toes)
  • Padahastasana (hands under feet)
  • Utthita Trikonasana (triangle)
  • Parivritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle)
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana (side angle A)
  • Parivritta Parsvakonasana (revolved side angle)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana A (hands on ground)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana B (hands on hips, elbows towards each other)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana C (hands clasped)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana D (grab big toes)
  • Parsvottanasana (pyramid)
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A (hand grabs big toe)
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B (out to the side)
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana C (bend over leg in front, grabbing toe – only 1B)
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D (hands to waist, toe pointed)
  • Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (tree with lotus foot, grab toe behind the back, fold fwd)
  • Utkatasana (chair)
  • Virabhadrasana A (warrior 1)
  • Virabhadrasana B (warrior 2)

Primary Series

  • Nothing yet

Finishing Series

  • Urdha Dhanurasana (wheel – 3x, 5B)
  • Paschimottanasana (8B)
  • Sarvangasana (shoulder stand – 10B)
  • Halasana (plow – 5B)
  • Matsyasana (fish – 5B)
  • Sirsasana A (headstand 10B)
  • Padmasana (thumb and forefinger together on knees, chin down, lotus, 10B)
  • Tolasana (lotus, hands to mat, lift up, 10B)
  • Savasana

It’s a lot to remember. And it is hard! Ashtanga yogis are hardcore.

the great 108 {yoga, spiritual, mathematical}

yesterday (wednesday june 20th), was the longest day of the year (in terms of sunlight), which is also known as the summer solstice. the solstice almost always happens on june 21st, but since today was a leap year, it came a day early.

in yoga tradition, we welcome in each season with 108 sun salutations. a sun salutation, or surya namaskar, is a sequence of movements performed in a flow linking breath and movement. sun A is a simple one and sun B adds a few extra postures. different styles of yoga have different variations on the sun salutations.

in ashtanga yoga, which is what my practice is rooted in, surya namaskar A looks something like:

  • begin standing, mountain pose (tadasana)
  • inhale, raise arms up (urdhva hastasana)
  • exhale, forward fold (uttanasana)
  • inhale, raise chest
  • exhale, jump back and lower through a pushup (chaturanga)
  • inhale, upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)
  • exhale, downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
  • 5 breaths in adho mukha svanasana; on empty hop forward
  • inhale, raise chest
  • exhale, uttanasana
  • inhale, urdhva hastasana
  • exhale, tadasana

and surya namaskar B is sun A but with these differences:

  • replace urdhva hastasana with chair pose (utkatasana) at the beginning and end
  • before taking 5 breaths in down dog:
    1. step right foot forward at the end of the exhale
    2. inhale, rise to warrior 1 (virabhadrasana 1)
    3. exhale, chaturanga
    4. inhale, urdhva mukha
    5. exhale, adho mukha
    6. do the left
    7. then hold down dog for 5 breaths

easy peasy, no? here is a further breakdown of sun A.

why 108? 108 is an interesting number. it is divisible by a lot of other numbers and has other fun mathy qualities.

  • 108/12 = 9 (9 dozen)
  • 108/9 = 12
  • 108/6 = 18 (18 is a lucky number in judaism)
  • etc… all of the divisors of 108 are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 27, 36, 54, 108
  • 108 is also an achilles number, which means it is powerful (for every prime divisor or factor p of np2 is also a divisor – ex: 3 is prime and both 3 and 32=9 is also a divisor) but not a perfect power (a positive integer that can be expressed as an integer power of another positive integer)
  • it’s also the hyperfactorial of 3, meaning 108 = 11 x 22 x 33

in hinduism and other religions, 108 has more special meanings.

  • 1, 0, and 8 represent “one thing”, “nothing” and “everything” (infinity).
  • hindu deities have 108 names.
  • because of the significance of 108, malas have 108 beads (malas are the hindu equivalent of a catholic rosary… sort of – and the rosary, i believe, also has 108 beads).
  • the distance from the earth to the sun, divided by diameter of the sun ~= 108.
  • the distance from the moon to the earth, divided by the diameter of the moon ~= 108.
  • stonehenge is ~108 feet in diameter.
  • there are 108 yoga sutras.

more on 108 (the number) here.

i am hoping to do 108 sun salutations this week. i wanted to do them all in one day (yesterday) but instead my practice yesterday was a class i took with bobby at pure yoga on 86th street. i will be back there again tonight for an inversions workshop. i wish i had been counting my sun salutes this week – i could have figured out how many more i needed to do to get to 108. i will try to find a way to fit them all in before june is over (can you believe it’s june 21st already?).

how did you celebrate the solstice?

circuit of change – mindbody bootcamp [review]

circuit of change is a workout studio located at 57 west 16th street (16th and 6th, NE corner of the intersection; 4th floor). i bought a groupon for 10 classes at the studio a few months ago, and i have to use them all up by april 4th. here is the studio:

yesterday morning (sunday @ 11am) i went to the “mindbody bootcamp” taught by the founder, brian delmonico. all of their classes are barefoot, which i think is fantastic – our feet are sensitive and should not be confined all the time. this mindbody bootcamp class had the following format:

mindbody bootcamp sequencing

  • centering exercise at the beginning (less than 5 minutes) – sitting, child’s pose, some hands and knees stuff (i don’t remember it all)
  • yoga-ish flow with extra intensity (10 minutes?) – sun salutation variations with extra workout-y stuff like knee to nose, planks, etc… lots of abs thrown in too.
  • cardio circuits (40 minutes?) – kickboxing, abs, jumping jacks, “hit the deck”s, squat thrusts, plyometric jumps, etc… you change movements about every 15 seconds so if you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s fine because you will switch quickly.
  • centering exercise (<5 minutes) – sitting, breathing, i think i remember there being some light stretching.

i estimated the times; i know that the class is 60 minutes total but i didn’t see a clock so i wasn’t able to be more precise in my breakdown.

i had a lot of fun with the class. my favorite part was the yoga-ish flow. if there was a whole class of crazy sun salutation variations i would be there in a second.

i liked the cardio circuits part as well, but i did feel like a lot of the exercises could hurt your lower back if you’re not careful (bending down to touch the ground for example). i am not a fan of squat thrusts because i don’t think they are good for your joints (unlike chaturanga, you don’t land your feet back with your arms already bent). squat thrusts aside though, the exercises brian did pick for the circuits were probably my favorites out of the standard cardio class moves.

midway through the yoga flow i started to break a sweat, and i kept on dripping all the way through class.

Update: I originally said I would go back, however, unfortunately, I hurt my back at a class later on during this week and I think it was because of bad form during far-too-fast squats and other exercises that could be bad for your back. I didn’t end up using up all 10 classes – I only used 5.

have you ever tried a “mind body” type cardio class?

Friday Five: 5 Ways to Destress

1. Take a deep breath.

Don’t move. Feel the breath go in your mouth, through your throat, into the chest, into the belly. Out the belly, the chest, the throat, the mouth. Breath it into your fingers and your toes. Close your eyes. Listen. Breathe.

2. Meditate for 5 minutes.

If this is hard, try repeating a mantra as you sit, cross-legged, in a comfortable seat. Perhaps sit on a blanket. Back and neck are long. On the inhale, think, LET, on the exhale, GO. Inhale, LET, exhale, GO. Set a timer, or just stop when you’re ready.

3. Accept yourself today. (Or at least try.)

Don’t wait for when you are thinner, are in better shape, get a promotion, accomplish some goal. Accept yourself today, because it’s wasting time if you can only think about the future or the past. Be present, and be okay with you as you are. (This is not to say don’t have goals – just don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be.)

4. Drink a cup of tea. Savor it.

Be present as you sip your hot drink from the mug. Feel the warmth in your hands. Feel the tea in your belly. Watch when and where your mind starts to wander.

5. Try a sun salutation.

The simplest sun salutation variation I know is this:

Inhale, sweep your arms up overhead, press the palms, look up.

Exhale, swan dive forward, fold over your legs.

Inhale, look forward, flat back.

Exhale, fold.

Inhale, reverse the swan dive, sweep arms up, press the palms, look up.

Exhale, bring hands to prayer at your heart.


5 Friday 5 Links:

Five random Q’s.

  1. What was your first wristwatch like?
    –I don’t remember.
  2. What lately seems to have been a thief of time?
    –My “chitta vritti” – the whirlings and turnings of the mind. I’ve been distracted and unable to focus. Need to reign it in and start being present.
  3. What were yesterday’s quietest five minutes like?
    –Savasana after an Ashtanga practice.
  4. In what way have you lately been saving time?
    –More home yoga practice instead of going to the studio. Good in that it saves time; bad in that I probably am not doing all the poses I should be doing.
  5. We are often charged hourly rates for labor, but we never get to reciprocate in kind when promised completion times don’t match actual completion. If you could bill people for the time you spend waiting, what would be a reasonable amount?
    –This could be like some deadlines in school – for every day it’s late, it’s a letter grade off. I suppose a reasonable “letter grade” charge would that any additional work past the original estimate would be at least 10% off.