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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

Highlights/Lowlights of 2010:

January: Began teaching part of yoga classes at a Yoga Shala with my yoga mentor, Ken. He's a wonderful teacher and an amazing person, and I'm lucky I met him when I did and got him to agree to be my mentor.

February: Presented my thesis for yoga teacher training. I volunteered to go first and didn't have to worry about it anymore. It went really well, and I was able to organize the basics of my favorite style of yoga in writing.

March: Finished the mentoring part of teacher training.

April: Graduated from Yoga Teacher training. Something I've wanted to do for years, and I'm glad I actually did it.

May: 1. Went of our first vacation since the honeymoon and had a great time in Port Aransas. (Although next time I'd like to go to a prettier, less seaweed covered beach.)
2. Decided in the pool at the Mayan Princess that we're both ready to have kids.
3. Met Wayne Palmer in real life. I've worked with him for years through email and the phone since he lives in New Jersey. We became friends and finally got to see each other in person. That was neat. He's coming again in a few weeks.
4. Was recruited by the Yoga School Director to build a new website because I'm the most tech savvy person she knows and she desperately needed one immediately because of the Texas Workforce Commission. I told her I didn't know what I was doing, but promised to try my best with Brad's help, and did it. Sure, a real website guy could do better, but it's pretty and functional.
5. Touched my face to my shins with my knees straight and my feet flexed. This is a big deal for me because it has been my flexibility weakness all my life.

June: nothing comes to mind. Sorry June.

July: 1. Brad's dad had a heart attack. Someone did CPR and saved his life. Then he had a double bypass. That surgeon saved his life again.
2. Saw Weird Al from the FRONT ROW.

August: Got hired as a yoga teacher at Spectrum. Started substituting classes until one that I wanted opened up.

September: Found out I was pregnant.

1. First appointment with the obstetrician. Saw the fetus's heartbeat. Announced it to the world, because a heartbeat means it's good, right?
2. My good friend, Eric's sister had a miscarriage at 11 weeks.

November: 1. I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks. Had to announce that to the world, because can't just wait and hope they forget, can you?
2. A coworker suddenly died of a heart attack.

December: 1. Started teaching my own yoga class at Spectrum. At a convenient time and location for me!
2. Eric's 2-year old great dane, Goliath, suddenly died from bloat.
3. Got a badass computer that gives me 60 fps in WoW with all the settings turned up.
4. Brad got a promotion, and will actually be people's supervisor.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WoW Cataclysm, Yoga Practice, Work, Yoga Teaching

The latest World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm came out a week ago today. It raised the max level from 80 to 85 and added a ton of new content. A lot of people are already level 85; Brad and I are 83. The only way to be 85 this soon is to blow through the new areas as fast as you can without doing much else in your life and without taking the time to enjoy the game. I think that's sad. Why is it a race? I like taking my time enjoying the time I spend playing, and doing other things between playing.

I went to my first Ashtanga Primary Series class with Lisa since August. That was great. I should have gone to her Monday class yesterday, but I chose WoW over yoga. Tomorrow, I'll choose yoga over WoW again. I could go to Kimberly's class tonight, and I probably should. I think I'm being lazy. Going to a 6:00 class at Yoga Shala means giving up my entire evening. I used to do that all the time and love it, but now I only want to do it once or twice a week.

Last week was a busy week at work. It was the last major week of our peak season. There's still some loose ends to tie up before the books go to print, but the worst is behind us. That's another reason that WoW wasn't a priority for me. I was lucky that I didn't need to work any overtime, but I came home exhausted and just wanted to rest. Sitting at a computer for a few more hours was the last thing I wanted to do.

My second yoga class as the regular teacher was on Saturday. I was nervous as I waited for the class ahead of me to end. The attendance of this class would be the first time it was a reflection of what they thought of me as a teacher. Two or three people hovered by the door with  me, but that was it. I hoped that wasn't the whole class. People came pouring in. The first class had 9 people, this class had 13. Yay, it's growing! I know it will fluctuate up and down and that's fine, I'm just glad it grew by 4 the first week rather than shrink.

The pregnant student wasn't there. I was both relieved and disappointed. I ended up not teaching anything a pregnant woman shouldn't do. I forgot to teach Bakasana and Navasana as I'd like to. Normally by the time we get to that point, class is nearly over. I remember when it seemed agonizing to fill an entire hour with yoga poses, now I really think an hour and a half or 2 hours would be more productive. I always struggle to decide which poses to leave out this time. That's a good problem to have, so I can't complain. I'm also thinking about throwing in some lunges, twisting in lunges, and binding in the lunges like Ken used to teach. That will mean deviating more from the primary series that I've been clinging to for dear life. It's a good foundation to start from, but I'd like for my class to be different every time. I remember getting bored of my first yoga class because it was the same every time. Then again, primary series can be practiced consistently for years. I could drive myself crazy thinking of this. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Class as the Regular Teacher (for money)

I've been the regular yoga teacher at my office for a year, but that's a free thing I do to be nice and for practice teaching.

Saturday was my first day as the regular teacher at Spectrum. A week ago, I attended this class and was very nervous and anxious because while it's called "Yoga Flow" the former teacher's style is VERY different from mine. My original intention was to make the class what the students are used to and gradually "make it my own." After attending that class, I thought about it a lot and got some advice from experienced teachers who have been through this. Then I decided to just teach what I'm used to teaching. I can't try to be someone else, nor would I ever want to.

I taught a modified Ashtanga Primary Series, some stuff cut out because it's too hard and I only have an hour and some stuff thrown in for fun. That's what I always do. I change up what I cut out and what I throw in so it's not the same every time. The Ashtanga Primary Series is very therapeutic and leaves students feeling good afterwards. That's what I love about it. I'm so grateful for the teachers who have come before me who came up with this series and passed it on through the generations, eventually making it to me, and then my students.

A lady came up to me at the beginning of class and asked for adviced for pregnancy. Oh, wow, ok good thing I just researched this. She was 12 weeks along, barely out of the 1st trimester. I told her not to do the chaturangas or any deep twisting, and I didn't teach any strong ab poses, but if she's back next time, I will, but I'll need to have alternatives for her in mind. I'll probably get her to do cat/cow or her choice of any pose she'd like. I think I handled that well both as a teacher and as a woman who lost a pregnancy a month ago. I'm proud of myself for feeling helpful and compassionate rather than jealous or angry. I would never wish bad things to happen to people.

Also, after the Kino MacGregor workshop I just attended where she emphasized that muscular burn is ok, even a good thing, I'm going to change my attitude towards pain in practice. I used to say not to push yourself into pain, but I'm going to explain that muscular burn is ok and that it's an individual decision how far you push through the burn.

As class ended I said, "Please let me know if you have any questions or comments." That's when they surprised me. They weren't rolling up their mats and running out of there. They stayed seated on their mats and told me how much they enjoyed the class and how good it made them feel. Awww shucks :-) I'm really glad I've had the opportunity to practice on my coworkers, because otherwise I wouldn't be nearly as prepared to teach a room full of strangers as I am today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Life Doesn't Always Go According to Plan

I had a miscarriage a month ago today. It was a hard way to learn that I don't have as much control over my life and my body as I'd like. I'm still glad that I told my friends, but I wish I hadn't told as many people at work and on Facebook.

When we saw the heart beat on the ultrasound at 8 weeks, the doctor said that miscarriage after seeing a heart beat is very rare and that we were "out of the woods." I even asked, "So I can put it on Facebook?" She said, "Yes." I knew that it was still the 1st trimester and that miscarriage is a possibility any time until it's over, but she told me what I wanted to hear, and I ran with it.

Here's another lesson I learned the hard way: a rare chance doesn't mean not possible.

Sometimes life does go according to plan. I just picked up my first regular teaching job at Spectrum. I don't have to worry about subbing the 2 classes a month minimum. Now I can just sub as a favor when it's convenient (i.e. not going Downtown Monday afternoon to sub anymore). That class starts this Saturday and I'm very excited. It's such a good time to start teaching a class: right before the New Year's rush of new faces.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big Life Change

I've posted before about my life changes, from what I ate to who I spent my time with, where I lived, and what I did with my time. But now I'm at the beginning of the biggest life change of my life ever.

Marriage was a big deal, but it wasn't a sudden change. The wedding was formalizing a relationship that grew over a few years. No one was shocked. No one said, "Wow, I didn't think you would get married."

It really surprises me that people have reacted to the news that I'm pregnant with "I thought you were going to be childless!" Thanks, Dad. All you had to do was ask. It seemed obvious to me that it was the next step for me and Brad.

I'm in the middle of the first trimester which seems to take forever... in terms of morning sickness and everyone saying, "Don't worry that's only in the first trimester, it will pass soon." 7 more weeks seems like a long time to feel nauseous, but I guess it should be a comfort that it will go away at a predictable time. 

My biggest problem with the first trimester is the idea that it's supposed to be hush hush secret that I'm pregnant. This is something I've been working towards for years: getting my body in shape, getting our house, having 4-door reliable cars paid off, no debt, etc. And it's supposed to be a big secret! Why? Oh because I could have a miscarriage and it would be awkward. Seriously? That's a good enough reason to keep really exciting news to myself?! Seriously?

I went ahead and told my friends I see everyday, and my supervisor/team at work, because if I didn't, they'd worry about what's wrong with me. Why would I hold super exciting news in and worry people who care about me?

But, still I've kept the news off of Facebook and haven't told a lot of people yet, not because of fear of miscarriage, but because of fear of people thinking it's wrong for me to tell this early. I do recognize the possibility of miscarriage, but I try not to worry about it, and I'm just going on like everything is perfect until proven otherwise.

Now that the exciting news that I'm going to be a mother is out. OMG seriously? I'm going to be a mom? Oh crap, how do you keep an infant alive without breaking the law? I've always been the baby. I don't have much experience with babies. For now I'm just going to focus on keeping myself and my sweet pea sized child healthy.

A lot of people keep telling Brad and me that our lives are going to change a lot. First of all: NO DUH? SERIOUSLY? Yeah, we thought of that long before we started calculating ovulation days with charts.
Second, that implies that nothing changes until the baby is born. EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT RIGHT NOW! Obviously my body is changing and I have to be careful what I do and eat. I need more sleep, sometimes I feel like crap for a really good reason, so obviously my life is different, and of course that affects Brad too, since he lives with me.

Of all of the changes in my life now and when the child is born, the hardest one for me to handle emotionally is my yoga practice. My practice is very important to me and I give it 100% credit to my body and emotional state being ready for this. Of course I can still do yoga and I still should, but it's very different now. I'm not just thinking about me when I practice. I'm thinking about that little tiny heartbeat inside.

I've been attending Beryl Bender Birch's workshop this weekend. I signed up for it knowing we were trying to conceive, but not expecting to actually get pregnant this early. I've talked to my doctor, Nydia, and Sreedhara, and read the pregnancy section of every yoga book I have (that's a lot). Every book says something different, but it seems to be the consensus that I can do anything in the first trimester as long as I feel ok. Even my family doctor told me to listen to my body and that it will tell me if something isn't right for me.

The workshop is wonderful and I love it, but it is a new experience for me. I've been to a workshop with her before, that part is essentially this same, but I am different. I'm no longer pushing myself as far as I can. I'm doing child's pose instead of downward facing dog in sun salutations, skipping vinyasas between seated poses, not doing navasana or any tough ab work (because the books say not to and because it feels terrible), and not pushing very far into twists. Next weekend I'm going to David Swenson's workshop in Austin, and knowing what I know about him, I'll have no problem modifying my practice as I have been. You learn more from listening at workshops than from doing asana anyway.

I plan to continue to teach yoga as there's no reason for me practice every pose I teach. A good teacher isn't practicing while teaching anyway.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yoga is Non-Competitive

There's a Bikram Yoga Competition in San Antonio this month. I see a lot of San Antonio yogis getting excited, and while I'm not one to tell them what to get excited about, I don't share their enthusiasm.

When I first discovered yoga, one reason I fell in love with it (as a former competitive springboard diver) was that it is non-competitive and non-judgmental. That's just beautiful. Yoga is for the sake of the practitioner, because it's good for the body, mind, and spirit, also it's fun. It doesn't get any better than that. Shiny gold medals and trophies distract us from what really matters and the competition required to win alienates people from each other.

I was only a diver for a year and wasn't ever good enough to actually win, partly because of the lack of flexibility and strength at the time and partly because I only did it for a year, but I saw what the competitive spirit does. It takes all the fun out of it and makes it hard work with more risks of injuries. What could have been a great friend with a shared interest became a rival to defeat. What if I just like flipping around in the air and landing in a giant pool of water? Good luck finding a coach who cares about anything other than winning.

I saw the same thing when I did debate competitions a few years later. I'd try to be friendly, "Hi, I'm Becky. You like debate, I like debate. That's pretty cool." No way, they weren't having any of that. It's harder to treat me like an idiot if you see me as another human being who's a lot like you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yoga is still going well :)

I subbed last night at the Bandera Spectrum and people asked when I normally teach so they can come to my class. Too bad I don't normally teach outside of work yet. I just sub as much as I'm able to, but AWESOME compliment!

Then today there was a great conversation today at my office class as I turned off the lights for Savasana.

Pete: Becky, you kicked my butt!
me: Yoga is supposed to kick your butt and make you like it.
Pete: I liked it!

Then he emailed me to tell me how much he liked the class.

I really enjoyed your yoga class. It's something I've wanted to do for many years that I never got around to, until today.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

This is why I teach yoga. :-D

I give credit to the poses and the Ashtanga Primary Series. Most of my classes are based on the series in one way or another. I'm glad I was able to learn about it so I can share the benefits with others!

Another thing about teaching. I've really gotten into having people swivel around to the other side in standing poses where I'm standing on the back of the room, so the people in the back of the room get some time in the front of the room.

Then for Presarita Padottanasana the side of the room becomes the front. Also, you haven't lived until you've told 20 people what do while your head is upside down looking at them between your legs. :-D That's fun every time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Love My Yoga at Work Class

Today was my usual yoga at work class, but instead of my 3 or 4 regulars, 13 people were there because I had an all-staff email sent out last week letting people know about the class. (The last all-staff email was sent back in November.)

It was fantastic. I had to tone down the difficulty a bit for the beginners, I only had them do 2 Surya Namaskara As and that seemed like enough for some of them. I figured Surya Namaskara B is for another day. One man in particular was really struggling, but had a good attitude about it. I reminded them to focus on breathing and that it doesn't matter how far it goes, not to push too hard, etc.

At then end of class he said that this is why he really needs to do this. YES! He gets it! Yay for taking care of himself. It's so rewarded to bring yoga to people who wouldn't do yoga if I didn't make it convenient and free. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Slippery Yoga Mats

Slipping during yoga was a problem for me for a long time and I threw a lot of money around trying to solve this. Now a lot of my students are having the same problem. I just wrote this out as an email to a student, but I decided to put it here to share it with both my readers. ;)

Jade Yoga mats are the best I've found. They come in 2 different thicknesses (the standard mat is 1/4 inch, so even their thin one is thicker than regular mats)

3/16 inch and 5/16 inch

I have the 3/16 inch one (2 actually) and I love it, but I wish I had the 5/16 inch one. In Ashtanga 3/16 is fine, but in Anusara, you do a lot of weird stuff with your knee digging into the floor and more padding would be nice.

(You're never supposed to put your weight on your knee cap, always in front of your knee, it hurts like hell right on your knee cap. DON'T DO THAT! I think I'm going to rebel every time I'm asked to dig my knee into the mat, there has to be a better way to stretch my quads.)

There's also yoga towels that you can put over your mat. I've tried those and they're not bad.

Yogitoes is good.

OMG they have a Groovy Yogitoes towel! I don't need it. I won't buy it. I don't need it. I won't buy it. I don't need it. I won't buy it. I don't need it. I won't buy it.

The Manduka towel is also alright.

Don't buy the Manduka black mat! It's supposedly top of the line awesome. I have one, and it's like a freaking slip 'n' slide. I can barely even attempt yoga on it without a towel. Biggest waste of money ever.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Class at Spectrum

I subbed an Ashtanga-lite class at Spectrum today. The room was full and people kept trickling in, eventually 20 people were there. I'd never taught an entire class this full before. I taught some Sun Salutations at my big graduation class, but never the whole hour and fifteen with more than 6 or so people. One of my students from my work class came. It was nice to have a smiling face of someone I know.

I was nervous, hoping I'd talk loud enough to be audible and they'd enjoy the class. It always looks so easy when someone else is doing it. I hope this gets easier with practice. I feel like I'm full of book knowledge and I need the confidence to pass it on and share it with others. It went well and I enjoyed it, I hope the students did too. Now I need to bug people about getting me my own regular class.

At the end, one of the students told me that I have a good yoga personality and that she thought I did really well. Yay! :) I'm pretty laid back and easy going. I don't really care what my students are doing unless they're going to hurt themselves.

I'm very grateful to everyone who has helped me get to this point.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Get Your Asana Outside

Christi, my yoga friend from teacher training and me backbending together!

My First Yoga Injury

Last week, at Wednesday evening Ashtanga Primary Series, I was doing a vinyasa between seated poses and noticed my right knee hurt. Uh oh...what did I do to it? At the moment, I was thinking about what I should do to keep myself from hurting it worse. Now I wish I had paid more attention to which pose it was after and what I did that caused this pain.

My first guess was Trianga Mukha Ekapada Paschimottanasana. My quads aren't very happy in this pose and pull on my knee if I'm not careful. I usually do it with my hip on a block, but I forgot to grab a block before class, so I did it without one. The more I thought about it, the less that made sense. If I hurt my knee during that, I would have felt it and backed off before hurting myself. It was drilled into my head at teacher training to never tolerate any pain in the knee during a pose.

Then I remembered that I botched up one of my jump throughs...maybe the one before I noticed the pain? I don't remember. I can't jump all the way through, so I always jump to cross legged. That time my feet hit the floor earlier than I'm used to and because of my super grippy mat that's awesome in down dog, my feet stayed put and my knee took the momentum of my jump. Oh right, oops.

My knee wasn't injured terribly, but it hurt enough to make sure I didn't forget about it. I decided to keep practicing on it, since wasn't a severe injury. I sprained my ankle pretty bad a few years ago, and this was nothing nearly that bad. Thursday I rested, iced, compressed, and elevated it while watching some Star Trek in bed, but Friday I went to an Anusara-ish vinyasa class. I didn't do any jumps, but camel was fine on my knee. Lunges and warriors were a little scary, but I could do them without hurting myself. Saturday, I was able to do jump throughs and jump backs without a problem. It was a good reminder to land lightly as I always should. Sunday, my practice was back to normal. My knee hurt a little, but didn't slow me down. Afterwards we were playing with acroyoga stuff and "flying." I would have tried to be the base if my knee were perfect, but holding the weight of another person on my legs and arms seemed like a bad idea in those circumstances.

Today it feels almost completely normal. Yay! Injury is very scary. I'm glad that mine was very minor and healed very quickly. It reminded me that I'm not invincible and that I need to be mindful in my practice. :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaching at Spectrum

It feels like yoga teacher training ended a long time ago, but it was just a few months. I put a lot of thought into if, when, and where I want to teach for money. (I still have my free weekly class at work.)

I subbed a little bit at one studio, but didn't push for a regular gig there. I still haven't been paid for the last time I subbed. I'm sure if I push them they'll pay me, but it's annoying that I had to push for my first paycheck, and then will have to push for my second.

There's a new studio opening up off if I-10 in the Leon Springs area. That's a bit of a drive for me, but I've made peace with the fact that I have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to a yoga studio. They're having auditions and I thought about trying to get in on that, but I decided not to.

I decided to teach yoga at Spectrum! They eagerly hired me thanks to the very kind recommendations of some friends who teach there. Spectrum is special to me because it's the first place where I practiced yoga. I used to go to 4 classes a week to get my money's worth out of the monthly membership fee. I went to 3 different teachers and they were all great! This is where I learned the basics of yoga including to never push myself to the point of pain. These teachers taught me so much and sparked a desire to learn more on my own.

I'm really excited that I'm starting as a teacher at the same place that I started as a student.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Timeline of Life Changes

2010 Yogic diet was hammered in harder by Doug Swenson. Began to eat more organic fruits and vegetables, avoided high fructose corn syrup, ate less sugar and white flour, stopped using harsh chemical cleaning products.

2009 Started Yoga Teacher Training. Discovered Ashtanga yoga. Learned about yogic diet, watched Food Inc.

2008 Stopped dying my hair, got our pugs, got back into yoga when my back and neck hurt really bad. Diagnosed with nickel allergy, switched to laundry detergent from Sun Harvest.

2007 Bought our house. Ate the same food. Stopped doing yoga.

2006 Married Brad. Got hired at ETS full time as a copy editor. Discovered Yoga. First time exercising since it stopped being required.

2005 Began work at ETS as a temporary proofreader. Engaged to Brad.

2004 Graduated from A&M. Lived with Brad. Ate Pizza, chicken (a lot of Foreman grilling), Hamburger Helper

2003 Met Brad. Ate Hamburger Helper, Bacon Cheeseburger Potatos, and Pizza

2002 Got an apartment (Yay a kitchen). Ate Rice-a-roni, Pasta-roni, EZ Mac, Ramen noodles, and Hamburger Helper

2001 Graduated High School, went to A&M. Ate EZ Mac, Ragu Express, and Canned Soup

You might be getting old when the highlight of your weekend is clean floors.

I learned a lot about healthy food in yoga school and through yoga friends and workshops. We've been fooled by advertising of big businesses to eat terrible food that isn't even actually food. I've cleaned up my pantry and eaten a lot of organic fruits and vegetables. I don't even look at Oreos, Cheetos, or Doritos as edible. I'm not perfect. I still splurge on stuff full of sugar and white flour, but I know better and I've made a lot of progress.

Then I started reading Clean House Clean Planet yesterday. I also finished it yesterday. Cover to cover. I joked that it was a real page turner, but to me it really was. Just like with food, it wasn't really that shocking. Giant companies with expensive commercials have been getting me to do stuff that's bad for me, but profitable to them. I grew up watching Scrubbing Bubbles commercials. That kind of stuff is what my mom used. It was everyone I've ever seen cleaning use.

It turns the old fashioned cleaning ways aren't so bad after all. The magic foaming spray that tears through soap scum and mildew never really worked that well for me. It didn't seem to make the job any easier. I just had to wear gloves, turn on the vent, and still got a headache and felt like crap after breathing in that stuff.

The book goes into detail about what each cleaning product contains and how bad it is, then offered alternatives. This means the recipes are scattered all over the book and harder to find than they should be (the editor in me is bothered by this, I'll type them up and make neat labels with the recipes for my bottles), but the information is really useful and just the push I needed to stop using "conventional" cleaning products.

I scrubbed my tile floors with baking soda and rinsed them with a scented vinegar rinse (half vinegar, half water, and 15 drops of peppermint oil for a 16 oz. bottle). It smelled very minty. I barely noticed the vinegar and I don't really mind the smell of vinegar anyway, but Brad appreciated the peppermint over the vinegar. I thought it was neat that I didn't need gloves and that my cleaning product was almost edible (I don't think it was food grade peppermint). One of my dogs really loves licking the floors and having it cleaned with vinegar and baking soda made me feel better about that. Also, the scrubbing was a good workout. I used hand sponge so I could work on my squats and lunges, and I made a point to use my left hand at least as much as my right.

Then I was on a roll, and I hadn't really cleaned my carpet in a long time. I got Brad to vacuum thoroughly while I worked on the tile, then I pulled out the carpet shampooer and rinsed all the carpet with really hot water, a little bit of carpet shampoo, and baking soda. That machine is heavy to move around, so it's a good workout. About halfway through Brad volunteered to take over so I could rest. What a sweetie. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anusara Yoga

I've been curious about Anusara yoga ever since my friend in teacher training said she thought I'd like it because I "seem like the kind of person who likes a vigorous yoga practice." I didn't try it because I was just getting into Ashtanga and didn't see a reason to try another style.

Then I took an assisting/adjusting workshop with Charly Pivert, an Anusara teacher. He gave a crash course on Anusara basics where I learned about inner spiral, outer spiral, side body, and midline. I was more curious about Anusara, but not enough to attend a class. I was content with Ashtanga, with Ken's crazy vinyasa for some fun variety.

I'd been looking at Tia's Anusara-inspired intermediate/advanced class on the Yoga Shala schedule. A lot of people say she's awesome, so I finally showed up to her class last night, and it was great. It's pretty similar to Ken's classes in difficulty level, but because she's Anusara-based and he's Ashtanga based, the warmups were different and she didn't have vinyasas between the poses. A lot of my muscles are feeling a little sore right now in a very good way.

I feel like I'm supposed to focus on one style and stick with it, but I don't see anything wrong with doing some of every style and learning as much as I can from lots of teachers. I've learned so much from Emilie, who is an Iyengar teacher, but I have no interest in Iyengar yoga. It's all the same body parts doing the same poses, just with a different attitude and with different warmups and cool downs. We didn't even do shoulderstand last night, but we did a lot of handstands, pincha mayurasana, and a combination between the two that added a new balance challenge. That was an interesting change for me. I love the predictability of being in a primary series class, but I also love the variety of an Anusara class.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Me? A webmaster? Seriously?

In the middle of May, Emilie, the director of the Esther Vexler Yoga School asked me if I could take over the website. Um...I love the internet and I managed the yahoo site for the school year, but that in no way makes me anywhere close to "webmaster material."

Brad is a software engineer (degree in computer science), so he knows a bit about making websites, but he's not very artsy fartsy. I like to make things pretty and perfect (my job is to make published books look pretty with perfect grammar), but I don't know much about making websites, I'm just really good at using them. Brad makes websites and software or whatever for scientists who study stuff in space. It's not pretty, but it's very functional.

Anyway, I agreed to try my best, but warned her that I couldn't promise that I'd be able to get anything halfway decent up there. It was a very critical time to get the website back up and running (the last person to run it got too busy and abandoned the effort). The Texas Workforce Commission had the school under a close eye as we applied for exemption from all this drama they're causing with yoga teacher trainings, and it's time to recruit for next year's class.

Thanks to, which makes website design "easy" and Brad for being sweet, patient, and smart. I got a website up within a day and we got our exemption. Lately I've been tinkering with the site every day trying to see what new features I can add and how I can make it prettier and more useful. All this and I've only stressed out to the point where Brad pushed me away from the computer twice. :P

In the end, I'm very proud that my school has a pretty site, and more proud that I made it happen. My only concern about it is that it's all done in flash (the only way to make a pretty functional site without much real code), so it's not mobile friendly. Bummer. I'm thinking of making a simple mobile site that's the width of an iPhone screen and scrolls down the with essential information someone would look for, like when class is and what workshops are coming up.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fiesta Texas and Heat Exhaustion

I worked at Fiesta Texas for 2 years in high school. Sometimes I forget that was 11 years ago, not last week.

Yesterday, my friend I met when we worked there together took me to Fiesta Texas for his company picnic. Neither of us would have been very interested in going except that we're nostalgic about our days working there. It was my first job ever. I have so many memories there. It's hard to believe I only worked there for 2 years. I spent many, many 13 hour days there, working at the roller coasters in the Texas heat. Sometimes with shade, sometimes without, but always with lots of water to drink. I was so used to being in heat that at home I comfortably kept the upstairs thermostat at 80 in the summer (which made my dad very happy).

So yesterday, we got there at 11:30 and the picnic started at noon. We passed the half hour walking around the entire park, checking out what was different and what was the same. The kiddie area is completely different, so we spend a bit of time there when I remembered that carrying sunblock around doesn't actually help unless you apply it. So there we were, 2 adults with no kids sunblocking up in the kiddie area. That's not weird at all, right? We both spent many, many 13 hour days working the single-operater kiddie coaster, so we lingered there sad that the name has been changed and the paint has been changed to stupid colors.

Then we ate horribly unhealthy hamburgers on white buns. At least there was lettuce and tomato, haha. I grabbed water instead of soda as my only chance at something healthy, and I made a point to finish my one glass of water, but obviously that wasn't enough.

Then we rode the train to the crackaxle canyon near the entrance of the Gully Washer, and waited in line to get soaked with smelly, gross water. We knew the line was long, but had no idea how long it would take. Every time we got a glimpse of the turn table that is supposed to be constantly turning, they'd stopped it to make loading and unloading easier. Both of us used to work at that ride and knew that stopping the turntable is the worst thing you can do when there's a line like that, but we kept waiting.

An hour into the wait we got to a sign that says "The wait is approximately 35 minutes from this point." Awwwwwwwww man, 35 more minutes. Well, we waited this long...might as well. Not long after that sign I felt dizzy and nauseous. Whoaaaa. I would have thrown up if I stopped holding back. I felt the color drain from my face, which was confirmed by Matt looking at me and saying, "Whoa, are you ok? Do I need to go get you something?" I sat at the curb in the line, because standing up was not an option anymore. Then I joked, "Wouldn't it be funny if I threw up without even getting on a ride?"

About 15 minutes later, there was a vendor parked in the line with lemonade. I was so happy to see cold drinks, but argh sugar water?! I just wanted water. Then he pulls out ice cold bottled water. $3 for one bottle, $5 for two. I'd pay anything for some water at this point, so I shelled out $5 for 2 and gave one to Matt. After several sips of water and holding the bottle up to my face, I felt a lot better. Then I finally got on the ride, and cooled off from being soaked on the ride.

That was a strange and scary experience. It's the 3rd time I've felt signs of heat exhaustion, but the first time from just standing around. The first time was after an intense mile run, the second while bike riding up and down steep hills in the Texas summer heat, but this time I was just standing in line. It was very surprising for me, who used to work double shifts in that heat, who loves hot yoga, to get heat exhaustion just standing around, but at 2:30 in the afternoon, having been outside for 3 and half hours with only one glass of water all day, I was asking for it.

Fortunately I was able to recover and enjoy the rest of the day. We had some ice cream, more water, and took it easy taking pictures for a little while, then rode the bumper cars, Road Runner, and the Rattler (the rides I spent the majority of time my working) before calling it a day. The bumper cars were a ton of fun because there's a trick to steering them. Matt and I know this trick very well, but most people don't. It takes more wheel turning than real cars with power steering and there's no reverse pedal. You can back up the car by turning the steering wheel all the way to the right.

Then we went back to Matt's house where I got on his scale that estimates your body fat percentage. I've always wanted to try one of those, but it wouldn't give me a valid estimate because my hydration level was wayyyy too low. EEEK After drinking a few glasses of water, I taught Matt Viparita Karani to help our feet recover from all the walking around.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No More WoW

WoW used to be a big part of my life. I was an officer always there 3 times a week doing everything I could to help the guild succeed. I always had a bag full of flasks and jokingly acted insulted if people asked IF I had any flasks to share. Of course I do. Since January 2009, I always did. I took a night off here and there when I had something else to do.

Eventually as raid time approached, I'd look at the clock with dread, like I have to get ready to go to work. Wait, this isn't work; this is a game. I had a lot of good times playing, but Brad and I got bored of it together. I could have kept playing out of habit and for the social aspect of it. Then again, it's more fun to be social with people who live near you (of course it IS possible to do both).

A month ago today I decided to stop paying the monthly fee. I dabbled in Champions Online a little and it was fun, but I didn't really get into it. I liked that I could pick it up and put it down as I pleased and not worry about what day/time I needed to be on, and that I don't have to wait until 10:00 for the raid to end so I could log off.

Life without WoW is strange. Brad and I began playing together before we got married 4 years ago. We've been watching a lot of Deep Space 9 as I started watching Star Trek everything from the beginning last year after I saw the movie. I'd like to find something more interactive for us to do together, but until then there's plenty more Star Trek to watch after we finish DS9.

We might get back into WoW later this year when the 3rd expansion comes out, but we'll see. We're not going to take off of work and get the midnight release like when the last expansion came out, but we might buy it and try it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vacation and Yoga

Brad and I went to the beach from Friday-Monday last weekend and it was great!

First we went to the Aquarium and USS Lexington in Corpus Christi. I love the aquarium. I really love water and fish, so it was neat to see them all, but I feel bad that they're locked up in captivity for our viewing pleasure. I bought a peace sign aquarium magnet in the gift store. I found that ironic when I was on the Lexington. "I just bought a peace sign magnet, and I'm on a giant battle ship!" Brad really wanted to see it because it's an "engineering marvel" and everyone says it's neat to see. I was more interested in the view of the ocean from the ship than the actual ship (which is how I got a little sunburned from hanging out on the ship).

The ship was interesting to see. I watch a lot of Star Trek and sci fi shows about space, and it's neat to see how much of the space ship talk is based on the real ships. I went into a little gun thing on the deck and saw the giant bullets as it played an emergency "Man your battle stations" announcement. I'll admit that was neat enough for me to do it again while taking a video (to get the audio).

Then we toured around the ship to where people slept. Holy crap they had tiny little triple decker bunks. I guess you can't get lonely living like that. Their "closets" were itty bitty lockers. It helped me realize just how spoiled I am. The sick bay made me sad and serious. People died horrible deaths RIGHT HERE! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. :(

Finally it was passed check-in time at the Mayan Princess. We got to the condo where we'd stay for 3 nights. It was almost the size of the apartment Brad and I had before we bought our house with a beautiful view of the pools and ocean. There was a full kitchen stocked with pots, pans, bowls, plates, measuring cups, EVERYTHING! Very nice.

We enjoyed relaxing in the pools and ocean, flew a kite on the beach, and had a great time. On Sunday we went on a dolphin tour out of Port A. Fishermen who know where dolphins hang out have learned that they can make some easy money giving tourists boat rides around the bay. It was really neat to see dolphins in their natural habitat. I didn't feel bad for them because they weren't in captivity. The giant fishing boats made me think of the Little Mermaid and why humans are a terrifying evil to the sea life, and the drilling equipment made me think of offshore drilling and the horrible oil spill that keeps getting worse. Serious moments aside, I had a really great vacation.

But that's not all! When I got back to San Antonio on Monday, I made the evyogaschool website and watched the 24 series finale. Then on Tuesday, I got to meet and hang out with my buddy Wayne. He works on our layout from the Princeton office, so I've worked with him for 4 years now. We've been through late nights to meet deadlines (later for him because of the time change), goofed off on email, and keep up with each other's Facebook updates. I really knew him as a friend without ever seeing him in person. I instantly recognized him when I saw him because I'd seen all his Facebook pictures. We went out to breakfast, then I took him to the office to meet everyone he hadn't already met Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and a bunch of us went out to lunch. While I was at the beach everyone else took him to the Riverwalk and all the San Antonio stuff that he was interested in, so I was having a hard time figuring out what we could do. I impulsively said, "Do you want to go to Austin?" Yay for my iPhone so I could find things to do and their addresses during lunch, and yay for my GPS navigator for getting me there. We walked around the art museum which was a treat for me because Brad would follow me around trying not to sigh and look bored if I dragged him to one. Then had dinner at East Side Cafe where they grow a lot of the vegetables they serve behind the restaurant.

Then I came back to work. Ugh the first day back I had so many emails to go through, but the day went well and my lead and supervisor made it a point to tell me that I'm doing great work. Whooo!

Last night was my first time back at yoga in a few weeks. I had a bad cold, then I went on my trip. Luckily, I got better just in time for the trip. Forward bending has always been difficult for me, and it's a big thing for me since I used to be a diver, and I just couldn't do the pike position because I was so inflexible that way. My back bends are super flexible which is why I was really good at back dives, but I digress. Last night in the first seated forward bend of the primary series I almost got my face to touch my legs. Lisa helped me get down lower, but I had to stop her when it felt like too much. I was soooo close. Then we got to Janu Sirsasana (a seated forward bend with one knee bent and the foot molded against the inner thigh) I got my face to touch my leg...on both sides! Whoa! This was huge. Then we got to the seated forward bend after the backbends and I did it. Face to thighs! They just barely touched. I can't press my face into my legs, but they touched! Before I went to bed for the night, I tried again, and did it AGAIN! I try to keep my perspective on yoga. It's NOT a competitive sport. It's NOT for ego trips or "Look what I can do!" It's taking good care of my body and mind. BUT OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reflection on Yoga Teacher Training

I subbed again at Synergy last night and it was great! Only one student came, but I had fun with that. I asked her what kind of class she wanted and gave it to her. That was neat for both of us, especially since she's done yoga before and wanted a powerful vinyasa. I had fun seeing what she could do, but warning her to be careful not to hurt herself. She can bind in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. Very cool.

I've been reflecting on my teacher training and I'm really, really glad that I decided to do it. I've made some excellent friends, become a part of a great yoga community in San Antonio, learned so much about yoga asana and philosophy, and learned a lot about myself. Knowing the sanskrit names is pretty cool. I forgot how hard they were to learn until my student last night asked me how I was able to learn them.

Yoga teacher training changed my life more than I ever imagined it could, and I'm so glad it did. :-D

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I feel better now. I needed that.

I got a call from the owner of the Synergy studio right as I was leaving work for the day. She urgently needed a sub for hot yoga and already had to cancel the 4:30 class. I accepted and showed up ready to teach at 6:00. Good thing I always keep a yoga outfit in my car.

Only 3 people showed up. That's a good number for getting used to this teaching thing. Enough that it's a class rather than a private session, but small enough that it's not scary. One student was a first timer last week (on her free classes) and came back for more (that costs money now). Yay! I must have been alright.

Today felt a lot easier. Probably because the group was smaller and I didn't have 2 classes in a row (in the heat). It just overall felt better. I was able to be myself more and teach the way I teach my work group (yay for having all that practice on them). I guess I was just overcome with nervousness and anxiety last week, and coming back again meant they liked me enough to keep me on the substitute teacher list.

Where's the Becky I was a year ago?

A year ago I walked into my house and told Brad I needed to be a yoga teacher more than anything and the I HAD to sign up for teacher training. I couldn't wait to do it and finish it so I could teach yoga already. I believed that teaching yoga was necessary for me to be happy.

I went through the program, discovering Ashtanga yoga at the same time, and it changed me a lot. My body is noticeably very different, but much more has changed. I understand more about yoga philosophy, diet, the poses themselves, and much more, but there is still so much to learn.

Now that I'm official (pending yoga alliance paperwork going through the system), I'm expected to teach yoga. I feel pressured to start teaching somewhere. That's what I've been working towards, right? I poured all of this money into it, now I should get to work and start making money, right? Well...I don't know.

Yoga was never about making money for me to begin with. I have a full-time job and a stable life style. I just love yoga and want to share it with others. Sure, yoga school plus books and workshops costs us a bit of money, but not THAT much. I've deepened my practice and stuck with it. My body has healed from the problems that used to cause daily pain. All that makes it worth it.

I feel like I know just enough to know that there's a WHOLE lot I don't know, and that makes teaching scary. I've got my free class at work still going, and I love that. There's no pressure there, and it's not a big committment. For some reason committing to a regular class outside of work terrifies me. Then again, teaching the free class at work terrified me and made me very nervous at first.

My job can be pretty stressful and busy at times, and it's a priority for me to be successful at work. Is balancing that with a regular yoga class going to be a problem? It shouldn't be. I had perfect attendance at teacher training without any problems. Teacher training was a big time commitment. I basically gave up my entire weekend every other weekend. Maybe that's why I'm scared to commit to a regular class now. I just got my freedom back. Obviously teaching won't take up that much time.

Then there's last week's subbing. Subbing 2 hot yoga classes in a row was HARD. I was very nervous and I did my best. I have a lot of room to grow, and I'm comparing myself to the best teachers, which isn't fair to myself. When I came home from subbing I was stressed, agitated, and anxious. I hope they liked it...I hoped they weren't disappointed. I should have talked louder and gone slower. Maybe I made it too hard... Yoga should be a stress reducer, not a cause of stress, but starting out as a new teacher is not easy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I did it!

I even led the invocation. This was huge for me. HUGE! I used to feel awkward chanting with a room full of people. I led the call and response. I really can't believe I didn't pass out or run away. I surprise myself when I'm under extreme pressure. :-)

I look like a real teacher:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Graduation Weekend!

Today's the day.
I got this piece of paper yesterday:

So today I'm teaching a free public class with 4 of my teachers watching/participating. It's kind of a big deal. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1 Week Until Teacher Training Graduation!

The big day is a week from today. April 25 at 11:30 I'll be working as a group with 3 of my friends to teach a free public vinyasa class. We're ready!

In my class at work I've been focusing on teaching with minimal demonstration. Last week went really well. I was able to observe them more closely and correct their alignment, which they appreciated. I'm really enjoying this stage I'm in as a yoga teacher. Every class I teach is my best class ever as I continue to get better.

My biggest challenge is talking louder. That's really hard for me. I hate to feel like I'm yelling, but projecting my voice so that a whole room can hear me is not yelling. The room we're doing our free public class in is HUGE. I'm going to have to make sure people can hear me.

Since 4 of us are teaching the class, we've divided it into 4 sections. During each section, someone will be teaching, someone will demonstrate the full pose, someone will demonstrate a modification, and someone will be walking around helping people. I feel like that's a great way to take advantage of such a large team of teachers.

I'll be teaching the first part of the class, explaining that it's a modified version of the Ashtanga Primary Series, teaching the bandhas, and explaining our theme of ahimsa with emphasis on David Williams, "If it hurts, you are doing it wrong." Then I'll teach Surya Namaskara A and B, and Padangustasana and Padahastana. After that my job is not over. :-) I'll walk around during the standing poses correcting people, and smoothly slip in to demonstrate Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (since I can bind it), then I'll demonstrate modifications for the seated poses. Beginning at Baddha Konasana, I'll demonstrate the full poses.

And now, I'm on my way to Yoga Shala for a workshop on Bhujapidasana-Kukkutasana.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Today, I was reminded of how much I have to be grateful for.

Last night as I bit into an orange slice I quickly realized that something was very wrong with my tooth. Not an emergency to have the dentist paged for, but bad enough to call right when they opened in the morning. They took me right away and got me all fixed up. I know a lot of people would whine about this sudden pain and unexpected expense, but it made me feel very grateful.

 Awesome Things to be Grateful For:
1. I was fixed up right away, and didn't have to wait around to see the doctor.
2.  I can just get up and leave work after sending out a quick email saying, "Tooth hurts, going to dentist, be back soon."
3. I have the insurance to make the visit relatively inexpensive and the savings account to make throwing down a little cash no big deal.
4. I have my iPhone to keep me amused while waiting to get numb, and friends on Facebook and Scrabble to amuse me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"It is possible to have goals AND have no goal at the same time."

"Asanas are tools, used to work on our bodies, to heal or to build strength, flexibility, and endurance, much more than asanas are goals....They are not just goals to be attained."

From Yoga Beyond Belief

I've been thinking about this line a lot. I took the concept too far and thought it was wrong to have goals, but again it's about balance between having a goal and not having a goal. I'm going to go do some reading now. This book is awesome.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Getting Ready for the Final Yoga Class

For the end of yoga teacher training, we're teaching a 2 hour yoga class in groups. I'm in the vinyasa group, and they came over to my house to work on it today. It's going to be based on the Ashtanga Primary Series. After we got all our work done, we started goofing off. :-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Awww, Shucks

My yoga students left an envelope of cash in my chair at work today that says, "Thanks for being an awesome yoga teacher!"

Awwwwwwwww, my class at work has been and always will be free, and they wanted to pay me anyway. How sweet. I don't have to declare this on my taxes...right. :-P

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My WoW Story

I’ve written all about yoga, but not much about WoW. I actually spend more of my time playing WoW than doing yoga. I raid in 25-person raids every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, and 10-person raids every Thursday. The 10s come and go, but 25s are consistent. I can miss whenever I want to, but I don’t usually want to. :)

Brad bought WoW in December of 2004, right after we graduated from college. Then in January he started working full time while I was looking for a job. He’d play this stupid game from when he got home until it was bed time if I didn’t get mad. WoW and I did not get off to a good start.

We came up with some compromises to make us both happy. He played when I was asleep or watching Gilmore Girls. He used to get out of bed really early on weekends so he could get play time in before I woke up. hahaha What is this game? Crack?

This went on for a while as I dabbled in various hobbies, rolling my eyes at what he wasted his time on while I did productive things like making a messenger bag with my sewing machine. Then one day in February of 2006 I really, really wanted to play Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo from beginning to end. It was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I wanted to play it again REAL bad, and I wanted him to play with me. Eventually I proposed a compromise. I’ll match the time you spend playing DKC with me hour for hour playing WoW with him. He agreed.

Oh crap, why did I agree to this? I guess I have to do it now. He helped me set up my WoW character. It was really important to him that I enjoyed this game so he did his best to figure out which type of character I would like to play. He knew I’d want to be pretty, so he put me on the Alliance side instead of the ugly Horde side. I loved Cyclop’s ranged attack in X-Men, so he figured I’d like to be a hunter. He wouldn’t let me name my Night Elf Hunter “Flutterby” because it didn’t go with the WoW theme, and this was important to him (eye roll). Flutta was born.

I started to get into it and was up to level 5ish when he said, “At level 10 you get to tame a pet.” “OH BOY, I GET A PET!!!” That was the point of no return. We took the slow track to level 60 because I cared way more about pwning noobs in battlegrounds and playing with alts (other characters) than actually leveling. Around this time, we were planning our wedding. Several tasks were put off because I had some Warsong Gulch flag capturing to do.

In January of 2007, the first expansion The Burning Crusade came out, increasing the level cap to 70 and adding a new race, the Draenei. Since we’d been too busy battlegrounding to level to 60 (we were in the 50s by this time), we decided to make some Draenei. I wanted to give healing a try. It seemed like a neat role, and I’d read that priests were the best healers in the game. Also I was bitter that I’d let Brad talk me into naming myself “Flutta.”

Flutterby the priest was born. I had a lot of fun with her. I healed Brad along as we quested. He told me to stay shadow spec (the spec to do damage not heal) to level, but at low levels you can heal fine as shadow when needed. I really enjoyed healing. Around level 45ish I went against Brad’s advice and switched to holy spec (the only healing spec of the time). It was GREAT! Wow, healing is easier when you’re character is designed for it. Silly Brad.

Some of our real-life friends were really into raiding since level 60 and kept begging us to “finish a character” so we could raid with them. I finally leveled Flutta to 70 in June of 2007, and started raiding with her. It was fun, but boringly easy to raid as a hunter. The only way to do decent damage as a hunter at the time was to have a certain macro that you just mashed over and over again. It was nice to see myself doing the most damage in the raid, but it didn’t really feel like an accomplishment since I didn’t think at all. I just mashed 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 yawwwwwwwwwn.

So I quit raiding for a while and levelled Flutterby to 70. About that time, I decided that the raiding guild I was in before was a bit too serious about WoW. They’d yell in vent (voice chat) at people who messed up or weren’t good enough. They usually weren’t yelling at me, but I didn’t enjoy that negativity in my ear all the time.

I raided as Flutterby with a new guild without Brad because he didn’t want to raid after the negative experience with the first guild. After a few months I convinced him to join the guild with me, but they decided to transfer to another server, and we had real-life friends on this server, so I didn’t go. I joined the first guild again, but was eventually kicked out of the guild for not logging in for a few weeks (This kick was when the Guild Master was on vacation, a lot of people were kicked, it was crazy). There was a lot of drama among the officers over that…which eventually led to the guild disbanding.

Meanwhile I joined a mostly alt guild that got stronger as the former guild fell apart. I put it a lot of work planning progression for that guild and logged in one day to see that Brad and I were officers. Neat. That Guild Master got more uptight the more we progressed and wouldn’t delegate anything, So as that fell apart, instead of trying to fix it I decided to switch to a non-PvP server, meaning players couldn’t kill each other in the game unless it was in a battleground. Killing each other was nuisance and not much fun, especially since the server was out of balance in the other side’s favor.

Brad went on a mission to find a good guild on a PvE server, and he did, and that’s where we’ve been playing since November of 2008 when the latest expansion, Lich King came out. Flutterby's name had to change to Beckster because Flutterby was taken on that server :( We’ve been consistent raiders as long as they’ve been raiding level 80 content and have become officers. Lately Brad’s the raid leader as the regular raid leader has a newborn baby at home, and I’m the healing leader as the former healing leader is the wife of the regular raid leader. I don’t think she wants the healing leader position back, so I think I should get used to it.

For a while, I wasn’t that dedicated to healing lead duties because I was just filling in, but after several months of leading raid healers, I think I’m the official heal leader now. I’m getting used to being in charge and tactfully telling people, “You failed, do it right this time.” :) I’m also doing more research and carefully planning out healing strategies in advance as much as possible. I’m really enjoying raiding with this guild, and I still can’t believe it’s possible to be in a guild that is not mean when things go wrong. I love it!

Delicious Healthy Apple Snack

When I was a little kid, my favorite apple snack was made by drenching apple slices in butter, coating them in cinnamon and sugar, then microwaving them. It's delicious, but not a very healthy way to destroy an apple. The sugar and butter are bad enough, but microwaving also strips nutrients.

Grown-up healthy Becky still loves cinnamon on her apple slices, but now I put the slices in a zippy bag, splash in a little lemon juice, then sprinkle the cinnamon into the bag and shake it all around. The lemon juice keeps the slices from turning brown if when I slice them in the morning and eat them in a few hours as well as giving the cinnamon a non-butter liquid to spread around to the apple slices. It doesn't taste like lemon, but it has a little zing to go with the apple's sweetness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Being nonjudgmental is an important value in yoga. It really resonates with me and is part of what drew me to yoga and kept me there.

It's human nature to judge others. We want to understand what is going on around us, including the people around us. We try to figure out how they think and what their motives are. Unfortunately, we naturally compare our perceptions of this to how we think it should be, and tend to form harsh judgments. Either we think we are better than they are, or we wish we were and try to find something wrong with them to convince ourselves that we're better.

So then it comes down to noncompetition. Another important value in yoga that really resonates with me. There is no need to be competitive. It doesn't matter who's better. Really, it doesn't matter. We waste so much energy trying to be better than others, when life is so much happier when you realize that you don't need to be better. We can all be happy together without concern over who's better.

My latest challenge is to let go of the need to be better and not to judge others' weaknesses. I can learn something from everyone. I want to focus on learning rather than wasting my time and energy judging.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Balance is an important theme in my life. Here are some balance struggles that I think about a lot:

  • going to class vs. practicing on my own

  • challenging myself in the basic poses and doing/learning advanced poses vs. being too easy on myself
  • focusing on teaching vs. focusing on my own practice
  • power yoga vs. restorative yoga
  • not falling over in balancing poses (this is especially fun when teaching them because you have to talk and look around)
  • doing my work quickly, but with perfect accuracy
  • being friendly, but not spend too much time socializing
  • taking it seriously, but not stressing out to the extreme
  • working overtime when needed, but trying to not need overtime to get the job done
  • being a good officer, but not dedicating my life to the game
  • keeping the game fun for myself and others so it doesn't become more like work than a game
  • caring about the success of the guild without taking the fun out of the game
  • doing things with Brad that we both enjoy vs. doing my own thing
  • planning everything out vs. being spontaneous
  • relaxing vs. being active
  • chores vs. fun time
  • hanging out with friends/leaving the house vs. staying home
  • having the yard not look like the house is abandoned vs. overdoing the yard so that it's too much work to maintain it
  • eating healthy vs. enjoying treats/not being too strict with food
  • cooking vs. eating out
  • meat vs. veggies
  • food as fuel vs. food for pleasure

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I just got my first order from Greenling today. A lot of my friends asked me to tell them how I like it before they try it.

It's great! They delivered organic, mostly local food to my door. How is that not awesome?

I went a little crazy ordering things and got Thunderheart Bison Jerky Sausage and Tabuleh from The Mediterranean Chef. I didn't know what to expect from either, but they're delicious.

About the Tabuleh: I had no idea what it was. I just knew it was some kind of Mediterranean stuff. It is gooooooood. Hummus has been replaced as my favorite snack. I also got their hummus. It's just alright for me.


Peanut Butter (Look! No Sugar!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reunited With My First Passion

Yoga reminds me a lot of diving. There are quite a few similarities, which explains why I love them both. I was only a diver for one year, but I have vivid happy memories of it, and I really miss it.

I need to teach a community yoga class for teacher training, so I looked up the place where I used to dive. Two of the three coaches on the website were my coaches 13 years ago. Wow, how cool is that? I sent out an email with my offer of free yoga for divers. One already responded and says that he remembers me and my sister. Neat.

I wonder if they teach adult diving classes or if they're just looking for young blood to win competitions. That's one reason yoga appeals to me so much. It's beautiful, but it's not a spectator sport or a competition, and I'll never be too old for it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eclectic Yoga

I like to dabble around with different yoga teachers and styles. I'm not into sticking to one thing and calling it the best. With just about everything, there are tons of different styles and techniques. People like to latch on to one and call that the best while putting down all the others. There is no perfect yoga style and there is no perfect yoga teacher. That's why I love to learn what I can from as many people as possible and then put together my favorite elements of each.

I don't like labeling one style or the other as the best because different styles are good for different people. Ashtanga yoga caught my attention because it's very high energy and vigorous, which is great to help pull me off of the couch or out of bed. Someone in my teacher training just gave a presentation on yoga for eating disorders. Ashtanga would be terrible for them because they already overexercise and need a calm, quiet, slow yoga practice.

As I was setting up my yoga class at work (before I started teaching it), someone asked me what style I'm teaching. I stumbled to figure out how to describe it. I had never thought of how to label it. I guess "hatha flow" can describe it in a very broad way to answer the question.

The yoga teacher training that I'm nearly finished with is taught by Iyengar teachers, but it's not an Iyengar training. They admit their bias, but embrace all styles. I really like that a lot. There's no need for style rivalry in yoga, but it happens all the time. Of course all of their teaching is based on Iyengar, since that's what they know, but it's great that they don't try to force their bias onto their students.

My practice has always been vinyasa flow. It's been Ashtanga and Ashtanga-based vinyasa for the last 8 months, and I love it. Ashtanga is what you do when you outgrow "regular vinyasa" and are ready for something deeper and harder.

This is why I wrote my thesis paper for yoga school about Ashtanga yoga. It was my way of bridging my personal practice with my teacher training. I was struggling to learn as much as I could about Ashtanga on my own while learning all about Iyengar yoga.

So now I'm starting to learn a bit of Anusara yoga. It started with a 4 part workshop on assisting in yoga poses. That's something that isn't covered by the teacher training, and I think it's an important skill for a yoga teacher to have. It was taught by an Anusara teacher, so naturally he taught it from an Anusara perspective. I really enjoyed the class and am comfortable adjusting students now. I still feel a little awkward adjusting men, especially at work, but I'll have to get over that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Virabhadrasana Door Stop and Bookends

I just got this awesome little man to keep the pug gate open when we're home so they have access to their water dish. He's pretty awesome. Brad doesn't think he's as functional as the Petzyme jug was since you can't move him around with your foot or he'll fall over, although I'm getting better at that. I'm going to call him my little Virabhadra.

But wait, there's more! They also come in bookends! I'm going to get a set for home and work. I just have to pick my colors: black, green, red, or orange. I wish they came in blue or purple. I think I'll get red for work because it matches my dictionaries. I'll have to see what color most of my yoga books are. Black makes a classy little door stop, but I think I want colorful bookends. Life is full of tough choices. :-P

Slashing Things Off the To-Do List

I enjoy keeping myself busy. I've slowly accumulated a few too many things on my schedule. Some weeks I have the energy to do everything, but trying to do everything every week on top of my full-time job can lead to a tired, burned-out Becky.

I've had this happen a few times before. Deciding what to cut out is always the hardest part. Sometimes it's been WoW raids, sometimes it's been yoga classes, sometimes I've resisted cutting stuff out and burned out to the point where I don't do either for a week or so. If only I could cut out work days, haha I wish.

Cutting out yoga classes is hard. Am I justifying being lazy or is this a good idea for me? I filled out my form for teacher training where we need a minimum of 25 yoga classes during the course of the training (9 months) and 7 months in I had attended 60 or so classes. That's great and all, especially as I was learning what this Ashtanga stuff is all about, but I'm at a point where I should practice more on my own rather than depending on a teacher and a group.

I love practicing in a group. There's a wonderful energy, a teacher to guide me and correct me, and people who love yoga like me to become friends with, but it's a huge time commitment and an awful drive during rush hour. I'm not dumping classes altogether, just cutting down from 4 classes a week to 1 or 2 classes a week. I'm also not going to slack off on yoga. I'm going to practice at home on my own.

Somehow I've made myself feel obligated to be a regular student to a few teachers classes when there is nothing wrong with dropping in whenever I feel like it, so that's what I'm going to do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yay Spring!

Spring officially begins in 10 days, but the weather seems to be perfect already. This winter was more of an actual winter than San Antonio is used to and I'm happy to see it go.

I have new spring skirts that I got to start wearing yesterday — bright floral fluffy cotton skirts that I could easily wear along the beach in flip flops, but I wear them to work because I can. They're so comfortable that I don't change out of them when I get home from work, and they're cute too.

Yesterday on my way out of the office, I bumped into a chatty lady who was also taking the stairs instead of the elevator. After we got out of the building and passed over the smokers (we can see them a floor below us over the railing) she turned to me and said, "There are those people killing themselves with cigarettes." I was stunned that she said that to a stranger like that, but I agreed and figured since she started it, I could take it a step further, "Yeah, I feel the same way about junk food." She was surprised and said, "I never thought of it like that, but it is the same kind of thing isn't it? I'll have to stop eating that stuff." Wow. That was a great feeling for me. I don't expect this lady to throw away all of her Oreos and Cheetos, but I did get her to think about it in a new way.

Most people are very defensive of their terribly disgusting food to the point of giving me a hard time for what I eat. I don't lecture people or try to make them feel bad. I just eat what I eat, and that bothers them. They know it's bad for them, but if everyone else is doing the same thing it's somehow ok, so when someone else is doing it right, it annoys them.

I feel like junk food is the new cigarettes. People are realizing how bad junk food is and I hope that someday it will be as obviously stupid as smoking. I also wonder if there's something else in our daily lives that will be so obviously bad for us that it's stupid to do it that we don't know about yet. Caffeine maybe? I like caffeine...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Worst Workday Ever

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I've been working on a 360-page document full of MathType and jpegs trying to get it perfectly perfect, and when I had it ALMOST perfect BAM stuff went horribly wrong with the files...twice.

Thanks to some wonderful coworkers and my 13-hour day today. The deadline will be met with 100% quality.

Apparently I was obviously frazzled. I was literally holding back the tears. It was really frustrating. People kept offering me food and chocolate. I wasn't hungry, I didn't need candy. What I need is a hot bath with essential oils.

Brad's at home waiting to cater to my every whim. He always does this for me after a bad day. I think I'll just let him keep playing XBox so I can do some yoga and take that bath, but it is sweet of him to be so willing to spoil me.

I'm so glad tomorrow is yoga nidra day at teacher training, and that I don't have to miss teacher training to get my work done. I have perfect attendance, and I intend to keep it that way unless I get REALLY, REALLY sick. :-)

My file just finished printing! WHOOOO Going home!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pull Ups are Hard

On the advice of Doug Swensen, that was reinforced by Carl, I decided to get a pull-up bar. It came in yesterday, and I excitedly forced Brad to stop playing XBox long enough to put it together for me.

I was curious about how good I'd be at pull ups. I wasn't good at them back when I did them in school, and I hadn't tried since then, so I didn't have high expections. However, I do have more strength than I've ever had before in my life, and I was curious how much of that would carry over. Not much.

The purpose of doing pull ups is to do the exact opposite of a vinyasa to keep the muscles balanced. Balanced muscles is a very good thing. I tried as hard as I could to do a pull up until I realized that I wasn't able to breath very well while trying. Not breathing is bad. I ended up dangling from the bar figuring that my muscles could use the practice in simply holding me up. Then I lifted my knees to my chest. Oooooh that works my abs nicely too.

Today I'm a little sore. Not miserable like I overdid it, just a little like I used my muscles in a new way. That's the whole point, and it means that my dangling is worthwhile as I gradually build up to more. I'm content with danging and lifting my knees as long as I do it consistently every day, and continually try to do more as long as I can still smile and breathe.

One thing that's neat and unexpected, but makes sense is that my hands are sore. The muscles that grip things. Either they're pretty weak because I don't grip things that much or I white-knuckled it a little too much. hmmmm

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yoga at Work

I changed things up a little with yoga at work, but not so much that it was a shock to me or my students. I like the idea of introducing new concepts gradually so it doesn't feel like the same old thing over and over again. That's hard to do with an Ashtanga-based class, but since I'm not restricting myself to exact Ashtanga, it's very possible. It just requires me to think, prepare, and continually step up to a new level, so I'm never too used to the same thing, always learning something new to pass on to the class.

The aromatherapy and music were a big hit for not a whole lot of effort. I enjoy playing with aromatherapy oils and people were really impressed that I mixed it myself (quiet whisper: it's really very easy).

They also liked beginning with the Moon Salutation and then doing the Sun Salutations. I did Chandra Namaskara A twice, then Surya Namaskara A twice, then Surya Namaskara B twice. I think it was neat to have the variety. People seem to get this "oh no, not again" face when we do Sun Salutations over and over again. It also helped warm them up more gradually than just diving into Sun Salutations.

Next time I'll toss in Chandra Namaskara B too. I ordered Vinyasa Krama which includes more information about the Chandra Sequence. Right now I'm getting it off of a poster, which I find tedious and a little frustrating. I can't look at a poster while practicing very easily, and the book should have more information.

In the end, I had that "awwwww man, I don't have enough time to teach everything I want to teach" feeling instead of, "hmmmmmm how do I fill the next 20 minutes..." That was a great feeling to have, and made me feel like I'm really finding my groove.

I thought it was really neat that the class was half men. It really bothers me that yoga has been feminized to the point that some men aren't comfortable doing yoga. I even considered it as a thesis topic or at least as part of a thesis on common misconceptions about yoga. Yoga and Pilates were both invented by men, for men. Women weren't even allowed to do yoga at first.

Some people blame the Western culture for yoga becoming "feminine," but I try to be careful throwing the blame on the West so easily without further research. I think it's very interesting that Pilates and Yoga both have the same issue. Pilates was invented in the West (Germany) by a man to help soldiers (men) recover after WWI.

In light of all that, it really is great to see men practicing yoga. They also openly enjoyed the aromatherapy and asked for more after class.

I'm really getting into yoga music, trying to figure out what I like. I spent several hours of today listening to the previews of yoga music on iTunes and chatting with other yoga teachers about what kind of music they like. Currently playing: Yoga Groove and loving it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Awesome Yoga/Massage Weekend

Yesterday was a really awesome day.

It began with Ken's last yoga class at Yoga Shala. I enjoyed the class as always, but we were all sad that he's leaving. After class on Thursday Ken said that I need to work on my chaturangas because I was dipping my shoulders down and sticky my back end up too high. I knew I was doing that, but for some reason it hit me more when he mentioned it, so I focused on that during every vinyasa on Saturday, feeling like I was doing chaturanga in slow motion to try to do it correctly, and he said I was stick straight. Yay! It's very important to get that right because I do a lot of vinyasas, and dipping my shoulders down could hurt my rotater cuffs.

Immediately after that I had a deep-tissue massage that was wonderful. I was still a little sore from Thursday's class when I went back for more, so she worked on my sore areas a lot. It really is neat to have a massage therapist working on my sore limbs because I've been working them hard than on a sore back like they used to.

Then, I went straight to the Synergy Studio to catch the end of Judith Lasater's Restorative Yoga workshop. She's a neat lady, and a famous yoga teacher, so I'm glad I was able to participate in part of the workshop. Restorative yoga is very prop heavy. Some teachers feel nervous without props, but props tend to annoy me. It was a good experience and I learned a bit about Savasana, but it was just alright for me. I also got a cute picture and a signed book out of it. :) Now I have 2 books signed by famous yoga teachers. That's pretty neat.

Today I'm on a yoga high. I decided to try out something new and different for my lunchtime yoga class. One cool thing about teaching yoga is that I get to be creative. My classes are Ashtanga-based, but not Ashtanga because most of the students are beginners, so true Ashtanga would be too much for them (they're still too much for me at this point), and I like saving the room to be creative and improvise.

I have this poster from Matthew Sweeney hanging on my wall for decoration, so I decided to use it as a reference too. I don't know the Moon Salutations at all, and I've practiced them once in a class several months ago, so I decided to start with Chandra Namaskara A, so I don't overwhelm myself trying to learn something and then teach it in one day. Because I love being creative and my body just felt like doing certain things as I practiced Chandra Namaskara A over and over again. I decided to throw in some of my own variations to tomorrow's class. So here I am, trying to learn something new and teach it with variations tossed in at logical spots. I might be a little too excited.

Here's the lesson plan for the Chandra Namaskara A.

Chandra Namaskara A
Sitting on feet (like virasana but sitting on feet) (up to 10 minutes)
Engage your bandhas and begin ujjayi breathing
Exhale Extended Child’s pose (come to the pose to rest any time you need to)
Inhale all fours (spread hands, legs hip width apart)
Exhale Downward-facing dog
Inhale all fours
Exhale Extended Child’s pose
Inhale up on knees like camel

(Variations are in parentheses, add to 2nd round)
Exhale sit on feet for 5 breaths (half-moon side leans)
Inhale all fours (5 cycles of cat/cow)
Exhale downward-facing dog for 5 breaths
Inhale all fours
Exhale Extended child’s pose
Inhale up on knees like camel for 5 breaths (or camel pose)
Exhale+Inhale Sitting on feet
Exhale Extended child’s pose for 5 breaths
Inhale Sitting on feet for 5 breaths

I did all this because I should be writing up my practicum report, and making asana sheets for yoga school, and I'm procrastinating.

I've also been really into my essential oils and aromatherapy, spending the last week reading all about them and experimenting on myself and my friends. I mixed up an aromatherapy blend for tomorrow's yoga class. Since the class should be both relaxing and energizing, I mixed a blend of relaxing and energizing essential oils, lemon, lavender, mint, eucalyptus, and orange. Brad says, "So a little bit of everything?" and I protest, "No, a little bit of a bunch of certain things, every oil has a purpose!"

The raid in WoW is about to begin, but I'm skipping it tonight to work on my yoga class for tomorrow. I think I'm also going to add music. Oops skipping WoW because I'm too excited about yoga isn't very balanced of me. :-D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yoga School, Birthday, CPR

I finished my practicum with Ken. I still need to write up the report, and I know basically what I'm going to write in my head. I just haven't done it yet. I have plenty of notes, emails, and memories to get it done. I just need to be inspired at the right time. Not when I'm in the car on the way to yoga class like earlier today when I felt inspired to write it.

Evening yoga classes are great, but rough. I go straight from work, get home at 8 or a little after, eat a late light dinner, take a bubble bath, and that's my evening. It's a great evening, but leaves me little time for anything else.

There are only 2 more Ken classes before he stops teaching as he plans his move to New Jersey. :( That's all I have to say about that :(

It was really neat how Ken popped into my life right after I signed up for teacher training. The massage therapist at my office introduced us when I said I was going to be a yoga teacher. Who knew there was an awesome yoga teacher working at my office all along in this style of yoga that I'd never heard of, but loved the minute I tried it? How awesome is that? I'm so glad I got to meet him and learn from him. Boo that he's leaving.

My birthday was Monday, and my friends are awesome. They know how to put on a birthday at work. They got me presents!

My favorite is Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series. They assumed that I must be intermediate or advanced. How sweet. I'm actually struggling with a lot of the Primary Series because it's HARD, but it's really neat to read about the intermediate series. It has some things that I can do, so I can work those into a vinyasa practice. It's kind of a vanity vinyasa class if it consists of everything I'm good at, and only what I'm good at, but sometimes that's fun! :) Also, you should never teach something that you can't practice and demonstrate well, so I can justify it that way. I should teach what I can do, and practice what I need to work on. Separating the teaching and practicing is hard, but important, so that's the big thing I'm working on now, along with not dipping my shoulders down in chaturanga.

Back to my birthday! It was tons of fun at work. I'm very fortunate to have some really great friends there. They decorated my cube, got cheesecake, cream puffs, that awesome yoga book, a cool coffee mug with "stats" like WoW loot, and a hot stone massage kit. It really was a great day except that I wasn't motivated to do any work, but I tried to anyway.

Emilie, the yoga teacher trainer gave me a dozen roses at yoga teacher training for my birthday. That was really sweet of her. She wanted to thank me for running the yahoo site and maintaining the archive of electronic copies of the handouts, homework, and stuff, teaching the other students how to use it, and making fliers for classes and workshops. None of that work was very hard or time consuming, and I like to help. It really was a shock to be handed a dozen roses in front of everyone.

My in-laws showered me with gifts as they love to do. I keep saying I don't need presents, but they love buying things, so I happily tell them what kind of things I want. My favorite gift was an essential oils kit and book. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. I really love this book and kit! Essential oils/aromatherapy are my new favorite thing to learn about, just behind Ashtanga yoga. I mixed some grapefruit and lavender oil today at work, and when the scent wafted into my friend Becca's cubicle she LOVED it and is very happy to "reap the benefits" of my new obsession. I hope it doesn't waft over to anyone who doesn't like it. I try to only use a tiny bit, but she sits very, very close to me, so it's unavoidable that she would smell it. I'm glad she likes it :)

This morning I got re-certified in CPR (I originally got certified last year, but you have to take a refresher every year). It's scary to imagine the situations that could come up, but it's really great to have training in how to help. What is done between when an emergency occurs and when the ambulance arrives can make the difference between life and death. I hope I never see an emergency like that, but knowing what to do beyond call 911 and freak out makes me feel good. I liked today's trainers better than last year. They were brutally honest about what it will be like to actually do CPR on someone, and said that you will hear ribs breaking when you do chest compressions. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek, I'm so glad they warned us, because that will freak me out enough, but knowing that it's normal and ok because ribs heal, but you can't bring people back from the dead, will prevent me from panicking and thinking that I'm doing more harm than good if ever need to do CPR.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ashtanga Yoga Thesis Paper Done

Presentation tomorrow. Do I have it planned and timed out? Naw, I'll go through each point and explain everything, stopping to demonstrate and practice the breath, the bandhas, the vinyasas, and the sun salutations.

I'm also bringing the mantras on my iPod to play because I don't have the knowledge and the ballz to sing them myself.

Edit: added whole paper instead of a link to the google doc.

Becky Trantham
February 7, 2010

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Ashtanga yoga of Pattabhi Jois is a vigorous vinyasa yoga practice of specific traditional sequences and breathing technique that produces internal heat and sweat.


Ujjayi breathing is maintained throughout Ashtanga asana practice. Ujjayi literally means victorious or conquerer. Ujjayi breath is performed by controlling the muscles around the glottis in the back of the throat to create sound on the inhalation and exhalation. The sound comes from the back of the throat, not from sniffing. “To help correct any tendency to sniff, lightly stretch the skin either side of the nose to dilate your nostrils so that air is being drawn in at the back of your throat.”[1]

Ashtanga yoga teacher David Swenson came up with an exercise called the Hhhaaa Method. “You must sit up straight and take a full inhale through the nose and then let it out through the mouth with the soft sound of 'Hhhaaa' as though you are whispering.”[2] After this, you breath in and out through your nose, while maintaining the feeling of “hhhaaa” in the back of your throat.


Bandha, literally means lock or seal. “The basic premise of the bandha is that by restraining or locking the muscles on a physical level, a subtle unlocking occurs on a mental or energetic level.”[3] There are three main bandhas: mulabandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha. The bandhas unlock, preserve, and control energy while protecting the lower back from injury.

The mulabandha is the root lock, and should be maintained through the duration of Ashtanga asana practice. The mulabandha is activated by engaging the perineum muscle, but not clenching it. This is the same muscle group you would use to resist the urge to use the restroom or to do a Keigel exercise, but more subtle than that.

Uddiyana bandha literally means flying upward, and is also maintained through the duration of the practice. It is engaged by drawing the belly button towards the spine. It isn't literally sucking the belly in, but stilling the belly below the navel.

Jalandhara bandha is the chin-lock and is not held through the duration of the practice as the other two are; it is used in shouldstand and pranayama (breathing exercises). Jalandhara bandha is engaged by reaching the chin forward and down to the center of the chest.


The drishti is the point where the gaze should be focused. Each asana has one of nine drishtis assigned to it. The purpose of focusing on a specific point is to look in the direction of the stretch and to avoid distractions from the environment allowing you to focus your attention inward.

The nine drishtis are:

1. Nasagrai — tip of the nose

2. Ajna Chakra — between the eyebrows (third eye)

3. Nabi Chakra — navel

4. Hastagrai — hand

5. Padhayoragrai — toes

6. Parsva Drishti — far to the right

7. Parsva Drishti — far to the left

8. Angustha Ma Dyai — thumbs

9. Urdhva — sky


Vinyasa is linking movement with breath, and connecting one asana to the next. In Ashtanga yoga, vinyasas are performed to warm up at the beginning and to stay warm between postures. The vinyasa sequence between postures is Chaturanga Dandasana on the exhale, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana on the inhale, then Adho Mukha Svanasana on the exhale. To transition from Adho Mukha Svanasana to seated or standing, you can jump or step to or through your hands. To jump to standing, put weight into your hands and lightly jump the feet to the hands into Ardha Uttanasana on the inhale. To jump through to seated, the put weight into your hands like a handstand, pull the legs in close to the chest, and use your abs to pull your legs through to Dandasana without your feet touching the floor.


In Ashtanga yoga, the use of props is minimal, because they interrupt the flow of the practice. The traditional method is to use the body for support rather than an external object, for example resting your hand on your leg in Trikonasana instead of a block. David Swenson said, “I look at props like training wheels on a bicycle.” [4] Props are very helpful in making poses accessible to beginners, but they should wean off of them gradually.

Moon Days

Traditionally, asana should not be practiced on days of the full and new moon. “Like all things of a watery nature (human beings are about 70% water), we are affected by the phases of the moon.”[5] A vigorous practice is not recommended on full moon days because the full moon causes an increase in energy that can lead to overstimulation. During the new moon, joints are drier and people have less energy, making injury more likely. Only strict practioners observe the Moon Days.

Specific Traditional Sequences

There are six traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Sequences. First is the Primary Series, then the Secondary (Intermediate Series), followed by four Advanced Series. Originally there were only two Advanced Series, but they were split up into four. It is traditional to chant the opening mantra before asana practice.

Opening Mantra


vande gurunam charanara vinde

sandarsita svatma sukave bodhe

nihsreyase jangalikayamane

samsara halahala mohashantyai

abahu purushakaram

sankacakrsi dharinam

sahasra sirasam svetum

pranamami patanjalim




I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme Guru,

who teaches the good knowledge, showing the way

to knowing the self-awakening great happiness.

Who is the doctor of the jungle, able to remove

the poison of the ignorance of conditioned existence.

In his guise as the divine serpent,

with 1,000 white radiant heads,

human in form down to the shoulders,

holding the sword of discrimination,

the fire-wheel of time,

and the conch of divine sound,

to the sage Patanjali I prostrate.


Each series begins by practicing Surynamaskara A five times, Surynamaskara B five times, then the standing sequence, followed by the series of poses, and ended with the closing sequence. Surynamaskara translates to Sun Salutation. In both Surynamaskaras, there is one pose for each breath that is performed specifically on the inhale or exhale.

Surynamaskara A:

Begin at Samasthihi, inhale arms up to Urdhva Vrksasana, exhale fold to Uttanasana A, inhale look up half way to Uttanasana B, exhale to Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, exhale to Adho Mukha Svanasana, hold Adho Mukha Svanasana for five breaths, inhale and jump or step your feet to your hands for Uttanasana B, exhale to Uttanasana A, inhale your arms up to Urdhva Vrksasana, and exhale arms down to Samasthihi.

Surynamaskara B:

Begin at Samasthihi, inhale your arms up and bend your knees to Utkatasana, exhaling fold down to Uttanasana A, inhale up to Uttanasana B, exhale back to Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, exhale to Adho Mukha Svanasana, inhale to Virabhadrasana A with the right foot forward, exhale to Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, exhale to Adho Mukha Svanasana, inhale to Virabhadrasana A with the left foot forward, exhale to Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, exhale to Adho Mukha Svanasana, hold Adho Mukha Svanasana for five breaths, inhale jump the feet to the hands for Uttanasana B, exhale to Uttanasana A, inhale to Utkatasana, and exhale to Samasthihi.

Standing Sequence:

Hasta Padangusthasana, Pada Hastasana, Utthita Trikonasana on the right side, then left side, Parivritta Trikonasana on the right side, then the left side, Utthita Parsvakonasana on the right side, then the left side, Parivritta Parsvakonasana on the right side, then the left side, Presarita Padottanasana A, B, C, then D, Utthita Parsvottanasana on the right side, then the left,

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, Utthita Parsvasiahita on the right side, Utthita Eka Pada Padangusthasana, Utthita Parsvasiahita on the left side, Utthita Eka Padasana, Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, Vinyasa, Utkatasana, Virabhadrasana A, Virabhadrasana B.

Primary Series:

With a vinyasa between each pose: Dandasana, Paschimottanasana A, B, then C, Purvottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana with the right leg in lotus, then the left, Tireieng Mukha Eka Pada Pashimottanasana, Janu Sirsasana A, B, then C, right foot in first, then left, Marichyasana A, B, C, then D, bending the right knee first, then left, Navasana five times with Lolasana in between, Bhuja Pidasana, Kurmasana, Supta Kurmasana, Garbha Pindasana, Kukkutasana, Baddha Konasana A, B, then C, Upavista Konasana A then B, Supta Konasana, Supta Hasta Padangusthasana, Supta Parsvasahita, Supta Hasta Padangusthasana, Supta Parsvasahita, Ubbaya Padangusthasana, Urdhva Mukha Pashicmottanasana, Setu Badhasana.

Secondary (Intermediate) Series:

With a vinyasa between each pose: Pasasana, Krounchasana, Salabhasana A then B, Bhekasana, Dhanurasana, Parsva Dhanurasana on the right side, then left, Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, Laghu Vajrasana, Kapotasana A then B, Supta Vajrasana, Up and down from Supta Vajrasana five times, Supta Vajrasana for 5 breaths, Bakasana A then B, Bharadvajasana to the right then to the left, Ardha Matsyendrasana to the right then left, Eka Pada Sirsasana with right foot behind head then left, Dwi Pada Sirsasana, Yoga Nidrasana, Tittibhasana A, B, then C, Pincha Mayurasana, Karandavasana, Mayurasana, Nakrasana, Vatyanasana, Parighasana, Gomukhasana A then B on right side, then left, Supta Urdhva pada Vajrasana with right leg in lotus, then left, then the seven headstands: Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A, B, and C, Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, B, C, and D.

Advanced Series A:

With a vinyasa between each pose: Vasisthasana, Viswamitrasana, Kasyapasana, Chakorasana, Bhairavasana, Skandasana, Durvasana, Urdhva Kukkutasana A , B, then C, Galavasana, Eka Pada Bakasana A then B, Koundinyasana A then B, Astavakrasana A then B, Purna Matsyendrasana, Viranchyasana A then B, Viparita Dandasana, Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana, Viparita Salabhasana, Ganda Bherundasana, Hanumanasana, Supta Trivakramasana, Dighasana A then B with right leg up, Dighasana A then B with left leg up, Trivikramasana, Natarajasana, Raja kapotasana, Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana.

Advanced Series B:

With a vinyasa between each pose: Mula Bandhasana, Nahusasana A, B, then C, Vrschikasana A, Sayanasana, Buddhasana, Kapilasana, Akarna Dhanurasana A, then B on right side then left, Padangustha Dhanurasana A then B, then A again, Marichyasana E, F, G, then H, Tadasana, Samanasana, Parsva Bakasana, Punga Kukkutasana, Eka Pada Dhanurasana, Eka Pada Kapotasana, Paryangasana A then B, Parivttasana A then B, Yoni Dandasana, Yoga Dandasana, Bhuja Dandasana, Parsva Dandasana, Urdhva Dandasana B, Adho Dandasana, Sama Konasana, Omkarasana.

Closing Sequence:

Dhanurasana three times, Vinyasa, Paschimottanasana, Salamba Sarvangasana for 25 breaths, Halasana for 10 breaths, Karna Pidasana for 10 breaths, Urdhva Padmasana for 10 breaths, Pindasana for 10 breaths, Matsyasana for 10 breaths, Uttana Padasana for 10 breaths, Chakrasana, Vinyasa, Sirsasana, Urdhva Dandasana A, Balasana, Vinyasa, Dandasana, Baddha Padmasana, Yoga Mudra, Padmasana, Utputhih, Vinyasa, Dandasana, Savasana.

Closing Mantra


svasthi prajabhyah paripala yantam

nyayena margena mahim mahisah

go brahmanebhyah subamastu nityam

loka samastha sukhino bhavantu



May all mankind be prosperous —

May leaders govern the world with law and justice,

May divinity and knowledge be protected,

May people of the world be happy.

History of Ashtanga Yoga

“Professor Sri Triumlai Krishnamacharya is considered by many to be the grandfather of modern yoga. By and large it is through his teachings that the systems of Astanga yoga (K.P. Jois),Iyengar yoga (B.K.S. Iyengar) and Vini yoga (T.K.V. Desikachar) were each developed.” [6]

“Jois has often spoken about a text called the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript on ashtanga yoga, which had been the basis of the practical lessons on yoga taught to him by Krishnamacharya.”[7]

Krishnamacharya spent a year at the Calcutta University Library studying the Yoga Korunta. It was badly damaged and some sections were missing. The sections that Krishnamacharya was able to transcribe are now referred to as the primary, intermediate, and advanced sequences of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Krishnamacharya taught these methods to Pattabhi Jois, who then established the Ashtanga Yoga Institute where he taught Ashtanga yoga.

How Ashtanga Yoga Came to the West

The first Americans, David Williams and Norman Allen, went to Mysore to study with Pattabhi Jois and his son, Manju Jois, in 1973. “David introduced K. Pattabhi Jois and Manju to America and the western world when he, along with Nancy Gilgoff, organized and sponsored their first visit to Encinitas, California, in 1975.”[8] Manju chose to live in the U.S. after teaching a two-month workshop in 1975.

Power Yoga

Beryl Bender Birch began practicing Ashtanga yoga with Norman Allen and Pattabhi Jois in 1981 then began teaching after several years. In 1995, Beryl Bender Birch published a book called Power Yoga. “People rushed to embrace the idea of losing weight, building strength, and enjoying an aerobic workout, all within the calming and spiritual framework of Yoga practice.”[9] Power yoga is based on Ashtanga yoga, but the order of the postures can change, allowing freedom for creativity. “In many ways, Power Yoga represents an American version of Ashtanga Yoga.”[10]

Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga

As with all styles of yoga, Ashtanga yoga has many benefits to the mind, body, and soul. As a vigorous style of yoga, Ashtanga yoga will improve endurance and burn fat away as well as strengthening the muscles and increasing flexibility. It will also strengthen your heart with a constantly moving aerobic workout. Mental benefits are reduced stress, a calm and relaxed mind, and improved concentration. Emotionally and spiritually Ashtanga yoga will lead to compassion, a nonjudgemental attitude, joy, love, and letting go of negative energy such as: anger, anxiety, and depression.

Philosophy of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga yoga is named after Patanjali's Yoga Sutras because they are very important to Ashtanga Yoga philosophy. Ashtanga means eight limbs and represents an analogy to a tree. “Every tree in the forest has the same goal: to reach toward the light. One tree's method is not better than another's.”[11]

The eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga are:

1. Yama — ethical disciplines, restraint, control

2. Niyama — self observation

3. Asana — physical posture

4. Pranayama — breath control

5. Pratyahara — sense withdrawal

6. Dharana — mental act of concentration

7. Dhyana — meditation

8. Samadhi — a state of joy and peace

How Ashtanga Yoga Has Changed My Life

I had been practicing yoga off and on for three years when I discovered Ashtanga yoga. The benefits of yoga were apparent to me. Before I practiced yoga, I had chronic pain and spasms in my neck, shoulders, and lower back. After my first yoga class in 2006, I noticed a huge difference. After every yoga class, the first thing I said to my husband as I walked in the door was, “Wow, I feel so good!” I was practicing a vinyasa “yoga fitness” class at the gym, and I loved it. I got stronger and calmer, my back pain was gone, and I began to read about the philosophy of yoga. Eventually, the gym environment wasn't enough for me; it felt stagnant with the high turnover rate of students. I tried out as many classes as I could in studios all over San Antonio, and settled with a hot vinyasa class (in a 100 degree room). After 6 months, I felt like that class was stagnant as well. The class wasn't able to progress very much because we always had beginners in the class. I felt like a big fish in a small pond. That's when I was introduced to Ashtanga yoga by Ken Willian, a coworker who teaches Ashtanga yoga.

I walked into his class expecting it to be right at my level, but it was much more challenging than any yoga I’d ever practiced. I sweated more than I did in a 100 degree room, and I spent a good portion of the class collapsed on the floor. It humbled me and showed me that yoga asana should never get boring because there is always a way to be challenged.

Now after 6-months of Ashtanga yoga practice, I feel all of the benefits I felt with vinyasa yoga amplified. Physically, I'm pain-free, much stronger, 8 pounds lighter, more flexible, and have more energy. Mentally and emotionally, I'm able to stay calm and happy when faced with stressful situations, much happier, and have more positive thoughts and fewer negative thoughts. I'm very grateful to Ken for introducing me to Ashtanga yoga and to every teacher who led up to the practice of Ashtanga yoga in San Antonio, Texas.

[1] Scott, John. Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2000.

[2] Swenson, David. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. Austin, TX: Ashtanga Yoga Productions, 1999.

[3] Sweeney, Matthew. Astanga Yoga As It Is. The Yoga Temple, 2005.

[4] Swenson, David. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. Austin, TX: Ashtanga Yoga Productions, 1999.

[5] Miller, Tim.

[6] Sweeney, Matthew. Astanga Yoga As It Is. The Yoga Temple, 2005.

[7] Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi. Yoga Mala. New York, NY: North Point Press, 1999.

[8] Williams, David.

[9] Swenson, Doug. Power Yoga for Dummies. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, 2001.

[10] Swenson, Doug. Power Yoga for Dummies. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, 2001.

[11] Swenson, David. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. Austin, TX: Ashtanga Yoga Productions, 1999.