When my daughter Isabella was born late last year, I spent almost every single moment carrying her in my arms. Lifting her. Setting her down. Holding her. Giving her alllll my love. That of course, hasn't changed. However, as a result of all that original activity and because I was unaware of the excess weight I was putting onto my thumbs and the tendons that help them to function, I ended up with a relentless injury called De Quervain's tendinosis, which has yet to heal to this day (she's ten 1/2 months old).
As a result of this injury, I have had to discontinue my advanced power yoga practice as well as my other interest -- Muay Thai -- which means no more handstands, jump backs, side planks, punching bags... things like that. At first, I felt depressed at the state my body was in. Although I understood that I needed to be patient with my body as it recovered from having made and delivered a baby girl, I was depressed and frustrated that I wasn't able to care for my body the way I was used to caring for it - via hardcore daily Yoga and Muay Thai. I also wasn't able to care for my family the way I truly wanted to - I felt like an invalid. In the mornings I would wake to find my hands stiff and in pain. By the end of the day, after cleaning and cooking, caring for Isabella, etc... I could hardly move them. Mentally, I thought that I had no more energy to give to a yoga practice. I also found that my ego disliked the idea of doing any yoga practice that wasn't the usual intense, cardio-activating practice I was accustomed. It was a negative spiral for a while.
Finally though, and only after my first 8-hour sleep in months 6 months haha, I went to my mat with discipline and an internal mantra/repetitive thought:
It doesn't matter that I can't do push-ups right now. It doesn't matter that my body no longer feels as limber. I am going to start moving now and I will figure this out.
In the absence of the norm, I found myself becoming more creative with my yoga flows. I became acquainted with new poses, old poses, different parts of my body and especially my breath and thought patterns. I created yoga practices for myself which did not need to include my hands on the floor. I started "teaching in my mind" as if I were teaching other students who happened to have the same type of injury as myself - hands, wrists, or otherwise. As a result, I began to heal. Not only my hands (which are getting there with the help of a therapist) but my mind and soul too.
I realize now that I was being harsh with myself, literally inflexible and unbending. I was so used to a certain "Ashley" and certain "Yoga style" that I had been unwilling to accept my limitations, body, or self. How sad is that? How much time, I wonder, did I waste not practicing yoga simply because I couldn't do what I wanted? How silly!?
After meditating and reflecting on it all, I've forgiven myself and I am now ready to finally share what I have learned from this whole experience. And here it is:
Beginner's Yoga is just as amazing as Advanced Yoga because Yoga is about learning to accept the present limits of your current body - to embrace, move in it, grow with it, love it.
So, when and if you decide to begin a Yoga practice, whether you are advanced or new to Yoga, the key is to accept and love your body and your practice, no matter what it looks like or feels like. ❤ ~ Ashley
I WANT TO SHARE with you here a few resources that I have either recently come across or have been an avid user/follower of now for years. For example, meet Laruga Glaser! She is a beautiful, talented, and super-flexible/inspirational yogini. Was she born that way? I don't know. What I do know is that she has been a yogini for many, many years. Which means, that her beautiful practice is a complete and total result of what? HER PRACTICE. It's hers. Not yours. Not mine. Hers. And yet, although I will probably never be able to do all the poses that she does, no matter how much effort and energy I put into my practice, I can still admire her. I can still try to emulate her in my own ways, in my own practice - by practicing often and with discipline. And so can you!
The following video is of Laruga teaching Ashtanga Yoga. For more about Ashtanga yoga, consider reading one of my previous blogs such as "What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga". However, for now, consider watching the flow for at least the first 10-15 minutes. It may seem repetitive - because it is. That is one of the defining factors of Ashtanga Yoga. Within those repetition, your mind is given an opportunity to stop jumping from one thing to another - your practice becomes a moving meditation.
Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga. (2018, March 19). Led Primary Series with Laruga Glaser. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SefpsUfI7y4&t=384s
I PRACTICED with the above video yesterday while Isabella was playing with a Tibetan singing bowl next to me (video below). :) Even though I have studied at the K.PATTABHI JOIS ASHTANGA YOGA SHALA, I don't usually practice Ashtanga Yoga as my main practice, so I too had to look up at the video some... and you may have to look up sometimes as well. NO WORRIES! Oh, and you'll also notice the use of numbers (though you may not have known they were numbers) said in a strange language. That language is Sanskrit. No worries again! You don't have to learn Sanskrit to practice yoga, but you will eventually learn some words such as CHATURANGA! haha as a by-product of your practice. Yoga is Sanskrit too --> योग ;)
After viewing the video, maybe you decide that you love it, or maybe you think Ashtanga isn't for you. That's totally okay! But please don't turn your back on it too quickly... or any type of yoga, really. My advice before you give up on a yoga style is to:
In this video, you can hear Laruga counting out the asanas :) You might also notice me modifying poses because it hurts my injured hands. Modifications are totally fine! Please don’t ever feel ashamed to modify your poses like I do, or by using a block or a strap. We were all beginners once.
OTHER YOGA BLOGS
kinolorber. (2019, March 4). Iyengar: The Man, Yoga, and the Student's Journey - Official Trailer. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvqQwr8xfgc&feature=youtu.be
Hi Readers & Yogis,
Lately, I've received some requests from lovely people interested in learning how to begin a yoga practice - particularly, how to begin when you have had no experience before. I wanted to let those that were interested know that soon I will be posting 10 minute videos to help guide you into your own Yoga practice. In them, you'll learn how simple it is to begin a yoga practice and how wonderful the benefits really are.
Take a moment and view the above presentation for a quick peek at what I am talking about :) Namaste Everyone! ~ Ashley
“Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself.”
I just love how playful and balanced Meghan is in this short yoga video. I've seen videos where yogis show you everything they can do without it actually being a fully balanced yoga flow. Not Meghan. :) She's got it down.
If you're new to yoga or you haven't tried it yet... don't let her experience intimidate you! She didn't start out this way. We all don't... it's one step at a time. It's a journey! Practice and Patience :)
The Mysore Style of Teaching - Explained
Take a glimpse into my daily yoga practice here in Mysore and KPJAYI via Kino MacGregor.
Matcha green tea has been a revelation. How or why hadn't I been introduced to it before is beyond me. Already I have a plethora of green tea in my kitchen, and well with all my research on health and nutrition matcha somehow escaped my field of recognition. How did this happen? At any rate I owe this all to the world of social media. Flipping through my Instagram feed I became inspired by one of the various healthy food gurus I follow. They were using it in their smoothies praising a long list of it's health benefits and also highlighting how it makes for an excellent replacement for coffee. The timing couldn't have been better because over the past month, finally with some resignation, I have come to the conclusion that coffee is simply not good for me.
I know, I know, the famous ashtangi saying, "no coffee, no prana," has been touted with pride around the community. But seriously, for me longterm coffee consumption meant a big time depletion of prana. Through other research I have also found this to be true from other resources in regards to yoga practice. Not only does coffee deplete our adrenal glands but it is dehydrating as well as depleting for the body of valuable minerals and taxing on the nervous system. Now, I'm not saying every once in a while having a cup of joe is a bad thing I just came to the conclusion that for myself drinking it daily was doing more harm than good overall. And let's face it, it's a drug! One that once you quit will leave you with withdrawal headaches lasting for a number of days. Now, I don't mean to badger coffee because sure it gives a nice kick in the morning. The smell. Well, that is what always got me. Oh that smell! There is nothing quite like it. But let's look at an alternative that garners even more benefits and brings a state of alert and calm centered wellbeing at the same time. No jitters.
My new found favorite beverage of choice. It adds to, instead of takes away. One important note in regards to what we choose to consume daily. Does it add to our overall long term health and well being? Or does it simply give the illusion that it's what is needed to get through the day. Remember, if there is one thing yoga practice teaches is what we do today will affect our tomorrow.
A Background ...
Match has been consumed for over a millennium in the Far East starting with Japanese Zen Buddhist monks and Chinese Daoist who recognized the benefit of matcha supporting a calm energy in the body while remaining alert for meditation practice. This comes from the compound L-Theanine which promotes the production of alpha waves which in turn induces relaxation without drowsiness. Also, L-Theanine activates concentration, memory and boosts one's energy and endurance. Samuri warriors would also drink matcha before their battles.
Matcha gives a high does. Topping the ORAC scale you can rest assure along with a healthy diet that making room for more antioxidants is a good thing while also containing a few components that play a key role in cancer prevention. It fortifies the immune system providing abundant quantities of Vitamin A and C, Iron, Protein, and Calcium.
Is that all?
NO! Not only does matcha give a high dose of antioxidants, improves concentration and endurance it boosts metabolism and detoxifies as well. High in chlorophyll drinking matcha plays a hand in removing heavy metals and chemicals from the body. Because the tea leaves are stone ground and you are essentially drinking the ground tea leaves themselves you receive a more effective bang for the buck when it comes to obtaining these essential nutrients versus steeping the tea leaves.
Give it a try!
One of these days I'll make a video on how to make it. That's a promise. However, in the meantime if you are curious, the below video with give some insight on how to prepare it. There are also other creative ways to consume matcha by making lattes as well as adding it to smoothies. I'm sure the possibilities are endless. However, the best way to drink it is straight up!
Here's an inspiring demonstration video by Certified Ashtanga yoga teacher, Mark Robberds from Australia. He'll be making his way to Stockholm for the first time this October to lead a four day Ashtanga yoga workshop. More details to come soon! Until then, enjoy the video.
This is a great reminder that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously all the time. So remember while you watch, laughing at ourselves is essential to happiness!
“Is that guy sitting lower than me? He must be shorter, man I’m good, I’m a warrior.”
“My arms are sprouting out of my back. I am a butterfly!”
- See more at: http://yoganonymous.com/video-what-yogis-really-think-during-class/#sthash.82DroNWY.dpuf
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley