Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Saturday - Posture Clinic with Diane

Ok, I'm going to make an ATTEMPT to write something about my weekend!

I made good time to San Diego - got there in just under 4 hours. I left at 7am and pulled into the yoga studio at about 10:50am. (The posture clinic started at 11:30.) I blasted my mix CDs on the way down and had a great old time by myself in my car, so happy because I was on my way to see Diane. Anyone know that song, "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who'd walk a thousand miles to fall down at your door"? I had that one on heavy rotation. What a GREAT driving song.

So I was at the studio nice and early, put out my mat, made myself some tea, and was putting away my stuff in the locker room when I heard a familiar voice from the front lobby. Naturally I came screeching around the corner and barely gave her a chance to see my face before tackling her in a hug. We crashed on the couch (not literally, I'm not that violent) and sat around talking (and snacking on my trail mix) for a good half hour before getting down to business.

I've never been to ANY posture clinics before so this was a fun new experience for me! I dunno how other people run theirs. Diane started off by introducing herself and the process a little bit, and then we all got up and did a single set of pranayama, half moon, awkward, and eagle, so she could "see what she's dealing with" and so we could all be a little warmed up. I actually managed to find the hottest spot in the room (unintentional!!) so I got a solid sweat going before noon and didn't really stop sweating til after class... 6pm-ish.

Then we just started going through the postures, and man, there was SO much great information and so many people totally changed their postures, and there's no way I can convey more than a tiny fraction of it. You had to be there. To give you an idea - I think that after the first 9o minutes, we were still on awkward pose. The 3rd posture out of 26. Needless to say, we did not even really MAKE it to the floor series - we got thru about triangle in the first 4 hours, and then zipped through floor bow with Diane making just a few KEY points on the postures in between.

Here are just a COUPLE technical notes so as not to disappoint the yoga nerds. (And because I am a nerd myself.) I hope I am getting all of these right.

- Pranayama breathing - talked about how the arms/hands act as LEVERAGE against the chin. This strengthens the neck, which improves backbends, because the way to get a deeper backbend is to strengthen the spine. So there you go, right from the beginning: better pranayama = better camel pose. How cool is that?

- Half moon backbend - this may be controversial, but I have been testing it out and it definitely works for me. When you start the backbend, there is no need to clench your butt right away (which a lot of instructors will tell you to do). First lengthen and bend. THEN, in the SECOND half of the dialogue, when it says "inhale, stomach, legs, hips, everything push forward to the mirror," that is where you turn on those muscles. Diane says they are your "gas pedal" to go deeper into the posture.

- Padahastasana - eyes to feet. Where your eyes go, your body will follow. Try it.

- Standing bow pulling - ok, this is one that I've known forEVER, but I am always ready to get on my soapbox about it. The first step of the posture is to charge your body forward, while kicking your leg back, until your chest and abdomen are parallel to the floor and your two feet are in one line from the side. THIS is where you get the balance. Once you are down there, then you can kick and stretch and kick and stretch and balance forever. I've been a little shaky in this one lately, but something about hearing it explained correctly again brought me straight back into it - and good thing, since Diane had me get up and demonstrate how to do it right!! I had been afraid she would do that, but it turned out that I can still do it fine. (And got quite a few "holy shit"s out of the room, which always cracks me up and makes me feel good about myself... hehe.)

- Cobra - my favorite pose, and apparently Diane's, too! Yippee. She says that once you understand this one, you love it forever. Anyway - all the confusion in this pose always seems to be over the weight in the hands. But the dialogue says weight in the hands - so if you weigh 140 pounds, there should be 140 pounds in your hands. Ok? Then you come up - using 100% of your back strength - until your elbows are a 90 degree angle. So that means, you come up as far as you can using all of your back strength, still pressing hands into the ground, and then if your elbows are still not at 90 degrees, you can push into your hands to come up the rest of the way. This will strengthen your spine AND get you good compression in the lower back. Try it. If you're flexie like me, make sure you keep your belly button on the floor.

Here is the funniest thing that was said all clinic. Diane was standing behind this girl, helping her with cobra, and the girl came up into cobra wicked fast and nearly gave Diane a good head-butt. Diane jumps back laughing and goes, "Whoa! Never go out of first gear in yoga class! It's like a 747 taking off?! All the passengers would be shitting themselves!!"

Other great things that were said:

"Breathe, everything else is optional."

"You'd be surprised how much you get out of people when you don't ask them for anything."

"You can do it!!" (over and over and over in class)

"Just don't do it wrong!"

The clinic went until about 4pm and then Diane taught class at 4:30. Man... I was sweating SO much, and I kind of forgot to eat lunch, so I was feeling some INTENSE cardio once we got into the balancing series. I was like "ooh, shit, I'm goin' doooown!" but I never actually went down, of course. It's ok to feel like you're dying in yoga class. You would never BE so lucky as to ACTUALLY die in yoga class! Hehe. It was great to hear Diane's voice out here in California, because it always makes me feel like I'm home. I like that. We travel, our teachers travel, but whenever we are together - wherever it is - that is home.

We were sooo happy and beat after class. Diane was staying with two very sweet women (sisters) who ended up inviting me over to their place for dinner and cooking for the two of us... spinach salad, rice, baked potato... mm, perfect. That gave us a couple more hours to talk yoga and catch up, which was lovely! I didn't want to leave, but my bed for the evening was at a friend's house up in LA, so I really had to get going! I eventually left at maybe 9:30pm, ended up sitting in traffic for 45 minutes at 11 o'clock due to a horrible traffic accident on 5 North, and got to my friend's place at 12:30am! She was sweet and made us some tea. She is another yoga student - her Saturday had consisted of taking class from Bikram in the morning and then lying around her apartment for the rest of the day feeling destroyed (which sounded great to me!) We chatted for about an hour, and then I passed out on her couch at 1:30am and slept the best sleep I've had in MONTHS.

EDITED: By popular demand (ok, by one person asking politely), now with a few pictures!

Diane on her perch. :)

Bunch of people working on bow - body down! Looking good!

Standing bow! (This is not my full expression, don't have a shot of that.) Diane had me demo it once (for fun? hehe) and then asked me to do it again going just partway in, to show the "two feet in one line"

This guy wanted to know, "what is more important in triangle, the elbow on the knee or the fingers touching the toes?" The answer was, "who do you love more, your son or your daughter?"


hannahjustbreathe said...

Awesome tips, J. Will definitely keep them in mind during class tonight, especially the one about pranayama, because I've reached a pose in that pose where I need something new to focus on. Can't wait to hear about Sunday! Did you take any pictures of the posture clinic??

thedancingj said...

A few pictures exist. I may post a couple tonight. :)

I'll give you another thought for pranayama. Here's a question that was brought up: what do you do when it is easy for you to inhale and exhale for 6 seconds, and you know that you COULD breathe for much longer? I got this answer right but I'd never heard it discussed explicitly before. (Hint: The answer is NOT to breathe slower than everyone else! Haha.)

Duffy Pratt said...

I'm a little slow, so I need more than a hint. You said what not to do. But what do you do? I could pretty easily extend the breathing out to 10 counts or more.

The other tips are really good. I'll give them a try tonight.

It sounds like it was an amazing day.

thedancingj said...

It was incredible. I'm still running on its momentum.

I'm waiting to see if Hannah knows the answer - if she doesn't tell you, then I will. :) Hope you guys are not annoyed by my Socratic method! Hehe.

bikramyogachick said...

Thanks for the tips! I went to one seminar (Craig Villani) and it was amazing...I totally get your "high" coming out of a day full of yoga. So much to work on! The pics are great. Love your standing bow, its gorgeous. Can only imagine what your fullest expression looks like!

thedancingj said...

Craig is fun!! Thanks for the compliment - full expression looks exactly the same, just with the back leg straight. ;-)

Pranayama - ok this will sound wicked obvious once I actually say it, but the trick is that you have to breathe faster/stronger as your lung capacity improves. Like how Bikram says your lungs are 2 glasses of water that you are filling up, and by doing pranayama, you make the glasses grow bigger. If the glasses are bigger, and the time is the same, then of course you have to pour the water faster. So you really have to WORK to make sure you are using your full lung capacity in whatever time you are given, cause you STILL want to take in so much air that you get dizzy on the inhale, and push out EVERY last drop on the exhale. Just a thought. :)