Women’s Retreat: Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of the Women’s Retreat here in Austin! I had advanced with Emmy at 1:00 and then Mary Jarvis taught our first official class for the retreat at 4:15.

Taking class with Emmy was amazing and wonderful. I am interested to see what she’s like when I have a beginning class with her (which will be this afternoon). My introduction to her was in advanced, and in advanced she was super serious. There was the expectation that you generally knew what you were doing and could do all the beginning postures (and get into them fast). She was tough when she needed to be tough, but she was also funny and laid back too.

I learned a few things about myself in advanced:

– I can do hands to feet without bending my knees. AT ALL. I could already get my hands to the floor without bending my knees on most days (this will not happen today though because I am sore), but I always bent my knees when I got fully into the posture. Emmy didn’t want anybody bending their knees for this in advanced. My reaction was, “Lady, I have no choice.” But then I just let that thought go and realized I could actually lock out my knees. It was an amazing moment. The room was also super hot so that helped I’m sure.

– I can do the advanced version of toe stand! I did it on the second side because that’s my strongest side. The only difference here is that you go down with a bent knee. I think I felt good from my hands to feet pose and wanted to give it a try. I did, and it worked!

Moving on to Mary

Ok – Mary can’t teach a 90 minute class. That’s just who she is. Emmy’s class was supposed to be 2-hours but was about 2.5. Mary’s class was supposed to be 90 minutes but was also about 2.5. Yeah – I just did five hours of class yesterday. Yes, I was exhausted and starving when it was all over.

But Mary’s class was beautiful. With Mary I started to learn about enjoying the moment of being in the posture. She would ask us why we are in such a hurry to get out of the posture. Why do we want to be done with it? Why not just enjoy being wherever we are with it?

Think about it, I know I can take a posture like balancing stick or triangle and all I want is for that stupid, stupid posture to be over. Those are postures I hate so when I get in them, I am looking forward to them being done. Which means I am missing out on all kinds of things.

Like what?

Well, first off I’m not in the moment with my posture. This means I’m not noticing whatever it is I should be noticing and enjoying or working on. Second, I’m rarely able to notice and celebrate improvements because I’m too busy trying to hurry up and get through it.

That’s the lesson that has stayed with me and that I will try to apply this morning to Rajashree’s class.

And a Side Note

If you are at the retreat, there are these lovely chocolate bars that are sold right by the register in the store next to where you checked in for the resort. They cost 7.00, but they so help when you are in need of a chocolate fix. They are a good size too. I bet I buy a second one by the end of today.


Austin Bound

In just a couple of hours from writing this I will be headed to the airport and on my way to Austin for the women’s retreat. I’ll be blogging about the event. My goal is to write a post either at the end of each day (probably not the most likely thing to happen) or the next morning before the day’s events begin. In either case, I’m prepared to take lots of notes and fill y’all in on what happens. I’ll get it all up. No worries.

Today is all about checking in at the resort and hopefully catching up with a couple of you for dinner tonight. Thursday is advanced with Emmy from 1:00-3:00 CST followed by class with Mary Jarvis starting at 4:15. I’m curious to see if Mary is going to actually teach a 90 minute class. Dinner follows Mary’s class, and something tells me that after two classes and three and a half hours of yoga I might want to be fed (and go to bed!).

This will be my first time ever taking classes with Emmy and Rajashree. I am beyond excited. Can’t wait to share!

VC Day 27: I Dream of Mary

I had a weird dream last night. I was getting ready to take class. I had set up my mat in the front row right next to the teacher. The room was really full. Mary Jarvis showed up at the studio, but none of us students knew this. The studio owner, who was supposed to teach the class, was very excited to see Mary. Mary insisted she teach the class, and the owner agreed.

The owner came into the room and asked us to all step out and line the hallway. She had a very big surprise for us! She then got Mary and paraded her down the hall while we clapped and cheered. Mary was going to teach our class.

Now, for those of you who have ever taken a seminar with Mary, or know anything about her, you probably know her water philosophy. Mary argues, and I understand her point, that we do not need to consume water during a Bikram class. When I took a seminar with her a couple of years ago I was at a point in my practice where I often went without water. I managed to do her seminar without water. I don’t think she noticed.

Anyways, it’s important to understand Mary’s philosophy about water in class to fully get the end of my dream. I’m out in the hallway, and I realize that I will be taking class standing right next to Mary. And then it hits me – I have a giant bottle of coke sitting at the top of my mat that I had planned to drink in class. I am now totally terrified. Mary has entered the hot room. I am in the hall. How am I going to sneak my coke out without her noticing?

I woke up. What a nightmare! 🙂

Saturday with Joseph

Oh my goodness, where do I even begin? Let me just start by saying that spending a day with Joseph is well worth your time. He’s amazing, nice, funny, smart, and an incredible yogi.

If this man shows up in your town by all means go see him.

I sat up in the third row near the podium. I had a good spot. I had some fan access, but not too much. I also had a great view of where he would be. Then it came time for class to start, and Joseph really, really wanted someone to move their mat over to the left of the podium next to him. No one moved a muscle. Finally, after the question had been posed a good three times I just got up and moved. I have learned that in class I am usually the person who will get up and do whatever it is that needs to be done. I am happy to give other people the chance to do it first, but if no one volunteers I’ll do it.

This is how I ended up spending a great deal of time with my butt literally parked right next to Joseph. I was sooo close to him that at times he just leaned over and gave me corrections. Other times he flung his sweat on me. I am ok with all of that.

Joseph gave us an overview of the day. I have been to two other seminars (Mary Jarvis & Craig Villani). Both Mary and Craig separate the class apart from the posture seminar. So with Mary, we had a grueling three hour class and then posture clinic. With Craig it was the other way around.

That’s not how Joseph does things.

Joseph embeds posture clinic into the class. So this means you do one set of something and then talk about it. Usually he watched what we did as a class with first set and then directed his posture commentary on what he thought we could most benefit from. He also made individual corrections and helped people out who asked for it. We sat down when he was giving commentary of offering demonstrations.

This made for a longer class. The good news is that he requested the heat be lowered (not turned off but lowered), that we have the fans on during class, and that doors be propped open now and then. I guess the heat was lowered. I couldn’t tell. My mat was drenched.

Anybody want to guess how long class was? We started right on time at 10:00. At 10:45 we were headed into the second set of half-moon. Yes, you heard me. Class was over at 1:40. That’s 3 hours and 40 minutes folks.

He did give demonstrations during and after class. During class he would have students do demonstrations and talk about form and what they (or anyone of us) might want to pay attention to. He also demonstrated postures from the beginning series and talked through them. I got to demonstrate two postures. The first was Standing-Separate-Leg Stretching Pose. I got the honor of demonstrating this posture because I asked a question about it.

In my version of the pose, I start out by grabbing my heels like we’re told. But, to get my head to the floor I have to wiggle my legs apart. When I start moving my legs farther and father apart my hands start to slide towards my toes. My question: Should I not worry about getting my head to the floor so my hands can stay on my heels?

The answer: According to Joseph I am perfectly capable of keeping my hands on my heels and getting my head to the floor. It’s a matter of using my arm strength more and doing a better job of engaging my quads. I understand what he said. I don’t think I can explain it well here.

After learning how to do all this, Joseph asked me to demonstrate. Since I LOVE this posture (for real!), I had no problem. I asked the question anyways because I seriously love the pose and want it to be better. I did not, for example, ask questions during triangle. So I did it in front of him and everyone, he helped me by walking me through what he had just explained to me, and it worked! Then we all did the posture again, his advice worked again, and he gave me even more corrections. I got to do three sets of one of my favorite postures!

Later, I got to do four sets of camel when I was asked to demonstrate it (boo! Four sets of camel!). The camel demonstration is a different story. It gets it’s own post. There’s a picture that goes with it that I am waiting to get.

After class, we had about a half hour break (during which Joseph took a short break and then worked with some people individually – the guy is amazing). Then we headed back to hear Joseph’s story of how he came to yoga, and he did a demonstration followed by a Q&A. I won’t go into his story. It’s really something you should hear for yourself. I will however, leave you with a picture from his demonstration:

So, how do I plan to spend my Sunday? More Joseph! Today he is teaching the 9:00 class (standard 90 minute class), then competitors get to do a Fight Club with him. I was already exhausted last night. Today may kill me, but I’ll die happy.