Category Archives: Students

Bandhas and Badasses: @TylerMahanCoe, the “Crown Prince of Country Music,” Talks Yoga

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Before we get started here, let me state right up front: I know the alignment is screwed up.  Ironic on a yoga blog, right?  I don’t know how this happened or how to fix it, but believe me, I tried and … yeah, I ranted about that on Twitter, too. Moving on.
I have had quite the week.  I randomly ended up on the river last Sunday dancing to some bluegrass.  A few days later, I got all up on my soapbox about Savasana, then I tricked my family into eating vegan fare, and it all came to a head when I started shooting the shit with Tyler Coe on Twitter.   I have spent more time in the last 10 days laughing and shaking my head than I have in the last 10 weeks combined.  When randomness rains, it pours.
When Tyler Coe brought up the idea of an interview, I was a bit perplexed.  I didn’t know much about Tyler at all and, even after Googling him, he was still very much an enigma.  Mostly he’s known for being David Allan Coe’s son and playing guitar with him, but I didn’t this interview to be about DAC or music because, well, that’s not what he wanted to talk about and it’s not exactly what this blog is about, either.  Finally, when you mention DAC to anyone, you’re likely to get one of three reactions: 1. Never heard of him, 2. That racist asshole?, or 3: I LOVE DAC.  It’s the 2nd answer that convinced me to do the interview.  Since this interview is not about DAC, I won’t go into it all, but suffice it to say that he has been misunderstood or at least misrepresented (even if he did some of the representing himself -we’re human and we make mistakes, you know?)  Anyway, part of what I try to show on this blog is that Yoga is for everyone and it is often misunderstood, as are the people who practice yoga.  To that end, this seemed like a great opportunity to again address that issue.
Over the course of several days, I interviewed Tyler via email.  I had hoped that he would be as colorful and unpredictable as his father and he didn’t disappoint.  I nearly didn’t do this interview, but I am so glad I did!  It was entertaining, educational, and enlightening, to say the least.
I’m sure many of you know who David Allan Coe is, but I promise that even if you don’t know DAC, you know his words.  DAC is one of the most impressive and evocative songwriters in history.  He was one of the original outlaws, spent 20 years in prison, lived in a cave, and still lives at the height of controversy (Google him.)  DAC is still touring, singing songs like The Ride  (embedding is disabled for that song, but watch it.  He’s wearing red Converse which, as you know, I have a soft spot for,) You Never Even Called Me by My Name (again, no embedding,) Tennessee Whiskey, and Longhaired Redneck, amongst many, many others.
Tyler Coe, b. 1984, is Coe’s oldest son.  Tyler started going on the road when he was 2 years old and first sang with his father on stage when he was 4 (see below.)  Tyler grew into a musician of his own right.  He taught himself to play guitar after a few official lessons left him cold.  Tyler has been touring with his father as a lead guitarist for several years now.  If you search YouTube, you’ll find a few videos, but even Tyler admits that the quality isn’t that great on any of them.  That said, they are worth checking out because, off to the side, you’ll see a tall, thin, red-headed long haired guy (the tresses were recently shorn, I assume) doing some magical things with a guitar.  You can find him on Twitter and roaming around Springfield, MO, thinking unique thoughts and stirring the pot.  No wonder I liked him immediately.  What follows is our conversation, and his responses are word for word directly from his mouth (um, keyboard – twas email, remember?)   Any emphasis in his answers (represented in bold) is mine.  And again, yes, I know the alignment makes all us yogis want to poke our eyes out.  If it bothers you that badly, just call me and I’ll read it to you.
I’m totally lying.  I won’t do that.
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Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.  I was a little surprised at first: people don’t usually approach me to interview them, usually it’s the other way around, BUT I think this is excellent.  I’m passionate about showing the public that Yogis come in all shapes, sizes, persuasions, political parties, religions (or completely absent of religion,) etc.  I think many people are put off by the idea of yoga because they believe that they have to be all dressed in white and chaste and sober and “pure” and chant and the whole nine esoteric yards.  I personally think that there’s room in the yoga community for *everyone,* so the inclusion of your story will help make my point.
TC: Hold up… You don’t have to dress in white and not fuck people to do Yoga?! I don’t even…
Okay, it is a couple hours later. I have calmed myself.
You’ve described yourself as “The Prince of Country Music.”  Growing up the son of David Allan Coe and touring with him as a guitarist in your father’s band doesn’t sound like the typical path that would lead someone to yoga.  How  and when did yoga become a part of your life?
TC:  Crown prince of country music, actually. But that is a distinction to be discussed another time. Yoga. I remember doing “yoga” as a kid, honestly. I obviously didn’t “know” what I was doing back then but I think that’s a major selling point of yoga, that it is a natural tendency that the body has. But it seems to me that a lot of people, at least in America, have a bad habit of disregarding signals from their body. (Like, I don’t know about you but if I eat a #3 from Arby’s my body only takes about 15 minutes to be like, “Dude… Look at what you’re doing to us right now…” And that fucking place is still in business.) As far as a conscious and deliberate “practice” it was not until my early 20s that I began to try to work it into my daily life. Credit most likely should go to Aleister Crowley for that. There have been periods since then when I have neglected to do any yoga at all and that was both reflected in and a reflection of the state of my general well being. (Not good.) 
I love what you say about honoring what your body is saying and how it is our natural tendency to move intuitively.  Do you practice a particular style of yoga? (Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Bikram, etc.)  If so, what do you like about that particular style?  Anything you don’t like?

TC:  Particular style of yoga. I’m gonna go with Hatha but let me go recheck what all those words you just said mean on Wikipedia.  

 
Later: Okay, some of that shit is ridiculous. I’ve never taken a yoga class or anything like that. I’ve read a lot of books on the subject. (Some of them were ridiculous.) My two favorites are one called Awakening Ecstatic Kundalini by “Yogani” and one called Acu-Yoga by I don’t remember who. I’ve pulled a few pranayama exercises from other sources but could not tell you from where. Here’s what I do: a very light loosening up with a few asanas, three breathing exercises (Sheetli, Bhastrika and Nari Sodhan) and so-called “meditation” to just feel the effects of everything and let it all flow. This is first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. If I have enough time and energy I will then go ahead and do whatever exercise I have planned for the day. I do the same set of asanas, pranayama and sitting at night, followed by one of the four routines in the Acu-Yoga book, followed by my last meal of the day. Is this boring to read? It seems like it is.
Not boring.  At least not to me! Do you practice while on the road?  If so, what is the reaction of others in the band?  Do they practice with you?
TC: I practice on tour if I am able. If it’s a toss-up between yoga and getting enough sleep, I sleep. If I don’t have a private area, it ain’t happening. The guys in the crew know I do something with the blue mat I carry in to the hotel but I don’t think they know exactly what. It probably keeps them awake at night trying to figure it out. (Probably not.) Nobody practices yoga with me. It’s a very private thing for me. Without getting too weird here, for me “actual” yoga is about getting in touch with my god-parts (I just made that up.) and having another person around can screw with that in a lot of ways.
I make things up often, too.  Creative license, right?  How would you say yoga has – or has not – shaped your life?
TC:  Um, Octagonally. 
 You live in southern Missouri, yes?  We’re neighbors! How is the yoga scene where you live?  Any favorite studios?
TC: The yoga scene in Springfield, MO is not something I’m very familiar with. I do know that a lot of girls are into Hot Yoga here. I’ve never done that so I can’t really comment on it other than to mock it like any other thing I don’t understand. Like, I have an image of chicks just sweating all over the place and there being a few dudes there who are either really into body odor or really oblivious of their own body odor. I’m probably very wrong about this.
I taught hot yoga for quite a long time.  Not Bikram, mind you, but hot yoga.  I loved it, but you’re right in one aspect: you never forget that smell.
What’s your favorite Asana?  Least favorite?
TC:  My favorite asana is not an asana but a bandha I do in the middle of an asana routine. Uddiyana bandha. I would try to describe it but I don’t think I could do it justice. (A thousand orgasms?) Anyone who has never done it, check that shit out. Try to not pass out. I would have to say that my least favorite asana is paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) just because I am really tight in the hips and it is so uncomfortable for me. It’s like having to sit and write thank you cards for the socks your aunt gave you for Christmas. “Fuck this. I don’t care. Fuck this. I don’t care.”
Ah yes, the “fuck this” mantra. I usually repeat it over and over and over again in full Navasana. Kapalabhati Pranayama, Nadhi Shodhana and Shiva Prananyama are my fav for practice, but Sittali (same as Sheetli, some folks use the H, others don’t) and Sitkari are fun to do because they freak people out.
 I used to get a shocked reaction from people when they found out that I am a devout, committed yogi and yoga teacher (sometimes I still do,) because I don’t necessarily fit “the mold.”  I would assume that has happened to you, as well, because of your heritage and your job.  If it has, how do you handle it?  What do you say to them?
TC:  I have actually been asked if I do yoga by strangers after concerts (I don’t know why. It seemed weird at the time too.) and just flat out denied it because I didn’t want to talk about it to them, for various reasons, depending on the person. I’m not gonna try to explain to the dude in camo overalls drinking Hamm’s that he is god just like me. I don’t know. This question would probably be better asked of someone who isn’t me and thinks about me way too much.
I throw in random stuff on my blog all the time because there’s more to a yogi than their yoga.  To tie it into the other sort of stuff I have posted, I have a few more questions.
People ask me this question all the time and I tell them it’s like picking my favorite strand of hair, but give it a whirl and take a stab in the dark. What’s your favorite song?  
TC: I definitely do not have a favorite song. I’ve been listening to Pyramids’ self-titled album quite a bit. Also, Angels of Light’s We Are Him has been on my turntable a lot lately, in anticipation of Swans’ The Seer, which did arrive to my house the other day but I have not had an opportunity to listen to the whole thing. It’s long. 3xLP.
What’s your favorite food?
TC: Also, no favorite food. I’m not really a “favorite thing” kind of guy. I can tell you with no equivocation that the best meal I’ve eaten so far in my life was earlier this year at Kabuto, an edo-style sushiya in Las Vegas. I somehow managed to get a reservation for myself on short notice. You can order either a nigiri course or an omakase course. I had the omakase course and it was mind-blowing, life-altering. I did not know that food could have that effect on a person. I thought I had eaten good food before. Since that day Kabuto has been a recurring theme in 90% of my dreams at night. I can’t wait to go back.
There are a few YouTube videos of you and your dad.  Do you have a favorite?
TC: No favorite YouTube video. I’ve seen several and we are way too loud at our live shows for a camera phone to capture the sound accurately. The pro-shots from TNN when I was a little kid are funny. Everyone likes the “Daddy What If” one the best, I’m sure. I don’t watch it much because when my father starts crying it makes me cry. Not that this is a bad thing but I’ve usually got shit to do besides sitting around crying in front of my computer. Usually.
Close your eyes, Tyler.
I did a little research and found you have a few solo albums out there.  What can you say about them?  Any more in the works?
TC: I made one album. I can say that it was highly conceptual, wildly overambitious and I had no experience at all with the technical side of recording sound. With that being said, I don’t think there is anything else like it in the world and enough people whose musical opinions I respect have said things that let me know I’m not deluding myself in to thinking it’s better than it is. I’ve probably criticized it more than anyone else has, as a matter of fact. I’ve been “working” on a second album for quite some time, pretty much the entire time since the completion of the first, but I don’t think anything has been recorded that will actually be on the album yet. It might end up being a novella before it is an album, too. I’m not really sure. It solidifies more every day but it still has some growing to do before it takes material form. It probably won’t sound anything like the first album.
And because it’s always fun to stir the pot, what do you think about nude yoga?
TC: When I do yoga in loose clothing I trip myself up and it defeats the purpose. I can only imagine that doing yoga in the nude would be worse. The shorts I wear for yoga and exercise are ridiculously short and tight. I order them from China. You don’t wear underwear with them. They have a little jock strap pouch on the inside. That is what is comfortable to me, the support. I wear all of my clothing pretty tight. It just feels right.
 Anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your passions, your practice, your belief systems, or anything in general?  The floor is yours.

TC: I would like to share that everything is going to be FINE.

Yes, it is, Tyler.  Finer than a frog-hair split four ways.  Thanks for your time and, if you ever make it to Columbia, first drink and first class is on me.
 
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Rebels, Yoga, and Twitter: Unlikely Mat Fellows

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I was futzing around on Twitter the other night, stirring the pot and being ornery because, well, because that’s what I do on Twitter at night, and I happened to see a tweet from Tyler Coe that made me laugh.  So, of course, I had to respond to it because, well, like I said, stirring the pot and being ornery is what I do.

Now, before you go getting all up in arms about me posting a screenshot of this conversation, let me state right here that neither Tyler nor I protect our tweets.  That means that anyone and everyone can read everything we say.  It’s a matter of public record, I guess.  Okay, now that that’s clear, moving on.

There are several things I find interesting about this little exchange:

  1. Did he just offer to interview me?  Or did he offer for me to interview him? (hint: I’m an idiot.)
  2. Yoga twice a day is pretty impressive – YAY!
  3. “If the “environment allows.”  What exactly does that mean?
  4. The fact that I’m discussing yoga with Tyler Coe.

That last one might throw you and I can see why.  I mean, I discuss yoga with everyone. EVERYONE.  Well, this time, I just happened to be discussing yoga with Tyler Coe, son of one of the original outlaw/ controversial / ass-kicking and name-taking / middle-finger-in-the-air country-rock legends of all time, David Allan Coe.  Tyler Coe also happens to be a rather impressive badass himself, having toured with his father his whole life.  He’s playing guitar in the David Allan Coe Band for the last 10 years.  To take that even further: Tyler Coe, who tours with his father, David Allan Coe, is a YOGI.  I won’t take the time to fully explain why this blows my mind, but let’s just say that DAC (and, by extension, his band) is not exactly who pops to mind when one thinks of yoga, one love, and Wanderlust. (If you want to know, Google “David Allan Coe” and you’ll be swimming in controversy by the time you can say “Redneck.”)  Come to think of it, though, neither is a thrice tattooed, whiskey loving, motorcycle riding, cowboy boot wearing, foul mouthed girl with a love of long haired dirty boys.  Touche’ .

So, of course I had to reply.

Clearly I was not yet awake enough to have my wits about me when I read his first reply to me the next morning.  Of course I’ll be interviewing him.  Why would he interview me? *face palm*  In all fairness to myself, I do have chronic insomnia and I hadn’t slept much last night and, well, let’s face it – I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.  Yeah …….

In any event, he didn’t hold my stupidness against me because, after a few direct messages on Twitter, we set up an interview.  Look for it to appear here in the next few days.

I find all of this incredibly exciting!  Reminds me a bit of when Michael Franti and I exchanged Twitter love notes.  It’s like I have a new patch on my Super Hero cape – and it’s covered in electric guitars, rhinestones, and beard beads. I cannot wait to find out how he came to yoga, what type he practices, and how it has helped (or hindered) his life on the road!

Yogis come in all shapes and sizes, folks. Judge not.  Keep your eyes and ears open; you just never know who is going to share a practice with you!

If you’re reading this, Tyler, thanks.  You’ll hear from me soon. 

SavasaDos, SavasaDon’ts, and Other Rules of the Mat

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Yesterday, I posted this picture on my Facebook page.  I have seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again.  I thought twice about posting it because, well, because it’s incendiary and rather abrupt.  Hmmm.  Sounds kind of like me, eh?  Yeah yeah yeah.  Anyway, I did end up posting it and there was a brief discussion that followed and it really got me to thinking about a lot of things that go on in a yoga class as I see it as both a student and a teacher.  I started listing a few things in my mind, a code of conduct, if you will, about what should and should not happen in a yoga class.  Again, I refer to the Disclaimer page – my views are my own and not necessarily those of anyone else.  I’m totally okay with other teachers or students (aren’t we both?) feeling differently.  That said, this is my blog and here are a few of  the rules as I see them.

  • DO NOT LEAVE DURING SAVASANA – see notes.   First of all, let me say that the idea of walking out during Savasana makes my brain bleed.  It’s just not something I would ever think of doing.  I mean, I’d do that just as readily as I would jump up and shout “BOB WILLS IS STILL THE KING” during a funeral or something.  It’s just not something to be done! It’s disrespectful, it’s rude, and it totally throws people for a loop.  Folks are just starting to get into their space, the teacher is totally trying to set a mood and hold the space, and when someone walks by your head or slams the door, or disturbs the peace, it… well, it disturbs the peace.  Most importantly, however, Savasana is the most important part of the practice!  It’s when the mind reaps the benefits of the body’s work.  It is when the yoga becomes not just something you do, but who you are!  Leaving in the middle of it hurts everyone.  That said…  NOTES:  I get it.  Sometimes you HAVE to leave.  You might have a job to get to, a child who needs picked up, a doctor’s appointment … whatever.  I’m not unrealistic – life happens.  And honestly, I’d rather have you in class for 90% of it than none of it – your energy matters!!  If you have to leave, it is a good idea to tell your teacher before class that you will be leaving.  It helps if you know what time you will be leaving because she or he can then let you know when you need to go so you won’t be rushed.  And here’s the thing – the teacher will tell you before Savasana because, if you have to leave, please leave before anyone closes their eyes.  If you have time for a 3 minute Savasana but not a full 7 minute Savasana, perhaps consider going to the lounge or at least closer to the door for you Savasana so you don’t have to walk over / around others who are trying to bliss out.  If you are using studio props, just leave them on the floor.  The teacher will gladly pick them up for you after class.  Please leave silently.  Hold the door until it is fully closed so that it doesn’t bang upon your exit.  Please keep your phone silent until you’ve reached the parking lot.  Please respect what is still going on.  Again, I know life happens and I’d rather students be there for part of it rather than none of it, but it is possible to leave nicely.  I have a student who, because of her job, has left nearly every single class for the last 18 months early.  She has never once disrupted class.  She is silent, respectful, and always manages to catch my eye, bow, and mouth “Namaste” to me as she leaves.  GOLD STANDARD right there.  To that end ….
  • BEGIN AND END ON TIME.  I have been guilty of this.  OH yes, I have been guilty.  Sometimes the energy is just too, too good to wrap up.  Sometimes a discussion gets started and time slips by.  Sometimes … well, sometimes doesn’t matter. Going over is just as rude and disrespectful (to the students and to the teacher who is teaching next) as leaving before the finale.  There have been times when I could tell that I was going to go over.  When I have been aware of it heading that direction, I have sometimes said, “It looks like we are running a little long.  If you need to be out of here by our stated ending time, I will alert you to that 10 minutes prior.  If you can stay, please stay.”  It goes a long way to easing that cramped, rushed feeling.  Still, though, it ain’t cool, man.  To all of my students, let this be my public apology:  I am sorry I have taken advantage of your time.  I am sorry I wasn’t respectful of your schedule and your lives away from the mat.  I will make every effort to not let that happen again.  Thank you for staying with me thus far.  (For the record, I made a vow Sunday night to end on time.  Yesterday, both my classes ended within 90 seconds of stated time.  BOOM!)
  • NO SHOES ON THE STUDIO FLOOR, PLEASE.  Again, I have been guilty of this.  And I do know that, on occasion, a studio might be used for something other than yoga and it’s possible that those instances might require footwear.  If you are coming to take a yoga class, however, know that taking your shoes off before you walk on the floor is about more than not tracking dirt in.  We take our shoes off to be closer to the earth.  We take our shoes off as a symbol of all coming from the same place.  We take our shoes off as a sign of humbleness and simplicity.  And, not as symbolic but equally important, many people sit in meditation before practice.  Clomping across the floor sends freaky vibrations.
  • IT IS OKAY TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.  Yoga is about self love and self-care. This isn’t first grade.  You don’t have to ask permission to get up, to get a drink of water, to go to the bathroom.  Please be comfortable. Please don’t do the pee-pee dance during Utkatasana.  Please get a drink of water.  Please get up to get a tissue.  Please – it’s your studio, too.  Just try to not knock someone in Natarajasana over as you pass by.
  • BRING WATER.  Okay, again, there are some classes in which you wouldn’t bring water (this is unimaginable to me as leaving in Savasana, but whatever.)  Water is so vital!  Yoga detoxes you.  It releases pent up junk locked in organs and cells and joints and tissues.  It needs to be flushed out or else you just reabsorb all the goo! If you are taking a class in which you’re likely to get sweaty (Ashtanga, Ashtanga – Vinyasa, Power, Acro, and for Elvis’s sake, Bikram, etc.) you will be dehydrating as you go.  This is NO GOOD!  Please please please bring water.  Sip it often (except in Bikram, but as I’ve said before, I just don’t get that dude.)  Drink it up, please!  And not only while you’re in class.  Drink it all day!  You’re going to need to replenish and rehydrate.  Believe me, you might not notice right away, but it will catch up to you.  The last thing you want is to be feeling great and going out about town 3 hours after class and then fall to your knees because you didn’t drink you water.  Drink it up!
  • BE GENTLE  with yourselves, with your teacher, with others.  Everyone has an “off” day now and then.  Don’t get stymied by it. Remember, we’re all just walking each other home.  We’re all going to trip now and then.  Be kind.  Be loving.  Be gracious.  Be generous.  Be gentle.  And most of all …

#365yoga Day 311: Something’s Got a Hold on Me

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Well, dang it, this is the 2nd time I have tried to write this post. WordPress ate the first version.  I shall try again!

I know it has been a long time since I have written here.  It blows my mind how fast time passes.  The fact that it is already the 311th day of the year boggles my mind.  Where does it go? What have you been doing?  I know what I have been doing – YOGA!  Lots of yoga – and learning new stuff all the time.

I love Yoga Sol for many reasons.  I feel deeply connected to the space and the business and the people who call it their practice home.  It is beautiful.  It is unique.  It is accepting and open and fun.  We have more than 20 classes a week and, while we are predominately a flow studio, we are by no means only a flow studio!  We have Atma Jayam, Dance Flow, and Iyengar.  Our teachers have multiple styles and teaching backgrounds, but they all have a passion for teaching and they all bring something wonderful and unique to the studio.

Our Iyengar teacher, Netta Sella (Google her – you’ll be blown away by her awesomness,) has taken Yoga Sol by storm.  Netta brings discipline, alignment, history, anatomy, and props to our students.  Lots of props.  Many props.  And we love her for it.  As the Iyengar practice grew at Yoga Sol, more props started showing up.  Pretty soon, Netta’s following spread far and wide and her classes filled beyond expectation.  It became clear that we had the opportunity to add one more thing to Yoga Sol that would make us stand out amongst other yoga studios in town: a Yoga Kurunta wall of ropes.

Yesterday, most of the teachers of Yoga Sol and a couple of students gathered together to learn how to use this amazing wall safely, how to teach it safely and mindfully, and how to use it to help people reach their best alignment, modifications, and extension.  Netta led us through 2 hours of training and laughing and correction.  I have been practicing yoga for half of my life and I must say, the 2 hours of using those ropes yesterday opened my eyes like it was the first time I ever rolled out a mat.  The length of my body, the extension, the openness of my heart and shoulder girdle, the decompression of my spine…!  Incredible.  Just marvelous!

I have taught the wall a bit here and there last week and again today.  I will be using more often as it has the potential to transform a practice like nothing I have ever seen before.  I am thrilled to say that it’s a part of Yoga Sol and am so grateful to this path I am walking that has brought me to this place.  It has definitely got a hold on me – and I feel so good!

The following pictures are from yesterday’s training.  Most were taken by Netta, one or two were taken by Beatriz Wallace.  Many thanks to you both for allowing me to post them here.

#365yoga Day 102: Private Eyes

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Today I am preparing to teach a private outdoor yoga session with a long time student.  We’re meeting tomorrow and I’m very excited about it!  It will be the first time she has done yoga outside (my favorite place to practice,) and I don’t believe she’s ever had a private yoga session before, either.  I’m giddy with the joy of being able to bring these experiences to her.

There is something amazing about practicing outside.  You are in fresh air, feeling the sun on your skin, hearing birds, and feeling the earth beneath you (often when I practice outside, I skip the mat entirely.) It’s magical and the feeling of being one with the universe is undeniable.  You can feel the energy from the earth come up through your hands and you can feel your own energy swirling around you like a spring breeze. I get all goosebumpy just thinking about it!

Teaching private yoga sessions also thrills me.  When I teach group classes, I do my best to get around to each student and lay my hands on them at least once to either adjust, assist, or affirm what they are doing. There is power in the human touch and I find it to be an incredible component of a good class and a good teacher, but let’s face it – there are days when I can just not get to everyone as often or as in as much detail as I feel might be beneficial.  This is where the private session comes in.  When I do a private session, I am almost all hands on.  I might demonstrate something, but usually it’s my student on the mat (or on the ground,) and me actually teaching and explaining each move step by step and where the hands or feet or breath should be for that particular student to make the most of the asana and practice.  I can focus my energy and my vision entirely on that particular student and, I believe, can make significant and lasting changes in that student’s practice. We might spend 10 solid minutes working on the proper alignment in Trikonasana, for example,  so that the next time we meet, he or she will know exactly where to go and how to get there that particular day.   In subsequent private sessions, we can move on to different things because we’ve already covered the basics.  Of course, a student might approach me to do a private session based entirely on arm balances or releasing the tension in the lower back or whatever, but if that is not specified, you can bet I’m going to work on alignment. Regardless of what we are covering, however, my eyes are focused solely on my student. They get my undivided attention, it’s all about them.  What a great gift to receive, an even greater gift to give!

When you combine a private lesson in a public outdoor place, however, something even more incredible happens: the student really feels what it’s like to focus internally, to experience that moment when all that matters is what’s going on on her mat.  I love teaching in a park.  At first students get a little nervous about people walking around and watching.  I admit, it can be a little intimidating, but it’s also wildly liberating! It doesn’t take long for the student to forget that people are around, to forget that they aren’t alone in their backyard, to forget that there is anything going on in the world other than their practice and that, my friends, is what yoga is all about! Just as arm balances and inversions almost always bolster confidence in a student, practicing in public also gives a boost! If you can practice Kapotasana in the public, you can wear that skirt or ask for a raise or say YES to whatever you’ve been on the fence about! I have never watched a student walk away from a private outdoor yoga session feeling anything less than accomplished, empowered, invigorated, and inspired.

Is there any wonder why I love my job?

Have you done yoga outside?  Have you taken a private class? If so, what do you love about it?  If not, why not? What is stopping you?  Get out there, get your hands and feet in the grass, and let your eyes, all three of them, shine!

 

Okay.  I tried.  I really really tried to publish this post without including this video, but I just couldn’t.  So I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

 

#365yoga Day 82: Back in the Saddle Again

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Heh. I was a whole year old when that video was recorded.  moving on…

I have a confession to make.  I realized yesterday that I didn’t remember the last time I actually took a class.  Seriously, I sat on my deck and thought about it and wondered when it was.  I still don’t know when it was, but it was too long ago.  If it’s been more than a week, it’s too long and it’s been WAY more than a week.  I mean, yeah, I do a home practice and I teach several times a week, but you know as well as I do that it’s not the same.

I sat out on my deck with my husband and vented again about how I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed and spun out and strung out and needing to bust out and at a loss for words.  That patient man hears me say this frequently.  He doesn’t give me answers, but instead waits for me to figure it out.  Not that it’s that difficult – the answer is ALWAYS the same: Go take a yoga class.

This morning I got up, got dressed, made my morning juice, and hit the road to Yoga Sol to attend Polly’s class.  I laid my mat in the middle of the room so I wouldn’t be tempted to leave it and adjust the other students.  I rolled it out, sat down, and began with a beginner’s mind, a student heart, and a full breath.  For an hour, I bent and stretched and reached and breathed and flew.  I brought the yoga to me and I brought myself to the yoga and it was a magical hour of union.  I actually managed to take a Savasana – oh yeah, baby.

I left energized, centered, feeling calm and confident and able to attend to the tasks laid out before me.  I felt alive and happy and eager. I felt the practice enter me deeply and shine out amongst the road ahead.  I slipped so easily, so gratefully, back into the role of student.  It’s just like riding a horse – and I’ll bet I’ll even be a little saddle sore tomorrow as a result. 😉

 

#365yoga Days 48 & 49: Sweet Inspiration, Sweet Rewards

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Just so you know, that’s Grammy Award Winner Derek Trucks up there.  He was at the Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ festival last year.  Yep, it’s kind of a big deal.  C’mon down this year Sept 9-10 for a little blues boogie of your own!

 

I wrote about taking Polly’s class a couple of days ago.  That same afternoon, I taught my All Level (that usually ends up being more like level 2) class.  People were sweating and moving and grooving and working hard.  The best part, however, is that these folks were using Ujjayi breath without even realizing it.  I talk about it every single class.  I lead folks through it at the beginning of every single class.  I walk around in every single class demonstrating it.  EVERY SINGLE CLASS and yet, folks are resistant to using it.  I don’t know why, but they are (the folks who don’t use it are missing out — yep, I’m probably talking to YOU!)  Anyway, it was such a thrill to hear my students start breathing “correctly” and I was instantly transported back to the hours and hours spent in the practice room at White Lotus where the only sound we heard was the sound of Tracey or Ganga’s voice and the sound of 30 sweaty yogi(ini)s breathing the Prana in unison.

It is such a glorious, inspiring sound!

That sound carried me through to my Gentle Yoga class yesterday.  I felt so inspired that I actually took a leap of faith and allowed my 10yo son to practice with us as I taught.  Now, remember, my 1oyo has been doing yoga for 3 or 4 years, but he takes YogaKids yoga (a great program that I love love love, but it’s quite different from the AshGanga method.)  I was wondering if he’d be able to hold through, to be respectful and do the entire practice without disrupting anyone.  I will admit, I had my doubts and actually rescinded my decision to allow him to join the class for a few minutes — and then I saw the hurt in his eyes.  He said, “But Mom, I REALLY wanted to practice with you, to take YOUR class, to be on the mat with you!”  How do you say no to that?  So I cleared it with my students and, having gotten their permission, rolled out a mat for my son.

The most amazing thing happened: my son became just another of my students!  I never thought it would happen.  I always feared I would be distracted, he would be distracting, I would not be able to spread my attention equally, etc.  I was wrong, oh so very wrong.  Before I knew it , I was walking around giving adjustments and suggestions to my students and I suddenly realized I was adjusting my son!  MY SON!  Not just a very short student!

It was the sweetest, most amazing, most awe inspiring, proudest moment I have had as a mother, AND as a teacher, in as long as I can remember.  I was so very close to not letting it happen.  I was so very close to trying to control the situation so much that I missed the greatest gift I could have ever been given.  I’m so grateful that yoga has taught me to let go, to let things unfold and bloom like the thousand-petaled lotus.  I’m so grateful, so grateful, grateful.

It’s been beautiful outside.  I came back from Memphis and Spring had arrived.  Crocus are sprouting up in the yard and we’ve been outside almost every minute we are able.  My kids thrilled me by spontaneously busting out some “Outsideasana!”  I couldn’t help but join them, of course.  

The rewards of this practice are so, so sweet!  They come at unexpected times in unexpected places.  They come in big packages and small packages, old and new packages, and sneak up on you when you least expect them.  Let them happen. Be open to them. Bloom like the Lotus.  I promise, you’ve never tasted anything so sweet!