Later today I’m heading north for a 3‑hour yoga workshop called “Butts and Guts,” taught by a renowned yoga teacher, Theresa Elliott. A challenging way to spend a Sunday afternoon… Although not promoted as such, this will be a master class focused on building core power.
I expect it to be challenging on several levels:
- Other workshop attendees are yoga teachers (both stronger and more experienced than I);
- 3 hours of ab- and butt-strengthening poses — Yikes! my perennial weakness;
- It’s a particularly confusing period for me, as I’m relearning basic body mechanics, such as how to stand, walk, stretch, etc., through lessons with a Feldenkrais guru in Bellevue.
Back to the Beginner’s Mind
Yoga is nourishing when done mindfully, with careful attention to what the inner body is saying or feeling as you move from one pose to another, or refine your alignment during an asana. Mindfulness is a state that all yoga enthusiasts aspire to in their daily practice. It demands concentration and mental clarity.
Yoga practice has become more complicated, now that I’m working through the Feldenkrais lessons — relearning how to stand or extend my arm above my head. These days there are lots of messages competing for attention inside my brain when practicing yoga. Feldenkrais therapists and yoga teachers don’t use the same vocabulary (or even necessarily the same principles) when instructing students on how to move, balance or stretch — so it’s up to me to reconcile the differences in my head and body.
Having to process and harmonize competing instructions means getting to mental clarity is a future goal, not one I can easily achieve in the present moment. But once I’ve synthesized the Feldenkrais principles, I’ll enjoy a more powerful and stable practice, with less risk of injury to joints or muscles.
In a Beautiful Yoga Studio
Today’s workshop will take place in a beautifully designed and welcoming place, Yoga Circle Studio. The owner, Karen Guzak, has decorated her studio with Indian silk saris, creating a welcoming tent-like environment that surrounds the yoga practitioners with riotous colors and silken textures on walls and ceiling. The beauty around us helps to distract from the discomfort of burning abs or challenging yin poses…
I love the studio, but it’s an hour drive each way. Given the high cost of gas (or in my case, diesel fuel), I don’t get there as often as I’d like.
Wish me luck; it will be a long afternoon…