Monday, July 22, 2013

Attending a 500 hour training -Day 1

posted May 27, 2013, 10:37 PM by Corey Jean Jones
"I have never been so prepared for anything in my life". That is what I told my mom this morning. This afternoon the Universe through me for a loop when I got a call telling me I was missing the first day of training. WHAT?! Yea, the only place I ever saw the date listed was apparently wrong. So deep yoga breathing and a little bit of speeding and I arrived. The practice was great and then a raw vegan dinner. Eating vegan is new to me and I'm looking forward to the new experience. One girl said her diet is too rigid to eat the meals with us so she just ate tangerines. As personalities emerge I start to feel like I'm on an episode of "Survivor". People's needs and habits and attachments are so strong initially. Especially for a group that practices non-attachment according to the "Yoga Sutras". I realized I had expected a group of crunchy hippies who had dreads and a stronger attachment to Earth consciousness than to coffee. I was wrong. I, of all people, know that yoga teachers are just people. We try to better our selves physically, spiritually, and mentally but we are no where near perfect. I am learning to recognize without judgement that people are on their own path and doing the best they can. 

Five values that reflect my teaching style and goals

1) Do no harm. Be kind to yourself. I will usually offer alternatives to a pose. Please take them and listen to your body foremost. Also, do no harm mentally. Be aware of negative self talk. This is a safe environment so just do the best you can. 
2) Path of self discovery. Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. Give yourself time and patience and the practice will open up and reveal a path of self discovery.
3)  Do not talk about Yoga Boot Camp!  Just kidding ;)
3) Have fun! This isn't a serious holding hands with your inner child class at all times. We play crazy music and joke and build a community of yogis.
4) Discover your edge. Learn to work at your edge in strength training, stretches and yoga postures. Work hard without over straining. Yoga poses should be comfortable once you learn to find the "sweet spot".
5) Take the yoga with you. Take the peaceful calm feeling you get on the mat and apply it to your life off the mat. 

Can we say fat?

A child asked her obese teacher how she fit through a door. The child was reprimanded for offending the teacher. Unfortunately, she was not able to understand that she was in trouble because it hurt the teacher's feelings. This is a true story that happened recently. The young child wasn't speaking out of judgement or malice but her curious mind was trying to work out the logistics of being very large. Honestly, there are logistics to obese bodies and accommodating them in restaurants, airplanes, and other public spaces. The child was being honest. Shouldn't we? 

Venus of WillendorfMy fiance recently found a book written in the 1970s. It has some radical (and possibly unhealthy) views about obesity. The basic point of view of that author was that obesity is repulsive. That is a wildly inappropriate and not politically correct idea for the current day. However, I do like the idea of being honest about obesity. It is unhealthy to be overweight. And as many of us see the numbers on the scale creep up are we being honest with ourselves about it? How do people end up weighing 400 lbs? They gain it one pound at a time!! When do you stop and say enough is enough? Major weight loss stories always have an "ah ha moment". That moment when the person realized it was time to make some serious changes and lose some weight. So I would like to take a good look in the mirror at myself and honestly say that I need to make some changes. Yes, I eat a healthy diet and I could argue all day about weight charts and what a healthy weight really is. But after all that, it is just time for me personally, to face up to some bad habits and do more for my optimal health. I think we might be a healthier society if we all took personal responsibility for our health and weight. It is not a judgement it is about the logistics of the human body and what is needed for optimal health.  

How yoga can change your life

How yoga can change your life:

  • You will find out that you are strong!
  • The breath is your best tool on and off the mat. Learn to access it and use it.
  • Calming the mind. Discover how to identify and let go of the "monkey mind". Those thoughts and feelings that you are carrying around with you that do not serve you.
  • Taking time to take care of and nurture yourself allows you to nurture others more effectively.
  • Giving yourself the gift of the present moment and being completely present by releasing distractions allows for improved life perspective and eventually consciousness shift.

Class Review - John Friend's Artful Sequencing

originally posted July 30, 2011 by Corey Jean Jones
Blogger for Wanderlust Festival 2011

As a yoga teacher, I try to observe my students' bodies for cues on where to lead the class and what they are ready for. John Friend's class for teachers hit on this and explained it further. He points out that there are physiological reasons for sequencing. There is a sequence and pattern to the flow of life around us. If we observe the flow and integrate it into our bodies we can ease into poses that we didn't think were possible. Personally, I am finding that to be true in my classes at Wanderlust. I am able to open deeper, take it slower and integrate more completely than I have before. At the same time, I am seeking out my personal edge. That point where I am truly striving toward poses that challenge me. Im working toward these poses step by step. This is my job as a teacher, to guide my students in the same way.
John tells us to start sequencing by picking a peak pose and break it down into its simplest parts. Also keep in mind, not to start the class out so slow that you get to the peak pose without time to properly cool down. Through the progression of the class don't let a student continue beyond the poses that their body is ready for. This way students are less likely to get hurt. Lets face it, yoga teachers can be a somewhat flaky bunch. Writing out a class sequence beforehand doesn't always happen. But this is the way to keep your students at their edge and moving forward. It also keeps the classes more interesting and students motivated.
John Friend's amazing storytelling and witty sense of humor make his classes fun. His years of yoga study have given him the personal experience and knowledge to really sequence artfully. For me, I have noticed my sequencing getting richer. Artful, hopefully, is right around the corner.


posted Aug 22, 2011, 9:28 PM by Corey Jean Jones   
Here is a little break from the we-are-all-beings-of-light crap you hear in yoga class. Not MY class mind you, but other yoga classes. ;) 

Lets take it back to when I was a little budding yogini and I signed up for my first Yoga Journal Conference. I walk in all wide eyed, half expecting people to be levitating and shit. I had signed up for classes with Rodney Yee because I had seen his videos. Walking into an enormous conference room, I see there are lines of tape on the floor. The lines are the exact size of a yoga mat. And let me tell you, these yoga bitches guard the hell out of their tape borders...shoving there $400 dollar yoga sweater to the very edges of their tape territory. Before the class begins people are doing their best "do you see me?" poses (yes, we ALL see you!). Then (cue the angels singing) Rodney walks in. He starts talking like. a. normal. person. Not the peaceful enlightened Rodney of Gaiam video fame. He tells us about where he grew up and his new wife is there. Then he starts teaching and if you have ever heard this man teach yoga, you know he uses the most abstract cues. Things like press your temple skin back toward your throat and draw your inner navel to the spiral of your left foot. HUH?! So, I have a look on my face that says, "I don't know what the fuck you are saying!!!". And Rodney Yee, THE Rodney Yee, yells at me: "try to grok what I am saying!". Now, I don't know what grok means...and Im really upset.

Needless to say, that experience changed a lot of my preconceived notions about yogis. Yogis, it turns out, are normal people who do yoga! Not necessarily more enlightened or better people or the ones who have it all figured out. Like someone told me recently, "you are just bendy with an attitude". Yes, yes I am. 

I do think nice things in my head about the universe and chakras and stuff. But in the day-to-day Im still me. I enjoy caustic humor and road rage. So you see, I don't pretend to be all guru on the mountain top...and I'm not the only one. 

Namaste bitches!

Enjoy the silence?

posted Jan 23, 2012, 3:01 PM by Corey Jean Jones
A silent film in the 21st century is winning awards. The Artist is, to me, the most sagacious commentary on modern society since Fight Club. In my yoga classes, I talk about stripping away the outside noise and the internal chatter. I encourage people to unplug. That being said, I could barely sit through this silent film. I was losing my damn mind! The plot creeps along at the pace of the original films of the silent era. Nothing explodes, no one has sex, and it is in black and flipping white! For my Facebooking while texting and watching t.v. generation this was painful. Sure, the intellectual part of my mind was thinking, "This is great! A moment of silence in this crazy world.".

However, was I enjoying the silence or enduring the silence? 
Um, the latter I think. I do not have all the modern bells and whistles that some possess...ipads, iphones, ipants? But, I am definitely still a part of the technology tornado of contemporary life. 

The Artist plays with the audience so that you are constantly waiting for a voice to emerge from the silently moving lips. I found myself begging for the words to become audible but they remained a few words of text on a black screen. And yet, in my daily life, I communicate with everyone in the form of text. No voices to be heard from the people I care about. Is everyone begging to be heard and no one is listening? Are we really communicating? Without the benefit of facial expressions, tonal inflection, or even the silent film's triumphant music, what are we really saying? The juxtaposition of a movie without talking in the loud, overly stimulating world we are used to...well, it blows my mind. 

So, this yoga teacher will spend a teensy bit less time online and more time enjoying the silence.

Man in the mirror

posted Nov 27, 2011, 10:14 PM by Corey Jean Jones
"Man in the mirror" is my favorite song of Michael Jackson's. 
"If you wanna make the world a better place. 
Take a look at yourself, and the make a change."

Sometimes I get glimpses of myself through the eyes of my friends and family. Through a comment or reaction I get a sense of their perception of me. We all seem surprised to realize that our friends see us. That they are listening to us and watching us. But not just them, acquaintances and even strangers are affected by our behaviors. As a yoga teacher, my students are surprised that I watch them closely and know what they are capable of individually. 

This seems to be even more effective when it comes to behaviors. My friends help shape who I am just by being who they are. They might introduce me to a new health food or false eyelash adhesive. They might be more into fashion and makeup than I am so I add some of their style to mine. It works both ways and I know that my friends and students get tid-bits from me as well. 

The point though is this, I see you. I am watching you and taking you in. I am hearing you AND changing things in my mind based on what you say. My thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are constantly changing and you are influencing them. 
You are my man in the mirror. 

I am not, however, asking you to change your ways. I am loving you for who and what you are. I might take some of the good and leave the bad...some days vice versa. I am constantly learning how to be a human on this planet with everyone else. I am constantly reassessing and absorbing. Learning how to let go and move on. And you are helping me to do that by reflecting back at me in this shimmering pool of humanity.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Personal practice

Why do I need a personal practice? Isnt that why I pay for yoga class??

These were questions I asked myself back in the days when going to yoga class was an option. One I didnt take all that regularly. At one point, it stopped being an option. It became just something I did. 

If you let yourself say that you dont feel like going to class, well then, you might not. But you might realize after a while that you always feel like it! So isnt attending an ass-kicking asana class three days a week enough yoga?! I dare say no.

I currently teach ten yoga classes a week and that is not enough. Even though I sound like it right now, Im not a crazy yoga fanatic. When I am teaching I am there to share the experience with other students. I watch them to see what needs to be strengthened or stretch more. I feed off of their energy and I show up because they want me there. We do it together. But that is not my practice and I dont hold poses as long as I'd like or try new poses out that I dont want everyone to see. It is their practice as I have given it to them. So if they practice at home they might discover new strengths and weaknesses. New ways to breath when someone isnt saying inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale.

My yoga class is my family, friends, and my exercise. But I have other family, friends, and ways that I exercise. My students should too. They should want to explore yoga on their own and walk through that door refreshed and with an understanding of what happens in their own bodies. 

This is what my personal practice focused on today. 
The lower abdominal and the pelvic floor. I put the iPod on shuffle and started with sun salutes. Emphasizing the lift in stepping/jumping to the top of the mat. Followed by one minute of boat pose. Then, warrior poses focusing on engaging the pelvic floor. Next, I worked on one of my goals: crow to tripod headstand. This led me to discover that I needed my arms to be a tiny bit wider. I came very close to lifting tripod into crow and twice I lowered crow into tripod (on a pillow). Yay! I am also working on Firefly pose. I moved onto stretches like frog and bow, shoulder openers, then forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana). At times my breathing was very strong and I timed my resting inhale to be 17 seconds long. That has about doubled from my yoga practice. 

These are the things I explored in myself today. What is inside you?