On Monday I did not go to my normal Altamonte Springs Yoga Warm and Slow class because it was Lee Clise’s birthday!  Happy Birthday Lee!  I went to Lee’s warm hatha flow yoga at 7:00 at Serenity Now Yoga.  I was having many problems figuring out what to get her for her birthday because she did one of the most amazing things ever for my birthday.  No one else in my family had even called me that day but when I came to class she had a Tweety bird balloon and noise makers and cake and everything to go with it.  It was super duper amazing and made me feel so loved on a day I was feeling left out, my own birthday even.

So when it came to getting her something I did not know what to get.  She is gluten intolerant, giving up sweets and alcohol for lent, does not like having the attention a lot, and in general seems to get uncomfortable when you give her something.  I had a mat bag I had made and she liked so I knew I could give her that.  I had bought her a stone necklace at a craft show the weekend after my birthday as a thank you gift to put on her mat bag I made her (a different one than the one I gave her for her birthday) but she had changed the design so many times that it no longer matched, so I had that.  But it really did not seem like enough for what she had done for me.  And then I realized, I could give her my first mala (prayer beads).  I got the mala at an aide for Africa yoga event.  For donation you could take 108 sun salutations.  I loved paying for something which seemed slightly like torture after 50 sun salutations.  They kept saying “sink deep into this chair (pose) and send the love to Africa.”  After 50 squats you might not think you have a lot of love left, but you kind of give into the burning and focus and the intention.  It was also my first 108 sun salutations and a birthday gift to myself.  You also got a mala for your donation. So I thought giving my mala to the most influential person in my yoga life would be a fitting gesture.  I was sure she must have at least one, if not several.

So, I waited around until the line of new people and gift givers had gone to set up in the studio and gave Lee the necklace and bag, which she loved.  The necklace looks so good on her.  Then I explained why I was giving her the mala, and what it meant to me to give her the mala.  At this point we are both nearly in tears and she tells me that she had just given her mala to her brother a few weeks before as he is just getting into yoga and meditation.  Lee had gone shopping the previous weekend for a new one, but just had not gotten one. It was serendipity, just the capricious connection of fate.

Mind you I then went to class and had a horrible time getting into it, especially since my last post was about being so into my practice.  I have been wearing heals more often and my ankles were having I hard time with all the lunge poses (entire standing sequence).  Lee is an awesome and supportive teacher.  She is also very knowledgeable about alignment and if she does not know you answer she will find someone who is.   I love her and wish her lots of light and love for her birthday!

Happy Hour Yoga!

Connecting to the Pose

So lately my yoga has been much more intense and focused for me.  But, my life is becoming much more intense and focused, so this makes sense.  I am evolving.  My drishti (where your vision is focused) is almost always fixed, whereas I used to have to remind myself all the time to stay focused (or I would not even try).  Also, when I am in the pose it is like I am in the pose with an intent to be there in that pose.  I feel my feet and or hands grounded, all muscles involved engaged, and my body is there in that moment.  When I am in extended side angle, I am there not just waiting for the next pose and counting the breaths until I get to move.

It has helped me not to push too far and not to pull out too soon and to not be half-assing a pose.  I really enjoy yoga a lot more lately.  It is like I am preparing my body for life.  Occasionally there are poses like planks held for a long time or forearm plank that I still get to the point” of oh my God can we stand up again” still, but not as many.  I feel as if I am connecting to poses better.  I know intuitively where my body wants to go into  a pose, how deep, and with what modifications.

New Favorite Pose

Extended side angle is one I am really starting to connect with.  This was always a pose I liked to get into and out of quickly.  I hated holding it.  Lately though it is as if I feel my extended arm that is stretching over my ear is strong and reaching out from my body and creating a beam of energy up and out.  My gaze, drishti, is strong and fixed up without my neck hurting or being overly engaged.  My legs are strong and deep into the lunge and I am aware of where the knee is and if it is over the little toe side of the foot.  My supporting arm is almost always elbow to knee lately instead of extended.  I really feel as if the stronger connection and grounding is something I need more now.  Before I would try always to open my arms and place the supporting arm on the ground.

The Teacher

This was the case at Happy Hour Yoga at Altamonte Springs Yoga on Friday, taught by Rob Hefele. I love Rob’s classes because I really do feel as if I can do any pose and it does not matter.  A lot of teachers say that but I do not feel that.  Or I hear, “its okay if you modify this but you should really try it this way, you might be surprised how it feels” after I modify in a way not offered by the teacher.  Rob states this at the beginning of the class and all poses so I do not feel as if he is saying it because he saw that I am not doing what he wants to see. In fact, I get the impression he does not want to see anything in particular at all.  He is an easy-going guy with a great flow an awesome voice to listen to, and as most female yogis in the area will tell you, a lot of very attractive tattoos.

I am always able to feel as if I am exactly where I should be in my pose and not pushed to go anywhere else in this class.  It is also packed with people and includes guys too, not all classes have this addition, and so it has a lot of energy.  He, like a lot of great teachers, takes requests if you need something in particular.

Happy Hour!

After class there is wine and great conversation if you choose to partake.  The class, teacher, and studio in general have a great community of people.  Some nights there are not very many participants and some nights there are many.  I cannot drink after yoga so I normally just have water or head home.  Wine after yoga sounds like a stomach ache and headache to me :).

The Studio

The Altamonte Springs Yoga studio is gorgeous and has two floors.  Happy Hour Yoga is in the bottom floor in the larger room.  It has plastic insulating the room so that it can get very hot during hot classes (this is not a hot class) and they have dehumidifiers, fans, floor heaters, and crazy heat lamps on the ceiling.  There are two mirrored walls and a great sound system.  The floor is wood and gets slippery when there is a hot class or after a hot class.  Especially MyLinda, the owner’s, hot classes.

Hopefully my yoga practice will keep improving like it has.  If I am done I am done and I just sit in Savasana or spinal twist or rock back and forth.  I skip poses I know will not serve me in the moment and ask for other poses that I can get similar benefits from.  I hope I can make it to a few more Happy Hour classes before I leave.