Tag Archives: yoga

2016 Yoga Class Schedule, Ten Sleep & Worland, WY

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

Relax and Rejuvenate Yoga Retreat: September 9-12 at Red Reflet Ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Sign up now!

Summer Outdoor Yoga Class: Wednesday Mornings, 8 to 9 a.m.

This Vinyasa Slow yoga class takes place at Red Reflet Ranch, located south of Ten Sleep via WY 434. Dress for outdoor practice overlooking beautiful red sandstone cliffs. However, if the weather is bad, we will practice inside. Bring your yoga mat!

Session 2: August 10, 17, 24, 31, September 7, 14 (6-week session)

Ten Sleep Yoga Classes: Monday Evenings

Session 4: August 8, 15, 22, 29, September 12, 19, 26, October 3
Session 5:
October 24, 31, November 7, 14, 21, 28, December 5, 12

NOTE: You must bring your own yoga mat to yoga classes in Ten Sleep; no mats will be provided. Classes take place in a classroom at the school via the northwest door. Find class descriptions below.

Vinyasa Slow: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Vinyasa Flow Combined I & II: 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.

Drop-in fee is $8 per class; email me for details on multi-class pricing options.

Worland Yoga Classes: Wednesday Evenings

Session 4: August 10, 17, 24, 31, September 7, 14, 21, 28
Session 5:
October 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 30, December 7, 14

Vinyasa Slow: 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Gottsche Wellness Center, next to the DMV and Gottsche Rehab Center in Worland. Priced according to current Gottsche rates.

Vinyasa Flow Combined I & II: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the WHC studio.

Stretch & Refresh: 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. at the at the WHC studio.

Drop-in fee is $8 per class at WHC; email me for details on multi-class pricing options. You do NOT need to be a member of Worland Health Club to attend a class there.

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

Vinyasa Slow. Slow-Flow followed by gentle stretching. Slow-Flow involves a slow-paced flow of supine (lying down), seated, and kneeling postures, plus several standing flows and poses. These sequences aim to encourage gains in agility, coordination, strength and balance. After warming the muscles, the final portion of the class will provide gentle seated/supine stretches to improve range of motion and encourage greater flexibility. Suitable for almost any level of practitioner and almost any fitness level, so long as lying down, sitting/kneeling on the floor, and standing up from lying down/seated/kneeling do not present any issues.

Vinyasa Flow Level I. A moderately-paced, alignment-oriented Vinyasa flow class featuring an active warm-up, sun salutations, standing/balancing sequences, optional arm balances/inversions in some classes, backbends, forward bends, twists and hip openers, with attention to yogic breathing, staying present, cultivating steadiness and ease in each posture, and staying respectful of your body’s limits and edges throughout this mindful, flowing practice. Suitable for those with previous yoga experience and/or those with an established basic fitness level and a willingness/open mind toward trying something new.

Vinyasa Flow Level II. A faster-paced/more difficult alignment-oriented Vinyasa class featuring an active warm-up, sun salutations, standing/balancing sequences, optional arm balances/inversions in some classes, backbends, forward bends, twists and hip openers, with attention to yogic breathing, staying present, cultivating steadiness and ease in each posture, and staying respectful of your body’s limits and edges throughout this mindful, flowing practice. Suitable for those with previous yoga experience and/or those with an established solid fitness level and a willingness to “go with the flow” and be okay with not having as much visual guidance/demonstration of poses.

Stretch and Refresh. A slow-paced, hour-long practice featuring roughly half an hour of Yin poses followed by roughly half an hour of purely restorative poses. This class concludes with a guided meditation. Yin yoga works to gently and persistently strengthen, lengthen and nourish the body’s deeper, less elastic tissues – fascia, ligaments, joints and bones. Restorative yoga involves the use of passive poses (asanas) to help relieve stress and promote a greater sense of overall relaxation and wellbeing. Guided relaxation meditation is often included. Yin yoga and restorative yoga are suitable for almost anyone, so long as lying down on the ground does not pose health issues. This cooling class provides a great complement/counter-practice to the active Vinyasa flow class taking place just before it.

Taking a Time Out: Why You Should Make Time to Relax Part of Your Fitness Plan

20160222_132607The slow-paced practices of Yin and restorative yoga give the practitioner an opportunity to slow down and create a conscious space to take a literal time out. A time out from busy-ness, from emails and texts and social media, from screens and demands from others, and from physical activity that requires a ton of energy or muscular effort.

While it’s true that many people need to increase their levels of physical activity to optimize health and fitness, reducing stress and learning to relax could also contribute to improving health and fitness for many people, too.

Yin yoga involves stretches that are held for a few minutes at a time, aiming to increase range of motion in connective tissues (rather than muscles). People often think it’s their muscles that are tight and restricting their range of motion. This can be true, but I’d guess that at least as often, a restricted range of motion is a result of long-held structural patterns that have developed in the body over time. Yin works to gently and persistently try to encourage an improved range of motion in connective tissues that have become tight.

Restorative yoga is a passive practice of deep relaxation. The practitioner uses props such as blankets, bolsters, cushions, pillows, straps, blocks and so forth to put the body into comfortable, relaxing positions. Restorative yoga allows gravity to do the work to encourage gentle opening in certain poses. Restorative yoga creates a meditative, calming place, free from stress.

It may feel boring or like you’re not doing much when you first start out in practices like these, especially if you have a particularly busy or stressed-out mind. You may think you are wasting your time as you think about all you could get done during your time out from the rest of your life.

It can actually be much more challenging to stay focused, present, and engaged in Yin and restorative practices when compared to faster-paced physical yoga practices. The more you practice, though, the more benefits you are likely to find, as you work to calm your mind and encourage your body to relax.

My personal experience reflects this: As I’ve practiced more Yin and restorative yoga, I’ve found long-held areas of tension starting to release. I’ve consciously worked in my practice to “tell” these areas to relax, scanning my body, noticing tension, and then directing my focus to the tension and feeling it relax as I’ve learned to identify and release it.

I’ve regained a lot of mobility and range of motion in my climbing-gnarled fingers, especially – mobility I had taken for granted as gone forever. I have less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than ever, even though I work out harder now than ever before. I sleep better, more deeply and easily. And I am much less stressed out.

A few benefits you might experience from including a more relaxing practice in your life:

  • Reduced muscle tension, soreness, DOMS
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved sleep
  • Better weight management/weight-loss potential
  • Improved mood and mental clarity

All of the above work together, actually. Chronic stress can mean chronically elevated cortisol levels, and elevated cortisol can keep you in a perpetual “fight-or-flight” state of being in your body. This encourages the body to prepare for emergency, which can make it want to conserve resources. In other words, it makes the body more prone to holding onto fat, and can make you hungrier as the body tries to shore itself up for the emergency situation, too.

Not enough sleep is also linked to being overweight and weight gain. Muscle tension and soreness can be direct results of stress, too, and this chronic tension and soreness reduces flexibility as well.

If you don’t think you have the time to take an hour or so out for yourself to stretch out and relax once a week, or you find it unbearable to do so, consider starting with a shorter period of time.

Try to give yourself five or even three minutes to close the door, turn off the lights, leave your phone outside, and turn your mind off, focusing just on your breathing and scanning your body for tension. If playing soft, relaxing music helps, go ahead.

20160222_132244
One of the most relaxing restorative poses is so simple: you just lie down next to a wall, and then swing your feet and legs up so they’re propped above your head up the wall. Your legs don’t need to be straight if that’s not comfortable for you.

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If this doesn’t work or you don’t feel relaxed in this pose, try simply lying down in a comfortable position. Your knees can be bent with the soles of your feet on the floor or mat or bed if having your legs straight doesn’t feel good.

Let your hands rest out to your sides, palms up, and try to relax your shoulder blades.

Close your eyes, soften your jaw and your face, and bring your awareness to your breath.

Scan your body consciously for areas of tension. Encourage them to release.

Relax. Let go. Be present. Enjoy.

You deserve it.

Read more: Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1

How Being “Disciplined” Can Be Undisciplined

Photo courtesy of Jody Sanborn/Jay Em Photography

Photo courtesy of Jody Sanborn/Jay Em Photography

When I was a much younger climber, I truly believed that sticking to my rigid seven-days-a-week training schedule and diet meant that I was a supremely disciplined athlete. No matter how I felt on any given day when I awoke, my training and diet plan provided me with structure and control over my reality, and I had supreme faith that by adhering to this severe program, I would at some point in the future prevail, that I would be able to mold (or should I say, “beat?”) my body into the climber I dreamed of being.

All sorts of evidence to the contrary did not shake my unwavering attachment to this type of training protocol. Never mind that many of the stronger climbers I often climbed with did not do what I did in terms of pitches per day, cardio activities, training approach, or diet. Nope. I had that sort of smug superiority that I think is hard to admit fully to oneself exists, but I definitely had it: a sort of sense that even if all these people aren’t doing what I do, at some point my commitment to restricted eating and rigorous training and a regimented climbing schedule will yield phenomenal results.

And now?

Today is my third rest day in a row, and I slept for 10 hours last night. I still feel tired, and it’s a relief not to be climbing. My shoulders still ache today, so another rest day won’t be a bad thing at all. Why climb? Why not rest? Why not explore restorative yoga more deeply? I find myself drawn to this practice now more than ever…comprehending now finally that the tightness and tension in my shoulders and neck probably have something to do with not managing stress in a life that has the potential to be relatively stress-free; I still overreact to nonemergency situations at times (especially when I’m tired) and overwork myself, too. Calming my mind through deliberate but conscious stillness; this practice of restorative yoga encourages me to open and relax areas of the body so tight from climbing, but not with the forceful (hatha) way that I tend to approach so many things, particularly about my own self and body.

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

Photo courtesy of Louis Arevalo

And yet, I want to train physically, too – I want to push through some more strength and conditioning exercises soon, but I still feel that I’ve been imbalanced in my approach to this. More activity on days off from climbing is too often not what my body needs. More rest on days off is what it could use, for sure. Restful, mindful, calming yoga practice, not athletic Vinyasa flow practice. Not more lifting or climbing right now. More rest. What a beautiful thing to realize and be okay with! I’m fitter and stronger right now than I’ve ever been. Still as always, I’m not entirely satisfied with where I am; I want to be stronger and fitter yet again. And yet there is a deeper satisfaction with where I am than I used to be able to grasp; is this the start of being content with self as is, in this present moment, while still working toward improving? Perhaps.

Like so many others, I (still) have a tendency to be drawn to that which my body-being needs less of. Like attracts like; we so often resist what we need the most and will argue until we’re blue in the face as to why we need what we love to do so much, and why we don’t need what we actually would most likely benefit more from. Such is the reason why I avoided steep climbing, weight training, pull-ups, and restful practices/enough rest days for so long. And yet, so predictably it’s almost comical, it turns out that all of the above help me more than my old routine – not just in terms of climbing, but in terms of more graceful, balanced living.

Routines can be helpful but also damaging; conditioning the body to an exact and predictable routine might settle the monkey-mind’s jabbering about “losing fitness” and such, but in actuality, too much routine leads inevitably to stagnation and plateauing, again, in any area of life, not just climbing. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint; bodies adapt. That’s what they do! They’re built to adapt and to use less and less energy to perform the same tasks as they adapt. Carry on with the exact same routine for long enough, and you may actually start to lose some fitness, strength, or other type of growth as your being becomes adjusted and capable and efficient, needing to expend less energy and effort to perform what once was a challenge. Stagnation and plateauing ensues, but the comfort of the routine remains, like a security blanket not to be pried from clenching hands, determined to hide under the comforting shroud, even as the comfort slips away more and more.

Climbing 10+ pitches of vertical technical climbing per climbing day, four to five days a week…running six days a week for at least three miles per run with at least two runs of six+ miles…having the same basic personal yoga routine done from age 10 through age 38…bouldering in the gym for 4 to 6 hours per session during the off season in the hopes of developing more power and strength…sleeping six to seven hours a night regularly…stressing out about mundane mistakes…dieting by counting calories and restricting food in the hopes of taking magical pounds away to improve climbing performance and body composition…not resting according to how the body feels but according to a set schedule…

The above are just some of the dysfunctional routines I have engaged in in the past, routines that maybe served me somewhat well on the grand scheme of living life, but definitely warranted a closer look and adjustment to start reaching toward a deeper level of contentment (santosha).

For me, true discipline has come from understanding that it’s only my mind that wants a rigid routine; it’s actually more likely a smarter and more effective approach to have a less linear and predictable approach to training and climbing, as the supremely adaptable body tends to plateau with enough time spent on any given exercise regimen or routine; the more the same it’s kept without variation within the consistency, the more likely a plateau (or even a backslide due to adaptation and more efficient performance of the routine as movements become refined and less energy/effort is expended to perform those movements) is to happen.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still like routines and tend to want structure and to want to cling to routines, for sure. But awareness of this helps me mess with them more readily; knowing that regularly messing with the routine schedule or training plan will probably help push my body in a new direction, whether I change how many days or how intensely I train or where I climb or what I climb. Resting more can be good; there’s not a set number of days per week that a person must climb or train in any given week in order to achieve their optimal potential. Weeks are merely constructs that help us structure and schedule time, but a week is arbitrary in terms of the body. In fact, I strongly believe that the best way to improve at anything is to strike that delicate balance between consistency and variation – making sure things are never too routine and predictable, but that the same pertinent themes are repeated often enough to encourage whatever areas need the most improvement to improve.

Again, I’m not just talking about climbing or training here – I’m talking about the process of making changes for anyone, whether the desired changes are mental, emotional, physical, or a combination of the three. Adaptation takes time and persistence; a flexible, sustainable, and intelligently thought-out approach can help expedite the process more than a rigid structure with no wiggle room and no allowance for changes to goals as you go. As you change, your body-being’s needs will change, too, no matter what you do and where you are in your life’s journey. What serves you well today may not benefit you in the same way tomorrow. What served you well yesterday may not be ideal for you today. True self-discipline does not revolve around blindly following a routine no matter how you feel. Rather, it involves developing an awareness of these often subtle changes and a comprehension of how to manipulate your training or climbing approach (and your life approach) according to what’s ideal for your body-being on any given day.

Studying oneself (swadhisthana) with an open mind can help provide the feedback needed to creatively and adeptly respond to one’s changing needs and growth in any and all areas, as can asking for outside input from others, particularly those who know you best and/or are more informed on whatever topic you’re looking for guidance on than you are. Resting, looking inward, and pausing, or stilling the fluctuations of the mind (chitta vritti nirodha), can help you tune into your own inner truth, enabling you to embrace a productive and fulfilling approach for yourself in the present while also shining a spark of light onto your future path that has yet to be illuminated. Step by step, it will light up, shining ever more brightly as you fall into living more fully and embracing your own truth.