Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Put the Phones Away | My Thoughts on Phones in the Classroom

I can't believe I have to say this, but please leave your phones out of the yoga studio. I haven't written about studio etiquette since 2010, but it seems I need to revisit it again, especially in regards to the phone issue. I know a lot of other blogging yoga teachers have shared their thoughts on this so maybe it's old news, but I'm taking time here on my corner of the interwebs to say my piece. Otherwise, I think I might explode.

Here's why. I was quite surprised last night when a cell phone appeared and mad texting began. I gave the students a few minutes at the end of class to take a few final postures they needed before heading to savasana. It was a challenging class, so most everyone was taking it easy and doing their own thing, some opting to go straight for relaxation. One student however, got up off his mat, walked over to his belongings, pulled out his phone and started texting. I was surprised and made comment to (paraphrasing here) "try and leave anything outside of the classroom, outside of the classroom for the time being." I thought he would get the message, but rather than put the phone away, he walked back to his space and put the phone near his mat.

What? Really? There's ten more minutes of class. Do you really have to have your phone near your mat?

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe some emergency may have come up and so he was concerned he might be needed. But all during class he never made a move for his phone. And most students who are in this position let me know before class that something might come up. If something comes up they quietly leave the room to take care of it.

Okay, maybe I'm bitter. A few weeks ago I was leading a discussion in a teacher training program and it was all I could do not to walk out of the room by the blatant texting that was going on while I was teaching. By blatant, I mean the secret but obvious "hiding your cell phone in your bag and digging through it every two minutes to look for something, pausing to punch in a few words and then putting the bag away, wait a few minutes and do it again" to name one instance. Sadly, there were others.

And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that student had an undying urge to rummage through her bag every two minutes read something and then put it away that only seemed like texting. But I don't know, it sure smelled like texting to me. Nevertheless, it was distracting and infuriating all at the same time. I was surprised by the disrespect of the soon-to-be yoga teachers. A few students came up after and apologized for the other students in the class. Apparently I was not the only who noticed.

I've spent a lot of time reflecting on this situation. What occurred, how I handled it, becoming the observer, how to let it go, etc. In hindsight, I should have said something then and there, but at this stage in the game I didn't think I had to. I would never be so disrespectful to my teachers and the other students. But not everyone operates that way I suppose.

What made me most upset about the whole phone usage thing was that here I have been giving and giving and giving to these students and instead of paying attention, they decided that being on their phones was more important than the teachings. Maybe that's a little dramatic, but that's the way it felt. I suppose I shouldn't take it personally, but this particular issue is personal to me. I've sacrificed so much time with family, friends and myself and poured my heart and soul in to the teachings and to have students casually popping away on their phones really hit a nerve. So bitter I may seem yes, but I think it's only natural.

I don't know what to say about the incessant cell phone usage I'm seeing. I certainly ask all students to put them away when class is underway. If you want to use your phone before or after class, that's fine, but during...let's not. Instead, let's focus on what you came here to do. Slow down the mind chatter, stay present and let go of these attachments that only lead to more suffering. As Alice Van Ness says, the  FB Yoga Teacher famous for getting fired for asking a student to turn off her phone says "turn off your phone and turn on your life." Otherwise I ask, why are you showing up on your mat?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Close to Certification | FREE Dharma Yoga Classes for You

As many of you know I'm working towards my 500 hour teacher training certification with Sri Dharma Mittra. It's been an amazing ride so far and I'm now "this" close to fulfilling all of my training requirements.

One of the final steps still lingering is to have my classes evaluated by students. Truth be told, I have procrastinated on this activity mostly because I feel uncomfortable asking students to fill out forms after class. But now I'm putting that aside, biting the bullet and planning to "get 'er done"!

For the month of March I'm offering FREE Dharma Yoga classes at Mind the Mat in Alexandria, VA. That's right, FREE! For those extra generous souls, we are taking donations which will go to a local charity. So either come for FREE because you're helping me out or Pay What you Can to support others in need.

Dates and times: 
Thursday, March 6, 12:00-1:15p
Friday, March 7, 3:00-4:15p
Thursday, March 13, 12:00-1:15p
Friday, March 14, 3:00-4:15p
Thursday, March 20, 12:00-1:15p
Friday, March 21, 3:00-4:15p
Thursday, March 27, 12:00-1:15p
Friday, March 28, 3:00-4:15p

Sign up ahead of time or just show up! http://tinyurl.com/MtMFreeDharma

Or join the Facebook event here for updates.

Please note that in order for classes to count towards certification, I must have at least 3 people attend class. Classes with less than 3 people may be cancelled.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and thanks for your support!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reflections on Part 2 of Life of a Yogi 500-hr Teacher Training with Dharma Mittra

It's a been about a month since I returned home from the second part of the Life of a Yogi 500 hour Teacher Training in NYC with Sri Dharma Mittra. I had full intentions of writing about my experience upon my arrival, but I left feeling a little jumbled up and needed some time to reflect on my experience.

If you recall, I left the first eight day immersion feeling sky high and ready to conquer the world, or rather the small part of the universe I currently inhabit. I paid close attention to my daily practices and did my best to weave them in with my teaching and family commitments. As we drew closer to Thanksgiving, I was feeling some trepidation about how everything was going to play out (i.e. balancing family obligations with daily practice), but in the end it great. I had to end our visit with family short in order to make my way up to NYC for the second part of the training. I was sad to leave them, but felt ready for the endeavor.

However, all that preparedness came to a screeching halt about 45 minutes in to asana practice on the first day of the training. Granted, it was a rather intense practice, but I was feeling so out of sorts that I left half way through and started crying in the bathroom. What the?!?!? My body was so heavy and foreign and I was feeling like a beginner again. I felt like my world shifted and I didn't know which way was up. After practice I spoke with a mentor and felt better knowing that I was not the only one feeling out of sorts that day. Maybe the holidays had a greater effect on me than I'd realized?

I kept telling myself that if I made it through the first four days, I would be okay. However, the first days of the training were some of the hardest of my yoga career to date! Physically I started to feel much better about things, but my ego was literally crawling itself out of my body and demanded we leave right then and there. Clearly, I did not give in (although I thought about it a lot) as I know that when things get really tough, the good stuff starts happening, so I kept moving forward, doing the work that needed to be done and reflecting on what was coming up for me from practice. Was this some sort of ego detox I wondered? I don't know, but I do know is that it was so hard and so demanding and I felt defeated on so many levels. At some points I felt so paralyzed by it all that I could barely move on my mat. I was unable to move, unable to do asana, unable to do anything.

our Sangha

Luckily, two very good friends came to visit at this mid-way point. It didn't take much, but a hug and a friendly hello from two close outsiders of the training made my heart so happy I nearly burst. Not only that, but the amazing mentors and teachers of the LOAY program kept pulling me forward. They were always open and ready to help me through whatever was coming up, patiently listening and helping me observe the onslaught of internal messages I felt overwhelmed by at times.

Of course, Dharma is always there to remind you of what you need to hear at just the right time. Every day I listened intently to his discourse and instructions. The more my ego calmed down, the easier it was to take in and the more being there made sense. I truly felt that "everything was perfect."

The last four days of the training were just as intense, however, less so emotionally for me. I still struggled with some asanas, but my body didn't feel so heavy any more. I didn't realize this until the end of the week, but I had become so strong from the inter-module homework, that I rarely felt sore and injured. Not only that but I even started moving my mat up front for practice. I think it's best to sit close to Dharma if you can. I was coming out of my shell...finally.

On the second to last day we participated in an inversion clinic. Inversions are not my strongest, but I'm always determined to work on them. In the beginning of the workshop I started to get really anxious however, my partner was very supportive as we worked though the exercises together. In fact all of my fellow trainees were so supportive that I started having fun again as we "played" with asana instead of "working" on them.

On the final day I got up the nerve and mentioned to a mentor just how nervous inversions make me and to my surprise, he helped me out through practice for so many inversions I am now confidently practicing on my own. It only took 8 full days of training, but I finally had a breakthrough! Of course, there's more work to be done, but I was happy I finally let go because when you do, amazing things always happen. In our final satsang I sang my heart out and felt so light and joyous. I was sad to leave, but at the same time I was ready to come home.

30 days home and I miss my sangha dearly. It was hard jumping back in to practice and the holidays made it even more difficult, but as always I am striving to do my best. I continue to have many breakthroughs and worry less about how well I do some of asana as opposed to the journey they provide me. I'm stronger and feel more grounded now than every before and continue to learn more and more about myself through this amazing practice and the teachings of dearest Dharma-ji.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Focused Attention for 2014: A Letter to All Capricious Yogi Readers

Dear Capricious Yogi readers,

If you follow my site Yoga for Digestion (YFD), then you know by now that I've decided to put that project on hold for a little while. I'm still really excited about the project, but I started to feel like I was being pulled in too many directions. To be honest, I am having a hard time separating the work I do there with the work I do here on Capricious Yogi (CY). I started this blog in 2009 and just can't part ways with it! Writing here year after year continues to provide me much needed inspiration and I'm always amazed when I meet people who have visited this site and read my articles. It continues to blow my mind!

I'm attached to CY, what can I say? While I still have a passion for digestive health, I still also have a passion for all things yoga related. The two cannot be separated. With all my energy going to YFD I was falling further away the foundation that is this blog and so closely tied to my practice. Separating the two just didn't work. Which is why I've decided to bring them together.

Further, I was recently promoted to the Director of Teacher Training for Mind the Mat in Alexandria (a role that appeared on my vision board a year ago and is now happening). I'm excited for this position, but it requires lots of attention. I'm also working hard to finish the requirements for my 500 hour Life of a Yogi Teacher Training with Dharma Mittra. My goal is to be done by this Spring. With so much to do, my pet projects need to take a back set for now.

As I bring the sites together, I'll be revamping this site and transferring it to a more modern layout. My goal is to write more and yes, still provide lots of digestive health info related to yoga. I hope you'll stick around. If one things for sure, it's going to be great!

Lots of love,
Rachel :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year's Intentions 2014: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I had this really long and drawn out post about my intentions for the New Year, but then I decided I should rethink that process and cut straight to the point.

In 2014 my intention is to stop comparing myself to others.

Let me be clear that I thought I was already doing a good job at this, until recently, when I almost gave up my whole career as a yoga teacher. That's right, this Fall I became disgruntled and frustrated with the yoga industry that I started polishing up my resume convinced it was time for me to get a "real job." Even participating in my 500 hour teacher training did little to pull me out of what I was feeling. It became very clear that I was loosing my footing on what was important to me as a yoga teacher and student.

I won't go through the long process (unless you want to hear that and in that case it might be time for my book), but I will say that when I stopped to examine why I was feeling the way I was feeling it all boiled down to comparison. Without knowing it, I was comparing myself to all of my peers in my community and in the digital world and it was making me second guess everything I had so fervently believed in.

My comparison to others was stealing my joy. 

I truly believe there is a yoga practice and teacher for everyone. Like attracts like. So you serve the students that appear and be unconcerned by those that choose other teachers. I have never believed that standing on your hands is a prerequisite for being a good yoga teacher, but in these past few months I let my ego lead the way and started believing that was true. Sometimes you have to get all jumbled up to get sorted out.

On second thought, maybe my intention should be to stop caring so much about what others think about me. 

When you think about it, they go hand in hand. I wouldn't feel the need to compare if  didn't worry so much what others thought about me and my ability to teach yoga.

It sounds easy enough, but there's a lot of work to be done. My first action step in this process is to step away from social media on regular basis and spend more time on my practice, relationships with friends and family and writing. It's so easy to get consumed by what appears before your very eyes and we are inundated with so much unwanted messaging these days. One of my friends got rid of her Facebook account so she can manage the information she receives, rather than having it flying at her. I think she's on to something. I didn't have much access during teacher training or during the holidays and it was quite lovely. I already make a point to hop off the computer at night and on the weekend. Why not do so more throughout the day?

Further, my teacher Dharma says that instead of comparing yourself to someone else you should see them as yourself. For example, if someone is doing an asana that you are still working on, then you think "look, that is me. Look what a good job I am doing!" Instead of the ego driven "why can't I do that? I'll never be able to do that. I must not be that good" This reminds me of the Four Keys to Happiness from the Yoga Sutras and one of my favorites too. We are all made of the same eternal consciousness, so everything we experience is already experienced by all. What you can or cannot do is based on conditions from your karmas (previous actions). So you do your best, but know that everything is perfect just as it is. When you get down to the nitty gritty, it doesn't really matter what you can or cannot do physically, but what's happening on the inside that matters most.

What are your intentions for 2014? Do often find that you compare yourself to others and how do you move through it?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Really Love My....Insight Timer App for iPhone

It's been a long time since I've posted about something that I Really Love, but it struck me this morning as I moving through my meditation and pranayama practice, just how much I really enjoy using the Insight Timer App. Please note, no one has asked me to write about this product, I genuinely really love it!

I've had the app for a while now, but only really started using it recently when doing my practices for my Dharma 500 hour LOAY Teacher Training. Part of my inter-module homework includes daily mediation and pranayama practices, set at certain times and intervals. Using the insight timer has been useful in keeping track of my meditations while also allowing me to check intervals for breathing practices.

Another feature that I really like is that when you log in, you can see how many other people are meditating worldwide AND you can friend them or join a meditation group (or even create your own). Talk about collective consciousness! Knowing there are so many others out there meditating and breathing at the same time gives me lots of motivation to keep going.

Finally, you can find friends nearby that are also using the app. It's nice to actually know someone you may be meditating with!

Check it out and let me know what you think! https://insighttimer.com/

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Yoga for Digestion is LIVE!

Hi Capricious Yogi friends! A few months ago I announced my newest project Yogafordigestion.com and today it's finally gone LIVE. Check it out!

I'm thrilled this project has finally launched and I can't wait to share all that I have in store. Sign up for my newsletter and receive a FREE breathing bonus. Not only that, but I'm hosting a FREE 5 Day E-Course in January. Sign up today! 

Much love and many thanks to all of my friends and family that have supported me in this process. I couldn't have done it without you!