11/11 perfectly aligned day

One of those perfectly aligned days.

Just a few things that happened: a ticket became available for a sold out event tonight, I remembered it was Remembrance Day & looked at the clock & it was exactly 11:11, yoga with friends in the park at lunchtime, drive home Shuffle All produced one after another perfect songs, the Labyrinth of Light ceremony tonight was like heaven accompanied by the beautiful music of Sacred Earth who played exactly the mantra I needed during my walk through the labyrinth. Feel like I have shed layers & burned up some karma tonight. Om namah Shivaya.

Experiment: can I train consistently?

There’s a chance to go to Japan in 2016 to compete in the Soke Cup. It would be amazing to be a part of this. It will involve a giant training commitment which scares me a little. There’s something about putting so much commitment into one thing that doesn’t sit well with me and feels unbalanced. When I truly decide to commit to things I can get tunnel vision.

Does it mean anything to achieve a goal if people around me miss out on the best of me because I’ve been so focused? When I was at uni, also working and trying to mother small children, I was so goal focused I didn’t realise my husband was suffering from depression. I did enough to nurture my kids but didn’t consider for one moment he might need my attention or compassion. Single minded focus might get the result but there is no glory if it adversely affects important people around me.

The beautiful thing about this life, living, and passing years is the chance to recognise and admit to mistakes and to experiment with new ways of approaching things.

I think 2015-2016 will be very important years for my kids as they will both be teenagers and it’s crucial to be attentive during this time. I also plan on being wife of the year and actually be nice to my husband and engage in conversation, rather than barking orders about domestic/child rearing matters as we pass each other between shifts. One does wonder where training could possibly fit in? Oh I envy the karate families that train together.

The plan, for this minute at least, is to begin 2015 with the intention of training in a balanced and consistent way that won’t upset anyone at home but will be enough to satisfy me that I am training enough. All I can do is experiment for a few months and see how things go. Play with getting a balance. There is so much (guilt-free) time I could use if I wake up at dawn and train before the family even gets out of bed. I would love to be so self motivated. When I’m up with the kookaburras, breathing in that deliciously special dawn air I remember the quote from Rumi “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep”.


Quick notes from private lesson

Push ups – a different way to develop. Sit with one leg starched out wide, other leg folded in, like for janu sirsasana. Walk torso forward until wrists are under shoulders, push ups from there. Do other side. Do every day!
Punches – think about internal rotation of upper arm & engaging lats.
Pull back – start rotation immediately when pulling back, feel the upper arm internally rotate & engage lats as it’s happening, rather than waiting until final position.
Slooowww practice to feel the whole body. Seisen dachi stepping forward and back with punches keeping it meditative & noticing the breath & what I’ve learnt about the body engagement today. Thinking of centre line as chakras line up, still stable centre. Mirror helps. My stepping wavers.
Kihon dosa san – slowly feeling all movement are within a tighter area, lengthen the body, narrow the width.

I wanted to quit yoga teaching

I’ve been finding it tough. I’m a new teacher. I was never an advanced yoga practitioner. I’m kinda shit if I’m honest.

When I was subbing classes at the gym for a friend I was enjoying the classes, but when a spot opened up for a regular class that is when my confidence unravelled. What the hell was I thinking! I can barely do a backbend myself and here I am in front of 25 people trying to act the part of a yoga teacher. So much responsibility. Each class a few people would say nice things to me and I felt good, but then the other teacher would pass on some feedback from the regulars. No one said anything nasty, it was simply comments on my style, which is vinyasa but very much on the yin side of the continuum. These happy fit gym goers want more yang, power vinyasa, like the other teacher.

So I madly googled stronger sequences and tried different things, then some people would walk out, or comment I was straying too far away from the essentials beginner sequences they liked and that after a busy work week they wanted to switch off and relax with a predictable flow. How could I please everyone?

I was confused and felt I had lost my authenticity. What was I even doing this for?

Another blow to my confidence was a few small but significant work pressures which forced me back into ‘serious career mode’ when for the last 6 months I’ve been enjoying lots freedom and the bliss of a non-serious work position and dreams of teaching more yoga. Nothing was expressly said but I understood I needed to knuckle down and get more serious if I wanted to keep working where I enjoy working.

Back to yoga class. I decided to teach how I liked to practice and tried to be me, not me acting a role. Gentle vinyasa, lots of focus on the breath, longer held yin poses. I felt happy and again some people gave positive thanks after class. One person wanted to pass on more than a smile. She commented how it was obvious I was a new teacher, but that she’d noticed improvement in the last few weeks (I had increased my home practice so that must have shown). She thought I kept them in child pose for far too long when she wanted to keep moving. She wanted the challenging poses like side plank held longer. She was very open and nice and I appreciate this feedback. I explained about yin yoga and how I also teach restorative so she could see where I was coming from. We laughed and agreed that maybe she could slow down a little in life, but I could use some more fire and challenge myself. I thought I was cool with this conversation but it kept replaying in my head: “you’re a shit yoga teacher” “I’m shit” “who do I think I am subjecting the nice public with my incompetence” “shit shit shit” “why don’t you go back to boring office drone work, loser”.

I wanted to throw it in. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I had 2 weeks off. 1 day was planned (karate camp) and I came down with a bad cold the next week. I haven’t been sick since I began yoga teacher training & discovered so much joy (and my life purpose, so I thought). Amazing how a virus can pick out a person in a weakened vulnerable state!

So I got better, did more karate, showed up for class again and gave it another shot, blending 75% me with 25% for the side planking fast flow people. They seemed happy, someone applauded. Feedback lady gave me a big smile. Some new people came up and asked lots of questions and said even though they couldn’t do lots they will come back and keep trying. They had good humour and made me feel happy for them that despite their ailments would join a gym and try a new form of exercise.

Then later today I taught my private class, restorative yoga. 1 repeat student who bought along 2 friends. I was so inclined to cancel and it was a big push to put it out there that I was teaching this class. I really thought no one would show. But they did and they had a nice time. I hope they come back & tell their friends :)

I feel good, I feel like I made some people happy today. I wanted to teach yoga because I’ve always gotten so much out of it, so much mental relief, and I hoped to share something that would make their life a tiny bit better, even if it’s just a glimpse of bliss in a 1 hour class.


Mental shift with kicking

Writing this down quickly in case I forget! In my very first karate lessons when learning to punch, I was told to focus on my pull back arm not my punching arm. It helps with staying centred and sends energy from the body into the punch, rather than forcing effort into the punching arm. Then over time I learnt about using the hips & the breath but let’s stay with pull back for now.

My kicks have been frustrating me lately. I feel like I can’t improve or at times getting worse. Tonight Sensai had me thinking about what works with my punches and apply that to my kicks. I tried the kata again this time shifting my awareness to the standing leg and ignoring the kicking leg. So similar in thinking to pull back arm in my punches. It made a difference and it felt like a new part of my brain switched on. I don’t suddenly have perfect kicks but now I have a new focus and can move forward & hopefully improve.

And I learnt something about my hip placement when doing kosa-dachi to side kick. I didn’t understand what hip rotation meant in this context when I was giving it all I had. Problem was I kept hips points facing the front at all times, but it should be hips to front as I begin step, then leg crosses over letting hips move naturally to the side (direction of travel) giving heaps more rotation as I side kick and hips come back to front.

Yay! Totally worth going to karate tonight!!!

30 seconds: private karate lesson

Block/punch: Elongate the spine, shoulder & hip move at same time, exaggerate the openness & movement until it becomes natural then refine. Feel with blocks that the blocking arm pulls straight back into correct position.
Stepping in seisen dachi: back heel is grounded before the punch, don’t move it as I punch.

30 seconds

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

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30 seconds: Last night’s karate training…

Rinten zuki – found a much better placement of the foot that steps through. I was not stepping enough to the front which caused the turn to be unbalanced and awkward. And the path of the foot must cut through directly, my tendency is to move it in an arc.

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