It was with some trepidation that I embarked on my first Yoga Workshop at Adeline Yoga last weekend. Though I’ve been practicing Iyengar for about 10 months, I’m in no way a daily practitioner. I’ve likened my progress to the turning of giant ship—things are moving seemingly in the right direction though perhaps at an imperceptible rate.
Rebecca Lerner, our guide for the weekend, was described as the “teacher of teachers.” She has a gentle, yet precise technique that allowed students to open into poses that previously may have seemed insurmountable. Well, that sounded right up my alley—though perhaps a bit intimidating. Of the three-day workshop, it was Day 3 that I felt the most trepidation: Brilliance of a Diamond Backbends (for three hours). Oh boy.
Things started off well. Rebecca mistaking me for a teacher (hahahahaha) asked me to demonstrate a pose. Flattered, I assumed Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog). “Do you see how her shoulders are not on her back,” she asked the group of 20-30 participants who had gathered around me. The class seemed to agree. What are they talking about, I thought. Where else could they be? Then, with a subtle action I could only describe as a “push spread,” Rebecca wrapped her hands around my shoulders. I felt my thoracic spine release with a relieving crack. My chest fell more gracefully between my hands. Ahhhhh …. So this how this pose is supposed to feel.
Day 2: Being the foolhardy overachiever I sometimes can be, I decided to do yoga all day on day two. I added an extra class to the 5 hours already planned for the workshop. While my mind was up for the task, my body had a much different idea. To be honest, this day is a bit of a blur. I remember twisting. I also remember these nuggets of wisdom:
- In any pose think, “where are my hands?” “where are my feet?” “Where could energy be leaking out?” In Iyengar the poses are so nuanced. There are SO MANY body parts to keep track of. Prioritizing these two, for me, seems a good place to start.
- Where is your head? Where is your heart? They should be on the same plane. We have a tendency to lead with our head—literally and figuratively. Keeping these two areas on the same plane not only feels more balanced but a more authentic way to be in the world.
These were the last bits of information I absorbed before checking out. Iyengar is potent and I’d overdosed.
Day 3: I came this close to not making it to day 3. After day 2 , my body was sore, and I wasn’t entirely sure if it was a good kind of sore. And I’d had trouble falling asleep because it felt like my room was spinning Also, this was backbend day—no thanks. I mentioned my hesitations to Heather and she skillfully encouraged me to give it a try. I set my mat near hers as she’d promised to make sure I didn’t die. So, with my own Yoga lifeguard nearby, I set sail. Gradually the class worked up to the Grand PooBah of poses—Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel). It was hard, but I got up and was able to straighten my arms for the first time! #winning. I wouldn’t say you’d see what I executed on the cover of any magazine anytime—or even, demonstrated for the class. But I had fun, and I still feel my body opening. I opted out of trying the drop back—know your limits.
As I sit and write this, I feel my shoulders pinned back. I feel my chest is open. I know where my hands and feet are, and my heart is leading the way. Was the workshop hard? Yes. Would I do it again? You betcha!
— Kelsey Blackwell, Adeline Yoga Student