All Posts from November, 2010

When yoga feels like dancing

November 27th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

There is a flow to yoga that sometimes can feel like dancing, or flying, or well, flowing. It’s that beautiful dance between the breath and movement, the grace (or sometimes humility!) that comes with moving from a standing pose to diving down and coming back up. It can feel like swimming in air sometimes, and when joined, very consciously with the breath, it can bring you to the very present moment where nothing else really matters except what you’re doing right there on the mat. Last night in class we moved from side angle pose to reverse warrior back to side angle and then reverse warrior. We were asked to move at our own pace, depending on how we breathe. We have different bodies, different rhythms, so our breath is unique to us. Tap into that and flow with it, seemed to be the guidance, without worrying about what others are doing. Do what feels right to you. And it felt like dancing, our arms cartwheeling through the air, our breath moving us forward, our heart open. And keeping our heart open is one of the most important things we can do, not just on the mat but in all of life.

And that’s what Thanksgiving is about, really. It’s about opening your heart and your home to the people you love. It’s about opening your heart to all that you have received and giving thanks for that, it’s about opening your heart to the harvest, to food and nourishment and life! And yoga, at Bernal, is a process of moving towards that heart opening with every asana, every breath, every dance.

Longing for Bernal

November 19th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

It’s rare that this happens to me but sadly, I have come down with a cold. It’s that one lots of people seem to have: difficult to swallow, foggy head, achey throat, cough. And while, of course, I have been longing to get better, the one thing that I am so looking forward to is getting back to the mat, getting back to the studio and hearing the wonderful voices of Bernal teachers guiding me through asanas.

Here’s what I miss: rushing in to class and finding my regular spot in the studio (we’re such creatures of habit), the smiling faces of all the people that work at the desk, the variety of people in the room, the familiar faces, the new faces, being in downward facing dog for goodness knows how long, feeling like I can’t do it anymore, doing it more, Shavasana, the way the windows steam up when it’s cold outside, the way my body and mind feels after class, the calm.

So I decided, I can’t take it anymore, tomorrow I am going in, and soaking up that Bernal Yoga feeling. I can’t wait…

Dedicating your practice

November 10th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Sometimes at the beginning of class, the teacher invites us to dedicate our practice. It’s a powerful invitation because it can essentially means that every asana, every breath, is in reverence to this person or thing for which we feel a deep sense of gratitude. It also allows for a more focused practice because as we move, instead of thinking about our next meal or how we were treated at work or the changing light, we have a very clear point of focus. And what is special about dedicating a practice to someone is that the practice becomes more than just about you. It becomes about this person and in becoming about that person, it becomes about the larger community. And community is integral to practice.That’s why Bernal Yoga is so special

Yesterday it was my Grandpa’s birthday so I decided I would dedicate my practice to him. He passed away a few years ago but I still think of him every day and dedicating my practice to him made me feel close to him. It also reminded me of all his wisdom, his nuggets of advice, like “don’t compare” and the story about the boy who went in to get a job with a tailor and the tailor said he didn’t need any help so the boy left and as he was leaving, he knelt down to pick up a pin so the tailor hired him on the spot (details, details!). I thought about other people’s Grandparents and how special they are and about older people and respecting them. And I thought of this while doing bridge and triangle pose and warrior two and it made for a focused and intimate class.

So maybe in your next practice, whether it’s at home or at Bernal, you can dedicate it to someone who has inspired you or something that you love and through each breath, pay homage to that person or thing that brought you to where you are now, on the mat.

I guess the cold is hitting me…

November 9th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Ok, so today, I am not feeling too healthy. All of a sudden, sitting here, my throat has a small scratch, my body is feeling a bit weak and part of me just feels like curling up. But the plan is to go to yoga, and I am determined because a part of me knows that it will make me feel better. In fact, sometimes I find it to be a cure all. I feel upset about something, go to yoga. My shoulder hurts, go to yoga. I need to breathe better, go to yoga. I feel like being in a welcoming community, go to Bernal Yoga. In Stephanie Bernstein’s class on Monday nights, she often suggests a couple of things. The first is to smile. Now I am not sure if I have written about this before but smiling makes a big difference. When we smile, the muscles in our face trigger certain synapses in our brain that make us happy. So smiling is great.

The other thing Stephanie often mentions which I find helpful in regards to my desire to go to class today is she often says “thank yourself for coming to class today.” And I think that is very supportive because sometimes it can be very hard to muster up the strength to be committed. So if you went to class, in the rain, under the weather, give yourself a “thank you”, a big one. You deserve it.

Beginnings, A Post from a Newer Student

November 4th, 2010 | By Shelley Eades in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Hi.  I’m Jeff and you may have seen me in some of the evening classes.  I’m the old, fat guy with the grey hair and glasses.  I’ve only been doing yoga for a couple of months.  I started with the $25 special, and after two weeks bought a six month membership.  Bernal Yoga is phenomenal, and its not the studio or the location, its all about the people.  The instructors are amazing; they’re really invested in yoga, they know what they’re doing, they’re attentive to their students, they are approachable, and they know how to teach.  My classmates are cool and they are engaged in the pursuit of yoga. The teachers and students also have something in common, they all love to practice yoga.

I remember my first Tuesday class.  It was a Vinyasa Flow class and K.T. Steadman was the instructor.  I was very apprehensive, but everyone made me feel comfortable.  I remember admiring all the people  in the class.  And I promptly forgot all the people about five minutes into the class because I was two minutes (felt like a half-hour) into my first Downward Dog, my shoulders were shaking, my glasses were steamed-up, and sweat was running down my nose.   I’ve lifted weights since 1978, I’ve always been a gym rat, and yoga was kicking my butt.  The great instructors, friendly classmates, and challenge associated with learning yoga have kept me coming back.

I’ve taken Gentle & Restorative Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Mellow Flow, and Candlelight Flow.  I’ve had several different teachers and even some substitute teachers, and I have not encountered a bad teacher.  I’m mostly amazed at the way they are prepared for each class, smoothly direct each movement throughout the class, and still circle the class helping individual students improve their poses.  This is in every class, and I’ve never seen any teaching like this before (and I’m an educated guy with 3 degrees).  I love the restorative class; I don’t sweat, I get to lay around with my eyes closed, and when I’m done I’m totally relaxed.  During my first Mellow Flow class I was 59 minutes into the class and still trying to figure out when we were going to get to the “mellow” part.  Heather is a great teacher and yoga practitioner.  I told her about a move I’d seen in my new Hatha Yoga book where the guy was in a lotus position, his hands were behind his back, he grabbed his toes on opposing sides, and then bent over and touched his head to the floor.  After class she got into the position.  I was flabbergasted.

I’m finally starting to learn some of the poses.  I’m beginning to understand the relationship between breathing and holding an asana.   After two months I’m starting to do things I haven’t been able to do for the last 25 years.  When I started I couldn’t grab the outside of my feet for Happy Baby,…now I can.  The other night in Tracy Joe’s class I was in Downward Dog and actually relaxing.  I still can’t complete the move from Downward Dog to a lunge (I’m too fat) and every time I try the Tree someone should yell “timber.”  But I have seen gradual growth in my abilities and understand the interrelationship of my breathing with each move I make in class.  And now my favorite yoga ensemble is Downward Dog to Plank to Upward Dog and back to Downward Dog because I understand how to breath for each of the movements.  I’ll probably never be a yoga teacher, and in my previous athletic endeavors I’ve never surpassed mediocre, but I do love yoga and hope to continue practicing for the next twenty years. Later.