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Friday, September 30, 2011

Headstand & Shoulderstand

It was pretty funny when I turned around before class began Tuesday and saw Dr. Schultz in a head stand only because I was totally not expecting it.  I hope to one day be able to do a head stand not up against a wall.  Doing the shoulder stands and head stands in class were really fun.  I loved that everyone in our class at least did the head stand once with or without help.  I am not brave enough yet to do the head stand all by myself because I keep overthinking and analyzing.  Kelsey kept telling me to stop thinking and just kick my legs up.  During my yoga practice, I still haven't done the head stand at home because I do not think I can do it.  Maybe I should just try though and see what happens.  In addition, I feel too embarrassed to ask somebody at home to help put my legs up the wall, so that's another reason I have not practiced head stands.  I did practice the shoulder stand at home though.  In class, I was told to move my hips forward during the shoulder stand because my butt was too far back.  When I did that, I toppled over...not my proudest moment.  When I practiced the shoulder stand at home, I was not sure whether I was really moving my hips anymore forward than I was in class.  I want to ask somebody to watch as I do the shoulder stand and correct me, but once again I am too self-conscious to ask.  The shoulder stands and head stands are lots of fun though.  They feel like great accomplishments when I do them.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The limb that stuck out the most to me was that of fixed observances.  This limb (actually all the limbs) seemed to incorporate so many different things.  For example, this limb meant cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study and persevering devotion to God.  I do not exactly see this limb fully exhibited in my life, but my goal is to devote myself to working on this limb.  I do believe that I am fairly clean physically in that most of my things are in order around my room or with my work; of course I can always do better.  However, I see that my life especially my emotions are not very clean because I am still so emotional and unsure about many things in my life.  At times I am very wishy washy.  I would love to be able to do the sutras saying to do the opposite of a bad thought or feeling.  In relation to contentment, I really need to work on that.  I never can seem to be content with my life.  The benefits of contentment seem amazing, and I hope to have that one-mindedness and purity of mind one day.  I don't know if I understand austerity - does this mind just a seriousness?  If it does, I think I exhibit that really well.  Lastly, I have grown more devoted to my faith over the past 3 years at Baylor.  I know that I still have so much more to learn with my faith and that I can always do better.  However, I am proud of where I am now and want to strive to keep doing what I'm doing at least.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Backward Bends

Hmmm....I don't know how much I enjoyed the backward bends this week.  I think I probably struggle most with these poses as compared to maybe the standing poses or twists.  Many people in the class talked about feeling really good after doing the backward bends, but I felt a dull ache after the poses.  I don't know if that was normal; I probably should have said something in class.  However, I always enjoy learning new poses.  Not being "good" at them just means that I need practice just like I need to practice all the poses.  One of the poses I really didn't like was the camel pose.  I don't think my back curled like it should have for that pose, for I think I might have been bending without lifting my chest.  I also was not sure how I felt about all the calf mashing.  Those really hurt!  I definitely will keep doing those so that I can get adjusted to the pain.  Lastly, my upward facing dog needs some work.  I am not yet able to really push my chest forward.  I did enjoy going back and forth from downward facing dog to upward facing dog during class.  Thursday's class was really peaceful for me - not really sure why.  Thank you Dr. Schultz for offering this class!

Reflection on How Yoga Works

I really enjoyed reading How Yoga Works, for the book explained all the sutras very well.  By the end of the book, I realized that I had learned a great deal about my way of thinking.  One of the things that stuck out to me was Ms. Friday explaining that many individuals become unhappy when they see other people happy while they become happy at other individual's misfortunes.  In all honesty, I can kind of relate to this...I wish I wasn't able to admit that.  I really hate that sometimes I am selfish and become sad whenever other people have happy news and I don't.  For example, my friend became coordinator of a retreat last year; I actually wanted to become coordinator of that retreat.  I knew that she was the right person for the job, but I still struggled with not being coordinator.  The funny thing is that I voted for her to be chosen as coordinator knowing that I also wanted the position.  I sometimes still struggle with not being coordinator, but I have accepted that God was calling her to this job.  The way that she has executed all her duties and the love that she has for this retreat shows that she is the perfect person for position.  I really would like to work on my self-centeredness.  I want to be as genuine as possible.  I want to be happy when other people are happy and to feel sad whenever other people are sad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 3 & 4)

As I was reading these chapters, I kept thinking about how we had talked about the mind and body in class one day.  I agree with the author that our minds and bodies are connected.  We can use our bodies to achieve higher levels of peace whether that means emotionally, mentally, or socially.  At the same time, our bodies cannot be healthy unless we are also healthy in our mind.  There are times when your body will be fine, but your mind will be wailing; eventually your body will feel the strain of the mind's stress and get ill.  In short, the two influence each other.  It also works the other way too.  Dr. Schultz has told us to smile, to push our shoulders back and eventually we'll begin to feel happy.  All of this reminds me of examined life from freshman year.  The class was structured around those five aspects: the intellectual dimension, the physical dimension, the social dimension, the emotional dimension, and the spiritual dimension.  It’s awesome to see how examined life course from my freshman year can be connected to examined life/capstone course my senior year.

In chapter 4, the author writes about paying attention to various things.  I have noticed that I have become more aware of various parts of my body that I had never thought of before.  For example, today we talked about the outer shin muscles; I had never thought about my outer shin muscles, let alone being able to control them.  I have realized that my body can do more things than expected.  Another example is that in many poses we need to lift our quads.  I have never thought about being able to lift my quads.  Oh…before taking this class, I had never thought about being able to spread my feet like leaves.

In chapter 4, I really enjoyed reading Minnie’s story.  I can relate to Minnie in that I am also very critical of myself.  Hearing Dr. Schultz say that everyone moves at a different pace and has different strengths helps me in being ok with my progress. Minnie and I are also similar in that neither of us expects anything when we come to yoga class.  Neither of us really thinks about what we’ll be learning in class; we arrive and let things come as they come.  I’m always excited to hear about what we’ll be learning and to know that we’ll be going over new things.  Learning new poses allows me to have a greater storage of poses to practice.

One other thing: I love how the author talks about the difference between being with our feelings and going into our feelings.  I had never thought about a difference between the two.  The author explains that going into our feelings means giving into our emotions and acting on them.  On the other hand, being with our feelings means self-observation and being unattached.  This demonstrates the sutras – specifically the ones saying that the vrittis can be combatted with practice and disattachment.  The author is definitely demonstrating that she understands and practices the sutras.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Standing Poses

Today I did some standing poses.  I did mountain pose, warrior pose II, chair pose, and eagle pose.  Mountain pose is definitely my favorite standing pose since I can do this pose practically anywhere and I really think it relieves all my shoulder aches.  Warrior pose II is a pretty hard pose, for I wasn't sure how far apart my legs should have been or what it was supposed to feel like.  When I was doing warrior pose II, it was very hard to stay in that position; my legs wanted to give out after a few breaths.  With chair pose, I wasn't sure if I was "sitting" correctly.  I have noticed that I have forgotten many of the small details for each pose.  Lastly, I did the eagle pose.  I think the eagle pose is one of the more awkward poses we've done; maybe I'm the only one that thinks so.  I guess I think it is awkward because I feel so twisted in the eagle pose.  Both my arms and legs are wrapped around each other.

How Yoga Works (Chapters 33 - 40)

I do not know why I found so many things funny in the book with these past few chapters, but I giggled at various parts of the book.  For example, I enjoyed reading about the corporal taking initiative and fixing the porch roof - how the captain would not hear him explain since it was out of character for him to take initiative.  I also find it humorous that during the captain's yoga session, everyone in the jail participated through the wall; at the beginning of the book I would have thought the captain would be angry with this, but now he accepts the comments of prisoners and employees.

These chapters showed how yoga has impacted all the characters in the book.  The captain has continued to think critically about the sutras applying to his life.  The sergeant has become much more pleasant; in chapter 36, the sergeant seemed so content with his life.  The corporal has become more confident in himself, for he has begun to take more initiative.  The sergeant's son and corporal's mother have physically been improving.  I love hearing how yoga has had a positive impact.

One other thing I noted in these chapters was how the dynamics in the jail have changed.  One important change is that Ms. Friday is not even locked up anymore; the sergeant does not view her as a prisoner now.  Her cell has the appearance of being secured, but she can leave whenever she wants.

In the second set of sutras, we are taught that meditations helps us deal with the five afflictions.  Ms. Friday tells the captain that he must meditate on the bad seeds, how they came into being, in order to learn self-control.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Using Yoga To Find Calmness

This morning I woke up and did some yoga.  Maybe I should try to do yoga every morning.  I actually did yoga this morning because I was not feeling well emotionally.  Lately I have been getting antsy frequently.  I thought maybe yoga would help me become a bit calmer.  It really did help.  It made me feel like I was coming into a happier place; all I had to focus on was yoga.

During my yoga practice, I did downward facing dog amongst other yoga poses.  I felt that I was not doing downward facing dog very well; in class we have been doing other poses before doing downward facing dog to help make it easier getting into this particular pose.  It is a lot more difficult to do the pose right out of the bat.

Is there a certain sequence of poses we should do?  Should we be doing standing poses before doing sitting poses?  I was just doing whatever poses came to mind.  Sometimes I worry that I might be practicing the poses wrongly and will become accustomed to the wrong poses.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Applying the Yoga Sutras to How Yoga Works

The yoga sutras 1.12 - 1.16 deal with practice and non-attachment.  As I was reading How Yoga Works, I saw Ms. Friday using non-attachment by not desiring "freedom."  She instead creates her own idea of freedom by rethinking what it means to be confined whether in a jail or outside the jail.  Ms. Friday also demonstrates non-attachment in chapter 26 when she exhibits no desire to leave the jail; the captain keeps trying to explain to her why she will not be released, but she does not actively listen to him and continues to just think about their practice.

Both the captain and Ms. Friday practice.  Everyday Ms. Friday practices her yoga, and every week they both have a yoga class together.  The captain also does yoga on his own time.  However, the captain does not only do physical yoga practice, for he also practices by meditating on the yoga sutras.  Throughout the book, the captain has had more and more questions for Ms. Friday and has exhibited critical thinking as well as understanding.  Ms. Friday comments that she is very proud of her student for using the time outside of class to think about the yoga sutras and try to truly understand them.  Just to double check - does this count as a type of practice?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yoga From The Inside Out (Chapters 1 & 2)

As I was reading the first two chapters of this book, I appreciated how willing Christina Sell is to disclose very personal information about her journey.  Her stories about her past have made her feel more real, more human.  I cannot imagine the struggles that she had to face with her self-image.  Of course I have had to deal with feeling unattractive, but I have never struggled with my weight or the scrutiny of all those around me.  The author has continuously dealt with weight fluctuations and overexertion; her claim that yoga has helped her become more self-confident convinces me that yoga will also help me become more self-confident.

In the past year, I feel that I have become more accepting of my appearance due to the encouragement of another person.  Throughout the past year, a friend has boosted my self-esteem by praising my natural beauty.  He helped me see that I did not need to hide behind make-up or get dressed up; I can be myself and still be beautiful.  Beauty does not need to be what society dictates.  I get to decide what is beautiful.  I still am not the most confident person in the world especially with my appearance, but my self-confidence is the best that it has ever been.

The story at the end of Chapter 2 by Minnie made me think about why I even care about looks.  Reading that story has made me question, but the story alone is not enough to completely change me.  I am sure that I will still care about my looks after reading this book, but hopefully I will not emphasize it quite as much.

Like Rachel in Chapter 1, yoga has made me feel better about myself.  My body has felt much lighter and upbeat.  I do not think I have achieved the same realization that Rachel has in that her sense of beauty comes from a feeling rather than an appearance, but maybe I will one day claim that belief.  In class I am still self-conscious around all the other yoga students.  I become very insecure after seeing how well other students can do all the poses, but Dr. Schultz has been great at complimenting each of us individually as well as gently correcting our mistakes.  Because I know that I am doing well on certain poses and improving on other poses, I feel better about my practice of yoga.  I will continue to try to just focus on my practice of yoga and understand that each student is at a different place concerning yoga.  I do not need to compare myself to other students and do not need to be the best at anything or everything.  Maybe as an honor student/BIC student I have it in my head that I need to be the best and strive to overachieve.  Every time I make a mistake, I beat myself up over it and dwell on the mistake.  Is this a sign of memory?  Does anyone in the class have these feelings in general or about yoga?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sutras 1:1-11

In class on Thursday, we discussed the five fluctuations (vrittis).  We were asked to think about which fluctuation we most associate.  At first, I was a little confused about the difference between incorrect knowledge and imagining.  I thought they both meant that the individual was making things up - kind of like being insecure.  Then, I realized that incorrect knowledge meant believing in things that are not true while imagining meant being creative.  I would say that I most associate with incorrect knowledge.  I definitely am very insecure and have a hard time believing what people tell me.  My lack of trust has been an issue for a while, and I am hoping to become more trusting and receptive of what people tell me.

I also struggle with the other fluctuations except not to the same degree.

Correct knowledge:
- I definitely dwell on things going on in my life.  I have a very hard time not thinking about any issues.  Yoga has helped me to stop thinking about life and to focus on yoga.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:45 pm I am actually able to stop thinking about life.

- I live in a different world at times.  I am always thinking about the future and planning for the future.  I guess planning for the future is not the same as imagining except my future plans might not necessarily have a basis in reality.

- I do not know if I ever really am able to "sleep."

- Is this the same as correct knowledge somehow?  I guess it relates to me dwelling on issues.

I think I need more explanation on correct knowledge versus memory. 

Football Game: TCU vs. Baylor

Yesterday I went to the TCU vs. Baylor football game.  As I was standing in the bleachers, I thought about yoga and my posture.  I attempted to make my toes like leaves and push my shoulder blades back; sometimes I even went into mountain pose.  It felt really good to be in mountain pose because my shoulders were aching from being pushed forward.  I normally wear a shoulder bag, but the shoulder bag seems to pull my shoulders forward.  Maybe I should consider not wearing a shoulder bag?  Or maybe I should do a better job of pushing my shoulders back?

Mountain pose is definitely my favorite pose because it brings so much relief to my shoulders and because I can do the pose just about anywhere without people noticing.  I'll try to stand in mountain pose as often as possible and hopefully my body will make shoulders back/toes like leaves/straightening up a more natural position.