Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #6

Today was day six.  And I worked, struggled and sweat for three more hours on my yoga mat, swung some kettlebells, tried to lay my left lower leg on top of my right lower leg and tried to be calm and relaxed and endure the discomfort as my hips screamed at me, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US!?!?!” 
Emotionally, mentally, I don’t know what, exactly, but I seem to have hit a wall. Not physically. I’m doing fine physically.  But I started to get the feeling that I don’t care about yoga anymore.  I don’t see the point anymore. I started to wonder what my life would be like if I never got my hips any more flexible than they are right now. And it didn’t seem so bad. I’m not in any pain.  I’ve never noticed any problems with my hips how they are. It’s never interrupted my quality of life. What happened to, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”
Glenn has talked about the Buddhist concept of beginner’s mind.  And I think I went there. I suddenly became a yoga novice again. So, I can relate to those people who know nothing about yoga and who look at me with a blank stare when I tell them about how long I practiced my Warrior 3 or a Revolved Side Angle Pose, or how hard I’m working to be able to do my Peacock or my Half Moon Pose. 
One of the hardest questions I get asked by people who aren’t ‘into’ yoga is when they say, “why would you want to do that?”  I honestly don’t know. I just do. I want to do it. 
Or do I?
Yeah, I probably still do.  I think maybe just being immersed in such an intense study of it with such a deeply grounded master for three hours each morning for a whole week is a bit much for me. I think maybe “Balance” is rearing its ugly head and saying, “hey, take a break from it for a while.  Even if it’s just for a day.”
But even though today as I struggled physically and matched it with an emotional / mental struggle, in the end, after my Corpse Pose relaxation, I still felt the bliss. I felt such a relief. Not only a relief to be done with the practice for today, but the sense of accomplishment and achievement accompanied by the supreme relaxation that the work provides for my body every time. I smiled at the trees as I walked away from the pavilion, and on my way to lunch I literally said “Hi” to a hedgehog who looked up from munching on the grass as I strolled by.
Oh yeah... This is why I like yoga.  This is why I struggle, because without struggle, are we really alive?
And if I’m not improving, I’m either stagnating or growing worse. And given the choice between those three, I would definitely choose to grow. Even if it does require a bit of a struggle.   What if the caterpillar decided it was too much trouble to put the effort into getting out of that safe, comfortable cocoon? If she decided that there was nothing wrong with being in there?  Sure, nothing’s wrong inside that cocoon, but if she didn’t struggle, we would never see a butterfly.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #5

Last night I had a mad craving for chocolate, so I had a vegan chocolate brownie from the Cafe. And whatever that brownie lacked in animal products, it certainly made up for in chocolately chocolateness. It was a chocolate explosion. And since I ate it right before bed, I didn’t really sleep that well.  
So today, I paid the price. I was a bit tired and I could really feel the difference in my ability to be strong and present in class today. I’m always telling my clients about the importance of sleep in a healthy life, and today I was living proof. Some of the things we did today were things I don’t typically struggle with, but I was struggling today.  And some of the things that I typically struggle with, I was struggling with MORE today. I also found it hard to stay focused and aware during my Corpse pose relaxation. 
We did a lot of kettlebell stuff first thing today.  We did many of the standard swings and then a few things that I’ve never heard of before.  One new-to-me skill I did today was laying on my back, putting a six pound kettlebell on my forehead and lifting only my face up toward the ceiling. Obviously, the lifting will help to strengthen the muscles of the neck, but what was really interesting, was when we brought our heads back down to the ground, I could feel it lengthening my neck, as if it were creating a traction and allowing more space between the cervical vertebrae.  It was actually quite refreshing.  We didn’t do a lot of them, but just a few of them did the trick.
And then the other new and impressive thing was laying on our backs with the kettlebell in one hand and the arm extended up toward the sky. Then, without bending the elbow or lowering the kettlebell, we stood up! And then we laid back down, and stood up etc. When he told us what we were going to do, I didn’t believe it.  And then when I was able to do it, I still didn’t believe it. But I did it. Believe it. 
Today we did more yoga than we’ve ever done.  We probably spent a good 40 minutes of our three hour session doing the Warrior 1, 2 and 3, Revolved Triangle, Side Angle and Revolved Side Angle Poses, in addition to our regular repertoire of Bound Angle, Pigeon and Seated Wide Leg Straddle Poses. 
We didn’t have an afternoon session today, so some of us met in the studio and just had our own yoga jam. It was nice to practice and really practice. This is the way yoga should be practiced, I think. We would observe each other and let each other know about misalignments we saw.  And we could assist and inspire each other. We played for about two hours. By then most of the others were gone, but I stayed and laid in Corpse Pose for half an hour. 
I felt wonderful afterwards. 
It was supposed to rain today, and it looked ominously gray most of the day. In fact, it did sprinkle a bit at one point, but it never rained.  And I’m so glad it didn’t.  Not that I don’t like rain. I do. I love it.  But I only have a small amount of clothes and I can’t afford to have my socks wet. I also think it would be a big mess if it rained here.  Lots of mud.
Many of the participants of other workshops are leaving today. More typically, the workshops here are either five days (Mon - Fri) or a weekend. So it’s kind of interesting.  This isn’t a big place so you see the same faces over and over again.  But today it was a whole new selection of faces. 
Tomorrow is the last full day here, and then Sunday we’ll have a half day. I’ve already gotten what I came for, so anything else after this is a bonus. 

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #4

Today marks the half way point.  Hump day.  And despite the large presence of both, so far I have only been bitten by one mosquito and no ticks have found there way into my flesh. At one point, I was sharing my yoga mat with a beetle, and on the way home from dinner tonight, I stopped to watch a squirrel eat blossoms and discard the leaves and twigs onto the path below.
Yesterday I was wondering if I was going to be able to make it through the week. I wasn’t sure my body or my mind was going to be strong enough to endure the torture. I entertained thoughts of escape. But he broke me down, and now I guess I’m prepared for my enlightenment and ascension, so I’ll see all you suckers later!
Hahaha, just kidding.  I didn’t even really come here for enlightenment, I came to see what Glenn was doing because I know he’s beyond yoga and that’s the direction I want to head. 
Glenn confessed to us today that his goal is to break us down.  He’s literally doing that, physically and mentally.  I can feel it.  I’ve surrendered to the sensations of discomfort and have really reduced my struggles to get out of uncomfortable poses. I have stopped looking at the clock (it was too discouraging, anyway, to realize I was dying ten minutes into a three hour session). Now I can find the relaxation and endure.
Today we did more human movement stuff a few yoga poses and some work with the kettlebells. But since so many of the students were in pain, he decided we needed to do a lot of Body Tuning today. So, I got my neck and shoulders worked on.  Then, after class I had my second session with Matt Gorman, a Body Tuning student of Glenn’s, who does great work.  He is a true Body Tuner. Very attuned and efficient. Both Glenn and Shmuel would be proud.
Today a bird flew directly into the glass door of the pavilion and probably ended up dying from it,  The last I saw, it was sitting on the ground next to the door with its beak wide open as if it were in great discomfort.  Even when people walked right near to go in and out of the door, it didn’t move.  After class, it wasn’t there anymore.  It was a pretty bird, too; small, and kind of a greenish yellow.
Last night there was a concert at Omega and tonight there is a talent show.  I don’t attend these things, which I’m sure are great fun.  But I came here for a yoga immersion, and for the opportunity to spend a lot of time with myself in quiet contemplation, so when we’re not in session, I’m meditating, walking around slowly, sometimes reading and sometimes writing a little bit.  I have used the sauna a couple of times, and once I just sat in the cafe drinking water and sitting alone quietly soaking in the energy of the people around. 
I find myself really conserving my words this week. I’m actually trying to speak as little as possible. In a place like this, no one thinks twice about someone doing something as crazy as not speaking.
A big lesson for today is that yoga has no boundaries. It is not as clean and simple as many people (including myself) had thought. Asana practice is certainly not yoga.  It is part of yoga, a very small part, actually, but it is not yoga.  Yoga is a connecting of yourself with the source of everything. Asana was originally intended only to prepare the physical body and make it possible to find that connection.
And another big lesson is that doing asana will not likely correct imbalances or repair damage.  In fact, it is more likely to cause imbalance and damage than it is to help.  And if there are any imbalances pre-existing, doing asana practice is more likely to exacerbate them than improve them. I’ve been discovering this first hand through my experience of my injured shoulder. If I were just to do standard yoga asanas, I would continue to emphasize using my strong, uninjured left side and it would get stronger and stronger, while I continued to favor my weaker right side.  Not because it’s still injured but because it is already weaker and my body’s instinct is to protect it.  Only by fashioning my own, very specific exercises do I find that I can regain my body’s symmetry. 
Hanuman
Hindu Monkey God
Here at Omega, I see lots of evidence of what I call the faux-spirituality of yoga. There are statues of Buddha everywhere, there’s even a really big one right outside the Ram Dass library.  (But if you go into the library there’s a statue of Hanuman, a Hindu god.) So, what do Buddha and Hanuman have to do with each other, you may ask? Good question.  I don't know. And if they’re honoring religions, why aren’t there any statues of Montezuma or crucifixes or stars of David? Last night I walked past the Main Hall and heard all the Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training students chanting Hare Krishna!  I wondered how many of those passionately chanting people were actually Hare Krishna followers. Also, I’ve been noticing lots of people wearing mala beads as jewelry. Mala beads are intended to be a spiritual tool for meditation, not adornment of the ego. When I was taught about mala beads, I was told they are sacred and private, and that no one should see them.  I keep mine hidden in a pouch and only take them out when I’m using them. 

My Mala Beads - Don't Look!!
But really, modern yoga is no more of a mind-body endeavor than say, golf, for example. Sure you can be focused on the mind-body connection while doing yoga, but it isn’t inherent.  One could be just as mind-body conscious while golfing, doing needlepoint or driving your kids to school. Just rolling out your mat and doing some pre-designated poses, (or even worse, following along as a teacher tells you what to do) isn’t a mind-body practice unless you make it one. And a large number of people who practice yoga every day have very little mind-body connection. 
Ganesh
Hindu Elephant God
Still there is something that’s very attractive about it. Even I was tempted to buy a t-shirt today with a picture of Ganesh on it.  I liked it because I have an elephant thing (we all have our things, right?) and because it was sort of yoga-esque.  But I haven't decided whether or not to get it because its basically an icon from a religion I don’t practice, nor really know anything about. So I think it might be a pretentious gesture to wear it. But who knows. I still might get it anyway.
To paraphrase what Glenn said today as we stood for two minutes with one foot on the floor and one foot on the wall, higher than our hips, with our leg externally rotated and both arms held overhead (can you say painful?), You may be wondering just about now, ‘Why did I ever start this crazy practice called yoga!? What have I gotten myself into?’  But the thing is, once someone starts along the path of yoga, they don’t tend to leave it.  Even if they get away from it for a period of time, when they start up again, they’re starting right where they left off.  Perhaps not on a physical level, but on the level and depth of understanding and devotion they had achieved before walking away.
He’s not only shaking us down but he’s also shaking us up.  Making especially the more experienced and devoted yogis really think about what they thought YOGA was. 
I’m fortunate in that my exposure to yoga about 15 years ago was brief, so that most of my experience (until two years ago) was through my own exploration.  I was never part of the ‘scene.’   When I met Jill Miller and took her Yoga Tune Up® Teacher training, I was finally truly exposed to the world of yoga and yet I was simultaneously introduced to the need for looking and reaching beyond the limitations of classical yoga.
I realize now that I was struggling with angst when I got here. I knew that I had some, but didn’t realize how much I had until now that I can feel its absence. I had been struggling with issues of perfectionism and self-doubt. Through the experience of this week, I am now able to see the reality and have come to the conclusion that I’m OK just how I am. I’m happy. And there’s no need to struggle to improve because I will continue to grow and improve in my natural time, just as I have done my whole life. 
Whew!  Big sigh of relief. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #3

Today we're only scheduled for a half day.  I don’t know what I'm going to do with myself for the second half of the day, but there’s no shortage of stuff to do here.   There’s a library, a bookstore and a cafe.  There’s basketball courts and tennis courts. There’s a meditation labyrinth and a peaceful place called Sanctuary that’s also appropriate for mediation.  There are lots of walking trails through the woods, and there are kayaks that we can use on the lake.

I realize I have mostly written about the the Yoga Immersion. But just the experience of being here at Omega is worthy of mentioning.  I made a little video of my walk to the breakfast hall this morning and then I had a very light breakfast anticipating a lot of tough work in today’s class.   

As you can see in the video, it’s like a nature reserve, or a very expensive campsite. It is so nice (especially being from Manhattan) to walk slowly along a stream and listen to the birds and the babbling creek and see the wind move the leaves on the trees. It really is healing to sit on the grass and watch the mother goose and her goslings feeding on the grass near the lake. It’s so nice to be away from the noise of the city.  The only loud noise I’ve heard in three days is when it’s dinnertime, they blow a conch shell.  And if you happen to be anywhere nearby, that’s a pretty loud noise.  But it is a loud noise with a different quality than a siren, or honking horns.
In our session this morning we focused on Warrior 2 and Side Angle Poses for a while.  Geez, they can be excruciating poses if you hold them long enough.  And we held it long enough!  

Then we got out the kettlebells and did some swings and some crunches. Those kettlebells are such a good workout. I feel like they're working the whole body.  They're incredibly simple and they get me to the red zone REALLY FAST.  Then, we did some work on back strength without the kettlebells because doing this type of work would have been too strenuous with them.  We balanced on our bellies and flew like superman.  I was really feeling it in my butt by this time. 
Then we spent a heck of a long time stretching our hamstrings in a Triangle Pose and a Revolved Triangle Pose, but laying on the floor instead of standing.  When we were done, my hips were so changed, I felt like I didn’t know how to walk.
As always, we ended with a 30 minute yoga nidra (relaxation). This was the first day I was able to remain completely alert.  So far, every time I got really relaxed, I started to drift away occasionally, but today I was focused on my relaxation the whole time.  And as I was walking away from the pavilion to go to lunch, I was in a different space than usual.  Typically after my deep relaxation, I’m relaxed and somber, but today, I was blissed out and happy.  I like it much better.
Glenn is really getting deep into my hips and back. In today’s class I have to admit I was dogging a bit.  I’d let my pose go whenever he was facing away or adjusting someone else.  
I hope I can handle the rest of the week.  We still have three and half more days. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #2

I woke up very refreshed this morning.  And I wasn’t sore like I thought I would be, although my legs and hips did feel very ‘hard.’  It was like I was flexing my muscles but I wasn’t.  
Glenn, ever the contrarian, started class this morning with the Corpse pose.
After doing a few basic poses including Awkward Chair and what I think is his favorite, Bound Angle Pose, Glenn put a toy monkey in the middle of the room and turned it on.  This toy started to laugh and roll around like a little child on the floor.  We all laughed and Glenn then said he wanted us to do it.  It took some people more encouragement than others, but this was something I was a natural at. I rolled and laughed and it brought to mind the work I do with Nia Five Stages.  In fact, a lot of this work is bringing Nia to mind.
The problem with yoga is that it is static.  And in many cases movement is much more effective and getting deeper into the joints and tissue and at releasing stuck areas. He has us gyrating and dancing like we were in a Nia class.  I notice that the more experienced and serious yogis are having a hard time moving this way.  They tend to look around as if to make sure no one is watching, and they’ll wear an expression of embarrassed concern.  I also notice some of them only partially participating. 
But Glenn has such a confidence and such a history of knowing his work so well, that even the most hesitantly staunch yogi eventually gives into natural human movement. 
Revolved Triangle
We did a Revolved Triangle Pose.  But first we did it lying on our backs so that we could relax into it.  He almost wasn’t going to even have us stand on our feet, but he relented and when we stood up and were holding the pose, he came over to me and adjusted my back and then he touched my thigh and said, “give me some muscle. Don’t let this go slack.”  I hadn’t realized but I had found a way to do the Revolved Triangle Pose without using my quadriceps muscles in the forward leg. I was so conditioned to doing it this way that it took me a long time to figure out how to contract it in the contortion of the pose.  And once I did figure out how to contract it, I did so, and I fell over. 
So I have some work to do on my Revolved Triangle. 
As we worked more and more and deeper and deeper into Pigeon and Lunge and Squat, I struggled with this tightness I’ve had in my hips for as long as I can remember.  The more we stretch, though, the more gets released. Our benchmark is whether or not I can lay my legs flat on the floor in Bound Angle Pose, which I still can’t do.  But I was getting such good, deep stretches in my hips that I could feel that familiar shaking and emotion wave that feels like my body protesting the depth of the stretch. Intellectually, I know the position is sound, and it doesn’t feel harmful or dangerous.  But emotionally, that’s a different story.  Emotionally it feels very dangerous and it feels like we’re getting really close to something.  
Glenn Black surprised and delighted me when he started talking about Pavel. Pavel is someone who I have learned a lot from, and I had always sort of thought of him as my little secret.  Until today, I never met anyone who had ever heard of Pavel. It is from Pavel that I got the phrase, Naked Warrior, which I use to describe myself and my tendency to not need any weapons or armor (or as you might call them, exercise equipment and workout clothes).
But Glenn spoke of Pavel and his contribution to the fitness world, kettlebells.  And then the next thing you know, we’re all swinging kettlebells!  The last thing I was expecting in an advance yoga immersion, but here we are, all swinging kettlebells like Russian soldiers. I do lots of squats and lunges and have been dancing for over twenty years, but the basic kettlebell swing had my butt burning after just a few minutes. 

Glenn impressed me at one point when he said, "Those of you who are breathing through your mouths are pathetic!"  He has a dark sense of humor. But it went right along with my latest new discovery about the power of nose breathing
I might have to start exploring this in more depth.  Who knows, it may be the next avenue I wander down in my life. 
After our morning session, I had a scheduled Body Tuning session with a practitioner named Matt. It was so nice to have my body tuned.  He did some techniques on me that I’m going to have to remember for using on my clients. I appreciate so much when a body worker doesn’t have a routine. I can tell the difference between someone following a sequence and someone who’s working on the reality of my body.  This is truly something that sets Body Tuning apart from other modalities. 
After my session, was lunch.  A remarkable thing happened at lunch as I was crunching on my cole slaw. I tasted something oddly familiar.  At first I couldn’t place it, but then I realized it was onion!  I thought, “No, that’s impossible, because I’m not gagging.” I’ve had a violent reaction to eating raw onions my whole life. But then I took a bit with two very large pieces of what I thought were red cabbage, but no.  That unmistakeable  flavor of onion permeated my mouth, but to my surprise, the gagging didn’t.  I was able to eat them, and even swallow them. But once I realized what I was doing, I chose not to. Old habits die hard, I guess. 
I’ve noticed that ever since I started concentration on being aware of always breathing through my nose, one of the many transformations I made was that I became less intolerant of garlic and onions. This is huge for me.  And really strange because in many aspects of life, I’ve become MORE sensitive. I am able to smell energy, for example. And I notice myself being much more calm and compassionate and actually needing less food and drinking less coffee. 
But anyway, I had an hour after lunch before our afternoon session began, so I went back up to my room and chilled out.  As I was chilling I noticed an awful taste forming in my mouth. Ah yes.  Now I remember one of the reasons I didn’t like eating onions. 
The afternoon session began with Body Tuning. I was glad since I was still kind of full from lunch and still kind of beat up from the morning’s session.
We did a lot more work on opening up those hips and started in this afternoon on the shoulders.  We did a few exercises to prepare our shoulders for Upward Facing Bow Pose, which is really hard for my shoulder ever since the injury.  And, to be honest, if I had known how to do the pose correctly, like I do now, it would probably have been something I wouldn’t do because my shoulders aren’t ready to support it.  Not because they’re weak, but because they’re so strong in a certain position, that they won’t rotate in they way they need to to assume this position correctly and safely.
After the session I walked to the lake and meditated for about 45 minutes until dinner.
The food here is really good.  All vegetarian, but still enough variety and flavor to satisfy meat-eaters, too.  This evening I got my protein from mole tempeh and olive humus. Tonight they had dessert, which they don’t usually have.  I don’t know what the occasion was, but I grabbed two.  They were some sort of vegan, natural-ingredient peanut butter cups that were pretty good, and then some imitation chocolate caramel that sort of missed the mark. 
Going to bed early tonight. All of this hip opening is really wearing me out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #1

We spent the morning basically mobilizing our hip and shoulder joints.
In the three hours we were together, we only really did about four yoga poses.  The rest of the time was spent in preparation for the poses, or doing movements and holding positions that indicate our body’s readiness for certain poses.
For example, at one point we were standing and he told us to hold our arms out to the side at shoulder length and hold. As we held this “crucifix” position, he described what was required of our bodies and what movements or adjustments we want to avoid. Then, just when that was about to be become too excruciating to hold any longer, he told us to attempt to bring our hands together behind our backs, without letting the hands drop below the level of the shoulders. 
Well, I couldn’t do it, but I reached back and got my hands as close together as I could without letting them drop below my shoulders.  And BOY did I discover a weak link in my body. That was tough. I kept wanting to put my arms down, but I buckled down, found the strength and continued to hold them up.  
Then he said to bend the elbows and relax at the elbow but keep the upper arm parallel to the floor at shoulder level.  I just simply couldn’t do this one, so I modified by letting my elbows drop and resting my hands on my lower back.  This way I could really focus on movement of my shoulder blades and was conscious of pulling them together and down. 
Glenn then said, “If you can’t hold your arms in this position, with your upper arms parallel to the floor and at the same level as your shoulders, then this means your body is not ready for (Shoulder Stand) or (Plough) poses!”  
He uses the sanskrit names when talking about the poses, but I always use the English translation, so I put my translations in parenthesis because I was quoting him.
What I really love about his work is its application to real life.  It feels very relevant and immediate, whereas yoga has always felt sort of fantastic and mystical. 
I have been practicing yoga on my own for many years.  I’m not fanatical by any means, but I do consistently practice. The problem with this is that I don’t tend to explore those weird places that I find when I’m following the guidance of a competent teacher. 
This morning, when we were working on our Pigeon pose, he gave me a correction. He pointed out to me that I was rolling away from the extended leg, which is a way that I had been escaping the true gist of this pose because of the tightness of my hips. With his adjustment, I could really feel the pose working on my hips.
Between Pigeon, Bound Angle, Same Angle, and Half Moon poses we really got into opening and stretching the hip joint. But still, the bulk of the time was spent on basic human movements like standing, squatting, moving the legs, sitting, etc.
Right before lunch we did about a half hour of the Corpse pose while he talked us through a very relaxing Yoga Nidra.
And after a deep, half hour meditation, he pulled us back into reality by revisiting the Pigeon and doing a Same Angle pose with our legs up a wall. In a typical yoga class, this is unheard of: class always ends with meditation. 
But Glenn said that after leading such a deep meditation, he wanted to bring us back to reality so that he wouldn’t have to go looking for us in the woods after lunch because we were so spaced out. 
For lunch, I didn’t have much of an appetite, so I just had a big fresh salad with roasted red pepper humus for dressing. 
The Bridge: a yoga prop for supported back bends
Back in the studio, we started right away with back strengtheners that required us to lay on our stomachs on a wooden bridge.  I was glad I hadn’t had a big lunch.
The second half of the day was much like the first. He just has us doing lots and lots of movements with the goal in mind. The goal, as far as it concerns me, is to loosen and open my hips.  We did a lot of work in Half Lotus and Bound Angle poses, which really point out how tight my hips are because my knees are hovering way off the floor rather than me being able to rest my thighs flat and get my knees down.
Bound Angle Pose
Glenn says that he expects us all to have our knees down to the ground by Sunday.  If I can accomplish this, I’ll be impressed with myself and with him.
The bigger picture, though, is more about life. About my life. And I’ve decided I am very happy and aware, but not very relaxed.  
So my mantra for today was: “I’m happy. I’m relaxed. I’m aware.”
The feeling that I’m getting from this immersion is not surprising.  But I do feel like Glenn’s teaching is releasing me from the restriction of yoga and asana and inspiring me to think, explore, WORK, and be aware and relaxed.
I’m still waiting for the inspiration about what I am going to do with the rest of my life.  But I’m also wondering if I have found the answer. If I”m truly relaxed, truly happy and truly aware, then what difference does it make what I ‘do’. Life is more about ‘being’ than ‘doing’ anyway.
I ended the day with a nice, hot sit in the dry sauna.  I was so relaxed and sleepy from all the work of the day that I was ready for bed by 10:00.  It's sort of strange because I'm not unaccustomed to a lot of physical work.  But I think the combination of Glenn's specific work and all of the yoga nidra relaxation we did, really left me zonked.  But in a good way.  It feels like I'm going to have pleasant yoga dreams tonight.

More tomorrow...

Going to Omega

As I sit in Penn Station, waiting for the Amtrak to Rhinecliff, I’m prepared to shift gears into a week with Glenn Black at Omega Institute.  It’s always a good idea to leave New York for a length of time to focus on peace, introspection and regaining serenity. Glenn’s  personal study of yoga has included much personal exploration in solitude, in addition to studying at length with some great masters. I respect his realistic perspective on yoga and movement and use of our bodies in general. Glenn is also one of Shmuel Tatz’ top proteges and one of the few people who can truly call themselves a Body Tuner.  And my teacher, Jill Miller, who created and certified me to teach Yoga Tune Up® was a long-time student of Glenn Black.
So, this weekend is described as a Yoga Immersion with a focus on precision in asana and also work with Kriya and Nidra, which I’m looking forward to. And I believe we’ll also be doing some Body Tuning. I don’t have any expectations or goals for the week. But I am aware that I’m seeking something in my life.  I want some sort of change or to establish a new routine or revise old ways into something new.  I’m going to be uprooting and moving from New York to Seattle, so a shift to the other side of the country seems to inspire a paradigm shift as well. 
I’m not sure how, or why, but I have a sense that this week is going to be a catalyst for this change that I’m seeking. I don’t expect this week to change me, but I hope to settle into  more congruency and balance and re-establish a strong habit of meditation. Also, I’m looking forward to Glenn’s direction. I know that he comes from a strong, staunch background of classic yoga, but he’s been advocating moving away from asana and respecting yoga in its entirety, including meditation, inward focus, removing reliance on outward sensations, community service and compassion. 
Since my train was delayed, there was no shuttle waiting at the station to take me to Omega, so I had to call a cab.  Despite paying $15 for the shuttle, I had to shell out another $27 for the cab ride. But I arrived in time for dinner, so I ate a nice big vegetarian meal, (which I’ll be getting a lot of here). After dinner, I browsed in the book store for over an hour, and then before heading up to my room, I stopped at the cafe and got a ginger cookie and a big bottle of seltzer water.
I went to bed early. Partly because there was really nothing to do so nothing was preventing me from going to bed, and partly because I really wanted to be well rested.
I’ve heard horror stories about how tough Glenn Black is.  In fact, when I was checking in, the guy asked me what I was here for.  When I told him “The Glenn Black Advanced Yoga Immersion”  he looked shocked.  Then he looked me up and down and said, “Well, you look like you can handle it.”
I guess that remains to be seen.  I imagine the week hold a lot of challenge for me, but I’m prepared to face them.  I’m also prepared for my biggest challenges not to be physical, so I’m prepared to do work on my emotional, mental and spiritual bodies, too.