#47 Wheel-y natural – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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You know when it feels amazing, when you’re you’re in the flow……..oh yeah…….

This happens to me with outdoors yoga.

It pares down your practice, simplifies your thoughts and intensifies the experiences. Stronger smells, more variable light, temperature and stimuli. So many more distractions in some ways – and yet seems simpler to quieten and slow down your thoughts.

It is “only natural” to begin an outdoors class feeling frustrated by obstacles. This day at Womad (see picture) with the lovely “Unlock Your Body Yoga” it was really hot. Super-needing-shade-or-else hot. We couldn’t find our spot.  That’s why there’s a photo – my husband gave up on the class and took photos instead. It was pretty crowded. The ground was uneven, grating noises like garbage trucks could be heard nearby. Oh, I could go on and on and on.

Yet battling the elements can help remind you that you are well and truly “in the moment”. It’s like nature is calling you to be present.

Here are some benefits to yoga outdoors 

* Uneven surfaces can build the smaller, secondary muscles around the joints. (Be sure to not over-exert since uneven surfaces can trigger tension in unexpected places.) 

* Outdoor yoga delivers a sense of space and freedom, one step removed from comparative influences like neighbourly mats, mirrors and fancy yoga outfits. 

* Outdoors can be humbling, especially when everyone is experiencing the same challenges of insects, damp ground, temperature, dirt or sweat. It is easier to laugh, to abandon striving personas, etc.

* It can ease people’s ability to breathe (as long as your air is clean in your outdoors space – pranayama is fresher than when cooped up in one space.)

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If you’re looking for a space, find a secluded, relatively quiet spot with a decent amount of flat, open space and few passersby.

Spend time meditating on the 5 senses – the near and far noises, – the smells, pleasant and unpleasant, yours, the ground around you, – what you see, often birds or clouds pop into view right at a crucial moment post-sivasana, – your skin, your sense of touch, what is hot, cold, uneven, where your body touches the ground, the breeze and so on.

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This day, for me, I found grace in the beautiful urdhva dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Wheel) pose. I often throw myself into this asana, hold my breath, force my muscles into unhappy places popping upwards to arch. Instead my arms felt like massively strong concrete foundations while my torso and abdomen rose like I was being held and lifted sky-wards by an invisible life-force. It felt so beautiful.

It is well demonstrated that there is great power in the restorative benefits of nature. It helps us improve our ability for self-reflection. It is simpler in nature to apply Svadhyaya – the ethical practice of self-reflection and enquiry. That was for sure. This pose, and all the rest – felt great !

With stronger ability for reflection that accompanies an outdoors practice, often you can find your sweet edge more readily. Find the wheel-y natural you.

 

#48 Woah. Mad – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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How to describe Womad?

It was like an all-day x 3 day-long yoga class. Or a resort holiday. Combined with Christmas Day. Physical exhaustion mixed with bliss, mixed with the energy from thousands of others mixed with intimacy from the lazing around with your friends and family in shady trees with nothing to do (if you so choose).

Russell Chan’s Unlock Your Body yoga was like that too.

3 classes over 3 days. At times funny, frantic, soothing, slow, crazy. Pushing your boundaries then resting in acceptance. (And maybe just being outside contributed to them being such lovely classes too…….)

Woah, mad it was.

We’d never been to a music festival before (but that’s another story for another blog one day). The yoga is what drew us into the festival every morning at noon.

Under ancient boughs and clear skies with the mixed songs of dozens of types of birds, it was blissful right there. Drawing strength from the ground, our standing yoga asanas were energetic, strong and kind. Russell’s voice was perfectly-timed and humble. The sivasanas were tear-jerkers as we melted from the heat into the ground and let go of everything. I really loved his technique of scanning the body during relaxation and naming each part of the body as it is released. Mmmmm. A sure sign – my kids and husband joined in too.

What was most lovely was how people drifted in and out of the class – mostly in. In flowy skirts, without mats, with yoga newbies and piled up picnic baskets. There were some real tight bodies and some major “keeners” like us. All were welcome.

That’s the piece, the gem. 

Everyone is welcome to yoga. We all have unique geometries, like our fingerprints. There isn’t a yogi alive that can perfect all poses, all ways, all of the time. What makes us retreat in fear in our personalities is the same as what we retreat from in our bodies. I presume that’s what Russell means. When you unlock the parts of you that aren’t functioning optimally you unlock parts of your heart. And we all benefit. I can’t imagine why anyone would avoid yoga due to judging themselves as being too inflexible. 

If I had one wish it would be that more people could experience this wonderful event, in this wonderful Botanic Garden with this wonderful teacher.

Na-Ma-Ste……!

 

 

You can find Russell at Stomping Ground Studio

Stomping Grounds Studios (SGS), 9 Stepney St., Stepney, South Australia 5069  and you can

Contact them on info@stompinggroundstudios.com.au

 

 

# 50 State of the Union – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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Surprise ! It’s a post about Pilates.

Actually, the real reason I went was cos’ it was an SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) class, and as you can see from the beach (Seacliff) we frequent it’s SUP heaven. Any excuse to get on a board. Crystal clear, abundant sea life and sand that goes on for miles…..

I was curious about the class cos’ I’ve never done Pilates before, and have never had a conversation with anyone I know about it ~ but it seems necessary for The 52 Yoga Project to include Pilates as we’re all part of the one family. Pilates though (to me) seems like the black sheep, the cousin no-one mentions. It’s quite possible yoga is like that in the Pilates world.

Rather than debate differences in a competitive frame, I’d like to highlight the similarities.  It’s not Pilates vs. Yoga. I’m looking for Union, not separation.

Liz, the instructor was vibrant. Healthy, funny and always looking to make the experience better, lots of guidance, very thorough explanation, diligence. Loved her straight away. She is obviously someone who has found her life’s work.

The class was energetic and the requirement to concentrate on the actions, the boards, the waves, the instructor and so on, meant that there was little room to wander mentally, for any mind chatter. So, it was like a meditation…..no different really in final effect than an active vinyasa class or Kundalini workout.

We laughed, looked after one another and drifted from the shore to the murky depths and back again several times. That connection with each other as a group and reacting to the external wind and waves around us really encouraged a strong sense of community.

In the modern fitness world there seems to be a misunderstanding about what each other does. Essentially, the principles are the same.

What do Yoga and Pilates both offer? 

* centreing (that is – going inward and finding calm) both in the mind and the body – in the core (with Pilates) and the heart centre (for Yoga) 

enhanced breathing practice and oxygenation

* control of muscles and limbs, spinal strength

precise anatomical movements to strengthen small muscles

* enhancing your capacity for concentration

* relaxation for both body and mind

I guess the idea I want to promote is that whatever unites both systems will help them both improve and be more widely embraced by all people. The assumption is that yoga is more gentle and pilates is more rigorous. However, knowing what I know about yoga, it is impossible to categorize yoga as such. I imagine in Pilates it is the same – there is a wide variety of classes that  require both gentle and hard working participants.

If you want to know more about Pilates and yoga fusion, read here. 

Essentially Liz gave us dynamic balancing poses, using the paddle board paddle in forward bends, doing similar movements to yoga like side plank and twists. I learnt some great core strengthening tips and a reaffirmation of the importance and beauty of combining the breath with the movements in a fluid fashion. The class was well-paced. I felt strong.

What was also brilliant was learning a few new SUP tips, like how to paddle in strong wind on your knees or seated with a Hiawatha-like paddling position.

Let me just say that the sivasana with lapping waves was exceptional and all of it was a great yogic experience. How could the beach be anything else?

lizgilhauspilates

You can reach Liz at;

Stomping Grounds Studio

9 Stepney St, Stepney SA 5069

0422 621 941

info@stompinggroundstudios.com.au

Tuesdays 10:30am-12:30pm & 3-5pm
Wednesdays 12-3pm
Thursdays 1pm, 2pm, 4pm & 5pm
Fridays 8am, 12pm & 1pm
Saturdays 8am

She is available for Private Lessons

Please call Liz on 0409 775 158 to make a booking.