Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Devil Wears Shakti

Yesterday I went to the beach across the street. It is a beautiful grassy area on the waterfront that reminds me of English Bay.

It's not too crowded so there is lots of room to sit down under a tree to enjoy the mountains and the lake.

I spent most of the afternoon reading my book and just relaxing in the Okanagan heat.

But before you think life is too easy up here, you need to know that the Kelowna studio has one of the toughest yoga teachers around.

The first time I met her I was just dropping by the studio to check it out and pick up a schedule. My husband warned me she was sizing me up and I better watch out. I just laughed him off but secretly that made me nervous.

Then I went in last Wednesday and took her class for the first time. I was hot and nauseous, my standing series was weak and I even had to take a knee by the time we got to Tree Pose. When we were lying in savasana she started telling us how we should keep doing the postures even when we felt tired or like we couldn't do them and then we would be getting mentally as well as physically stronger.

I thought I DID push through it but couldn't really think much else as I lay in a deep savasana.  I pulled it together for the floor series and completed the rest of the **hot** class in fairly decent form. By the end of the class I felt wrung out, satisfied and like I couldn't wait to try again the next day.

I felt good after class but then I couldn't take class for two days afterwards!! All I could do was lie on the couch with a major case of yoga brain. I literally could not do anything, could not focus on anything. All I wanted to do was just sit in one spot and contemplate a leaf... or something. I was feeling so relaxed to the point of being lethargic that I was actually a bit worried. My husband came home and told me I was probably just dehydrated and I realized I would need to stock up on electrolytes now that I was in a warmer climate.

The next few classes were easy in comparison.

Yesterday I went to the 5pm class with the same teacher, feeling up for the challenge. The warm up went pretty well and although my breathing was challenged at times I still managed to keep it flowing steadily through Eagle. At party time I was feeling exhausted as I grabbed a quick drink of water. This is when we just start to get into the tough cardio part of class so I knew I was in trouble.

Sure enough I crashed at the same point that I did last time I took her class - Standing Bow. But this time she would not let me stop!!!! She kept telling me to pick up my foot.. try again... don't give up... she was on top of me every time I even tried to take a break. At one point I just dropped my head a bit to catch a quick breath and she caught me and said 'look in the mirror, there's nothing on the floor!'

I was exhausted and pushed pushed pushed to the point where I mentally thought I could not go... but then I pushed past it and kept going and even though every breath was a knife in my lungs and my legs were a little shaky, I found I could keep going. And this time when Tree Pose came along I somehow felt strong!!!!

We lay down in savasana and I realized that there are certain areas in my practice that I have gotten used to slacking off in and Standing Bow is one of them. This teacher challenged those patterns and would not let me wallow in my laziness, she would not even let me look at the ground! And I thought to myself - that is a real teacher. She cares about me and won't let me defeat myself. She was bossy and pushy but she never said a mean word or got frustrated or rude at all. She was always positive and encouraging and acknowledged the small victories we all had in our class.

Again I left class feeling happy, challenged and ready to keep working on my postures. I also was excited to connect with this teacher because I feel she can help take my practice to the next level. This is something I have been needing so the timing could not be better. 

But for today I think I'll swap in my yoga towel for a beach towel...

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