We are about to embark on our quarterly celebration of 108 sun salutations to honor autumnal equinox, ending with brunch together, evoking laughter, ponderings and deepening friendships. I love this expansive practice, and am always happy to see new as well as familiar faces there. The practice is entirely doable, and the next one will be even ‘awesomer’ for winter Solstice in December. Already looking forward to it! Just do it! (You totally can!)
As to seasonal changes and the joy they bring, the sun has, in recent days, emerged lighting up our expansive Montana sky. That fresh sunshine calls us to move...to shake off the long winter. To fill our bodies with life. I’ve been seeing the enthusiasm in my classes to such an extent that I’ve decided to offer TWO classes on Saturday mornings to replace the 9:30 class that has been
jam packed--so feel free to come with confidence that there will be space for your practice. We’ll now have an 8:30 and a 10:00 class on Saturdays, with the onset of April. It’s a great opportunity for those who like to get in early, as well as for those of us who enjoy a little more snuggling under the covers on the weekend. Win Win! Either option allows for easy access to the amazing Farmers Market and Peoples Market on Saturdays—a Missoula tradition worth frequenting.
No matter the class you choose, Exploration of movements that have been dormant in the colder days warms up our muscles, and the more we flex and move and twist and reach, the more blood flow we get. That increase of blood flow we get bathes our cells with oxygen. It makes us feel...better. Much better.
Before I ever started doing yoga, I was a gym rat. I lifted weights 5 days a week, I ran 3-4 days a week, and for me, thinking about the body was all about the muscles. I wanted to be big and strong, and I was succeeding at that. Then, yoga came into my life, and I was taken with the challenge it presented to my body and drank up Savasana with delight. It was entirely different from the athletics I knew so well. My teacher would walk around and say, “We do this posture for the intestine to literally break shit up.” “We do this one for the liver.” “We do that one for the pancreas.” “We twist for the internal organs”. It caused me to pause and wonder, because that was completely off my radar to consider--- I really never thought about that stuff until I started doing yoga.
But that IS what we are doing. It’s kinda cool, right?
Yoga does a great job of working the spleen and the stomach. Twisting is so good for our internal organs, and back bending is fantastic for the kidneys. It was kind of mind blowing when I began to consider what my heart wanted from my movement. It changed everything to ask myself what the parts of my body I couldn’t see needed from my activity. I often ask my students if they would rather work in a corner office, or a cubicle. Most of us would rather have the space, the light from a window, the ability to stretch out without condemnation. So I ask my students to consider this, too. Would your heart rather work in a cubical or a corner office? Would your back rather hunch over? Do your calves like sitting still, calcifying from lack of movement? If we look at our ribs, and consider the cartilage and muscles between the bones, we see that we can move and stretch those muscles between ribs. Those spaces can create lift. How does it feel when we allow that to happen?
When I used to lift weights, the goal was to see how BIG I could get, but now that I do yoga, I’m more interested in how much I can stretch my intercostal muscles. When they are allowed to stretch out, I can BREATH bigger. My chest can expand with the freshness of pure air all around me. Which ultimately means that I can get more oxygen into the blood, into the pancreas, the heart, the liver, deep into the muscles. It gratefully floods oxygen into the brain so that I can think more clearly, and accept the feeling of energetic serenity that follows an oxygen bath. That’s kind of a cool thing, right? And so, all the twists and stretches...it’s about the body, not the just the appearance of toned muscles. The whole body. The parts you can’t see. The parts you depend upon to live. Your heart. Your liver. The metabolic communication within your cells. Your nervous system. Even our mind FEELS better, because when we are practicing feeling the body, we breathe. We feel. We connect the dots. All of it. It’s really easy to shut down and forget about the body. But, ask yourself...does that work? Does it feel good? Does the body feel...alive?
Yoga is a practice, not a perfect. It’s a practice that allows us back to a truth beyond driving from point A to point B, checking off lists, mowing the lawn. It’s a practice that asks us to listen to our bodies, from the inside out. One of the ways I’m excited to call us back into considering what yoga can mean for us all is to offer a new class that I’ve developed. It’s a practice beyond asana that includes meditation, and participation in reading one of my favorite guides, The Yogis Road Map by Bhavani Silvia Maki. We are working with breath, anatomy, meditation and questions that will deepen our understanding of Yoga beyond asana. For anyone who signs up for this beautiful Sunday evening opportunity to expand their practice, my Sunday 4:00 class will be free as a way to enter into the class with happy muscles that are ready to ask for more.
Consider it a way to have a mini yoga retreat, right here in Missoula, once a week, Starting April 7th. (As a shameless plug, Add in a massage, and your retreat experience thickens exponentially!) And, as always, our Acro community is alive and well! Adding play to your yoga practice might just set the clock back on the aging process; I’m sure of it! Joining us on Saturday afternoons at 12:30 or on Monday evenings at 7:15 is something I want to encourage, because, really, there’s nothing more fun or more strength building all at the same time. Don’t think you can? Don’t have a partner? Aren’t sure you have the gumption? Surprise yourself and do it anyway! It will make you STRONG, will deepen your flexibility, and the smile on your face will only be seconded by the smile in your heart. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.