Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Costa Rica YTT – “Shit on Should”

Shit on Should. Best quote ever. (Thanks Kori for this one). We all do it, am I right or am I right? I should have came in early….I should drink less… I should go to the gym. Stop shoulding on yourself!

I have another quote to add “Trying is lying, just do it!”. Um, wow okay. How different do these two statements sound: I am going to try to call my family more vs. I am going to call my family  more.  Removing the try, added quite an umpf to my words, right? I know not the best example, but pay attention to your speech & say what you mean! Your words have more of an impact on your emotions and life than we realize.

In addition to the shoulding and trying quotes, we’ve had some really great discussions and lessons that I thought I’d share.


Let me start off by saying how intrigued I am about chakras. This was one of my favorite topics we worked with in the YTT.  There are many many books on the chakras and I will just graze the surface, but here we go. 

Yogis have used the chakra system for thousands of years as an integral part of holistic healing. Understanding and using your chakras can promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Our bodies appear to be solid, but, in fact, we are 99.99% empty space filled with energetic, vibrating atoms, according to quantum physicists.  Our entire body vibrates at a basic frequency of approximately 8 cycles per second, which is the same frequency as the basic electromagnetic field of the Earth.  We are literally attuned to the Earth.

Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning "spinning wheel of energy". These energy centers within our bodies receive and transmit energy, and each is situated at a major endocrine gland along the spinal column, and nerve bundle within the physical body, called a plexus. In one of the books, I saw a drawing of each of the major nerve bundles and how each associates with a chakra and it really all just clicked for me. It makes sense!

There are seven major chakras. Each chakra in our bodies govern certain areas of our physical and emotional self.
The 1st Chakra (Root - Earth) governs Physical Needs and Security. The 2nd Chakra (Sacral - Water) governs Sexuality, Emotions, and Desires.  The 3rd Chakra (Solar Plexus - Fire) governs Power.  The 4th Chakra (Heart - Air) governs Love, Forgiveness, and Compassion.  The 5th Chakra (Throat - Ether) governs Communication.  The 6th Chakra (Brow) governs Intuition and Reasoning.  The 7th Chakra (Crown) governs Spirituality and Understanding.
The chakras are interrelated; one affects another. The Root Chakra is the lowest of the 7 chakras and spins the slowest or resonates at the lowest of the 7 vibration frequencies.  The Crown Chakra is the highest of the 7 chakras and spins the fastest. 

For a sense of health and well-being, we want to be a well-balanced, well-developed person on every level of our Chakras. Balancing the chakras is not a one-time cure. Like cultivating physical health and well-being, this is a lifelong process. Just as the state of our physical health largely depends on our habits, so does the state of our chakra balance.

Imbalances occur when there is too much (excessive) or too little (deficient) energy flowing through the chakras. 
A block in a chakra means something is getting in the way of the free flow of energy through that vortex. It's sort of like having an artery that is clogged with plaque, only instead of a physical block, this is a metaphysical block that is composed of stagnant emotional energy. The closure or imbalance/energy blockage doesn’t usually occur in response to a single event.  It’s the repetition of similar events without relief that eventually closes off the chakra or causes the imbalance/energy blockage. By understanding how each chakra affects a particular body function and life issue, it is possible to identify where a chakra is malfunctioning.

Here are examples of excessive, deficient and balanced characteristics in the Throat Chakra (5th) which governs self-expression:
Excessive: talking too much, gossiping, difficulty being silent, not listening well, being argumentative, acting like a know-it-all, being critical, sore throats, overactive thyroid.  
Deficient: trouble expressing yourself/difficulty putting things to words, fear of speaking, lack of confidence in your opinions, weak voice, under-active thyroid, asthma , neck and shoulder problems
Balanced: expressive, eloquent, a great communicator and a good listener. 

As soon as I read these characteristics I realized that I have a deficiency in my throat chakra. Hello neck and shoulder problems. At times even when I completely understand a topic I struggle when it comes to explaining the topic to others, it never comes out right and I get frustrated. I’ve always avoided public speaking when I can. What am I doing at a YTT training then right? A yoga teacher does quite a lot of public speaking. Well it’s exactly what I need to be doing to open up this chakra.

There are many ways to balance the chakras and clear any energy blockages/imbalances.  Some useful therapies and tools are: Energy Work – Reiki or Acupuncture, Intuitive/Spiritual Counseling, Physical exercises from hula hooping, swimming or yoga, Positive thinking, Clear Intention, Massage, Journaling, Breathe exercises.

For example, The tools I am using to open up my throat chakra and bring it into balance include journaling, chanting, reading aloud and yoga poses such as camel or bridge.

Ok whoa, that was a lot of text and I only skimmed the surface when it comes to chakras….If you are interested in learning more here are some great books I plan to buy myself:

Chakra Meditation: Discover Energy, Creativity, Focus, Love, Communication, Wisdom, and Spirit

Anything by Anodea Judith:

Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System As a Path to the Self

Acting the Chakras Out
I know that is some heavy stuff up there and to lighten it up a bit Ashley had us put together skits with the chakras. During these 15 minute skits, each group acted out the deficient/excessive characteristics for their particular chakra. We decided I was a neutral actor in this skit and was the teacher – great public speaking practice that I definitely needed.

Overall, we all ended up having more fun than we expected with this assignment – I literally was laughing for an hour straight. The moment I know we will never forget is when Lili was playing the part of excessiveness in the 2nd Charkra which governs your sexual organs. Let’s just say she was being quite the flirt with her yoga teacher Chris when the pose was happy baby…."does this make you happy, baby?”  If you’re not familiar with this asana, google it haha.

Being the Victim

“When you heal yourself, you’ll heal 7 generations past and 7 future.”

My back, my shoulder, my arm, my hamstring, my this, my that….So many of us have been taught and still do play the victim role. I know I do.

I’ve always identified and victimized myself as having a bad back. My mother and grandmother both have had multiple neck and back surgeries – watching their pain has scared the shit out of me. It’s also created this thought process in my head that genetically that’s why I also have pain in my back and what can I do about it. This negative thought process has limited me.

My struggles with my back do not make me a victim.  I need to shift my thoughts from the victim role to my back being a challenge in my physical body. I can work on:
-Strengthening my core to support my back
-Being aware of my posture
-Both stretching and strengthening the weaker muscles in my back

Let your challenges be your greatest teachers.  Even in painful and difficult moments find the joy/teacher or lesson in the pain – which can be emotional or physical.  Remember Every moment is teaching from grace/god/the universe!

Once again acceptance: Accepting where I am now in my physical practice. I am by no means naturally limber and that is okay. Yoga doesn’t require you to be a pretzel. Every single one of us has a different body and our own unique practice. We will never ever have the exact same practice as somebody else. So own your practice and make it yours – for me that includes many modifications and blocks! Thank goodness for blocks and straps.

With focus, dedication and by listening to your body, we all have the ability to move further in asanas. The biggest reminder for myself is to be patient – this won’t and shouldn’t happen overnight.


A very big part of this training has been focused on creativity – from dance, music, writing, painting, vision boarding. AH! Whenever somebody talks about being a journalist or that they enjoy I writing, my reaction has always been “I’m not a writer! I’m a math brain, I’m not creative!” Says who? Why the hell do I pigeon hole myself like that?

Clearly this blog, especially the last few posts that have been heavily text focused, and all the journaling/self-reflection during this training has opened up the creative side of mind that I never use and have chosen it to be that way. I choose differently. I am a writer! I can write. These are my words.

Maybe I’m not a natural painter for example, but I highly enjoy photography. My camera is the paintbrush and my photographs are how I express my experiences.

Even if I'm not a natural painter, I can do it. In addition to the Chakra skits, we each created a representation of the Chakras and how we understand them through art. It was really a challenge for me to just let it all flow - don't think too much or compare to others. just allow it to be. It was really beautiful to see all of our paintings:

I know some of this might sound silly, but opening up and embracing the creativity within myself has been a revelation.


Our first teaching exercise was in small groups, working with Sun Salutation A & B. Easy! Ha. Wow so much harder than it looks. Here were the guidelines: Active cues (exhale vs. exhaling), no demonstrating or using the sansrikt or English name of the pose. 

Teaching out loud was tricky. I naturally wanted to do the flow as well and say move into downward dog – the important piece is to understand what you are doing in your body and describe that action. Somebody who has never practiced yoga before is going to be lost if you start saying downward go, uktasana, cobra, akward pose etc. What a great first exercise for us.

We’ve also started to draw some beautiful stick figures in our journals to note down any particular poses or sequence of poses we enjoyed. Lots of laughs around this. For anybody who is a yogi, think about drawing eagle pose for example…draw it and let me know how it works out :)

As I am writing these posts, I’m realizing there is no way I can fully capture all of my experience in words. I'm already writing a ton and I've only touched on a few topics we've covered. Overall, this journey has been quite the roller coaster, but one of the best choices I have made in my life! hands down.

Where words fall short, let photographs speak:

Howler Monkey right outside the studio

Sunset at Playa Guinoes

Ashley showing a modify assist with me. Felt so good!
Ash teaching us an assist with Chris. You look so happy Chris haha

So serious, I need to lighten up...and get the knee way closer to 90 degrees

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