Sunday, May 3, 2009

Om, Wow (and Ow!)

I spent yesterday at Burlington's inaugural Yoga Conference. I was volunteering at it, so I got there bright and early (ie, before 7am) to help out. I finally got home last night at around 10:30. 

What a day! It was truly amazing. There were four sessions, with three classes to choose from at each session. If you've ever wanted to try different forms of yoga but didn't want to drive all around town, this was the place to do it. I managed to attend all four sessions. Let me tell you, by the end I was whooped! I took one full class (1.5 hours) each in Embodyoga, Flow Yoga, Anusara and Chakra Tuning.

To be honest, I've taken Anusara before and liked it, but my other two choices were Partner Yoga (no partner!) and Yoga for Social Activism, which personally just didn't hold my interest. The Flow class wasn't my top choice; I would have rather taken Restorative. Unfortunately, that class was sold out and my only other choice was Eye of the Tiger. That's a "Level 3" course. That means WAY outta my league! I would have liked to have observed that though. It's not too often you get to watch people contort themselves like that. Anyway, it turned out to be one of my favorite classes of the day.

After dinner, there was the evening keynote, which was given by Prem Prakash, who runs a Yoga School in Middlebury. It was an excellent talk, and I'm really glad I stayed for it. After that there was a kirtan that was run by a local yoga teacher and the band American Raga. It was kinda of a nontraditional kirtan (from what he was saying; I've never done one before). It was really moving and I was surprised at how deeply I got into the chanting and music. It was beautiful. I found the chant honoring Saraswati particularly moving: 
Om Ayim Saraswatiyeh Swaha

It means "offering deep reverence to Saraswati, Goddess of music, language, education."

I also managed to squeeze in some henna:

Isn't it purty? It's going to be interesting to see what people say at work tomorrow about that. 

Anyway, here are a few things I took away from the day of yoga niceness:

1. There is something powerful about a bunch of people getting together to celebrate peace and positivity.

2. All those props that people rely on for yoga really aren't necessary. All you need is you and a willingness to practice.

3. In his evening keynote, Prem Prakesh said "... cast all of your responsibilities aside and denounce them. Then pick them back up and embrace them as blessings." That really spoke to where I am in my life now, and I'm going to try to integrate this into my life.

4. I finally figured out why I so greatly dislike inversions like Plow Pose: my damned boobs strangle me. D'oh!

5. Another thing Prem Prakesh spoke about was taking down the walls and barriers that "protect" your Real Self from the painful things in life. He said that the pain wasn't necessarily any less by doing that, but in feeling that pain, you grow and strengthen from it, which will in turn grow and strengthen other things in your life.

6. My practice is improving. I may not be anywhere near a level 3 class, but I managed to get through 4 classes yesterday. And yes, my muscles are sore today, but once upon a time my muscles felt this bad after just one class. I consider that an improvement in strength.

7. I was amazed at my ability to get lost in the chanting and music during the kirtan. Shutting my mind off during meditation has always been an issue for me; moving meditations such as yoga work for me. Apparently music does too.

8. I need to rethink things life-wise. Where am I going? Is it where I'd like to go, or where I think I should go? What am I running from? What is missing?

Lots of stuff to think of in the coming days and weeks.

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