11/11 is Remembrance Day in Canada and it always brings out the melancholy in me especially when we couple it with a rainy cold day. The rain completely complements the day with such harmony though, and it’s quite serendipitous that today is my dad’s birthday, but we don’t have cake cause he’s no longer with us. It’s been almost 9 years now, but we still pay respects to his memories as a family. He was not buried, but instead, his ashes were spread in a beautiful body of water that will allow him to travel around the world to see the things he was so afraid to go and see when he was alive because of his fear of flying.
Our battle with diabetes, heart disease, dementia, depression and schizophrenia with him, was not a secret. Most of my friends and relatives were well aware of that fact that my dad suffered a laundry load of illnesses. We coped though, but for that reason, my mother sent both my brother and me away for school, so we didn’t have to suffer the sight of our dad’s mind and body being taken over by disease. I resented my parents, especially my mother for the same reason why she loved me and wanted the best for me. It wasn’t until I started graduate school in New York that I came to understand the way I had to grow up. It was at the same time that I started practicing yoga. It was almost 7 years since my first Vinyasa Flow Class at Yoga To the People in New York City and I still remember one of my best friends right beside me that day, like it was yesterday.
We live in a world where we constantly evaluate the value of things and compare it with one another. As technology becomes a major part of our lives, we get more and more jaded as the world is now literally available at our fingertips. Experiences become more virtual and less and less human contact is necessary to be living in this new world that we are adapting to. Some direct connection is definitely missing, but the underlying insecurities will always be there where we will continue to be our worst judges. Yoga is much needed in this world of disconnect to make us become a better community and to empower us to become self-loving individuals before spreading that to others around us.
At Yoga To the People, I’ve always been inspired to, one day, have my own Karma Yoga studio and provide affordable yoga at a central location. Every time my lease was up and I had to move, I made sure I didn’t stray too far away from this studio or else I would be devastated. It was there that I was introduced to Vinyasa Flow and I chose it over any other styles of yoga to practice. I loved how each breath was associated to a transition pose or an actual pose itself and it really allowed me to concentrate on my breathing like I never did before. I noticed my body changing for the better with the consistency of my practice and it empowered and motivated me to go more often. It was also just an hour of my time maybe 3-4 times a week and I had such a great workout during the practice I was craving it more and more. I even scheduled my day around the yoga classes at one point.
As we see more and more images of people popping up on our news feeds illustrating the workouts they did and the food they ate to become happy and fit,— we then internalize that as something that we also must do from their marketing. The lucrative fitness and wellness industry bombards us with images upon images of good looking fit people and offering us quick solutions for weight loss and toning. This virtual reality we have access to is not real at all. In fact, we need a place where we can workout ourselves via our bodies through to our minds. I always believed in pairing good nutrition with exercise and I have a plan to do so with pursuing Vinyasa Yoga as a style of Yoga that I will be teaching alongside my already established business plan.
It may come as a nostalgic approach from my days in grad school, but for those that are close to me I am opening a Karma Yoga studio in Mount Pleasant. I want to provide a similar experience that I had. I want people to feel like they can go get a good workout without paying the high prices for it. Young people especially need Vinyasa in their lives because it is during these college years that they really learn to be independent and self-caring. The practice of Vinyasa Yoga can help someone who’s living on their own for the first time to practice multitasking life skills that can be adapted to their real life. According to the Yoga Journal, “[t]he word “vinyasa” can be translated as “arranging something in a special way,” like yoga poses for example.” “In vinyasa yoga classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next.” I felt Vinyasa helped me with organizing my life a little bit more efficient as it is a series of multitasking efforts connecting my breath and the poses I put myself in. The whole underlying meaning of yoga can be linked to mirror someone’s life and this is a good example of how it turned out for me.
In a Vinyasa Flow class, we link the sequences of poses with a flow series that allows us to come back to center. Starting from mountain pose we go to forward fold, onto high plank followed by chaturanga dandasana then upward dog and finally pushing back into downward dog. This sequence is an inevitable transition throughout class to separate each yoga pose: “Vinyasa is also the term used to describe a specific sequence of poses (Chaturanga to Upward-Facing Dog to Downward-Facing Dog) commonly used throughout a vinyasa class.” When we all come to a flow sequence, it is almost home, — a second nature sequence that happens so fluidly that it connects us to other poses, which builds up strength, mobility, endurance and tone. I love how it brings unfamiliar poses together creating a real sense of connection with other yogis around us and to our own mat.
I think Vinyasa is a practice that you can do anywhere with floor space. I believe that it is even versatile enough to be adapted into a heated room, if you take each transition and pose a little slower to concentrate even more on the flow of movement and on one’s breathing. I also focus on teaching Vinyasa Yoga with an emphasis on the Ujjayi Breath. The ancient Ujjayi breathing technique practiced in Vinyasa, from Chopra.com, allows us to be energized, yet can calm the mind because of its rhythm: “[T]he [Oceanic] sound that Ujjayi provides helps us to synchronize breath with movements during yoga, making the entire yoga practice more rhythmic.” “Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body.”
With the practice of Vinyasa Yoga moving forward, I can make it more my own and allow changes to happen as I grow into a better-versed teacher. The short time spent learning how to teach the poses and breaths, I have concretely decided that my expression of yoga is best illustrated through my body and speech is the Vinyasa style of practice. I only hope to become better and better at it through time and through constructive feedback from students and other teachers. Stay tuned on www.truenosh.com for upcoming yoga schedules, which complement the cooking classes and products we currently have. We’re here, cause you are too sweet for sugar!