Breathing and chakras and mantras…Oh my!

While I’ve got a few free minutes I’ll recap my last two yoga classes. Last week, I had a male instructor and we learned breathing styles, which were amazing for relaxation. This week my class had a female instructor and we learned about chakras and mantras, which pretty much blew my mind.

Last week we learned about yoga breathing or “pranayama” (Thanks Google. I’m a beginner so forgive me if I mess up any of the terminology)  I’m glad I attended this class because I need help in that area. Yes, it may sound weird but I’m having a hard time breathing correctly during yoga. What’s more natural than breathing, right? Well, it seems my ‘natural’ is to be tense.  Taking slow, deep breathes just hasn’t been easy for me. I never realized how much focus and effort it takes to just chill out.

On the flipside, there are also breathing exercises that are designed to challenge the body by forcing breathes out and by holding breathes (i.e. breaths of fire).  Another interesting breathing exercise was holding one nostril closed and alternating what side you inhale and exhale out of aka nadi sodhana .

I was skeptical about the breathing exercises but I admit to feeling relaxed and even light-headed after. Hello, yoga buzz!

Eagle pose helped open my chest for deep breaths

Though we learned different relaxing breathing techniques, man, the class was intense.  I can’t blame it on the instructor being a male though. Maybe that’s just his style of teaching. We held poses longer and there was more repetition. The class was quiet but my body was hollering at me! We have to be taken out of our comfort zone to grow, I guess.

During this week’s class learned seated and standing twisting poses like:

^I’m a pro at this one. lol

^ Surprisingly, this wasn’t as tough as I thought it’d be.

The instructor said twisting poses are good for cleansing and went on to explain more of the spritual sides of yoga. She briefly broke down the different chakras, their elements and the colors associated with each.

I’m still learning about chakras myself but here’s a link that explains each and their significance for fellow rookies like me.

Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?

Chakras also have chants or “mantras” associated with them. The mantras help with meditation and building connections to chakras. We learned a few one word mantras that just sounded like a lot of deep humming to me at first. But it blew my mind because I actually felt vibrations in the areas connected to that chakra!  For instance, while humming “Om”, a mantra for the third eye, I felt tingling in the middle of my forehead.   Ok, did I lose you with that? I know just reading may seem kinda deep so imagine my shock when I felt it physically. This yoga journey is pretty exciting! I wonder what’s next….


Yo, I’ve started yoga!

This week, I survived my first real yoga class. In the past I’ve tried yoga but never  considered practicing on a regular basis.  Even after become serious about exploring yoga, I’ll admit that I wasn’t too confident about going to a class. #PlusSizedBlackWomanConfession .  There was always the option of doing yoga myself at home via videos or Youtube but I felt like I was missing something.  One of my concerns was/is if my form was right. No video can tell you to if your feet are pointing the wrong way or if you butt should be poked out more.  Luckily, I found a class specifically for beginners that fit my schedule.  Since everyone taking the class is a rookie I figured it would be less awkward for me there than in a class full of seasoned yogis. I know, I know… I was worrying about the wrong things, right?  (For the record there were a couple other Black women and a couple other plus-sized women but I was on the only plus-sized Black woman. “I’m so special…so special, so special, so special” lol)

Anyway, I had a great experience. Got a quick crash course of the origins of yoga, learned breathing techniques, the instructor was able to help me with my form and there was a much needed meditation session at the end of class.  (Sidebar: I’ve joined Deepak’s meditation challenge so I killed to goals with one stone during class. Sweet!)   At home, I’ve been working on my tree poses.

Example of a tree pose^Example of a tree pose

During class I was shaking so bad that I looked like a tree in thunderstorm. There were few other “wobbly trees”in class so I don’t feel too bad. In fact, one guy stumbled so hard he went to grab the wall and damn near pulled the security system down.  Hopefully, there won’t be any serious injuries in our future classes.

Super Soulin’

On Sundays mornings it’s become a habit of mine to watch Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church and Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Today’s message from Joel was about life bringing the right people to us and leading us where we need to be. He explained that if you lead righteous life opportunities and helpful people will come to you by surprise.

I guess that is a message that really needs to be heard because a few hours later Iyanla Vanzant mentioned her surprise opportunity with Oprah’s network. Iyanla said her son called and urged her to call Oprah about having show on OWN but Iyanla rejected that idea. Iyanla reminisced that just three days after the conversation with her son, she received a call from OWN asking her to film a test show.  At one time I thought big breaks and chance meetings were luck but maybe not. When you follow your life’s purpose doors you never even knew existed will open. “Don’t believe me? Just watch.” lol

Right now, I’m watching Deepak Chopra describe the benefits of meditation (Super Soul Sunday: Oprah & Deepak’s: Mediation 101).
I’ll admit that meditation is an area that I’ve never explored. I’m used to my life being hectic. Not saying my life is a bad hectic but it’s hectic nonetheless. When not ripping and running physically I’m bouncing around different screens on my cell phone or computer. I’m going to challenge myself to try meditation. Ironically, just as I typed this a commercial for Deepak’s mediation challenge just came on…. And it begins tomorrow!  Whoa, somebody cue the Twilight Zone music.

At the beginning of the year I said to myself that I wanted 2013 to be my year of expansion.  I want to try new things, change my mindset and broaden my horizons. I still need work though. I still eat too much junk food, I still get annoyed by ratchetness, and I still waste time/money on some of the wrong things. Though I’m not perfect I’m still ready to better myself.  Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” just popped into my head. “Na na na na  na na na na na naaaa….”

Welp, I’m going to keep super soulin’ on this beautiful Sunday. Later tonight another show I watch every Sunday comes on, True Blood!
(Hey to all my fellow Truebies out there!)

This show is full of violence, sex, more violence and more sex –basically the total opposite of everything I watch in the morning. Hmmm, does that reverse all my soul searching?