Monday, February 21, 2011

recap of workshop on attention

I got to spend a full day at the studio on Saturday teaching, and it all felt so very good. The Saturday morning class has long been one of my fave classes to teach. I taught it every Saturday for about two years, then Emily and rotated until she had to give it up, now Ann Dean and I rotate. Saturday morning is a happy time for folks to come in and take yoga and this past Saturday was gorgeous.

I also taught February's workshop on Attention on Saturday. It was such a lovely gathering of yoginis. Delightful, each one of them. And the content that we explored is pretty near and dear to my heart.

We started with an outline of the day, brief intros, hopes for the day, and to stated what we were feeling in our body at that very moment. Great way to tune into attention early on. When Grace (awesome life coach Grace) was here last summer she had us to this and it's been something I've incorporated into workshops and trainings. I recall this past Saturday in the moment I felt a little buzz of energy right at my heart. I felt so very grateful to be there and sharing this information. My hope was to serve to the best of my ability to the gals who had taken half of there Saturday to be at the studio.

I began by introducing the eighth limbs of yoga, as concentration and meditation are two of the limbs laid out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I shared the six tools for concentration that Patanjali shares. I also introduced the three step mindfulness method that I share in a previous blog.

Early in the workshop I spoke of how highly I regard those three steps of setting an intention, taking action, and staying engaged and observing throughout the process. Some of us think that when we set intentions, it's not likely they will happen. But just look at the amazing things we do day in and day out. All of us set intentions of some sort throughout the day and we pull off things considered nothing short of amazing compared to other nations. Getting up, taking a shower, driving a car to a job, having the rights that we do. That's all pretty amazing. When we woke up we set small and/or large intentions then we go about our day taking the actions. On a good day we will observe, reflect, and decide make needed changes.

If the Universe supports us in this greatness, why wouldn't she support us in other crazy cool amazing ways?

That was a little bit of me on a soapbox perhaps, but I just can't resist. I feel strongly about all of that.

The idea of meditation is intimidating to a lot of students. I wanted to make it as accessible as I could and give different tools throughout our time. We started with walking meditation. We practiced several different ways:
1. Walking and not at all paying attention to the present moment, which is what we mostly do in everyday life.
2. Walking slowly, mindfully and paying attention to the moment at hand. I gave students the words lift, move, place, feel to use as they walked across the studio.
3. The third we explored walking at a more normal pace but continuing to stay connected to sensations we felt in the moment.

The next tool we used was sustaining attention on breath. We all found a cozy seat elevating our pelvis on two block and a blanket and we used a strap to hold the legs. We explored this at the anatomy training several weeks ago. Happy that Jules shared this jewel. I had typed up a page long script for tuning into the breath, relaxing the body, then using a purifying breath to release tension and stress.

We transitioned in the asana (yoga poses) portion. We moved slowly with great attention to body and breath. There is an article in this month's yoga journal that inspired me in teaching student's to pay exquisite attention to balance, stability, and that order.

The asana practice felt very sweet to me. It was inspiring to see these gals paying such close attention to what they were doing. Truly a beautiful class to witness. We practiced for about 75 minutes, starting with vinyasa then moving into a couple yin poses at the end. Even for the yin poses we used ten breaths to get into the posture.

I led the girls through a short yoga nidra (the one in this month's pdf) then let them drift into happy savasana land for a while longer. I thought the attention placed on the body parts for yoga nidra would be a nice topping off to the practice.

We came back to seated for another meditation. As inspiration, I shared one of my fave poems by Mary Oliver, When I Am Among The Trees. I thought it spoke perfectly to the Light that exists within each of us. The poem was a prompt to go in, visualize a small flame in the heart and focus attention there.

After asana and meditation the gals reflected and journaled on some questions I gave them while I got some snacks ready. We stayed in this quiet, reflective mode longer.

Transitioning into sustaining attention on eating. I instructed the gals on taking 10 breaths prior to eating, noticing the presence of emotions, eating in silence without distractions, and using the five senses to stay present with the art of eating.

It was cute and inspiring to see each gal get her food and find a spot in the studio to sit and eat. Students usually find a sunny spot on the studio floor sitting atop a yoga blanket. Today was no different.

We came back together and had a nice discussion about the different tools we'd used for sustaining attention: walking, breathing, asana, yoga nidra, focusing on the light within, and eating. It's always interesting for me to hear how students react differently to practices. And I always learn a lot from hearing about their experiences.

We closed out our day by identifying one intention to focus on in the upcoming month. They also paused and let themselves feel, really feel what their body, mind, and heart would feel if their intention was happening in that moment. They also wrote down action steps to take to move closer to said intention.

Of course I wanted to hear their intentions. More often than not students are quite vague in their intentions. I take that back, students can be great at identifying intentions, but vague about the actions involved to realize their intention. So I was really encouraging them to get as specific as they could in identifying the action steps.

Just like that four hours come and go. We're all amazed that the time has gone so quickly. And that my friends, makes for a great day at work. I love my job.

**I can not wait for next month's workshop on cleanse/purify. It's gonna be good.**


Emily said...

wow - what i would give for a yoga workshop or a class just for me these days...maybe i can make the one in march...

Sharon Tessandori said...

Emily I miss you and would LOVE if you could make it next month!