Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lessons in Ayurveda

Attended a week of Mysore classes with Jessica Blanchard in Yoga Manila's beautiful Ortigas studio (so far, the best smelling studio I've been to :)) It was an immense learning experience for me. Jessica caught a couple of my bad habits (Oops! Not binding properly, feet not aligned) but was supportive and constructive throughout. I truly appreciated her mentoring.

Jessica adjusting in Supta Kurmasana
Image from neworleansashtanga.com
And despite my tardiness in booking an appointment, I had the good luck to catch a spot and have a private consultation with Jessica. Some things I learned:

Vata - Pitta
She asked questions about my diet, my practice and my daily routine. She checked my pulse, looked at my hands and nails and asked me to stick out my tongue. My constitution was declared to be Vata - Pitta. From this, a couple of recommendations were given:

  • Moisturize skin, even if humid. Vata skin tends to be dry
  • Use Coconut Oil on dry heels and peeling toes (aka Ashtanga feet) 
  • Remove green bell peppers from my vegetable juice. The peppers aggravate Pitta
When you oil your feet at night, you can dream of being in the beach...

Prior to meeting Jessica, I listed down my meals for the past 3 days. The practice of itemizing what I ate and drank was enlightening in itself. Jessica added a few more suggestions for me to chew on: 
(with a bit of embellishment, for comedic effect)
  • Jessica: Try to have one vegetarian meal a day
    Thought bubble: I will try, try, try :)

  • Jessica: If you have meat in your meal, stick to that one meat. For example: if you have chicken for lunch, only eat chicken and do not have additional bites of pork or beef. If you have seafood, only eat seafood for that meal.
    Thought bubble: You mean malulugi na ako sa buffet?! *

  • Jessica: Add vegetables to every meal. You don't need to have dessert after every meal.
    Thought bubble: Waaahhhhh!!!
Bye bye, desserts!
  • Jessica: And no more midnight snacks
    Thought bubble: Double waaahhhh!!!

  • Jessica: Due to your constitution, it is better to have hearty comforting meals like soup, stew, porridge, etc. Minimize fried food.
    Thought bubble: I can do this!! Take out from Tao Yuan, Gloria Maris and Summer Palace!

And guess what, I was able to teach Jessica a couple of things as well. O-ha!

Lesson 1Use Coconut Oil from Day 1 of pregnancy to avoid or minimize stretch marks
Lesson 2: Atis = Custard Apple
Lesson 3: Pork floss. A yummy bread topping. Well... it's technically pork-based. But it's worth a try!

As you can see, the exchange of knowledge was not proportional...

Yummy pork floss. Image from creatingwithmymind.blogspot.com

To end, let me just say that this post does not do justice to the lessons I've learned from Jessica. The knowledge, warmth and energy she has shared cannot be captured with written words. Thank you Jessica for your presence. I hope you come back to Manila soon. 

* Translated: I won't get my money's worth in a buffet anymore?!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Skinned Elbows and More

The past few weeks have found me with skinned elbows. Not the greatest thing in the world. I found the effect of dressing up and wearing platform heels thwarted by the icky brown, red and black marks on my elbows. Hindi bagay!

Imagine this, but with dark elbows. Eeek!

On this thought train, I started listing all the "injuries" I acquired throughout my 2 year Ashtanga life. And I asked myself, why am I doing this to myself? Why do I bother getting manicures and pedicures when I just ruin them the day after? Why do I even bother looking for a good cut and color when my hair is just tied up and sweaty during practice?

Despite all the China Gel, Tiger Balm, Arnica and KT Tape, I still find myself looking forward to the mat each day. It doesn't matter that my husband thinks I sometimes "smell kinda funky" (his exact words). It turns out that with each ache, pain and injury I learn something about myself and my body. Which I think brings me a step closer into understanding myself and embracing who I am. 

Eau du Tiger Balm. The scent of yogis and yoginis

Sarvangasana Tattoo
I used to have a Sarvangasana tattoo at the back of my neck. I didn't know how to balance my weight on my shoulders. Instead I would put the weight on my neck (not good!). The pressure resulted in a black round stamp on my nape. I had since learned to reconfigure my weight to my shoulders so the stamp eventually disappeared. Sometimes, I even put a blanket behind my back to give an extra inch of space between the mat and my neck.

Assisted Shoulderstand

Other Lessons, Realizations and A-ha Moments
Twisted lumbar spine - I learned not to abuse my back with too many backbends. I also got into the habit of icing my lumbar area after a particularly intense practice. 

Overextended left shoulder - I learned to keep my shoulder in a neutral position instead of swerving off to the side just so I could "grab more". I realized that "more" is not always better.

Strained right knee - From Janu Sirsana C, I learned to respect the limits of my body when I hurt my knee by pushing it to the ground.

Photo from Monkey Yoga Shala

Banged chin - Through much trial and error, I eventually gained balance in Bakasana and Bhujapidasana. Overcoming my fear meant letting go of the towel I use to cushion my falls. I learned to appreciate small steps of progress instead of hankering for big, all-in-one moments.

Super lola doing Bakasana

Running into a wall - I learned to come up from Urdhva Danurasana using my legs instead of just powering through. Balance is better than force.

Bumps on the head, bruises on the legs - Before learning how to balance in Sirsasana, I first had to learn how to fall from Sirsasana. Falling without injury meant rolling with my body instead of tensing up. Learning headstands taught me how to be accepting and patient.

So, have I learned anything from my skinned elbows? Nothing yet, except that I ought to wear long sleeved tops when going out. In the meantime, it's practice, practice, practice...

Photo from Pedro Moura Pinheiro

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