What to expect when you are trying hard not to expect anything!

A Group of Ruffians 

In one day, it will be one full month since my return from the yoga therapy training with Inner Peace. I feel that it is now time to reflect on my experiences.  Grab a comfortable seat and maybe a cup of hot tea as I spout off about the beginning of my journey.

I went into this training with a lot of research time behind me.  Making big decisions usually takes me a very long time and constitutes many hours of researching the options.  It can, at times, be very  frustrating for myself but I like to feel that I weighed all of my choices.  After looking at all 23 programs in existence and writing my pros and cons list (a two year exploration), I decided on the very one that first resonated with me – the Inner Peace Yoga Therapy Program http://innerpeaceyogatherapy.com.

The determining factors were: the timing of the training (two week segments) for the Level 1, and go at your own pace for the other levels and modules (within a 3 to 6 year window); the quality of the faculty from a wide range of disciplines; the comprehensive depth of learning listed in the syllabi; the cost; and the feedback that I solicited from past graduates.  I felt intuitively that this was the right program and did my homework to prove it.

So as I was poised to fly out to the first two weeks of training, I came up with an intention while I was in the program. I would have a ‘Come what it may’ attitude.  I had to practice staying present and focusing on what was on hand at that time.  I arrived the day before the training which gave the group one night to transition with good food and shy introductions around the dinner table.  Later, I met my two roomates (Whitney and Shelley) who I would be retiring with every night.  Before nodding off to sleep, I questioned myself as to whether I would be able to accomplish the goal of staying in the moment. 

And you know after a restless night of non-refreshing sleep, I showed up the next day to our first day of the journey without expectations or any preconceived notions.  I don’t know if it was the hill country air or the beautiful surroundings of the ashram or even the delicious vegetarian food but I entered that first day of training with a present presence of everything.  I didn’t even need to give my intention any effort in practicing.  

From the get go, the program felt right.  The faculty was just as outstanding as I predicted, the venue a perfect backdrop for so much learning and there were even some surprises which I could have never imagined.  The support of the training staff was top notch and I felt their presence in a comforting way. The other was the immediate closeness that the group of trainees felt for each other. A sisterhood was formed. A perfect fit for me, my life, and the group of 16 beautiful souls I now call my sisters of peace.  I left that first day of training and everyday thereafter with the widest grin on my face, not regretting, not lamenting but celebrating.  This truly is my calling to be a Yoga Therapist and this truly is the right program for me through mind, body and spirit.  It is all coming together.

Thank you for hanging in there while I share my initial experiences of the program.  I look forward to sharing more stories, teachings and guidance.

The Poses
Wide Angle Forward Fold

Props: bolster, two blocks, at least 2-3 blankets, neck roll
Benefits: decompression, good pose for transitioning from your day, stretches the hanstrings, spine, regulates the breathing pattern, good for digestion, create inner focus and awareness.

Place two blocks at height to accommodate you as you lean over bolster, place bolster on top vertically with a blanket or neck roll to support your forehead.  Sit at edge of blanket on the floor and if your knees need more support, roll up to blankets to place under the knees.  Lengthen the spine on an inhale and lean slowly over the bolster support bringing hands to legs, floor or even placing them on the bolster.  Stay with even rhythmic breath for 10 minutes of release.  Additional grounding if needed, add a rolled up blanket to lower back.

Legs up the Wall Variation

Props: 1-2 bolsters, blocks, blankets, neck roll
Benefits: drains fluid from the legs, releases pelvic floor, chest and shoulder opener, back of legs get a gentle stretch.

Place one bolster horizontally on mat (for the knees) and one vertically (for the feet, ankes and lower legs). Arrange a triple-folded blanket horizontally (lumbar and thoracic spine area). Recline legs over the bolsters and lower the upper body on the blanket. Adjust so that the tips of the shoulder blades are right above the blanket. Add neck pillow under neck and move arms to Goddess position if comfortable for  your shoulders. Otherwise, the

Legs up the Wall (full version)

Props: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, maybe a bolster (see photo)

Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.
Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8″ from wall (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower down, swing your legs up the wall. Once in the pose, you can adjust distance to wall, angle of legs to all, blanket and placement of legs all for comfort.  Hips and tailbone will be in space between wall and blanket. Arms rest by your side, palms face up or variation with Goddess arms (photo above).  
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag to hang from soles of the feet.  Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs.  Tight hamstrings or really uncomfortable with legs directly up the wall? Try a bolster angled into the wall to rest legs on, add blankets for more support or move hips further from wall.  Another variation is Legs up on a Chair or on a bolster with blankets on top to bring knees into a 90 degree angle.

Belly Down with Hip Opener (Savasana)

Props: 2 blankets, neck roll or small pillow for head
Benefits: gently opens hips, lengthens leg muscles and tops of the feet, soothing for the belly, shoulder opener, grounding, lessens anxiety

Stack one or two blankets to the side folded in half. As you release to the floor, lengthen the body and then bend the leg at 90 degree angles to lay on the blankets to the side. Arms can come to goddess position, head turned to the side or stack hands as a pillow.  For those with tight shoulders, extend arms by the sides of the body.  When you need to turn the head, do so with a soft inhalation.