Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yogi Basics: My Beginning

Time to take a break from wondering when little Holden will get here...

Instead, I thought I’d pull from the annals of my magazine articles and take you back to my humble (and somewhat irreverent) beginning as a yogi. The article was published in the 2007 July/August edition of SkyWest Magazine; though I started with Flow in Dec 2006. (I had done a piece for St. George Magazine about it too; but I can’t find it!) Also, sounds like Friday will be my big debut on Make and Takes! So check out the article Friday at www.makeandtakes.com.

So, for you…before I became a yoga mama. (And yes, that is another preggers pic... not just my Buddah belly!)


Yoga a Go-Go

I am not a yogi master. Granted, I did inherit a Bhagavad Gita from a roommate when I was a flight attendant in Fresno. I think she picked it up from a Hare Krishna when it was still legal to solicit at the airport. However, if I were to read any sort of self-help Eastern text, I’m sure my husband would prefer it be the Kama Sutra. When it comes to mental discipline or physical flexibility, I lack significant skill in both. As a collegiate athlete, hustle and tenacity had to compensate for my height and other challenges. I was not limber. I’ve never been able to do the splits, and my ability to touch my toes seems to have more to do with squatty legs and a long torso than flexibility.

Every mental health professional or destination spa guru I’ve ever met has recommended that I find something to “calm my mind.” Not that I’ve spent a lot of time chatting up psychologists and the like, but I’ll be the first to admit that my head’s pretty active.

Enter Flow Yoga SLC. This tremendously hip studio on Salt Lake’s East Bench got its start from a swanky spot in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Director Jennifer Ellen Mueller started the Utah operation when family responsibilities brought her back to Salt Lake and her East Milcreek roots. She said yoga saved her life. I needed something to save my mental stability and my waistline. I’ve been married less than a year and have already gone up a dress size (or two). It was time for an intervention. When weighing my options (pun intended), it was time to shed excess mind and body baggage. When my husband, Danny, agreed to try a class, how could I lose?

“Besides,” he replied, “it’s just stretching, right?” I smiled and thought I would let experience be our guide.

While Flow Yoga SLC offers a variety of classes for walk-ins seven days a week, Mr. Mangum and I picked a Saturday afternoon to turn over our new leaf. The instructor, Jami Larsen, came highly recommended from Jennifer Ellen Muller. Jami is a certified yoga instructor with more than 1,000 hours of massage and body therapy experience. Petite with a lean frame, she spoke in soothing tones. She asked participants about new injuries or specific problem areas and then started uttering (what I only could assume were ) Indian terms.

My husband leaned over. “Why is she speaking in a foreign language?” he asked. I giggled, rolled my eyes and began wishing for a workout delivered with subtitles.

“Just focus on your breathing,” I whispered, a little amused and a bit apprehensive. I smiled, took a deep breath and pulled my feet to an Indian-style posture.
Jami’s ethereal voice told us to “Take your thumb and index finger together, rest them on your knees and on the third breath release the vibration of the OM…”

Danny started laughing under his breath, but fortunately everyone’s eyes were closed. I again opted to focus on my breathing. We started moving through something called vinyasa and into “downward facing dog.” With the exception of my anxiety about my husband’s reaction to our New-Age afternoon, I was feeling pretty calm at this point.

Class continued and with each transition into a new pose, my body felt more tested and pushed. I couldn’t believe how challenging yet invigorating this was! I was warm and tingly on the inside, though that could just be the lack of oxygen to my brain. Jami was telling us to let go of our judgments, but it was hard not to judge when I could feel belly fat rolling over the top of my yoga pants.

Danny didn’t seem to be faring much better. Giant beads of sweat dripped off the end of his nose each time we moved to “down dog,” and I heard him utter some non-descript expletives under his breath. By this point, we weren’t as focused on breathing as on survival. I felt more like Yogi Bear than any sort of yogi master. My arms were shaking, my legs were aching and my breath was extinct.

But Jami kept encouraging us. “Get Brave,” she said and we were trying to balance on one leg in “tree pose.”

“It takes courage,” she continued. So we kept going, and before I knew it, we had worked our way back down to the floor and were relaxing with our eyes closed. As we exited the studio I felt longer, leaner and had more energy than when we walked into the studio. I couldn’t believe it!

“That was not what I was expecting,” Danny groaned, but with more stun than glum.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

I thought yoga was going to be a bunch of people trying to stand on their heads and falling over,” he explained.

I tried to hide my amazement (and my amusement).

“So does this mean you don’t want to come back next week?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “It wasn’t too bad. I’ll go if you go . . .”

I smiled, nodded and focused on my breathing. If you are visiting SLC and in need of something more than a stretch, check out Flow Yoga. You just may see us on the yoga scene.”

Namaste!
Sabrena



4 comments:

naptime nostalgia said...

Love it!

I started going to Flow the minute in opened up, way back when since it was just around the corner from my house in the rim. Took, what was only supposed to be a few weeks off after baby #1, which somehow turned into a few years. I just started going back last year to flow and I LOVE it. (Although I'm completely bummed that their 3300S. location closed.)

Isn't Jami the best? I love her hypnotic yet completely encouraging way of teaching. She is by far my most favorite teacher there. Although they all are fabulous. I sound like a walking advert.

I remember at first thinking the "OM" stuff was a little wierd, but now that I've done a bunch more study into Yoga and it's other philosophies, thats one of my favorite parts of class.

I hope that maybe after Mr. Holden arrives we might find ourselves in a class together. I can't believe you did their teacher training prego. THAT IS AMAZING! Any plans to teach? Either way, it would be cool.


Good luck on the waiting game with Holden. He will be here before you know it. ;) And thanks for sharing your Yogi beginning!

Cicely said...

Why haven't you ever told me you do yoga? I could show you a thing or two.

Nama said...

I just read your post on Make and Takes, and I am so inspired. I started doing yoga about 4 years ago, due to a foot injury and a marriage last year, I've gotten really out of practice.

As it's the new year, (and a few extra newly-web pounds have found a home in my mid-section), my husband and I have started being "active", which includes running. I'm not a runner. Yet. But I love how yoga makes my sore and out-of-shape muscles feel after a good practice. It's wonderful! I really miss taking classes and having an awesome yoga instructor help push me to my limits, so now it's just me. Pushing myself.

Also, a note on the more spiritual and relaxing side of yoga, it's amazing how the stress seems to melt away and how all (well, some) the answers of life seem to come to you. I love doing poses that help me release all the negativity from my life. I had a yoga instructor once who always encouraged us to set an intention for each practice we did, and when I've done that, it's amazing the answers and strength that come to me.

Thanks for the inspiration!

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