Sunday, 11 March 2012

Walk the walk and talk the talk

Yogis! It's been too long!

As most of you might know, S and M have been in a car accident. We were walking across Airport Blvd, while going to Central Market. M saw on Dr. Oz that Pitta's (ayurvedic) have inflammation issues. S has just had gum surgery so Dr. Oz suggested some aloe juice. So as we were walking to Central Market, a little old man from New Jersey hit both S and M. S, managed to bounce right back, try to stop the car, and check on M, who was laying on the patch of grass between the sidewalk and street. As M was on the grassy oasis, she scanned her body and ended up at her knee, and knew she couldn't walk. The little old man gave us a ride to the hospital.

Cutting it short, M had surgery this Monday on her knee, having broken her left tibial plateau and severing her tibial lateral meniscus. S has been going to physio and seems to slowly getting back on track.

So the point of this blog is to really get your yoga off of your sticky mat, even out of your studio! Both S and M have felt the love of colleagues, old friends, new friends, yogis, non-yogis. We are both so grateful for all the prayers, love, good intentions, and great vibes.

However, there have been some yogis that have truly surprised us. They are great friends, teachers, yogis who talk the talk about compassion, grace, kindness not only to yourself, but toward others. Yet, when it comes to having compassion, grace and kindness toward a friend, perhaps time eludes them. As S and M were discussing this principle on Saturday morning, we find the type of person who doesn't practice what he/she preaches in every sub-culture!

So, this is to extend a big hug and kiss to thank those of you who have dropped by with or without food, have called, have emailed, have facebooked, have prayed, our hearts and spirits are swelled with the love that we have received. For those that let time, or a busy daily life, distract them from the yogic principles, stop and re-evaluate yourself- not for our sake, we will heal, but for your spirit.

As S and M are on the receiving end of all this love, we cannot wait to give some love to any one who is in need. So if there ever comes a time where we are so consumed with our personal daily life that we have not had time to stop and listen, call us on it! We will be happy to give some love back, as we hope we have done in previous times.

Stay Grounded,

S & M.
(M will upload pics later...)

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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Gaining Ground

It's been too long! S has taken over the blog and ranted for the last few posts so M wanted to let you know about our struggles in the yoga world of Austin. M has been hard at work, to a certain point, out of the yoga world, until yesterday.

S is in Portland doing a training and M was home alone, so she went to the usual Saturday morning yoga class, with the hopes that no one would show up. Don't get her wrong, she loves to teach yoga, but she really wanted to go a complimentary yoga class at Lululemon with a former ambassador.

This month, Lululemon is having classes led by their ambassadors, and these girls are the "yogis" of Austin. M had never been to this ambassador's class. It was hard, it felt good, M is still feeling it now as she's watching Face the Nation plopped on the futon with a full litre of water.

Last night M went to a yoga marketing and really got to the nitty-gritty (say nitty-gritty like Nacho Libre) of who is S&M, what do we believe, what is our ultimate goal.... and that sort of thing. With S being away, M had to do it on her own.
So, M's yoga goal is to have a yoga paradise in a studio, filled with an array of yoga classes, chanting, dancing, meditation~ whilst being anatomically aligned, non-profit, and offering yoga to ALL. How S&M are going to achieve that? No clue! This yoga business seems a little daunting, just like any business....

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhui
But M has never run a business, and neither has S, so our powers are limited, but our spirit is not. M is looking to people now, that M would have never, ever thought she would look towards, Steve Jobs, Chip Wilson- not necessarily for their powers of philanthropy but more for their ability to connect with people in a way that makes their businesses boom.
This is where it gets tricky, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhui is a huge, HUGE inspiration for M. So herein lies the problematic duality for M in business- how does she remain humble, while promoting a business and being, well, over-confident? arrogant? Or further, how do we create a business for the goodness of others, without "taking over"?
Is it even possible?

So with that in mind, M has looked at other great yogis that have boomed: Bikram, Baron, Shiva.... and she's not too sure it's possible. M supposes that all that matters is that you don't lose the original intention of the goal, M's integrity has to be more solid than ever, and to believe that as long as her heart is in a place of peace, love, and generosity, all will be given onto her (and S).

Stay Grounded,
S and M

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Yoga Teachers vs. Guiders revisit

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Its funny how posting something and having people comment on it can open up our perspective.

A had posted something really interesting about our last blog - Good yoga teachers are both.

Both?!  What?!  It can't be black and white?!

And we agree with her.  As both S and M have been school teachers they can see A's point of view.  There comes a point where you guide people along on their journey allowing them to find the answers for themselves.  This is true with yoga teachers.  We will have to guide them along their journey hoping their bodies will come into alignment and find the true positions.  However, in order to be that guider you have to teach a bit first.  We'll give you an example:
S tried side crow.
S failed.
S watched our friend K rock out side crow.
S tried again.
S failed.
A wonderful teacher L taught S how to align his body in side crow.
S tried again.
S succeeded.

The moral of this story is....where was L to begin with!
Seriously, S tried to align his body and was guided into it.  He couldn't quite get it, something just wasn't work.  Then when L taught him, he took off.

Education, and yoga are very similar.  You can't guide someone into something with out teaching the fundamentals first.  If you know your class and you have the same students all the time - much like you do in education - guiding takes over.  But Yoga teachers have it more difficult, there are some regulars, but you always have a few new ones that may need some teaching.  So while you guide the others you will have to teach the few - but as we said in my last post, it might be better to reteach all just to be on the safe side.

Now S can be guided into side crow - but its been a few weeks since he last did it with L so some teaching may be good as a refresher.

So as we stated in our last post:
We are yoga teachers.  That's our title.  And we have to deal with it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

To Teach or To Guide

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We've now been in Austin for almost 7 weeks.  CRAZY?!  How much do I miss Vancouver's sandy beaches meeting the rolling waves on one side while climbing into the peaceful mountains on the other.  But We're in Austin now.  Its a cool vibe, reminds me of the west coast, only housing prices aren't as expensive - getting there though.

So we took a class last night and have noticed a trend.  The teacher tends to teach a few steps and then opens it up to "go into an inversion of your choice, if not stay in child's pose"  Ok.  Hey that's cool.  I'm totally good with inversions.  They're our 'work in progress' (M seems to have a better hold on them than S).  We've been taught how to get into them, how to get up and how to align our bodies correctly.  But what about those who haven't been taught this.  Aren't we making a huge assumption that EVERYONE knows how to go into inversions.

This leads me to my question.  Are we yoga Teachers? Or are we yoga guiders?

Let's go way back to when we were kids.  We don't remember it, but at some point, our parents have told us that they had to hold us up and teach us how to stand up on our feet.  They helped us practice and then they helped us to walk and then run.

S remembers vividly being terrified to ride his bicycle, but he was taught how to do it, but by bit with steps and support until now he runs Triathlons.  M remembers all the time she had to practice on the piano, and how she was taught how to play it with a teacher (notice our use of words).

In neither or these scenarios were we guided into something.  Imagine someone saying 'S go ride your bike if you can,' or 'M start playing mozart on the piano, here it is, if not then just sit at it and I'm sure you'll pick it up by osmosis'.   Both of us spent time as school teachers (M is still working her but off as one) and never have we said 'ok kids, its time for a test, now I never taught you anything about science, but I'm sure you'll ace it!'

This gets me to my point.  If we were trained to be yoga teachers (I'm certain we all spent lots of money and time on our practice - S and M both spend more than they can count now) why would we not use the skills to help others move into positions.  But instead the common phrase of 'go into a pose if its in your practice' tends to dwell within our profession.  I think its time as Yoga Teachers we actually teach something, and if we want to have an inversion in our practice or an arm balance, we proved the steps for our students to move into one.

Now we understand that some might say, but what about the advanced practitioners in our class, they'll be board.
We'll there's always the option of:'if you already know how to do this then move into it on your own time.'
or to be safer so there are no injuries: 'I know you know how to do this, but just listen its a good refresher for the steps.'

Remember we as yoga teachers have the power to teach to all, and with that comes the responsibility of safety.  I say we teach and empower our students with knowledge to keep them safe rather than to have an injury!

Stay Grounded
S & M

Friday, 21 October 2011

Where's my foundation?!

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So M and S took a class today at one of the many studios in downtown Austin.  It was a wonderful sweaty class:
  Hip openers.
  Shoulder openers.
  Back bends.
  Everything we needed today!

Warrior I
Warrior 2
But M and S have noticed a trend in this up and coming yoga center of Texas, most yoga teachers in Austin (at least the ones that we've experienced) move from Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) to Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) - the sanskrit is used for all the yoga geeks in us!

It puzzles us?!  We can understand the fact that before our 200 hour intensive teacher training we would've had no problem.  Its a natural progression, you move from I into II.  But NOW that we've immersed ourselves in yoga and the principals of optimal alignment this natural progression seems flawed.  They should really be named differently (neutral vs external warrior).

Warrior I uses neutral hips (which unless you are a much more avid practitioner will be tight), that point forward like headlights to the front of the room, while you have the back leg behind you and the femur, knee, and ankle and second toe pointed at a 45 degree angle as you bend into the front leg.  And, the ankles need to either be in line or at hips width distance apart.  Ok.  Seems pretty simple we can handle that.

This is where it gets tricky!!

Teachers tend to move from Warrior I into Warrior II.  This is when your foundation - your feet have to move.  Your hips open and point in the direction of the side wall, you do this as you slide your back leg and rotate it open so that your front ankle is aligned with the back arch and your foot and knee and femur are pointing with your hips to the side wall.

Now this may seem pretty easy to do, but it gets more complicated.

Teachers expect the beginner student to move in between these postures, without calling out any alignments cues (starting at your feet and moving up to your hips).  And they want students to do this quickly because you only have the length of an average breath to do this - we're not talking a meditative yogi breath which can last for minutes if there in 'the zone'.   No these teachers want you to do this in a normal inhale-for-3-and-exhale-for-3-breath.

Let us take you through the risk platforms now so you can understand why this move is frowned upon:

1. The Knees:  If you don't align your second toe with your ankle with your knee with your hip stress will occur.  'So what's a little stress?'  is probably what your thinking right now.  We'll our knees take a whole lot of stress.  They are the Weakest Link!  And they'll go home if you stress them too much - home of course really means they'll scream in pain and send you to the hospital.  See the knee doesn't have any muscle around it unlike our hips.  This means that our hips will power through a pose fine but the tendons around the knees won't hold and will get pulled out of shape - injuries that can last for a lifetime!

2. Lower Back:  If the platform isn't cued properly not only do the knees suffer but if we don't cue for a neutral hip alignment (inner thighs back and sitting bone down - in this case) stress will go again to the next weakest link, our lower back.  It will take a lickin' and keep on tickin' if the alignment is cued properly because it will engage our abs specifically our transverse abdominals - those deep abs that wrap around our bellies like a sexy corset.  These will help protect our lower back from taking all the stress.  But if we don't cue these our lower back is at risk of being injured - especially when our platform is changed (like going from Warrior I to Warrior II).  And if you've ever thrown you back out you know that getting out of bed isn't so easy any more - its more like a log roll!

3. Periformis: This strong abductor (often used as a stabilizer - this means keeping you in alignment) can also be at risk for taking all the weight of your upper body.  This muscle wraps from the tip of your femur (greater trochanter) to your sacrum.  And S has pulled this baby.  When it goes, your lower back goes, your legs go.  Everything.  Its like that last piece of jenga that gets pulled and topples the entire tower.   You won't be able to walk, run, swim, cycle, even sit on a chair without a dull ache or more if you injure this.  So once again, cue from the base (the foundation) up to the main weight bearing girdle - the hips! And be smart don't move from two different foundation postures.

So now that you've seen the risks, and the timing.  We would reiterate again, be sensible and don't move from Warrior I to Warrior II.  Teachers are there for the students welfare, so cut out the risks and keep the postures simple.  Just because postures are numbered in order doesn't mean they should be done that way.  And to all the yogis that are cued to do these postures: take your time to find yourself in the pose, watch your base and be smart.  If something feels oddly uncomfortable in any of the areas mentioned - and you'll know what oddly uncomfortable feels like (that sensation before the 'ouch' pain comes in) - stop, move out of the posture and take one your more comfortable with.

Stay grounded,
S & M
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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The yoga dream

M is working her buns off at a school in Austin.  She hasn't given up the yoga teacher dream, she's merely postponed it while trying to support S.  S is working on the yoga dream.  He is working as a yoga teacher, but it doesn't always make the 'big-bucks', especially when you're the new kid on the block.  Thankfully M is there.  Slowly it's working out for S, but patience is key.  
2 Studios have shown interest in S:

Be Yoga ( has picked S up for the time being while two teachers are out - one on her honeymoon in Hawaii (congrats to L) and the other is having knee surgery.   Yoga can be hard on the knees, as we all know.  So flex your foot and check out alignment within the hip-knee-ankle-2nd toe (our wonderful yoga teachers E and R taught us well).

A second studio opening in December, Barre 3, has seen promise in S and is sending him on training in Portland for the first weekend in November.  S is stoked about the possibilities.  The studios roots are in Yoga, but with a Pilates twist.  M wasn't a fan of the first class she took with them.  S however loved the idea.  It really clicked with his passion for alignment and his personal training background.

So, S is busy trying out his yoga career, M is teaching.  And things are OK for now.  At times both S and M dig into the negative side flooded with questions:
Will these kids ever stop driving me crazy?
How can we get out names out into the Austin yoga community?
Will we make enough money?

But its ok.  Some negativity is good.  It just makes you realize how much better life is being positive, because:
M's class is calming down.
We have patience.
and because
We will survive...yada yada yada yada yada something something Alive - my best attempt at singing and blogging!

Stay grounded,
S & M

Monday, 26 September 2011

1st Update of Stateside

We have a lot of news!
M is hard at work, waking up at ungodly hours in the morning to get there and coming home too late. She bought a bike with the best intentions of riding there, but it's too crazy hot. So S chauffeurs her around, which she doesn't seem to mind. S, on the other hand, wakes up just a little later than M, and drops her off and picks her up, while doing awesomeness in between.

Both S and M have been working on the yoga business, more S than M. S with a little help from our Vancouver friend R, have the website ( nearly all set up. S has been attending yoga classes like nobody's business, even up to 3 a day to build "community".
Because of his more than regular attendance, he has a teaching gig this Thursday at Be Yoga at 2pm.

That and we have Saturday Sunrise Yoga at 7:30am at Central Park. So you're probably thinking New York's Central Park, but it's nowhere near! The big park in Austin is Zilker, and it's in the southern part of the city. Central Park is a small park between condos and Central Market (kind of like Whole Foods) with a pond. 2 people showed up on Saturday. I know, 2 people, really?! but YES! 2 people showed up, that's 2 more than what we were expecting. Next Saturday, we're aiming for 3?4??

So we're going home for Christmas, since it's been 4 years since we've spent Christmas time with our family. We're both looking forward to it in our own way. We alluded to the isolation we felt in London from some of our family members, and the fear of the same situation happening in Vancouver. Well, it's the exact same situation here. Granted, we have both fallen off the face of the planet for some time, this time, M more than S, but still trying really hard to keep in touch with everyone.
So let us take this opportunity to publicly let you know that if we haven't talked to you in a while; but if we've stayed at your house, had dinner with you, went for a walk with you, hung out and had beers with you, we love you, we miss you, and we can't wait to see you.

Stay Grounded
S and M