Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Healing Hearts And Feelings with Flow

Pole doesn't just take care of our bodies. It also takes care of our hearts. When we have feelings to express, the time when our hearts are just about to explode with all those feels, we can just dance it out.

Two summers ago, we had a class known as Pole Flow. In this class, we do not learn tricks. We do not condition or work on backbends and splits. We do not learn footwork or choreo. We learn how to feel. We learn how to put sense in our numbers so it isn't just a string of tricks and spins with floorwork for break. Come to think of it, I love dances that have sense and feels, not really much on the complicated crazy tricks.

Imagine my happiness when CD announced that she will be bringing flow back in our lunchtime classes. I really missed pole flow and amidst learning tricks and spins, I miss dancing (I secretly love to dance. As in really dance.) and although I'm not as pretty as the real dancers who have been dancing at the same time as they learned how to walk, I am determined to look just as pretty, and I know it's bound to happen at one point, like shoulder mounts, which up to this point I am still  working on.

Last Monday, the title of our lesson is Feelings Flow, where we brought to class - well, feelings! Contrary to popular belief, I have feelings, feelings that can sometimes be expressed, and there are also feelings that stayed bottled up. Social convention tells us something similar to what Elsa's parents said, "Conceal it, don't feel it. Don't let it show." school tells us that. corporate world tells us that. Heck even social media tells us that. Also, even we tell ourselves that. We are afraid to be vulnerable and afraid to be judged. In expressing feelings, we have fear, just like our fear in tricks.

In this class, we were told to let go of that shell, and let the feelings out. And we let it out through dance. Also, some unchoreographed tears. Tears are welcome, and they are welcomed with no judgement. Our dance steps and whatever dance skill level we had were also welcome with no judgement.

The theme of our dance is missing someone, so it was very sad, and also something everyone can relate to. There's always someone we miss. It may be a relative, friend, lover, or even something dear to you. Reality tells us to move on, and admittedly we all have to. But it's easier said than done, and oftentimes, we find ourselves either in that state of denial, or once again in fear - of facing reality that the person we longed for is gone in our lives. either by fate or by choice.

Aside from the choreography, we were given a few sets of 8 in the song to do some improv, and how we interpret the whole concept is up to us. The only rule was that it should be transitions, instead of doing tricks. That part I found liberating for me because it gave that part of me in the dance, and it made me "feel" the concept more.

It was amazing at how movement can help release a lot of pent-up feelings that we had all bottled up for whatever reason. Sometimes when we keep concealing things, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's gone completely. It's just like concealing a pimple. It may look like it's not there, but it's actually there hidden under all that makeup and skincare layering. Im glad for this exercise, that enabled us to just release and let go of that feeling with no judgement/ And what better medium to let it out than dance?

video
I don't know though if I became that super pretty dancer I dream I could be. I may still be in that process. But I know for sure that somehow there's a healing that happened that day. Here's a short preview of our dance.

Thanks CD for that awesome class.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yoga for Life March Classes

To those interested to try Yoga For Life's yoga classes, here's the March schedule. We offer different styles of yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, Hatha, and Yin and sometimes Becky Flow) and have classes at various studios and locations in the Metro. We would like to see you at our classes soon! For those who want to take my class, I have one more class this March on March 22 at Beyond Yoga Libis. The class is at 12 noon, so for those who would want to wake up later, this would be great.


Just a correction, the March 8 class at Beyond Yoga Libis will be taught by Duds instead of Paulo and it will also be a Vinyasa practice.

You may also get to know your Yoga For Life teachers by visiting the page at http://www.yogaforlife.ph/

See you on the mat!

Happy Hips at Home

My classes lately have been leaning towards hip openers and a lot of back decompression and forward folds. As I was planning my sequences for my yoga class, I would go, "Okay, so I'll use this sequence also for my classes in QC and Libis, as I taught it in BHS already." When I road-test my sequence with my self-practice, I do make a bit of modification coming into mind the different crowds of the studios, and their needs. Of course, during the class itself, the sequence also changes. But the formula is always the same, hip openers and forward folds. Lately, my regular students request a lot of hip openers, #punitsingit if you may.

Hip openers are my personal favorite. It was through me working through my split that I got into yoga in the first place, as a safer way to my "lola" body (lola in dance world, as there are dancers that started moving way before they reach first grade). I discovered that the hips carry our burdens or emotions, and being the largest part of the body, you can just imagine how many kinks have gotten inside those crevices. That's why some people cry during hip openers, because we tend to release a lot of emotions.

In yin yoga we focus a lot on grounding the pelvis, because it is what provides stability and space to our physical support. As we ground our sitting bones, we get to sit so much straighter, creating space in our body, looking taller and improving our posture to be straighter instead of slumped to  slouch.

Hip openers also help a lot with our back pain, and standing up at work most of the time, I get to have a lot of tightness on my lower back and hips. On an added benefit, hip openers create space in the body, and will help those with a lot of menstrual issues. In our Yin Yoga for Women's Health workshop, our sequence had a lot of hip openers.

Forward folds aid a lot in back decompression, as bad posture and standing for prolonged periods of time tend to compress the spine. Also, if you tend to wear heels a lot (yes, pole dance world and our sky-high heels, it includes us), you notice that arch your lower back makes. Well yes, it does create a sexy shape in photos and performances but this can create a lot of bone compression in time. Aside from decompressing the back, forward folds direct your energy to you, and rid you from distractions allowing you to focus more on yourself rather than the distractions that surround us. I personally find forward folds humbling, as the pose is so inward and also, hard for yoga selfies (*wink*)

I'm sharing some of my favorite poses and a short which you could do at home, and modified it for those with a tiny space in their homes like me, Start with a 5-minute meditation either lying down in pentacle or a comfortable seated position. In this meditation, quiet down and clear your mind and direct energy towards yourself. keep the body soft, heavy on the pelvis and spine straight and tall. Hold each pose for 3 minutes (eventually graduating to 5 if you wish) and then end with a 5-minute rest in pentacle or savasanna. I also give options for those who are still working on their flexibility. Special thanks too to my pole buddy Kelay who took some of these photos for me after pole class.


Butterfly



Sit with your sitting bones rooted on the mat and form a big diamond shape with your legs, keeping the feet away from the groin. keeping the pelvis rooted, inhale and lengthen the spine, creating space in the body. Then, slowly walk your hands forward until you feel the stretch. Once you do, keeep the belly soft and exhale lowering down feeling the back muscles open. To get out of the pose, place your hands in line with your shoulders and while keeping the back soft and the pelvis rooted, push yourself back up with your arms, head coming up last.



Modification: If your knees come up higher than your hips, sit on a block, bolster, or cushion. You may also use blocks or pillows to support your knees or head. Remember, the key is not so much to reach your head to foot that your hips lift up. Focus on keeping them grounded.


Swan
(works on hips, hip flexors, stretches the front body)



Come into cat or tabletop, hips in line with knees and shoulders in line with the wrist. Step your right foot in between your hands and walk your right foot towards the left hand and drop the right knee to meet your right hand. Your front leg is now at a right angle. Sit on that right hip as you walk the left leg back grounding on your left big toe and remembering to keep the left hip turned in. Walk your hands forward so the back is straight and relaxed and the buttocks soft. There is a tendency here to put most of the weight in the hands so sink your hips down. As your body loosens and softens, see if you can walk your hands closer to your hips remembering to keep the spine lengthened instead of crunching on your vertebrae. Feel the stretch on the right hip and left hip flexors and quads. I also feel this on my belly. To come out of the pose, tuck the back toe in, push yourself up and rest in child's pose. Remember to do the other side.



Modification: You may sit on a block if your hip doesn't touch the ground. 

Gecko


Gecko is my absolute favorite. It's a very deep opener, so I don't expect beginners to come to this pose with no props. It also stretches the muscles in the belly, hip flexors, and front side. This is not necessarily a fully yin pose. In face, there's a bit of yang involved since the arms would be acting as a support

Start by coming into cat. Step the right foot to meet the OUTSIDE of the right hand. Turn the right knee and right foot out at a 45-degree angle. Ground on that right heel and walk the left foot back and ground on that left big toe. The left foot may be scooted outwards for stability but remember to keep the left leg turned in. As we ground on the right heel and left big toe, sit the right hip down and look up giving the front side body a yummy stretch.  Tuck back toes in and slowly rest in child's pose. Remember the other side!


Modification: If the right heel comes up, step on a block. You may also prop your arms on a block if you can't reach the ground. 

Cradle

We need to close the hip in from all those hip openers. Cradle is like a lying-down child, a yummy forward fold that decompresses the spine and massages the belly. All you need to do is bring your knees in towards you and give them a hug, letting the hands act as weights rather than forcing them down. Keep the sacrum down or for an added stretch, lift the sacrum at the last minute

Modification: You may use a strap or scarf to help you

Twisted Roots


Twists give the side body a nice stretch, massage the digestive system, and detoxify the body (like wringing out a wet towel). For those with limited spaces in their homes to practice yoga, I recommend twisted roots as this pose doesn't take much space. Start lying down. Bend your knees and cross the right leg over the left and drop your knees towards the left side, feeling the side body lengthen and an opening on the right shoulder and chest. You may anchor the knees to further open the upper body or anchor the right shoulder giving the lower body and IT band a nice stretch. To come out of the pose, bring legs back to center, uncross the legs and give them a hug to recalibrate. Then do the other side.



Modification: You can raise the right arm up overhead for an added arm stretch.

This is actually a short sequence that you can do at home if you don't have time to practice in a yoga studio but need your yin fix. You may use the timer feature in your phones or download the Chakra Chime app (available both in Apple and Android) for self-practice, Remember to honor your body and go where your body takes you to avoid any injury and it's perfectly fine to take a  step back if you feel pain or stinging discomfort. Also, please remember to breathe and let the breath guide you to go deeper into your pose, sending the breath to where it is tight. Have fun!

For my classes with Yoga for Life, you may check out the Yoga For Life Facebook Page as well as announcements of their events.