Monday, February 27, 2012

Texas Yoga Conference

3rd Annual
Texas Yoga Conference Logo
As part of my 14 days of leave, I spent a weekend at the Texas Yoga Conference at the University of Houston in Houston, TX. This was my first of what I hope to be many more yoga conferences. I had some initial anxiety about going. I'm not a yoga teacher, and I've only been practicing yoga for about a year and a half. It seemed that the majority of people there were instructors from all over Texas and all over the country. Lots of very well-known instructors taught the sessions. Some of the big names include Les Leventhal, Ana Forrest, Chip and Laura, and Lisa Ware. These are all people that I hear about in yoga circles, and they were all here in this one place, sharing their wisdom and passion for yoga with all of us. It was definitely worth the trip down to Texas. Of course, I got to spend time with Amy, Eralda, Stephanie, Arrie, Cyndra, Tammy, and Debra - my destination yoga traveling buddies.

The first class that we went to was a 6 hour AcroYoga Intensive by Chip and Laura. They were fantastic. I didn't really know anything about acroyoga. Acroyoga is a partnered practice that has elements of acrobatics, yoga, and Thai massage. There's a lot of trust involved in this practice. Each group consisted of a base, a flyer, and a spotter. The base lifts, holds, and maneuvers the flyer. The flyer poses and is stretched by the base. The spotter is there to provide feedback and as a safety in case things start to get wobbly. Chip and Laura are an incredible team and introduced me to a whole subculture of yoga that I didn't know anything about. A lot of people in the class have practiced acroyoga before, so we paired with someone who had practiced with Chip and Laura before. Her name is Dani, and she was fantastic - the kind of person you wish you could meet at something less specialized than a yoga conference. We enjoyed hanging out with her this weekend.

Amy being a flyer,
me being a base
The next class was called Thai and Fly with Melissa Smith. Her class was so much fun. It started out with a very sweet expression of appreciation for your partner and many thanks for them being there. This is also the class where I learned about the "heart hug". While the poses and the yoga and all that stuff are important to learn about and to take back home, I took home a few things that I think are more important than the poses. The heart hug is one of them. The majority of people tend to hug in the same way every time - right arm raised, left arm lowered, right side of chest touching, and right cheeks touching. The heart hug, or left-sided hug, was a completely different hugging experience. Left arm up, right arm down, left sides of chest touching, and left cheeks together. In sitting here and thinking about it, I decided to do a Google search about it to see if it was in fact anything. Turns out, it is. Here are a couple interesting blog posts about it. Heart to Heart Hugs and Heart Hugs. If you've never given or received a heart hug, today is a great day to start. You won't be sorry.

Saturday morning's class with Christina Sell was called Heart Openers with Backbends. As most people know, backbends are my favorite poses to be in. I'm drawn to anything that opens up the heart, so it's no surprise that I'm fascinated by the heart hug. We started this class with Om and some chanting. Christina passed out a card with the chants on it and the bottom of the card read, "May no one be unhappy." When she asked us to offer up our practice to an intention, that was my intention for the class. Backbends open the heart. Opening the heart pours out love. There were at least 150 people in that class, so there was a lot of love being poured out to fight unhappiness. I was happy to be part of the fight against unhappiness.

Light It Up Class
The next class on Saturday was Jivamukti Chakra Tuning with DeAnna Anderson. Jivamukti isn't a practice that I'm familiar with, but Amy loves it, so I wanted to see what it was about. In my first semester of nursing school in a chapter about complimentary and alternative medicine, we briefly talked about the chakras and their relationship to the endocrine system. In this class, I learned about where each chakra is located from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, the associated colors of each chakra, and the vocal sounds that vibrate and consequently align each one. The concept of the chakras fascinates me from a spiritual as well as scientific aspect. I also read, although I'm not sure how true it is, that there are specific pitches associated with each chakra. The root chakra is C, the sacral is D, the solar plexus is E, and so on up to the crown of the head being B. It's interesting that the same concept can be looked at medically, metaphysically, and musically. Yoga is intelligently diverse.

The last class of Saturday ended up being the best class of the day. The name of the class was called Light It Up with Zoe and Gioconda. After 7 1/2 hours of muscular beatings from Friday's partnered classes, the Light It Up class was just the right amount of asana and upbeat-ness. Chanting and harmonium started and ended the class. I've never seen a harmonium before, so that was a neat instrument to see and to sing along with. Deep side stretching poses felt great after lots of twisting and abdominal work the day before. They gave great adjustments and I could really feel their positive energy when they gave the adjustments. Zoe and Gioconda are based in Austin. If their class at TYC was a hint of what they do in Austin, they must have a huge following out there. I'm definitely hoping to practice with them again in the future. They were an awesome team. The home page of Gioconda's website is incredibly inspiring:

Big Yoga notes posted all around the conference
Patanjali's first yoga sutra says so much.
Now, just as we are, we can begin.
No need to wait until we're more centered,
     or stronger,
     or happier.
Now is the time and through our practice
We can move into our center,
     our strength,
     our joy.

See...there's no need to "get ready" for yoga. You're already ready.

Sunday morning's class was Bhakti Flow with Aubrey Hackman in the Yoga One Tent. It was quite cold and wet in the tent that morning, but her class warmed us up pretty quickly. We started the practice with a little philosophy about yoga. Two things are required for a successful practice. 1.) Consistency and 2.) non-attachment. Consistency in and out of practice and non-attachment to the perceived "goals" of practice. She pointed out that our asanas shouldn't be compared to those of our neighbors. And we shouldn't be trying to make them look a certain way. It's easy to become attached to what we see as the expectations of practice.

Traveling yogis at Loving Hut Vegan Restaurant
Texas Yoga Conference weekend was a blast. There was so much to learn and so many phenomenal teachers gathered in one place. Even though it would have been impossible, and definitely detrimental to my body, I wish I could have gone to every instructor who taught there. I really want to go to another conference and take classes from the people that I wasn't able to take from this time. Maybe TYC can be an annual trip.

What made the weekend was the fact that I got to spend it with like-minded people from all over the country coming together for one common purpose - to share their love of yoga with other people who love yoga. And what made it even more cool was that I got to share it with good friends who love yoga just as much as I do.


Post a Comment