Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Long Overdue

Wow, so it's been a year since I last posted to this blog. A lot happened since then.

The last time I posted, I had just started to ride my bike again after suffering from a herniated disk. Between April and August 2010, I continued to commute on my bike, but I never really got back into riding for fun. I had intended to return to leading the weekly women's ride that I co-founded back in 2007, but the motivation and inspiration never came. I continued to have nerve impingement symptoms while on my 5.5 mile commutes, which didn't make me feel too confident about getting back into serious training.

As a result, I got more and more into my yoga practice, because I didn't experience any symptoms so long as I was mindful and didn't push too much. I also worked with a wonderful physical therapist, a neuromuscular therapist (NMT), and had private yoga therapy sessions with my teacher, Karin.

During the course of my training with Karin, I mentioned that I had been interested in becoming a yoga teacher for a couple of years, but never felt like I had the time. Karin pointed out that since I was off the bike, I had more time at my disposal, and she was absolutely right! Turns out there was a great big silver lining to getting injured. Who knew?

Karin is the master teacher for a yoga teacher training program out of Tampa, Florida. It's a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified program. I could apply the hours that I'd already studied with Karin to the requirements, so that was a nice bonus. After not too much deliberation, I decided to go forward with it.

I made plans go to Florida in June for a week-long intensive training at a lovely beach house in Bellaire Beach, FL (just south of Clearwater). I was joined by two other students of Karin's in Boston, Lynn & Lisa K. We had some homework assignments to complete before the training, which included reading a yoga philosophy book and writing a 2-page essay.

Heading into the training, I didn't know what to expect and just decided to go with the flow, which was lucky, because there wasn't much information to go on. I had been told by a few people who had been in past years that I would have an incredible time, but no one went into detail about what it would be like.

Well, they were right - I had an amazing experience! We studied the yoga sutras of Patanjali, learned about the 8 limbs of yoga, practiced meditation, and started to learn to teach yoga poses. I made some important personal discoveries, while at the same time developing wonderful relationships with all the other students who were there with me. They are my "yoga family", and I love them all very much. For anyone interested, here are some photos from the trip.

I had such a wonderful time and learned so much that I went back to Tampa in August for a weekend workshop on "Building a Class". It was great to see my yoga family again.

Then in September I had another opportunity to do a week-long intensive training, this time in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I had never been to Georgia before, so was pleased to add a new state to my list. This time I went with Lisa DeM., another of Karin's Boston students. Most of my Florida-based yoga family was there again, with a couple of additional people. Georgia photos

We were staying in cabins along a beautiful river. It was very quiet and peaceful. We practiced meditation, studied the Bhagavad Gita, practiced teaching more yoga poses, and learned how to teach various pranayama (breating) exercises. By the end of this training we had to teach a 40 minute class, and I felt very prepared to go home and begin teaching.

When I got home, I started teaching two of my coworkers once a week at the office for free. This was really great experience, because they are both people who have done yoga before (we had organized some in-office yoga classes in past years), who know me very well, and I felt very safe teaching them. It was a great learning experience for me and I like to think that they benefited as well.

By October, I had completed all the homework assignments (reading a few more books and writing some more papers, as well as filling out an anatomy coloring book) and earned enough hours to graduate! I hadn't planned to go back to Florida, but when I found out that I could graduate with my "family", I quickly made plans to go for the graduation ceremony. It meant a lot to me to be able to graduate with my Florida classmates. (Unfortunately neither the Lisas nor Lynn had yet earned enough hours/completed all the assignments.) Karin had gone down for the graduation ceremony as well, and when she handed me my certificate I was overcome with emotion. It was really a special moment for me and I was so happy to be sharing it with my teacher and my yoga family.

Unfortunately, immediately after the August training week, I had to have abdominal surgery. It was supposed to be a laparoscopic outpatient procedure and I expected to be home again the same day. Instead, when I woke up from the anesthesia, I was told that they had to make an incision and that I would be staying in the hospital overnight. Overnight turned into an 8 day hospital stay. It was a fairly traumatic ordeal. I was on IV fluids, with a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach, and not eating food for 5 days. I don't really want to describe what happened because I don't like to think about it, but needless to say it was really awful and I hope that I don't have to go through anything like that again any time soon.

The other unfortunate thing was that my parents were traveling overseas when all this happened, so they didn't even know that I was having surgery, much less that I was in the hospital for so long. I didn't see them until they came back, although luckily their cruise ship docked in Boston about a week after I was back home from the hospital and they were in town for 5 days before they went back to Arizona.

Geoff was absolutely wonderful through my whole ordeal, coming to visit and check on me every day, while working full time and taking care of everything at home, and my aunt in New York called me every day to check on me. I am so grateful for both her and Geoff. The concern they showed me helped me get through it and I didn't feel so alone. Also, my friend Christine came to visit me a couple of times and brought me books to read, and my friends Monica and Karin called to check on me a few times as well. I'm so thankful for their support.

Needless to say, the surgery set back my bike riding quite a bit.

I didn't ride on a bike outdoors from August 6th, 2010 to April 9th, 2011. That was a very long time. I am quite pleased to say that I have ridden a bike 3 times since April 9th and plan to do more (as long as the weather cooperates!).

While I was not riding, I continued to both practice and teach yoga. In January, I began an 8-week series of "Yoga for Cyclists" classes at a local studio. The classes went very well, and I ended up with a core group of wonderful students. In March, I went to India for 2 weeks (a childhood dream come true), which I will post about another time, and then I resumed the cyclist yoga classes in April. They will end in May, but I'm hoping to teach a Monday evening "rest day/restorative" class for cyclists going forward.

I also started teaching a larger group of people at work. I offered an in-office yoga class in my company's annual charity auction. Ten people paid $40 each to Boston Cares and I will teach 20 classes in the office throughout the year. So far it has been great. In addition, I am officially on the yoga substitute teacher roster at BSC, although I haven't yet had the chance to actually sub for anyone yet. Perhaps soon, though. I look forward to that, although it's also a little intimidating.

Well, that's the update for now. I'm still sorting through my photos from India. I took more than 1,000 pictures and about 20 videos, so it's a lot to organize. I will try to post about the trip soon, and hopefully will be better about keeping this blog up to date going forward!

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