Yoga Weekend, Part 1

This weekend, I flew to Chicago for an amazing series of workshops in Ashtanga Yoga with Kino MacGregor at Moksha Yoga. Even though it would have been possible to sign up for the sessions à la carte, I figured, if I am going all the way to Chicago, why not just do it all? The schedule included two sessions on Friday, two sessions plus a Q&A on Saturday, and one session on Sunday (each session lasted approximately three hours). The weekend was amazing, but it really wiped me out. In fact, I was a little nervous about teaching Spinning today at noon because I had hit abdominal failure during Saturday’s morning session (seriously, my abs just gave out!) and my quadriceps suffered the same fate during Sunday’s session.

Friday afternoon was geared towards teachers and focused on adjustments. I loved this session and raised my hand at the first opportunity to ask for some pointers on being a short instructor helping tall participants. Kino gave me a great tip (and had me practice on the tallest man in the room!) for a tricky pose called uttitha hasta padangustasasa or extended hand to big toe pose. She had me get under the man’s outstretched leg so that he could rest it on my shoulder. What a neat trick! This allowed him to feel secure as I adjusted his hips. In addition to addressing questions, Kino had us partner up and practice adjusting a series of tricky poses on one another.

The evening session focused on “twists.” According to the yogic model of the body, twists are detoxifying – which makes sense once you think about it. I always tell my participants, “You move your guts around like they’re being agitated in a washing machine and then squeeze everything out like a sponge!” Detoxifying is great, but I wouldn’t want to walk into an entire session on twists with a full stomach. Luckily, I had eaten such a huge lunch that I only wanted a snack during the break. But this brings me to the subject of food …

NOTE: if you want to read more about the yoga portion of this week, skip to the next post, because I am about to digress (I do this a lot).

Eating has always been a problem for me when I do workshops and trainings. I the past I’ve wildly miscalculated and ended up bloated and crampy or shaky and weak at all the wrong moments. I’ve even returned from a weekend only to discover that I’d lost 2-3 pounds from dehydration. Not good! Over the past year I’ve gotten better at planning ahead and now carry snacks like Lara bars, nuts, and packets of peanut or almond butter with me at all times. But since I had left Philadelphia on a 9:30 am flight and then hopped on a train at O’Hare airport, by the time I got to Moksha I was starving. In anticipation of the weekend, I had mapped out the neighborhood and located coffee shops and restaurants. I quickly spotted the Windy City Cafe, which I recognized from my Google search. Breakfast? Lunch? Pancakes? Salad? Panini? the menu looked so uniformly tempting that I wanted it all! I settled on the Juan’s Black Bean Burger with kettle chips and told myself, “You can just eat half if it’s huge and save the rest for the break.” Of course I ate the entire burger, the chips, and was actually eying the top piece of grilled bread my boyfriend had discarded from his Cuban Melt when the server took away his plate. As a result I was happy-full, energized for the afternoon, and well digested by the time we got to twists. So even though I thought I had miscalculated yet again, it turned out to be just right. My yoga friends would tell me it was meant to be; I call it felix culpa.