"Core and Compliments" - A Yoga Workshop

My friends often make fun of when I "check-in" to a place on Four Square. But it's paid off for me in the past when it told me that a Twitter friend was in the near vicinity. I got to meet this out of town person who was visiting to run SFM a few years ago. I always get a rush whenever I become the "Mayor" of a location (working on getting my mayorship back at my favorite sushi restaurant!). And being a Four Square mayor has finally reaped some rewards. My monthly membership pass at my yoga studio was up for renewal yesterday and since I am the "mayor" I got a 20% discount!

The 4sq Mayor payoff!
The 4sq Mayor payoff!

This time I purchased a 3-month pass. I have really come to love practicing at this studio. The classes are small (the largest class has been only 9-10 people) and the class schedule is conducive to mine.

I've especially enjoyed the Gentle Hatha Yoga classes, which have been the perfect compliment to marathon training, particularly in the peak weeks. These classes aren’t very strenuous but provide enough of a stretch for me to work out some tight areas. And since the classes are so small the knowledgeable instructors can tailor the classes to our individual needs.

This past Sunday there was a special workshop called "Core and Compliments." Knowing how important it is to have a strong core (and not just for running) I decided to attend.

The workshop was described as:

A workshop in the many levels of what core is… Experience an enlightened core workout, a flowing style workout of the muscles that support the internal system and muscular poise of the skeletal system.

In this workshop we will explore the dynamics of core conditioning that:

~ Develop aspects of physical strength, flexibility, coordination, speed, agility and endurance ~ Heighten and enhance body awareness and control ~ Teaches correct muscle activation, posture and alignment ~ Improves balance and proprioception ~ Focuses on breathing awareness ~ Link core values and personal intention to movement, physical, mental, emotional, and (spiritual) ~ Helps keep bone structure and musculature in optimal shape ~ Provides a path to inner harmony and release of tension ~ Working with intuitive and creative energies is beneficial for everyone!

As well in this workshop we will take some time to compliment our workout with personal reflections on the power of intention and or that, which moves us on a deeper level. We will do this by exploring in writing or drawing our core values and possibly sharing, creating statements of affirmation and healing insight if needed and letting this guide our practice emotionally and spiritually.

We will end the class with restorative yoga that supports a release of mental tension, soothing sounds and a guided healing light meditation that will allow the concepts and natural benefits of the practice to nurture body, mind and spirit.

I had taken both yoga and Pilates classes from the instructor leading the workshop before and they were tough. So the idea of two straight hours of core work scared the hell out of me. I emailed the studio about this and was assured that it would not be as strenuous as it sounded.

When I got there I was pleased to see that there were only seven of us in attendance. The format was laid out that we would do three 30-min sequences of movement, each followed by 10-minutes of journaling. They even provided us with mini journals (but I had brought my own -- you know, since I have so many!).

As it turned out, the premise of the class was not just on core conditioning, but also on the mind-body connection.

Having read severalbooks on this topic, I was really able to relate to discussion topics:

+ Movement with intention (and asking yourself what your intentions are) + Using fear to propel you toward your dreams + Goal-setting + Trusting enough to let go and push yourself towards your goals + Being mindful vs. mindless + The importance of the breath (I've really been getting into this topic recently.) + Being in tune with, and bringing together our physical, emotional and mental well-being

I enjoyed the experience so much more than I anticipated. The combination of flow yoga, Pilates (holy core work!), and journaling worked out very, very well. There have been many yoga classes that I have gone to over the years where I wished I'd had a notebook to write down what words the instructors spoke. The opportunity to do in this class really made it more meaningful.

At the end of each sequence we had the opportunity to settle in to a restorative pose. Restorative yoga is my personal favorite type of yoga to practice so I was all over this.

I learned a new pose called "The Bind" where we tied a yoga strap around our feet and waist, then reclined back on to a bolster. It is a fantastic pose for opening up the hips and hip flexors.

I also learned that "Legs at the Wall" is actually called "Waterfall" pose. And I had probably the most relaxing experience I've ever had in this pose during this workshop.

I left the class feeling so calm, rejuvenated and refreshed, both in mind and body. This is what yoga should be; I really feel like I've found my yoga home.