Posts by: Hannah Leatherbury
Structure is a very special beast. It can provide comfort at its best, and make you feel like you are confined to the time out corner at its worst. I’m currently questioning the amount of structure that I bring into my own practice and wonder if others have struggled with the same issue in their practice. I am finally acknowledging the fact that in a one bedroom apartment with a hyper-active dog and a work schedule that seems to get updated every 36 hours, my practice is going to have to adapt in length and style.
I was trained to move through at least and hour of practice on my mat, starting with warm ups, including strenuous asanas and ending with savasana and seated meditation. These days, I am finding that my practice must incorporate more square footage than my sticky mat and more moments than one long sequence. The edge of the kitchen counter allows me to do a great version of L-Dog at the sink to relieve my back while doing dishes. The walk to the park with my dog is a moving meditation. My pranayama happens in full repose as the first part of waking up in the morning and the last part of laying down before sleep. When I do roll out the mat, I am spending more time with my props, isolating certain muscles and learning how to “feel” poses so that I can teach them all the better to my students. In short, my practice has become more integrated with my daily activities. I miss the feeling of a regular daily practice, no question, but I also discover some great insights in these intermittent moments.
For now, structure is an elusive beast.
Yoga for Fitness Not All Bad
I want to have a conversation about yoga as fitness. Coming from someone who came to yoga through Bikram-style classes, I get it. For some people, yoga is about pushing your body physically. It took me four years of hot yoga, the closing of my studio of practice, and the loss of my teacher before I got curious about what else yoga had to offer. I’ve since learned that yoga can be a practice and it can also be a lifestyle – but each of us takes our own journey and our paths are of different lengths. We should honor that.
I recently read the New York Times article on Tara Stiles, a model/yogini who champions the physical practice and whose book Slim, Calm, Sexy markets yoga as a tool for weight loss among other things. As I read some very disparaging quotes rejecting her style (and her as a person), I found myself rooting for her. She’s 29 and she’s teaching $10 classes to people who don’t want to ‘Om.’ She describes the NYC yoga scene as often feeling like a party that she was never invited to — so she started her own party. The idea of breaking down walls is huge for yoga in this decade, it’s too bad that this spirit receives so much bullying.
I know now that yoga can become so much more than a physical practice — it can fulfill us spiritually and emotionally. It can change the way that we live our life and the way we treat other people. But, each of us has to discover these benefits on our own time. I’m with Tara, “There are no rules….”
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