Headstands and Yoga Journey

One of my new years resolutions this year was to be able to do a headstand. Before, I was doing the for-arm variation where you clasp your heads at the base of your head before lifting your feet up. But Becky showed me an easier version, with your palms on the ground (tripod variation) which is SO much easier. I lifted my legs up and after a couple seconds of holding it I lost balance and hit the floor hard.. This past week I’ve been trying to do headstands after all of my workouts. I realized at Wooden its really easy to do a headstand on a squishy mat so after I lifted weights I did a couple of them. I felt so invigorated and proud of myself.

I am a little intimidated still to do them in yoga class  but I think by the end of the month I should be able to. So I made a new resolution – pull-ups. Still cannot do one. I did some assisted ones yesterday after my long run and today my armpits are so sore I’ve never felt a soreness like this before. I’m gonna try and do those a couple times a week and hopefully I’ll be able to use the pull-up bar and look super bossy.

Today RYAN came with me to his FIRST yoga class ever. I practice at Core Power Yoga (they have a ton of locations all around the country) and at the studio on Wilshire, I love a lot of the teachers. They all have different styles but all the classes are tough, fun and HOT. I love the loud music and shortened times (60 minutes) so I am able to go at least 5 times per week. This past quarter I started waking up before my day started and getting in a yoga class at 6am. Its been great. There was also a Core Power studio at home (Chicago) but the teachers in the suburbs were nowhere near to the caliber and energy of the teachers here in Los Angeles. When I first started going to Core Power me and my girlfriends would only go to the C1.5 which is in-between C1 and C2. Now, I have graduated to only C2 classes and hit usually 4 of these a week, and maybe 1 or 2 Sculpt (yoga with weights) or Pilates classes. They also have hot power fusion, but HPF is a little too slow for my taste (kinda similar to Bikram).

So today Ryan came with me. He has recently been going through a lifestyle change and has been really motivated to exercise a lot and eat healthy. Taking someone to their first yoga class ever really made me realize how much my practice has changed. I started going to yoga when I was a freshman in high school and went to the same studio for all 4 years. Niyama Hot Yoga was my favorite class but I never did a downward dog. It was a lot of warriors, triangles, lunges and balancing. I absolutely loved it. The studio is owned by this goddess Mac McHugh. I practiced with her for all of high school and even a couple times here in LA when she taught at Maha Yoga in Brentwood for a little.

The Amazing Mac

The Amazing Mac

My sister credited the classes for helping her lose almost 10 pounds one summer. Once I came to UCLA I started doing power yoga classes at Santa Monica Power Yoga. Me and Becky were roommates freshman year, and we fell in love with the instructor Rudy. He was so funny and knew exactly what to say at all the right times. Everyone in the crowded room (I would guess at least 70 mats) would be laughing throughout the entire 90 minutes. They were strenuous and also very enlightening. The first couple months of my Chaturangas I had to keep my knees on the floor until my biceps and core got strong enough. Santa Monica Power Yoga always has a large variety of students – there are people who are doing moves I cannot even imagine being able to do, and people who are struggling in the downward dog. I kept going though and really started to love yoga. I began incorporating my breath a lot more into the poses which deepened my practice.

Rudy Mettia at Santa Monica Power Yoga

Rudy Mettia at Santa Monica Power Yoga

Last year I started going to Core Power and after my first week (free!) I was a little skeptical. Niyama Hot and Santa Monica Power Yoga were both 55/60 minutes of standing posing and 30 minutes on the mat. At Core Power it was more like 35/40 minutes standing, 5/10 minutes of abs and some stretching at the end. The music was loud and a couple instructors were more like drill sergeants. I remember thinking that my friends who loved it didn’t know what real yoga was. This was more like a cardio party, not the spiritual classes I had grown to love. A fluke in the system gave me a second free week, and this is when I fell in love. I found some truly great instructors who I now go to on a weekly basis. I have been paying for a monthly membership probably for the past 7 months. It’s a little pricey ($99) but by the end of the month it evens out to somewhere between $3-$4 a class which I would easily shell out.

Amazing Marxel at Core Power Yoga

Yoga has completely changed my body and mind. I have always loved exercising and yoga helped me become more flexible, reduced my injuries and stay toned. I blew out my hips last year running too hard/much and because my core was so weak. I began practicing yoga much more when I was unable to run which helped me stay in shape. When I hit the pavement again after about 4 months of not running, I was able to run slightly faster (not as long yet) and I felt like my form had improved. Now when I run, I can feel my abs engaged and hard the entire time which was something I never felt before. My arms and legs are much stronger and my mind is a lot less stressful. Today watching Ryan do his first downward dog, I realized how the past 7 years of yoga has really payed off. I remember being adjusted in my first Warrior 2s and never thinking that my knee would open up to the point that it is today. I know that the adjustments that I still need to make will come gradually. Its a total journey and so fun. I get more and more excited every time I do hold a new pose or twist deeper, and at the end of the practice during Shavasana I feel more and more relaxed.  I hope to practice as long as I am active. I bet by the end of the decade I can do a handstand and maybe incorporate it into my chaturanga.

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