Cat Massage

Ever since I started The Diatribe, I’ve been getting all sorts of spam. Spam from comments. Spam requests to advertise. Spam requests to be my friend. All sorts of stuff, but my latest email … well, I don’t think I can even classify it as spam, because it seems legit. I figured I’d post the entire email on my blog as well as the link that she shared, because I think it’s hilarious.

If she really did stumble upon The Diatribe and read the last 25 or so posts, she probably saw they were all about yoga.. I have no idea why she thought this would be interesting to my readers, but that’s besides the point. Either way, here’s the email I received:

Dear Brandon,

My name is Candice and I promote content across the web. While searching for some resources, posts and pictures around cats and cat lovers, I came across your site and thought your readers would enjoy this cat infographic.

Many would consider cat paws to be nature’s masseuses, given the natural tendency of paw kneading. This infographic humorously illustrates some techniques you could teach your kitty cat to relieve some of those stress created knots.

The Guide to a Cat Massage [Infographic]

The link also provides the embed of the graphic, which ensures creative commons.

I hope your readers enjoy this graphic! If you have any questions regarding this infographic or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Candice P.

Teacher Training: Iyengar Class

As part of the Teacher Training requirements, we need to attend four basic types of Hatha Yoga classes: Anusara, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Restorative and Iyenger. I had saved the “best” for last, as we’ve talked quite a bit about the Iyengar style throughout much of the training and I have been somewhat nervous to try it. I decided to take the class at Yoga Garden on Divis this evening and it was an experience.

The focus of Iyengar yoga is alignment. You spend a lot of time in each pose, focusing on each body part and where it is supposed to be and act during each pose. I enjoyed this part of the class, however, I had a very hard time connecting with my breath and found it very difficult to find a rhythm because of all of the constant interruptions. In order to focus on the alignment, you end up using a ton of props and various “accessories” during the class to get the alignment just right. At one point, I looked around the room and each of the 7 students in the room had: 5 blankets, two blocks, 2 straps, 1 sand bag and one pole. You heard me right, a pole.

There was a lot of discussion in the class, asking about how to do something or what should I do with some body part. This is fairly unusual, as conversation and discussion with the teacher during a vinyasa class are generally not recommended. Each student is supposed to have their attention focused inward, not involved in discussion with the teacher about specific poses. I don’t disagree with this aspect of yoga — I think students should be able to ask the teacher questions about specific poses, but it’s usually a more one-on-one thing as opposed to disruption to the larger class.

Speaking of discussions, I’ve never been in a yoga class before where we had a 5 minute discussion on a philosophical topic about yoga. Again, I enjoyed it, but it was not something I’m accustomed to. The teacher had asked us if it was possible to find “God” in Asana, or yoga poses. A few people spoke up. Considering my mind state lately, I jumped at the opportunity to share my thoughts. I said most definitely. By focusing your attention inward, you can find your inner Self, which in my opinion, is God. The teacher countered by asking if you couldn’t do the same thing riding a bicycle or playing guitar. I said “Yes, but you didn’t ask that. You asked if it could be found in Asana, which it can — much like riding a bicycle or playing guitar. The difference being, though, that when you are in Asana you are focusing inward and looking for that quiet space. When you are riding a bike, I hope your attention is on the road ahead of you.”  He didn’t appreciate my answer. I didn’t appreciate his.

Needless to say, it was an interesting discussion and not part any other yoga class I’ve been to in the past few years. I think the most interesting point in the class came when he instructed us to use our poles and sit on them (legs perpendicular) so that our sits bones are balanced on the pole in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Not only was this challenging, but very uncomfortable. I had to remind myself that this was the point of yoga, as I breathed through it.

I don’t feel I got that great of a workout tonight. I don’t very grounded or centered. I wasn’t able to connect to my breath. The interruptions were annoying. But, it was a different experience. I really enjoyed some of the poses, including uttanasana (standing forward fold) as we really focused on each muscle being stretched in the forward bend. It was probably the deepest standing forward bend I’ve experienced, for sure.

I’d go back to an Iyengar class. I was expecting something much more harsh and serious — but it was fun. Would I choose it over a hatha flow or vinyasa class? Probably not. But it was fun for a change.


Teacher Training: Coming to an end

It’s Sunday. Today was our last full day of Yoga Teacher Training class. Next week, we’ve got our final exam on Saturday followed by the graduation ceremony on Sunday. And that’s it. Six months. Over.

I’ve learned so much in the past six months… about yoga. About myself. About my fellow students. It’s been an amazing experience. I loved every minute of it — even in those times when I didn’t. Our class has grown so close that the saddest thing is to say goodbye to everyone. Many of them I’ll see in classes here and there — but some of them are leaving to go back home.

Just like any other experience, these things have to come to an end. Burning man. Jam Cruise. A vacation. It’s time to say goodbye. It’s time to enjoy our last moments together as a group and to move on to whatever comes next in our lives. For many of us, we plan to teach. For others, it was more of a learning and self-discovery experience. Either way, it’s been great to getting to know everyone and while I’m looking forward to having my weekends back. At the same time, there’s so much I’m going to miss. Friday nights at waiting outside Stanyan Studio waiting for class to start.  The great conversations and discussions we had in class. The fear and excitement of learning to teach. The immense sense of calm I feel on Sundays, after spending nearly all of my waking weekend hours in the Yoga Studio.

Whatever happens, there will be something just as amazing for each of every one of us coming just around the corner. I’m just so fortunate and grateful to have shared this incredible experience with all my wonderful classmates and teachers. Thank you.

What’s next for me? I do plan on teaching. I’m setting up a weekly evening class at work. I’m also looking at various opportunities to rent a studio in SF to teach an evening or weekend class for my friends and classmates. I’m also going to continue my education and hope to assist one of my favorite teachers here in San Francisco. On top of that, I’m considering starting my “graduate” program with a one-week intensive class in October… But I’m still tossed up about that. Like most “graduate” programs, I might want to teach for a while before I embark on that journey.

So that’s it. My notebook’s full. My books are read. My homework’s turned in. All I have left to do is study for the final exam.

Teacher Training: The Powers of Pranayama

With only a few weekends left of Yoga Teacher Training, we’re entering the final stretch. This past weekend’s classes were a wonderful after our weekend off. It actually all started on Friday night, when Darren led our advanced pranayama class focused on pranic breathing. Pranic breathing is very similar to other techniques known as Kriya Yoga, Holotropic Breathing or Rebirthing. Earlier the training, Darren had mentioned a night when we’d have a very long meditation — though I don’t think any of us quite knew what to expect.

Earlier in the week, Darren sent us a list of instructions which resembled a pre-surgery checklist.  We not supposed to eat or drink anything several hours before class. We were not supposed to consume any intoxicants 24 hours before and after the class and caffeine should be avoided. I couldn’t imagine what this was going to entail.

Once we were settled in class, each of us had a blanket to lie on, a bolster to use as a pillow and an eye pillow to help block out the light. Darren taught us the basics of the breathing technique which we were going to use, which was very straightforward — deep breaths through the mouth, sighing on the exhalation.

By continuously focusing on this breath throughout the meditation, regardless of what happens, was the only other instruction. We did this breathing for about 5 minutes and then were told to do a breath retention technique known as Kumbaka until the moment it became uncomfortable. Immediately after this first hold, I had noticed a tingling in my arms and legs. We continued in this fashion for 2 more holds, each time I felt more and more relaxed when I regained my breath.

And when I say more and more relaxed, I literally felt as though things were getting even darker and I had less and less actual sensation in my body. Everything just let go a little more each time. After the third hold, we were then focusing our inhalations and exhalations on people we cared about in our lives for several breaths followed by another hold. At this point, I started to become somewhat emotional as did many other people in the class. You could hear that some people were starting cry.

This continued into the next hold and when I regained my breath I slipped even deeper and my eyes started to tear up without any real reason that I was consciously aware of. I then started to have a shortness of breath, as if I was balling — though the tears wouldn’t quite come. I could hear other people in the room become much more emotional, some people sobbing very loudly. I am fairly certain I was making some sort of noise myself. Keeping with the long slow breath was getting quite challenging, though I had known this was my sole task.

We then continued through several dedications of our breath which only got myself and others even more worked up. Once we were done with the breathing exercise, Darren guided us into savasana — or corpose pose — to help us relax from this intense journey.

It was at this point that I had noticed that there was music playing in the background. What was strange, though, was that I could hear a hissing in the background of the soundtrack. It was as if there was a blank cassette tape being played — just that quiet white hissing noise. The noise continued to get louder up to the point where it was actually louder than the music. I assumed this was part of the song, though I later learned I was the only one that heard this.

When we were guided back into consciousness, I remember sitting up with my eyes closed and practically falling over. We had been in this practice for about an hour, though it felt as though it was maybe 20-30 minutes at most. When we opened our eyes, I was in a state of shock — quite literally. I was confused and rattled. I looked at my friend Tiffany next to me, and I feel as though I gave her a “where am I?” type look — because she immediately gave me a very compassionate hug. Things didn’t make sense — though I wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to figure out. It was just this general haze. I had a hard time forming sentences.

I felt as though I had just been in a car accident or maybe woken up from surgery and was still under anesthesia. Several other people had experienced similar effects after waking up, and listening to everyone else’s experience was just as interesting yet completely different than mine. I had plans to go out that night — which were immediately canceled. I was trying to figure out if I was going to be able to drive home.

I felt out of sorts most the night and even the next morning was a little blurry. I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. But I know one thing for certain… There is something very powerful about the breath. You may be still be reading this and think this all mumbo jumbo. I would too. But having experienced this first hand, I now know for certain that pranayama, and even yoga as a whole, is incredibly powerful.