Yoga Journal Live San Francisco

I just finished a weekend at Yoga Journal Live in San Francisco!

Yoga? I don’t talk about yoga. Have you missed all the posts where I talk about yoga? Nope! There are very few posts where I talk about yoga because I don’t really do yoga (ok, I do like three community classes a month at the local Lululemon).

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So how’d I end up at Yoga Journal Live? All it takes is 6 steps, 2 years, and the gift of gab:

Step 1: Go skiing in Colorado in 2013.

Step 2: Chat up people on ski lift

Step 3: Find out new ski lift friend is from Montana and knows The Boy (ok, so maybe Montana is that small).

Step 4: In 2015 go to dinner with ski lift friend who is in San Francisco as a parter of Yoga Journal Live.

Step 5: Geek out.

Step 6: Acquire VIP all-access pass.

So in all seriousness, it was really generous of my friend to get me a pass and it was a really transformative experience. Given that I had no knowledge of most things yoga, I could have been intimidated, but instead opted to use that freedom to go in with an open mind and play around. There was no ego about what I could/should do: Nothing to lose and everything to gain. My goal was to learn one thing in each of 6 two-hour sessions I attended over 2 days. Here’s some of what I came away with:

Session 1: Yoga for Everybody with Seane Corn (yeah, my first session as a “non yogi” was with Seane Corn). She had so much wisdom to share but the things that I took home were that every person is responsible for their body and practice (a nice reminder), that I should check out Iyengar for a better understanding of how to use my body as a foundation for Vinyasa practice, and a few very solid tweaks for my always problematic Warrior stance which is plagued by a front knee that pushes inward, a pelvis that doesn’t want to tuck, and a back leg that has historically not been very grounded. She made it all come together and it was a great foundation of love and non-judgment for the rest of the conference.

Session 2: A workshop on upper back, shoulders and beck with Gary Kraftsow of the American Viniyoga Institute. I always have an achy upper back and with a 40-minute practice I was pain free for the first time in a long time. He discussed the importance of sequencing and while I have no ability to do that on my own, I really hope he shares the sequence as promised.

Session 3: A workshop on hips, twist and bends with Jason Crandell. From a theory perspective he did a great talk on the connection between the pelvis and spine and how spinal motion should be initiated by the pelvis. From a practice perspective, holy cow! A very hard practice that tackled my hips from so many angles. Some parts of the class were overwhelming but I was able to pay better attention in downward dog and was rewarded with lots of helpful tweaks.

Session 4: Back to Jason for a workshop on practicing yoga at home. He used a lot of principles that I use to help people hack their lives for behavior change. He lead us through several 10-15 minute practices using different strategies (i.e. 1 pose every 1 minute; 10 minutes of sun salutations) and my favorite was a progression to crow pose. I can get into crow pose but it never feels right and always feels forced. Somehow in 15 minutes he helped me identify what crow “should” feel like- it all made sense. It wasn’t that I could do it or that it was easy, but for the first time ever I understood and felt the ways that everything fits together. This guy is amazing.

Session 5: Myofascial release with Bo Forbes. I fundamentally disagree with the theory behind her work but I loved her technique of using a block to release fascia in the hip and using supported bridge pose and a tennis ball to work on the traps.

Session 6: Yoga and mindfulness for busy executives with Gopi Kallayil of Google. He advocated dedicating two minutes every day to mindfulness and yoga (one minute each), which is a principle I’ve used for integrating lots of things into my life.  One thing I wasn’t anticipating was the hardest practice of the entire conference or the deepest meditation I’ve experienced outside of all day mindfulness retreats. It may have been that I was so physically fatigued and mentally focused after 2 days, and/or that he is a really skillful teacher, but it was an intense and powerful way to seal all that I had learned over the weekend.

I wasn’t expecting to go to Yoga Journal Live but I’m so glad I did. I took away much more than the one nugget of wisdom per session that I was hoping to gain and hope to go again in the future.

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