My hand towel addiction was real. I never entered a class at 502PY without one. Even when we started charging $1 to rent them, I found such joy in asking Kelly to just put another one on my tab (a.k.a card on file). Any time a pose got hard or I wanted to take a break, my towel was there for me, waiting to wipe the sweat from my brow, or nose, or hands, or arms, or well you get where I’m going with this. I had convinced myself that there was no way I could practice without it. You’ll fall. You’ll be so sweaty. What will you do when you need to catch your breath? THE STRUGGLE.
One ambitious afternoon, I decided to see what happened if I didn’t take a towel into class. My water bottle and block looked so lonely at the top of my mat but I powered through that first slippery class like a toddler who has just had their blanket taken away would, with some scowling, regret, and at the end of the day feeling a little bit proud. I found myself looking for it while holding Warrior II as my legs fatigued, when Dancer was called, and before Bridge pose; all of my usual hesitation poses. It wasn’t until that first class without my towel that I realized just how much I used it to cheat myself in class.
Now let me be clear, this is not a post to encourage you to stop using a towel. For me, giving up that 8″x16″ white, cotton crutch was about giving up hesitation, giving up my distraction, and about growing my practice. I had an easily accessible excuse to cheat my way through class and I used it like it was a final exam where the teacher left us in the room with our books. For you, it might be fixing your hair, adjusting your clothes, or getting another drink of water that takes you out of your practice. Believe me, there are many reasons why a towel is helpful during class, and since giving up my hand towel I do occasionally have to use a full mat towel.
The biggest realization for me was how much this applied to my life. I am the queen of procrastination. Seriously, I have been thinking about writing this post for two months. I’m constantly working to catch myself when I start to create distractions when things get hard. There is so much possibility when you can create space by giving up what you must. For me, it was not bringing a towel into class. It opened up being able to hold poses longer, dropping hesitation, and being fully present to the sensations in my body instead of the sweat dripping down my arm. Whatever it is that keeps you from taking yourself to your edge whether in the studio or off the mat, it might be time for that security blanket towel to take a rest. It might be scary, and may take a lot of self-restraint, but you may surprise yourself when you remove hesitation in your life and go for it.
Where Should I Put My Mat? A Yoga Studio Geography Lesson
By Becca Washer
It can seem like a silly question but every time you walk into the studio, mat rolled under your arm, balancing a block, towel, water bottle, and an eagerness to practice, you are faced with the decision, where should I put my mat? I’ve traveled my way around the room of 502PY and can tell you the ins and outs, tips and tricks, air flow pattern, etc of almost every spot. Here is my personal, in no way professional, view of the best spots in the room depending on your needs.
1. Your first class
It may be your first instinct to go in the back row, but I disagree. There will be times when you are facing the back of the room and it is helpful to have people behind you in case something is called you are not familiar with. The transition from Down-Dog to Flip-Dog comes to mind here. The fourth row in a full class is the best (or the second to last row if it is not a full class).
2. When you’re finding your own practice
After a while, you will get the hang of Journey Into Power (the sequence taught in all 502PY classes), and you will start to find what works for you. Breaking out from the back can be a challenge, but I promise, the front row is perfect for this. Take time with no distraction of people in front of you. When you can’t see what other people are doing you start to find things out for yourself. New transitions present themselves, challenging poses stop being a competition, you become very familiar with the Om painting on the front wall, and you find your flow.
3. When you get stuck
When only staring at the wall in front of you becomes stagnant, and you are ready to be inspired by your fellow yogis, place your mat in the center of the room. Connect your breath with everyone around you. Feed off the energy of your neighbors and let it fuel your practice. 502PY has a contagious vitality and the best way to reap its benefits is by immersing yourself in the middle of it. Start by literally being in the middle of the room and then expand that into joining conversations, coffee dates, events, and all the other aspects of the 502PY community.
4. When you’re working on a new pose
The walls offer great support when you are working on a new pose or modification and that goes for so much more than inversions. Try dropping back and walking up the wall for wheel pose. Float your hand while balancing on the wall in half moon. Press your hand into the wall to reach your foot higher in dancer. Yes, over time the wall can become a crutch, but it can also show you what is possible.
5. When you just want to be where it’s the coolest
From only my own perspective, the front row can tend to feel the steamiest especially in fuller classes where there is not much space between the front of your mat and the wall. Also, the corners offer less air flow and can feel a touch hotter. In the morning, avoid the center of the first two rows where the sun glares in through the windows (aka the death ray) or take on the challenge of a little extra heat. Take all this worth a grain of salt though (like the kind you’ll be sweating out) because the room is 90 degrees and that is hot no matter where you are.
The single most important thing I can tell you about where to put your mat is that there is magic inside those studio walls. All you have to do to be a part of this community is show up. Wherever you are in your practice, and wherever you are in the room is going to be just perfect; you can plant yourself in the same spot or move every day. As long as you’re unrolling your mat you are setting yourself up for taking your day to the edge.
Next week is the start of the 2015-1016 Teacher Training at 502PY and for those who have signed up, there are probably a lot of questions with what to bring. Though you will want to take the usual items for a power yoga class (see some pro-tips here) you will need to add some additional items to your list. Here is the very unofficial, not-all-inclusive, 502PY TT packing list. All of these things are items that I found to be personally useful, have used again in various workshop/program capacities, and would recommend.
1. Bag – Choose a bag big enough for all your stuff, but that can be squeezed into a lobby cubby. Mine has a zippered part for wet clothes, this was an awesome feature, but if your bag doesn’t have a separate zipper for sweaty clothes, bring some Kroger bags for your post-practice goods.
2. Lunch Bag/Cooler – Nothing huge, just something to keep your cold stuff from getting up to 90 degrees in the steamy studio.
3. Water Bottles – I had two bottles, one for water and one for Powerade. Personal preference here but make sure you always have water with you and something with electrolytes to replenish. Coconut water is another great option in addition to your usual water. #Protip: Hydroflasks keep water cold throughout the day (and they are sold in the studio!)
4. Yoga Clothes – I recommend two full sets of clothes for each full day.
5. Comfort Items – For me this was Glide, deodorant, contact solution, and chapstick. #Protip: Vaseline on the brow can help keep sweat from dripping into the eyes.
6. Liquid BandAid – Lots of yoga means dried feet and hands in the winter months. I had cracks/cuts on my toes and this is the only thing that stayed on during sweaty classes.
7. Baby Wipes – a.k.a “showers”
8. Towels – Mat and hand towels. I also used two mats during teacher training, so I could have one drying and one in use.
9. Pens/Pencils – Bring extra, they get lost and you will loan them out.
10. Hair Bands/Bobby Pins
11. Electrolytes – Personal preference here and there are lots of options, I like Honey Stinger Chews and Powerade.
12. Study Materials – Breaks are for eating, changing, and studying. BONUS: Here are my online Sanskrit flashcards, because I love you all!
13. Nail Kit
14. Selfie Stick (Optional) – Because it’s fun to act like goobers.
Not Pictured: Binder, journal, and books. A watch. Food and snacks (bring a variety – sweet and salty, granola bars, fruit, sandwiches, salads, chips and salsa or guac – whatever you will actually eat and will not make you want to throw up after a few leap frogs). Wallet – I just threw my wallet and phone in my bag.
Fellow TT Grads comment below with your must-have items!
Most importantly, know that all you need is to show up ready and willing! And that CVS is right across the parking lot and Jimmy John’s delivers.
Over the past 1.75 years at 502PY, I have attended hundreds of yoga classes, almost every single workshop, guest teacher, and master class. Never have I laughed or danced as much as I did at our Disco Flow. 502 Power Yoga is Lululemon’s studio of the month and thanks to them, there are two special in-studio classes and four classes being held at their Oxmoor Center store. These FREE classes are great for anyone in your life that you have been inviting to yoga. I highly suggest the next Disco Flow for the following reasons:
2. Friends – Friends love to hang out and dance. Friends love free things. Free yoga Disco Flow meets all of these. Bring your friends. Make friends.
3. Yoga Dancing – There was a fantastic discussion after class about how yoga dancing is infinitely less intimidating that regular dancing because you already look awkward in most poses. Dancing does not add to the awkwardness, it just enhances it in the best way. For me personally, all of my dance moves (aka waving my hands in the air off beat and shaking my butt – see #2) line up perfectly with most poses.
4. Lights Off – Are you worried about what you will look like at your first class? Try a class where the lights are off and the room is only illuminated with the small bursts of a shiny mirror ball.
See you on your mat! October 21 | 9-10pm | First-Come-First-Serve
The 2nd Annual September Sunrise Challenge kicked off on Tuesday, September 1st at 6am. From two classes a week last year, to five this year, the odds were stacked against us for a perfect record, but the 502PY students stepped up in a BIG way. We started off with so many people that there were four yogis practicing in the lobby!
There was a magic in the room that you could feel as soon as you open the door. Eyes may have been a little red and there were some yawns during the Sun Salutations, but behind those heavy eyelids was a twinkle. A twinkle that only a sticker chart a commitment and follow-through could provide.
This year, there were SIX CHAMPIONS!! Six “bright eyed and sweaty tailed” yogis attended every weekday morning 5:45 am or 6 am class in September. That is dedication, my friends. I am in awe of those who did not sleep through their alarms–not even once! In addition to those who made it to every class, there were 11 yogis who made it to 15 or more classes to earn a September Sunrise shirt.
Winners of the September Sunrise Challenge
Maria (who had to be photoshopped in–Sunrise yogis often have to scoot off for work as soon as class ends)
We had a drawing to determine the winner of the Lululemon gift card and the lucky winner is NICOLE!!!
These yogis attended the 15 minimum classes required to earn a sunrise challenge shirt– some were only one or two classes away from being a champion: Liz Cull, Ellen Green, Heidi Stenson, Susie Pope, Baely Talley, Becca Washer, Jay MacGregor, Melanie Blake, Valeria Aramburu, Drew Smith and Matt Rocker. Congratulations to all of you who participated!
Consider this your personal invitation to participate in the next 502 Power Yoga challenge, whatever that looks like. Even if you think you might not succeed, there is so much more than winning at stake (fun, friends, lots of yoga, maybe stickers) – and that is coming from one of the most competitive people you will ever meet.