At the absolute last minute, I was granted the opportunity to attend the Yoga Journal Live! conference here in NYC. I had little idea what to expect of my weekend, all I knew was yoga mat, two blocks, a strap, and a prayer.
Not prayer, as in yoga, but prayer for me… as in “Y’all, please pray I don’t fall over after two days straight of all-day-long yoga.”
The weekend was an amazing adventure, and truly a testament to something I’ve been saying for a long time – your teacher truly defines your experience. No matter the sport, the teacher will always determine your ability and how far you can go.
I’m someone who literally just started working with doing headstands, maybe a few weeks ago, and I signed up for a class that focused on teaching the art of balancing.
On all your limbs.
Foot, knees, shoulders, head, forearms, fingertips, aaaaaalllll that. David Swenson guided us through an intense succession of poses that had me leaving a pile of sweat on the floor. Really, it was amazing.
What was even more amazing was, as Swenson got to the part of the class where he asked us to do a particularly challenging kind of headstand, he realized I was struggling with it and came over himself, to help guide me through it and even assist me to first help me get up there in the first place!
(Remember what I told you about your teacher truly making the difference?!)
I also got the opportunity to take a class with Nikki Costello, who writes the Basics column for Yoga Journal, as she took us through the tiny tweaks and turns and pulls that help make poses so powerful. She’s a very kind and clear person – very attentive and capable of making sure every single person in the room is getting the assistance they need. I love taking Basics classes, because I always – always – find a little something to help me grow as a student. Hers was easily one of – if not the – best I’ve ever taken.
Next, I took a class by Aadil Palkhivala that focused on relieving stress through yoga – something that many of you know is of great importance to me. I began my practice as a means of relieving the anxiety and stress that I found myself experiencing when I tried to give up using food as a “stress reliever,” so the practice of relieving physical stress is meaningful to me. His session focused on the stress that accumulates physically in the jaw, the neck, the shoulders, back and core. After leaving, I’m pretty sure I was floating.
I don’t know if you’re keeping track, but that’s 6 hours of pure yoga, thus far. The next day got a little bit easier, though.
Sessions with Sadie Nardini on building your business (“Wait, what business, Erika?”), Sarah Powers on building a balanced yoga practice at home, and the inimitable Seane Corne on finding your voice were enlightening and empowering. The last two sessions were much lighter on me, spending two thirds of the time in lecture and the final third in practice. Considering how Seane is my boo, it was an honor to listen to talk about how she connects to her students, something she is well known for… even via DVDs.
Basically, I felt honored to be in the presence of people who do so much of what I’m looking forward to doing in the future, and listening to them not only give advice on bettering our individual practices, but also watching their method of teaching and connecting with their students. I want to make sure that I connect with people, give them what they need, and leave them feeling fulfilled and empowered in person.
I love attending conferences like this, because they help to renew your love for what you do while simultaneously educating you on how to do it better. I came home with all sorts of new, amazing techniques to implement into my home practice, as well as a renewed desire to take at an actual studio, now. Can’t get much better than that.
Have you attended a Yoga Journal conference before? Where are your favorite places to learn about your practice?