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Travel Talk: Yoga in Portland

I just finished a lovely gentle yoga class while traveling through Portland. It took place at Turtles Yoga in Beaverton. I'm passing through Portland on my way to the Oregon Horse Center in Eugene and thought it would be a nice opportunity to join another yogi's class in the area. In addition, my brother lives locally, so I am also covertly doing research for future visits.

Upon stepping into the venue I was greeted warmly and was able to sit with a cup of tea while I waited for the class to start. As a gathered my things into the practice room, it was apparent that most of the folks in the gentle yoga class were regulars and were chatting away about different trips and fun stories. I was welcomed immediately by one of the women who frequented that class. Chatting about the gentle yoga class a bit, the only sadness I felt during the conversation was when she looked at my figure and said, "This may be super easy for you, but for me it's quite challenging but has been amazing since I have gotten into yoga." Her comment threw me off guard because though I am slender built, I have never found yoga to be particularly easy. I'm not naturally flexible and too many injuries to list have (unbeknownst to me) left me working toward re-balancing my left and ride sides on a regular basis. I just smiled warmly, laughed a bit, and responded, "Oh no, no... touching our toes can be exceptionally challenging from day to day. I started yoga because of many injuries and yes it has been amazing as well. I'm happy to be here." We went ont chatting while setting up bolsters, blocks, and a chair. As the instructor began the class, she started with a brief story about how asanas (the postures or physical movements we Westerners describe as yoga) are truly only a teeny tiny bit of what is actually under the definition of yoga. I was already smiling and my inner yogi geek was lighting up. See, the universe has this way of bringing everything full circle. Yesterday I held an Austin Eventing Fireside Chat Webinar. While discussing being physically centered in the saddle, I was sharing different exercises to physically feel or see if you are in the middle of the tack. Later in the discussion, somehow I got into the discussion about Alternate Nostril Breathing Awareness. Basically I started introducing the idea of the Nadis by having everyone on the video round table block each nostril respectively and breathe. Though I didn't quite go into Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, I made a few points about connecting the left brain and right brain- which in my opinion is one of the hardest things to do while riding.

EXAMPLE Instructor: "10 meter circle"

Student: "Oh god, inside leg at girth, outside leg behind, more bend at elbows, and look at me turn!" (Left brain)

Student: "Geez, that shape feels amazing!" (Right brain) The trick to begin to connect the two functionalities to find a balance between thinking and feeling whilst riding.

So, there I was, in a gentle yoga class in Portland with an instructor who showed me a very simple way to integrate Nadi Shodan breathing into my next Yoga For Equestrians course and or my next online webinar. It was almost as if the universe had said, "Psssssst. You there! You with the OM Riding stuff. Were you trying to find an easy way to introduce this to your clients without looking like a crazy person? I thought so. Here you go."

The other question that came up on the webinar was about having bad knees and ankles and how to keep them soft and flexible while riding. Specifically, what exercises in the tack as well as out of the tack could be used to make us more effective annnnnnnnd wouldn't you know, the instructor whips out some chair yoga that nailed the questions I had for my clients back in Austin, Texas. Those of you that were on the webinar, rest assured, I have some more ideas that we can follow-up with for the next one! The abstract point of this is, I came to a gentle yoga asana class physically able to do more asanas than were practiced. However, going in without an ego or expectation- simply being there excited to learn and share this space opened a whole new thread of ideas to take and share. What a lovely opportunity! Sometimes we don't know what we need until it smiles at us. Today was one of those days; that gentle yoga class was one of those classes. I hope you find something that inspires you today as well. See you on the next Austin Eventing Fireside Chat!

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