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Lessons Learned at Yoga Journal Conference

A few weeks ago I was treated to two yoga classes offered at the Yoga Journal's annual conference in San Francisco. Taking the two two-hour classes back-to-back felt like a hometown mini-yoga retreat for me and I loved it. Held in a fancy downtown hotel, hundreds of ladies and a few handfuls of men chanted, meditated, and practiced serious asana for the entire weekend.

Personally, I loved the incongruity of practicing yoga in hotel ballrooms where wedding receptions and board meetings are generally held. I checked in the day prior to my classes and was presented with a reusable tote bag full of health nut goodies: arnica gel, energy bars, supplements, even seeds for planting poppies. It was fun to go through, but back to the classes and the lessons I learned.

I took two very distinct classes. One from Ana Forrest, whom I describe as the Ted Nugent of the yoga world, and the other from the well-known Rodney Yee. The Forrest yoga class, titled "Unraveling the Mysteries of the Neck, Shoulders, and Hips," was a great way to start the day. It is the only yoga technique where I have done ab work early in class, which I love. In Forrest yoga, the neck is often kept completely relaxed with the head just hanging. It is great for anyone suffering from neck pain. The most profound moment for me in this class was a small snippet Ana said as we held a Warrior 1 for what seemed like 500 years. She said, "When you think about quitting, don't . . . and see what that is like." Sounds simple, but it helps me persevere through hard poses and hard runs too.

To hear what I learned in Rodney Yee's,


This Iyengar-based class explored the bones. Instead of focusing on muscles and shapes of poses, we moved from the bones. This idea made all the asanas so much easier. We stood in mountain pose while placing our weight on the front of the heel bone (calcaneus). This way of standing balances the entire skeleton and creates excellent posture. Concentrating on centering the weight in the front of the heel in other poses made them easier and oddly helped my back. Even seated poses were about balancing the bones, which made hip openers like Pigeon easy and even. Now, when in line at the grocery store or the ATM, I think about where my weight is and move it the front of my heel. Not only does this relieve the boredom of waiting, it helps me stand tall too.

I had a great experience at the Yoga Journal Conference and highly recommend it. They have two more conferences this Spring:
Lake Geneva, WI (greater Chicago area): March 26-29
New York, NY: May 15-18

Here's the contents of my goodie bag:

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