Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Flourishing Farewell

Written by Jessica Addeo

Flourish: (verb) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment

If I think about the past year and half I spent teaching at Shree Yoga “flourish” is the word that comes to mind. As I prepared to teach my final class at Shree on June 21st, this word reverberated through me. I began teaching at Shree in January of 2016 as I was completing my second teacher training with Chaya and Susan. I felt nervous and unsure of my capacities to be a teacher at such a high caliber studio. Part of what makes Shree so high caliber is the quality and integrity of the people who not only teach there, but also the students who attend. Because I was surrounded by these people weekly as I taught, every class, every month I felt more comfortable in my new role. Where I was once insecure I felt more grounded. For every student who told me my class helped them, I grew. Planning my classes, practicing speaking from my heart out loud and meeting so many inspiring people is an experience I will keep. This is the ultimate gift of a yoga practice, whether that practice is a taking a class, teaching a class, or simply taking a few focused breaths in the morning before you start your day. Finding more and more layers of yourself in a supportive way and finding those people and spaces that allow you flourish fully into who you already are.

I am leaving my teaching position at Shree to make space for a new baby in my life, I know the lessons I learned and the growth I gained from teaching will not only stay with me but help guide me in this new role. The following is my favorite home practice, I can’t do all of it now that I am 7 months pregnant, but it is what I taught my last class at Shree. It is my ode to Shree Yoga, a place where I found my voice and stepped more fully into myself. Thank you!!

Jessica's Home Practice Sequence Gift for You:

-Start seated with a few moments to connect with your breath. (I like to place one hand on my heart and one on my belly).
-Child’s Pose (This is my favorite way to start a practice, I am bowing to myself and to my practice, honoring my time on the mat)
-Come to hands and knees and move through a few rounds of cat/cow.
-Thread the Needle on each side
-Hands and Knees back to child’s pose
-Flip to lay down on your back (have a strap handy)
-Step feet mat distance apart and let knees drop in towards each other, place your hands on your belly and again take a few moments to connect with your breath.
-Draw one knee in at a time, pause, straighten your leg and hook the strap under your foot. Point and flex your foot several times, open your leg out to the side first, come back to center and then take your leg across your body. Do on both sides with a long pause in between sides.
-Supine Pigeon: Place your ankle on your opposite knee, draw your legs into your chest. Do both sides.
-Moving very slowly, roll to your side and slowly make our way to standing.
-3-4 Half Sun Salutations: Inhale reach arms up, exhale forward bend, inhale lengthen spine and look up, exhale fold, inhale come up halfway, bring hands to your hips and come all the way to standing.
-Standing Side body stretch (2x each side): Inhale reach arms up, grab a hold of wrist, root down through same side leg and side bend opposite way.
-Inhale lengthen side body, roll head of arms bone back and interlace hands behind back. Fold forward reaching knuckles up towards ceiling. Hold for a couple of breaths, gently release hands to ground. Shake head yes and no several times. Step back to downward facing dog.
-Lunge on each side (back knee down): Reach arms up, grab a hold of same side arm as back leg, gently lengthen up and side bend.
-Twisting lunge on each side (sometimes I keep back knee down, sometimes I lift it up…): Same side hand as back leg stays on mat, reach opposite arm up. Take gaze where it feels best for your neck, up at your top hand isn’t the only option!
In between the lunges, I play around with what feels best for my body. Sometimes I hold down dog, sometimes I go through a vinyasa, and some days I stay in hands and knees or take a few breaths in child’s pose.
-Slowly make your way back to standing, come to a wide legged stance on your mat. Once more inhale and lengthen through side body, roll head of arm bones back, interlace hands and fold forward (knuckles up towards ceiling). As you are ready release your hands gently down on to the mat. Inhale lengthen and exhale and fold several times.
-Walk your hands forward so they are in more of down dog position (keep your hips over your ankles). I like to push down and forward with my hands gently to lengthen my spine and root further back into my hips.
-Take a twist in this wide legged position by reaching your hand to your opposite shin and twisting underneath your arm. Alternatively, you can keep your hands under shoulders, center one hand under your face (on the mat) and lift the opposite arm up. Slowly make your way up to standing after you have done each side. 
-Standing Poses: Warrior 2, reverse warrior, side angle pose (I almost always rest my forearm on my thigh), triangle pose. One of the best gifts I ever gave myself in my practice is permission to place my gaze where it is comfortable in triangle. Sometimes that is down at the ground or straight ahead versus up at my top hand. On some days, my neck and upper back feel open and I do take my gaze up and open through my heart, but it is always my choice not a given.
-Come back to standing at the top of your mat. Bring hands together in front of your heart and close your eyes. Notice your body, your breath, the palpable change that a practice brings. Notice all the ways you have flourished in your practice up until this point. 
-Pigeon Pose 
-Seated Twist
-Lay down on your back. Supine Twist When I twist on my back I like to take my bottom foot and place it on my top knee, stretch my arms over head and give a gently pull up to length my side body a bit more.

 If I have the time (or really need to ground and center myself) I do legs up the wall to end my practice. Admittedly this is one of my favorite yoga poses, when I can’t find my center or feel scattered it always helps put me back together.

-Savasana: I check in with the center of my forehead and try to release any tension I am holding there, I check in behind my eye sockets and try to let my eyes sink deeply in, I open and close my jaw a few times and drop my tongue of the roof of my mouth and then slip away into savasana. These are cues I have picked up from teachers along the way and they help me to rest and restore. When I am coming out of savasana I always pause rolled to my side for a breath or two, taking a last moment to relish in my time with myself. I then come to seated take a few breaths and slowly open my eyes.

Although I will not be teaching for some time, I look forward to resuming my role as a student of Shree Yoga. Thank you to all the teachers who supported me, to Chaya for always providing me with words of encouragement, to Susan for setting this all up and to all the students. Trust me when I say being your teacher was transformative for me and you all have a special place in my heart. Happy Practicing!

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