Happy Hump Day! I have been neglecting my blog for the past week but I am really excited to share my yoga workshop experience with you all. This past Sunday I attended a workshop put on by Ananda Shala in Frederick, Maryland. The 2.5 hour workshop featured Max Strom and was hosted in the top floor of a historical building in downtown Frederick. The room was full of character with floor to ceiling windows and a sky mural painted above us, it was the perfect place to practice yoga.
Now for all you yogis out there, I am sure you know of his teachings on breath. His book A Life Worth Breathing is published in six different languages and he has released a second book There is No App for Happiness. I posted a snippet of a TED Talk he did on his second book if you are interested:
I learned about Max Strom after I signed up for the workshop. I knew the class would have a strong focus on the breath after proper Google-ing and talking to my mom who has attended his workshops before. Max teaches a deep breathing technique that many of us know, Ujjayi breathing. He calls it ocean breathing, which I think is much less intimidating to newbies. Now I did not think my Ujjayi needed much work, but the workshop proved me wrong. While I know how to correctly breath, I don’t always do it, especially in some of the long holds when I need to be breathing the most. The class helped me change my focus from accomplishing more high level poses, to accomplishing deep and conscious breath throughout my entire practice.
Max shared with us insight into the importance of breath. Did you know that deep breathing calms the nervous system and reduces anxiety? So did I, but that does not mean I stop and “breath” every time I am feeling flustered. He had opinions on the overuse of anti depressants and anti anxiety medications by women, which I found particularly interesting. He shared statistics (which I cannot remember) proving that deep breathing techniques lower blood pressure and regulate physical pain as well.
A great thing about his class was his approach to teaching an all level class. He gave a variation for a level I, II & III student. His approach was very friendly to yoga new comers. We have all been or will be new to practicing yoga at some point and a class full of yoga enthusiasts can be harrowing to a beginner. He was humble and even cracked jokes through some of the longer pose holds. It was a very relaxing and carefree workshop. I left feeling very relaxed and enlightened. My major takeaway from the workshop is to not only practice more consistent Ujjayi in hatha, but also in daily life. So next time someone cuts you off while your driving or rams their shopping cart into yours, just take a few deep ocean breaths and smile. Namaste.