Sunday, March 27, 2011

Craig Villani Seminar

 I'll start with a warning. This post may well be long. I know most of my posts are but this may exceed the usual. 

Saturday March 26th, Mount Hawthorn Hall, Perth, WA Australia.
8:10am lots of eager yogis were gathering outside a hall in Perth awaiting the start of the Craig Villani one day workshop/seminar and master class. The doors weren't opening till 8:30 so we were all very keen. I was an environmentally aware yogini and car pooled with two fellow BYJers. Good job as there wasn't much parking about. 

Being there early had it's advantages. We managed to get a spot right in front of the stage. Bit of a neck strain and kinda tricky to get out to the toilet which was right at the back but worth it being so close to the action. With 150 tickets sold, plus extra staff/instructors there wasn't much room between our mats. I'm imagining this is how training will be. It was very cosy, about on hand space between. There was also no mirrors or heat. More on that later.

Right from the offset Craig came across as very easy going and entertaining. Some of the stories he told were hilarious. The first thing I noted was how he wasn't your typical yogi stereotype person. He looked more like a rugby player with well muscled limbs rather than the lean, long, tall giraffe types you see on the front of Yoga Journal. Very refreshing, very normal, no ego and no entourage. He sat on the floor too, just like us. 

I was super hyped up, over excited which totally spazzed me out. I knew this would happen. I'd had crazy dreams the night before that we'd got the venue wrong and missed it all. I could barely eat breakfast which is weird for me. I didn't pack any snacks as lunch was provided so didn't even think about it. I did have over three litres of iced water which was something. By the time lunch came I'd not eaten for over seven hours and I had a tension headache that was brewing into a migrane. Of course I'd not even thought about packing pills as I've not had a headache in months. Janette and Lisa to the rescue who found me a Nurofen! Even then I only ate two very yummy veggie wraps as I didn't want that full, sick feeling for the class at the end.

The day was awesome. I was torn between scribbling notes and hanging on every word so not to miss anything. We started with the basics, the very basics, ie. Mountain pose. How to stand correctly, weight evenly spread over the feet, hips, legs, knees tight and engaged. The most interesting part was what to do with your hands. Yes they are by your sides but they need to be engaged too, stretching down with the energy directed out of the finger tips. 

We were given some very handy tips for Pranayama. I was always confused with being told to look for the back wall but no back bending. It's amazing how your head follows your eyes without really thinking about it. Looking where you want to go really does lead your body there, it really opens the throat too. The optic nerve even gets a work out in yoga!

Craig then went on to explain how the bring he arms over the head correctly for half moon. Stretching down, to the side and up drawing an arch was a great way to remember to keep everything tight. There was a big emphasis on 'don't compromise form for depth.' I see so many people sinking into their side, slumping forward just to get deeper. The hardest thing when we did Half Moon was there wasn't a mirror. Without being able to see my form I found it hard to correct myself. I had to feel it instead...but was what I was feeling looking okay?

I won't go into every posture we went through but there was lots of demonstrations and audience participation. Small tips about grips, solid bases and fluid transitions made postures come alive. The tiniest alteration makes such an improvement. Eyes play a huge part in helping the alignment of the spine.

At lunch Jo came to ask me which posture out of Standing Separate Leg Stretching or Triangle I'd most like help with. Even though Triangle has been bugging me the former is something I'd like to improve on as I hit a road block. So there it was, I was going to make my debut on stage in front of 150+ people. Deb very kindly got some photos of me but as my camera is pretty old and crappy now they are a bit fuzzy. So there I was, on stage, getting patted on the head by this yoga master. Yes he was patting my head, saying "good yogi get your hair line on the floor." Of course I lost the plot, couldn't stop laughing, hence breathing and the whole thing went to pieces. As soon as I corrected one limb and went to correct the next the first correction disappeared. He had to tell me three times to get my arms back to my shins, oppsie.

But now I know what I need to do the most. Keep my chuffing forearms back with my shins. The moment I role forward to my toes and pull they fling forward. Least my back is staying straighter. Then I had the opportunity to ask my question to Craig. My mind went blank. I have about a years worth of questions for this man and all I could say was "I can't touch my head to the floor." This is the least of my worries, it's my back and arms that bother me the most! Oh well...stage fright gets the best of us.

The day was really long. Sitting on the floor was really painful. I should have packed a cushion. Every minute was worth it, I would have sat for three days. We didn't start class till about 5:30pm. There was no heat but with all the people in the room and a 30 degree day it was no way cold. I had been getting cramp in my toes and calves from certain postures we'd practiced so I still took my electrolytes as I knew the magnesium would help. Craig told us to be aware that there wasn't heat and listen to our bodies.  I did this in Cobra as no way was my back going to flex to it's usual depth with no heat.

Despite no heat I was pretty darn sweaty by the floor series. My throat was burning dry and I had to drink to moisten it. This never happens in the hot room. It was so weird without mirrors. At least being at the front I stared out a board on the stage in front of me to keep my balance. Craig told us, mentally picture ourselves in our mind instead. So there I was in my minds eyes visualizing myself gracefully going into full standing splits and my head touching the floor with only a metre between my feet!!!!! hahaha. Full locust was funny, it was a tangle of arms and we had no choice but to lay out hands on both neighbours backs.

Craig is notorious for holding the second part of Awkward for a long time. He does this because he can hold it for that long. He wouldn't ask people to do something he was not willing or couldn't do. Nice. Jeez I was dying. With my right knee/muscle/thigh still bugging me I gave up. Crapola effort Kat. However to lighten the mood the students got to come out and the instructors at the back got to hold out for a bit longer second set. Go guys, you are so strong and inspirational.  

It was an awesome, energizing class. I learnt so much, I hope I remember it all in class today. Especially the Triangle tips. That made all the difference. I had such a great day. I was dead on my feet by the end of it, hungry, fatigued but elated. What would I have been like if there was heat!!! I couldn't hang around after, I was officially spent and still had an hour's drive home. So pleased I was only driving half of it, thanks Keeley xx. It would have been good to speak more with Craig, maybe next time. I am really wishing I could go to France this June for the retreat but if I am to make TT happen too, financially it won't be possible. Maybe next year! I did have a win on the Lotto this weekend, a whole $12.90. How cool is that, something is better than nothing. 

Here's some photos. Excuse the quality...

The room, getting set up for class
Jen, Bikram Yoga Perth Director, demonstrating a beautiful Standing Bow

A very inspiring Standing Head to Knee
Me getting my head patted

Me again, forearms nearly in the right place

Triangle set up


  1. haha thanks for the warning otherwise I would have kept going and i've already been holding for ten minutes :)ok i'll be back

  2. Kat,it was lovely to meet you on the Saturday at the Yogi Seminar ( I asked you if this blog was yours) I've read your posts every time it was shared on facebook by Jo or Stu but yesterday i started from your very first post and this is where I am at the moment,thank you for sharing all these with us it just feels like i'm reading my own feelings but never dare going public with it, you will be a great teacher.

  3. Nice to meet you too! Thanks for reading my ramblings. It good to hear we all go through the same things during our practice, we are not alone.