My Yoga Practice
I don't recall when I first discovered yoga, but I do remember finding the perfect studio. It just happened to be across the street from our apartment and going to their classes made me so happy. Their flows challenged and strengthen me. I felt slightly out-of-place among the yoga bodies on the mats beside me. The teachers were empowering walking me, a beginner, though the poses and still managing to challenge others. The music was serene and peaceful, the room dark, warm and cozy. It was the perfect place to sweat out intense feelings and go to a deep emotional space. I am not a fan of throwing religious words around but when I think on that studio, peaceful and spiritual, are what come to mind. The best part of the spiritual, was the choice for it, not the force of church life. I wish I could have spent more time in that studio, gotten better. I don't think I'll find a place with the same environment for a while.
For most of 2016, my yoga practice was online, watching Yoga with Adrienne and going through her flows. Eventually though I stopped finding them challenging and got bored. The end of 2016 lead me to trying out a new studio and finding a new environment to practice. There aren't many options in the small town I live in. But there is one studio with 4 different locations and that is the studio I choose.
This studio is so very different from my old one. The rooms are bright, with massive windows and are far from sound proof. The teachers don't play what I have come to think of as traditional yoga music. Instead play a variety of soft pop, rock or whatever suits their fancy. It's disrupting to my practice and makes it hard to get that deep level that I am striving for. The teachers remind me more of aerobics instructors than gentle peaceful yoga guides. The room doesn't follow the same rules I was use to, either.
Rules, from silence when entering the room to leaving in the middle of class. Here people talk, not in whispers but full volume. They shift and move their mats loudly. They don't have respect for others mats and walk right on them. They talk throughout class to each other and not the teacher. Or they pack up their stuff, in the middle of class and leave. It's a strange, weird thing and feels so disrespectful to the teacher and the art. I've stopped thinking of this as yoga and just as sequenced workouts. Once I started going with that mentality I was able to push myself and I have grow stronger and flexible again.
I've gone to enough classes now to have discovered my favorite teachers and teachers whose style doesn't work for me. I've discovered one class that's too much and stops me from breathing resulting in major migraines. It's a HIIT class with yoga beginning and end, a rather strange combination. The music blasts ridiculously loud during this class and there are weights involved. Maybe one day I'll try it again but for now, I'll avoid it. I've also discovered barre. Barre classes are yoga and ballet, something I have always wanted to try. The class is a challenge and I attend one, once a week. The small movements leave my thighs and biceps burning. After class when coming home, I allow myself the elevator because my legs just can't lift enough for the stairs.
Occasional there is a yin class that brings me to the deep level I am looking for but they are rare occurences. Yin is a slow, flex class where you hold positions for minutes. I used to fall asleep during this classes with the teacher gently waking you up just enough to get you to move to the next position and back to sleep. These yin classes are disruptive and unsequenced and lack the slide from pose to pose, but they work and still manage to release all the tension I've built up after a week of hard classes.
My favorite classes are the flows; slow flow, core flow, fusion. Slow flows allow me the time to work on my form and deepen the movements. Core is about strengthening my muscles and teasing out positions I didn't think I was able to do. But fusion is unique, it's a class of the same 26 poses week from week. Each week you build on deepening and growing those core positions. Those positions allow you greater strength in the rest of your practice. The teacher who teaches this class is also my favorite, she has a great flow to the class and it is hard but you are left feeling amazing afterwards.
It's good to be moving again and challenging myself to get out there. I'm excited to see where I'll be able to stretch and strength more over the next few months. Comparison pictures are so interesting when it comes to yoga. This picture for example, is me in a flipped dog, something I have never been able to do before. And it makes me so happy to have reached this place.