With the October challenge just around the corner, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about practice.
Yesterday, I went to two classes at the studio: a lunch yin class with Nicole and the evening slow flow 2 with Johnathan. It got me to thinking. I see many of you at the studio double up on classes, doing two classes per day at times (or more!). This can be excellent, especially if you choose two different styles of class that may compliment one another.
The yin class had a lovely balance of gentle movement and mindfully held poses that really worked into my hips and lower back. The slow paced class meant that I left feeling calm and balanced. Both my back and my hip (the one that I have to give attention to consistently) felt especially spacious and easeful. Nicole’s deep soft voice was a perfect fit for this style of practice. Yin yoga is a slow moving yoga where almost all the poses are done exclusively on the floor. Poses often focus on the back or the hips and are targeted at stretching the connective tissues of the joints. Though it can be as gentle as YOU make it, the challenge to this style of yoga is often mental as you try to calm the mind by breathing through any intense sensations that may arise. I was grateful to Nicole after this class. My body felt so happy and some of the poses got into some areas that I had clearly not been reaching with my home practice.
The body has a need for both stretching and strengthening. All of one, with none of the other will create an imbalance in the body. That is why yoga is such an amazing compliment to other activities such as cycling, running, paddling, weight lifting, tennis or golf. It helps not only in the overall tone of the muscles but it also helps to rectify asymmetries that can develop and balance out overuse of certain muscle groups. It can help to prevent injury.
The second class with Johnathan was a slow flow 2 – this meant that we would for sure be developing some heat during practice, which I love. Through a few thoughtful flows in the form of a sun salutation, my body is able to come into place where my muscles are warm and ready to work. Mind is connected to body through breath and that is where our yoga practice can move the deepest. Once warm, Johnathan took us through a sequence of strongly held warrior poses. I don’t know if I was the only one straightening my front leg for a break from time to time, but I did it more than once, And this is why I love his classes, because they challenge, but you can take the challenge to whatever level you need to. When you need to back off, you can back off, and then press back in for a little more burn. The strengthening of these classes I NEED because my body type tends to be more hyper-mobile, overly flexible (I know, some of you think you would LOVE to have this problem, but trust me, you are almost more susceptible to overstretching and injury than someone who is more tightly put together). I left this class feeling like superwoman, ready to take on anything. And this is one of the wonderful side benefits that I’m sure most of you notice from your regular yoga practice, you feel more balanced, more strong, more calm, more ready to handle whatever life throws at you with ease, and confidence and grace.
Just as exploring different styles is very beneficial in the balancing the development of your physical body, different teachers, too, can be very helpful. Each teacher has such a different way, a different background, a different training, a different focus. You get variety and diversity in the teachings when you sample different instructors with an open mind. Also, and I’ll share this little secret with you, you may have noticed, different teachers teach different types of poses. We tend to have poses in our repertoire that we like teaching, that we like doing, that we want to offer you, so by going to classes with a variety of teachers, you are sure to get a full sampling of the entire pantheon of poses and practices in yoga, and meditations, and breath exercises, which will make your own experience of yoga more complete, more holistic. This is how yoga shapes your body, your mind, your whole being to be balanced, calm, clear and healthy.
The upcoming 30 day challenge in October is a beautiful way to test out trying a variety of classes with different teachers and notice how it shifts your yoga for you. The idea is to set a personal goal that will challenge you to attend more frequently than you currently do. So for example, if you normally come twice a week, during the challenge you might shoot for 4 times per week to push yourself and see how increased frequency can enhance the benefits you receive. Then after the challenge, you might settle into a comfortable 3 times per week as a long term goal. There are many ways to approach the challenge, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us.
Angie Edgson- Fall 2016