Thursday, July 27, 2006

a yoga sidebar

(this is totally not about current events in the middle east. although i will say that if a daily three-hour yoga class was a requisite for existence out there, i think they'd be a lot less intent on blowing each other to oblivion. same with america, too. i could be wrong, but it's still a nice thought.)

The Asheville Bryan Kest yoga workshop is coming up in late September. Realistically, I’m not entirely sure I can manage two and a half days of Kest yoga without completely embarrassing myself. The class I took at Brightwater Yoga (a local studio), with the lithe and supple Brooke teaching, was humiliating. It turned me off for a couple of weeks. Then Asheville Yoga (Stephanie Keach’s place) did their two-day free yoga festival, little short 40-minute classes so you could sample the different teachers and styles.

I almost walked out as soon as I walked in. More lithe, supple young women in lovely yoga outfits, with – strangely – the same hip haircuts and just about the same tattoos in the same spots on their backs. It was kinda like they were in yoga uniforms. Kinda creepy. But there were also more folks like me – not so experienced, not so… er, lithe and supple. And the class was packed. I grabbed a spot in the back left corner of the class – ideal and anonymous.

Both classes were learning experiences. Some of the poses were a little new – some I recognized from Stephanie’s class at LEAF. Much of the learning came from having to adapt the poses to my own abilities – using what I had, instead of just giving up.

The yin yoga class was different. Instead of a dynamic flow series, this class was about allowing the connective tissue between the muscles and the bones to open and relax. The teacher said that connective tissue takes longer to loosen up – so we stayed in some of the poses for as long as three minutes or longer. I wasn’t exactly timing it.

Funny thing about it was that I’m used to doing the same poses for maybe a minute at a time. But once I relaxed into them and stopped trying to be so active (like I normally do in a yoga class,) gravity took over and slowly but steadily deepened the pose – whether I really wanted it to or not. So after a couple of minutes in a half lotus forward bend, my hips kinda started to question what I was doing – it didn’t hurt, exactly, but it felt significantly different. The teacher said that sometimes you can feel a little fragile in your joints after some of the poses, and I understood, for the first time, why I was a little slower to move out of some of the deep stretches. It wasn’t because I was weak or incompetent – it was all about the connective tissue and the slight changes that happen when you let your body surrender completely.

So this week I revisited the Kest workshop plan. I got nervous. I wondered if it was worth the money, if I was just going to sob all the way home because I’d just embarrassed myself in front of my first real yogic hero. I mean, this is kinda like meeting a rock star for me.

But there’s some time, you know? And just because the weather is nice outside (if hot and muggy in the afternoons,) it doesn’t mean I have to exercise outside. I can still make the choice to be indoors and work the yoga intensively for a while – alternating with the outdoor cardio at the lake.

So yesterday it was back to basics – the first Kest video, which had about killed me the first time I did it several months ago. I need to work some strength back up, obviously, but some poses are actually easier – or *cough* less grueling, I should say. And although I have enjoyed planning my own yoga sequences, there’s a lot to be said for following someone else’s instructions and going with their flow. Especially his instructions – because as hot as he is (and yes, he’s pretty attractive) what keeps me coming back is the class itself.

And oh, it was so sweet. Whole body releasing, remembering the flow, “keeping the dance alive.”

So I’ll give it a couple more weeks and see how I feel about it then. See if I can build a little more confidence. I don’t have to register immediately. I’ll just go with the flow for now.

Wishing peace for you and all the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your comments. I have been practicing yoga for about 4 years. I would recommend trying Leigh Anns class, either Monday or Thursday AM, or Tuesday or Thursday PM. I think she is an amazing and compassionate teacher. I have come far under her tutelage. Hope to see you there.