I’ve been really bad about blogging… So, I’m back, for a bit at least… untill the whirlwind of life takes over again. I just went to a hot vinyasa class that wasn’t actually too hot… which was fine because we just got back from vegas these last two days… so… Whenever I feel myself slipping out of balance, a yoga class of any kind usually snaps me right back into place. It’s like a chiropractic adjustment for my soul! I never know what I’m going to get out of a class, but when I don’t go, I feel completely out of touch. I’ve been kind of distracted by the music in class recently. It’s so nice when the music is either very subtle or not there at all. When the music is too modern or upbeat, I can’t hear my self through it all. It makes it very hard to turn inward, when there is such a racket outward. There is some music that makes the soul open up and expand, music that fills you up and creates space. But, so many yoga studio are using pop music for their classes now and this kind of music, while it is wonderful for certain occasions, often, not always, tends to be anti-yoga… tends to obstruct union with the self. Anywho, sometimes it’s fun of course to switch it up. But I find that peace and quiet in a yoga class is a rarity!
I went to Claire’s class at Rising Lotus today and it was pretty tough for me. I was tired and my body didn’t feel much like yoga today. It’s interesting this quality of “feeling like” doing something or not. I am curious as to what that really is… Because of this task, 365 classes in 365 days, that I have set for myself, I am somehow able to will myself to class and over-rule this “not feeling like it” sensation. However, I was slacking off… as much as is possible in a 2/3 level class. Although, because my body was so tired, I felt like I had an extra level of awareness and zero extra energy to grip or hold onto anything. The theme of the class today was to experience every pose as if for the first time. Claire asked us to think back to the first time we did downward dog, which sadly I can’t remember… Or, the time we did a certain pose for the first time and how exciting and alive that moment felt. And then, of course, you do the pose a million times after that and somehow loose that sense of newness that it once had. I think the combo of recreating that feeling of the first time and my total exhaustion put me in this state of hyper awareness. I had a moment of enlightenment in badha konasana, where I felt a little bit like I was… on drugs. I became fascinated by my fingers and toes and how I could articulate each one individually or all at once. Oh and I have these strange bruises on my upper arms from balancing poses. The price we pay to fly…
I normally would have skipped today and continued to hang out with friends, but alas, I got my butt to the last available class on a Sunday night in my hood. I went to the 1.5 hot class at Core Power. This class seemed more like an absolute beginner class and it was making me very agitated at first. In my head I was thinking: “why is this bothering me so much?” I guess sometimes your body just wants to take off and, for whatever reason, today I wanted to fly. Usually, I am pretty good about staying with the class, lowering all the way down to the floor instead of to catturunga, baby cobra instead of up dog. But today, I just wanted to go for it and the teacher would not let me! Whenever I tried to take it further, she kept saying lets ALL do “x”. She even asked my name and singled me out. So… finally I just surrendered. In other news (but likely somehow related), friends, co-workers, etc., are starting to hear about my yoga quest and are always asking me to do some “crazy” yoga poses… Ok, I have to point out that just because I am doing yoga everyday, does not mean I’m some kind of crazy gumby and can do every single arm balance out there. In fact, there are alot of things I cannot do. I’m not sure why I feel like I have something to prove. It’s always nice to have something to show for all your work and practice. But why? Who cares what anyone else thinks if I’m feeling better than ever? Yoga goes way beyond having ridiculous upper body strength and a rubber spine. It is a long journey and now that I am practicing every day, I see that even more clearly. It’s easy to make excuses in your head and say: “well, if I practiced more…I’d probably be…”. But now, I’m practicing alot and there are still many many obstacles: physically, mentally, emotionally… But, every day, I am changing my body, discovering something new, and letting go just a bit more of my ego’s need to BE a certain thing (even if that thing is yogi extraordinaire).
Today I went back to Rising Lotus for a good ole NOT hot vinyasa class. It felt amazing. The class was a little more challenging muscularly and mentally than I feel like the classes in the heat can be. Half of what is difficult about the hot classes is that they are hot! Claire’s class is always great. I am really starting to get into my backbends! Full wheel is so much easier now than it was before. My arms can fully straighten now if I’m super warmed up! And my arms are much much stronger. There are multiple arm balances that seem so much easier now.
My boyfriend, Chris, came with me to class. He’s a good sport. 🙂 The teacher today had a fun energy and kept reminding us to lighten up, which we needed because we did a bunch of very intense core exercises. I felt like the class was a little bit fast paced for a hot vinyasa class. I found it difficult to keep the breath linked with the poses because they were not sustained enough to take a full breath. But, I think I am used to the heat. Chris said the heat was really intense and that he felt a little lightheaded, but I actually felt like the class was a little cooler than usual.
So… as if yoga wasn’t hard enough already, this class is yoga WITH weights. Sounds insane right? Well it pretty much was. I used 3lb weights and I felt like that was quite enough weight. It was nice using the weights in the heated room because my muscles weren’t sore afterwards. I loved the class. Nothing spiritual about it really… but a great body overhaull! I am pretty much at this point in the habit of going to class every day. I crave the class when I wake up in the morning and am so happy the second I sit down on the mat.
This was a hot bikram/ core power fusion class. I’m not a fan of Bikram really, but this class fit into my schedule and I thought maybe since it was a mixed class that I might not mind it. My main issue with Bikram is… dare I say… I feel like it’s a little soul-less. Any yoga that involves a microphone and phrases like: “lock your knees”… freaks me out. Forgive me, I haven’t taken a million classes from a million different teachers and this is merely my experience. And this class was NOT one of those types of classes at all and there was a hint of spirituality tied in. But, we didn’t do any vinyasas. I prefer when there’s lots of flow and the poses seamlessly transition from one to the next. It’s a little hard to judge the toughness of a hot class because you are pretty much spent and totally drenched by the end of every class either way. Sometimes I feel like you don’t really build as much muscle as you would in a normal vinyasa class. Although, the teacher was lovely and beautifully articulate.
My body was still very tirrrrrrred today. I guess that’s what a week of hot vinyasa does to a gal! Anyways, this yoga 1 class was even to exhausting for me for some reason. I took it easy the whole class, but I was still glad that I went. It’s ok not to go to a hard core class every single day. Right? It’s hard for me to hold back when I see people around me taking the poses to the next level, I feel a little guilty for some reason. Gotta work on letting that BS go. Luckily I was just too plain tired to push myself anyways. So sleepy… gonna crash now…
So… this everyday yoga thing isn’t so easy on the body. Today I felt like my body just needed a break, a lazy day. I went to a restorative class at rising lotus and it was surprisingly magical… We held a bunch of “simple” poses for very long periods of time. This is the second restorative class I have taken this year and I’m realizing how incredible they really are. Allowing your body the time to continue to release deeper and deeper into a pose makes the asana that much more beneficial and utterly blissful. By the time we got to savasana, my entire body was completely relaxed and buzzing with prana. It’s nice to take the effort completely out of the poses so the breath can exist in its fullest capacity. I think sometimes, after we have been practicing yoga for awhile, we forget how incredible a simple restorative class can be!
Today I went to a level 3 class at Core Power in Sherman Oaks. It was actually the first level 3 class they were trying there. I pretty much died about half way through. This was probably the most difficult all around class I have ever taken. I was tired out early on… holding catturanga and lots of core work. But I probably would have been ok if it hadn’t of been so absolutely insanely scorching hot! I swear it had to be over 100 degrees in there. The combination of the external heat and the internal heat we built from all the binding postures and the intense core work was just to much. Most of the people in the class were actually making it through, but I had to sit on my mat 4 or 5 times to reboot. I felt like I was pretty close to completely overheating in a bad way, so I was trying to take care of myself. My ego was really talking to me during class today and I had to work hard to shut it up. I was kinda beating myself up a little bit and feeling like a loser that I had to rest so much. It’s always great to take a class like that, where you’re struggling hardcore, to keep that bastard ego in check. It was even more difficult because the teacher wasn’t particularly nurturing. Usually the teacher is constantly reminding you to rest when you need it and that its ok to be where you are today etc… Instead, I almost felt like I was insulting her, by not following her instructions and hanging in child’s pose. I’m sure it was all in my head. maybe. That aside, it was an excellent class. She started by talking about how a high level class isn’t just about difficult poses, but about asking ourselves what we really doing there. Why are we practicing, what is the meaning of yoga? She reminded me of some wonderful passages from “Light on Yoga” by Iyengar.
He says: “The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to bind, join, attach, and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. Is also means union or communion… When his mind and self are under control, freed from restless desire, so that they rest in the spirit within, a man becomes a Yukta- one in communion with God… the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfillment… This is the real meaning of yoga- a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow”.