My apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks. Things got away from me – we had visitors, I volunteered for a writer’s festival, there were translations in my inbox…
A comment by one of our visitors (yes, you, Roger) validated my hunch that my current spate of yoga-writing needs to come to an end, at least for the time being. You can only read so much about yoga, and then you need to go do it for yourself.
Today marks the end of my $25 smorgasbord yoga pass. In one month, I went to all four studios, had eleven different instructors, and tried out three different styles of yoga. I’d call that a fair trial. It was also a resounding success. I have given the good people of Semperviva access to my credit card so I can continue.
Day 10: Monday, October 14, 5:45 pm
After writing up my experience with Kundalini and taking a very relaxing, calm class on Sunday with P–, I decide that I can deal with whatever this yoga studio is going to dish out. Specifically, I’m going to try “Vinyasa Power Flow,” which I have avoided because up to now I’ve only encountered the words “power” and “flow” together like this in the context of high voltage electricity networks. Call me unadventurous, but I’m not interested in having my hair any frizzier than it already is.
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Unlike Switzerland, the entire country doesn’t grind to a screeching halt just because it’s a holiday; the only yoga class that’s been cancelled is the one at 6:15 am. No danger I’d want to do that one.
City studio is bigger than Sun or Kits, but the same sea of blue mats covers the floor, this time surrounding the instructor’s mat on three sides. I pick a spot hugging the wall, close enough to hear but within line of sight to other students in case I can’t.
A shirtless guy sits in lotus position, meditating, directly across from me. Next to him is a gorgeous, super-fit female. Another guy in the front row takes his shirt off – although he’d probably make a better impression with it on — and starts trying to do handstands, with mixed results.
J– comes in. She’s of medium height, with medium length straight brown hair, a body that’s neither too skinny nor too sculpted nor too soft. She’s not going to be voted wild woman archetype or hot yoga body of the year. I can imagine her working a regular job. I immediately like her, even before she utters a word.
As we ease into movement, I stay alert for the “power flow” to get turned on. The guy next to me has hamstrings that are so tight they make mine look like rubber bands. I feel for him. But I’m doing just fine. It doesn’t seem too difficult.
Until at one point we go into down dog, and instead of placing our hands on the floor, she tells us to put our elbows down, with our hands clasped together in front. I can barely pull this off. Then we’re supposed to put our heads on the floor. Then push our feet smoothly into the air in a headstand. Um, how about “no?”
I go into child’s pose instead. In case you don’t know anything about yoga, child’s pose is the one where you curl up on yourself like a turtle. It appears to be a kind of default pose you can return to if things aren’t working out. I sneak a peek at a guy on my right; he’s perfectly immobile, upside down, eyes closed, looking like he could stay in that position for a year or two. Fascinating.
At the exit we have to navigate a horde of people waiting for the next class. Who’s teaching this class? I wonder. I should be sure to try it out. When I get home, I check: it’s Kundalini with G –.
Day 11: Thursday, October 17, 9:30 am
Our visitors arrive today; I’m going to get one last class in and then take a break over the weekend. Buoyed by my Power Flow experience with J–, I go back to City Studio for another one with R–. He’s billed as a former DJ who’s into reggae and hip-hop: “R– offers a challenging vinyasa practice with all the juicy bits of bhakti and spiritual practice.” I don’t know what bhakti is (could it be like baklava?), but the idea of combining yoga with reggae is intriguing.
I’m running late, trying to clean up the house, so I sneak in just as the doors are closing. The class is jammed. My spot isn’t near the front, so I can’t hear too well over the music, which is not reggae. R– demonstrates some poses and it appears he’s saying that it’s not good enough to do it this far – he arches his back and lifts his hands up to the sky in warrior pose. We have to go this far – and he arches back a good bit further and stretches his arms higher still. Uh-oh, I think, profoundly relieved I’m not up in front.
The class is full of human pretzels doing the kinds of poses I had been expecting when I started the Yoga Project. R– wanders the room, helping a few of them as they put their faces between their knees or do headstands while in lotus position. The women on either side of me can’t do anything more complicated than I can; we just smile at one another and carry on, grateful for the existence of
turtle child’s pose.
The music continues to not be reggae, and I continue to adapt the poses so I can do them without dislocating anything. Even so, when we exit, I’m feeling good. I know I won’t be coming back to this particular class, at least not in the near future, but I reflect that it’s probably a good thing the pretzels have a class that challenges them, an instructor who can push them to their edge. We don’t all have to inhabit the same spot in the yoga space-time continuum.
I feel like I’ve come full circle. Back in September I faced my fear and walked through the Sun Studio door, only to find things much less intimidating than I had imagined. And now, nearly a month later, when I finally encounter the kind of yoga that I was so afraid of, I just take a deep breath, turn inward and make the practice my own. Ommmm.
So that’s it for The Yoga Project. Thanks for tuning in. Namasté.
Here’s the whole project: