Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My YogaWorks Week

This past weekend concluded my 7 Days of YogaWorks adventure, and I'm so sad to see it go!  It came to me with the most perfect timing imaginable - Karma Kids was closed to classes for the week and open for a teacher training, so my hours completely changed and, for the most part, opened up to allow me to take a class once a week.  YogaWorks, luckily for me, has several locations in the city and I explored 3 of them - Westside (near Central Park), Eastside (76th & 3rd), and Union Square(ish).  I mostly went to Union Square, since it was closest to Karma Kids - and the farmer's market! - but all the studios were gorgeous.

It was a different kind of yoga class than I'm used to, and that's always so refreshing.  YogaWorks has an Iyengar/Ashtanga base, as opposed to my usual exposure to Vinyasa.  Vinyasa means linking breath to movement, and it's an interesting style because there's so much freedom for the instructor to play.  One Vinyasa class could be completely different from the next.  In general, though, they tend to move a little more quickly and get a little more sweaty.

I didn't notice the Ashtanga quite so much in these classes - although that may be because my only experience with Ashtanga wasn't the most inspiring and it also kicked my behind.  I really noticed the Iyengar-Vinyasa mixture though.

Iyengar and Ashtanga are styles of yoga founded by BKS Iyengar and the late Patthabi Jois, respectively.  I could fill a million blog articles with the details, differences, philosophies, and intricacies of each, but I'll try to be brief.  Ashtanga teaches you a specific series of poses that you practice each and every time.  There are different levels of difficulty (primary series, secondary series, etc.), but the idea is you measure your advancement in practice because of the consistency - you're doing the same poses every time, so you can see how they change.  Iyengar is a much more gentle, much less intense practice that is completely focused on the alignment of the body.  Iyengar teachers are big fans of using props in class to help the body or demonstrate a certain aspect of a given pose.

So that's my 2 cent explanation - if any yogis reading this want to elaborate or correct something I got wrong, have at it!

What all of that explanation basically boils down to is that these classes were slower and more thoughtful in terms of alignment than classes I'm used to.  I took a class from a different teacher every day so I got to see an interesting array of personal teaching styles all within the same general umbrella of YogaWorks philosophy.  Some classes worked me harder than others; some, I didn't even break a sweat.  The sweat wasn't the point.  One class, we did triangle pose about 3-4 times on each side until we got the point.  This is a pose that I'd probably breeze through a couple times during a quick Vinyasa class and not teach too much about the alignment aside from the basics.  It was interesting to take a pose that I thought I knew inside and out, a pose I usually just breeze through on my way to the next, and really break it down.

Aside from the physical practice, I got a really invaluable little nugget of wisdom from a class with yoga teacher Chrissy Carter.  She was talking about worrying and the notion of "preparing for the worst" - something I very often (sometimes compulsively) do.

"When you prepare for the worst, your body experiences the worst."

That really resonated with me.  How many times have I worked up a worry in my brain and imagined all the terrible worst-case-scenarios, only to have everything turn out fine?  Or even if it doesn't turn out fine, it still turns out not to be worth all that mental - and physiological - anguish.  We all know the myriad of negative effects stress has on the body - why give ourselves anymore than absolutely necessary?

It was a really special experience taking a yoga class every single day.  It's a luxury I haven't had since I was going through teacher training in the fall of 2009.  I found myself more patient, more able to deal with stress, and more able to accept negative turns of events with a measure of grace.

I'm finishing up the week/month of April with daily writing as my sadhana, as it's been all month.  Marc has been a rock star at writing in his journal faithfully every day for almost the whole year, and as a formerly hard-core journaler (I wish that was a word), I was starting to get jealous!

On Sunday, May 1st, though, I'm starting a new sadhana, inspired by a local yoga studio, The Yoga Room.  They're offering a 21-Day Meditation Challenge for $55 that is as follows:

10 minutes of Sun Salutations
10 minutes of Meditation
5 minutes of Savasana
5 minutes of Journaling

I can't imagine keeping journaling down to 5 minutes, so we'll see how many of those sessions extend to 10, 15, and 30 minutes!  I'm excited to get started.  I'll be doing it at home, since I don't live close enough to The Yoga Room to get there in the wee early hours every day, and I feel comfortable doing it on my own.  If you live in Astoria and you're interested, though, you should definitely check out the studio and the challenge!

Enjoy the gorgeous spring weather, everyone!  Namaste :)

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