22 January, 2012

Variety is the spice

Today was Power Vinyasa with Kelley.

At 9am on a Sunday morning. There was a time when I would have felt the need to pat myself on the back for attending such an early class. But now, it's become almost automatic. Okay, I guess I am sort of patting myself on the back, after all.

There are 16 instructors at Urban Yoga Spa. Until this morning, I'd taken at least one class with all but one instructor: Kelley. I had her on my radar, but she is elusive, because she teaches mainly early morning classes, and then she'd been out during the holidays.

One of my goals in the practice is to resist narrowing myself down to just a few "favorite" instructors. Part of this is because variety is good, from the standpoint of the type of workout that one gets. But the other aspect relates to idea that I might perhaps learn even more from the instructors with whom I don't feel a natural resonance.

Kelley made a good point, along these same lines, at this morning's class. She asked everyone to call out some of their favorite poses (We heard people say "Pigeon, Crow"). Then she asked people to call out some of their least favorite poses (Calls of "Camel, Rabbit"). Oddly, it seems the birds fare better than the quadrupeds. Anyway, Kelley then said "In your practice, why don't you start trying to see if you can be as enthusiastic about your least favorite poses as you are with your most favorite poses!" And this is the same sentiment that I try to apply to the classes that I take.

That said, I do have my favorites, and you'll probably figure out who they are based on the degree of effusiveness in my entries about those classes, as well as the number of entries that ultimately appear. And I guess I do find myself subtly (though not categorically) avoiding some of the classes if there are other options that are more viable.

Now that I say this, I feel I will recommit to the idea of mixing it up.

Kelley's class was great. Though this was a flow class, and there are lots of transitions, Kelley keeps the pace such that you can think about each step in the flow, and she includes breathing cues at each step of the flow (which is incredibly helpful, as I mentioned yesterday, regarding forgetting to breathe).

Her class had some interesting and notable differences from the other Vinyasa classes I've taken. She had us do some unusual moves based around Crescent Lunge; they were very difficult for me, and I felt shaky in my balance (doing twists of the entire upper body, from that leg position). Perhaps the most interesting part of the class was the end of the standing series, where we went from Eagle to Airplane to (Modified) Standing Head-to-Knee, to Tree in one continuous flow. I guess I am surprised that I haven't seen that series of balance poses put into a flow sequence before, and it was pretty cool.

At the end of the standing series, we laid down on the mat for Savasana. Kelley made the observation that our hearts are beating hard and fast, and that we can use our breath to slow them down. I really like this type of little comment. Hearing her say "Your hearts are beating fast" makes me feel so much more comfortable and "normal" (for lack of a better way of describing it). Sometimes, in those heart-pounding moments, I start to wonder "Am I the only one for whom this is so difficult?!" I can suspect that it's not the case, and I can realize that it doesn't matter either way. But just hearing that proclamation that this is what everyone is feeling... it helps me to let go of that sensation that much faster.

When setting our intention for the class, my initial thought was about absolutely staying in the breath, and not moving one moment ahead, or anticipating, no matter what. And that seemed to hold up quite well today. Often, when we're taking that moment to set intention, the instructor suggests we may want to send the energy to someone in the world who needs it. A dedication. I usually balk at that idea. Not because I don't think it is a valid thing to do, but because I feel uncomfortable taking it on. Today, family came flying into my mind. First, my sister, who is unwell. And then, my father, who is likely suffering a great deal of stress with the circumstances. And I had them in my head for just a few moments. And it shook me a bit, because I don't know what to send them, or where to start. And I am not a believer in Reiki, or any other sort of remotely-administered spiritual healing. The moment's pondering started to feel like it was going to morph into "thinking" and I decided to let it go.

My shoulders and back are sore from Jo's class yesterday, as are my glutes (or am I supposed to say gluteus maximi).

And tomorrow is, indeed, another day (and another class).

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