02 June, 2012

Watching a flower blossom

Today was Power Vinyasa with Heidi!!

It's not very often that I get to type a new name in that first line.

Today's class was a "Community Class," which are free classes that Urban Yoga Spa offers, and they are often taught by instructors in training. In spite of being free to anyone, they are still often attended by members, because it's an opportunity to show support for someone new. The term "Community" is meant to refer to the context of the neighborhood, or inclusiveness, or accessibility. But today, it felt like it was a tribute to the strength of the Community that is Urban Yoga Spa. Heidi is a familiar face, whom we've seen in class and working at the front desk for quite some time now. It was amazing seeing how everyone showed up for her: instructors, staff, fellow yogis alike.

I was a bit fatigued from days of challenging yoga (15 classes in the last 15 days), and just a tad "off" because of an ill-advised blend of wine and tequila at last night's "Yogalympics" kick-off party. I've also been walking miles and miles and miles, lately, to and from work, all around town (probably about 25 miles in the past week), so the legs are really getting a workout.

Nonetheless, the positive energy and enthusiasm in the room today kept me going, and looking up to see Heidi's smiling face at several moments during class was well worth the price of admission. Class was not easy, though I have been saying that pretty much every day, lately. Near the beginning of class, we had the Dolphin Plank series, of Kathy fame. That, I can handle. For some reason, probably biology, hard work in that body orientation doesn't really push my mind to its limits. It's the leg burn of those balancing poses that I tend to find more grueling. And, indeed, we got a healthy dose of that.

Some unique elements to Heidi's class: Prayer Twists on the first Chair of the class. That was an interesting surprise. Normally, I expect the entire Sun B series, before finally getting back to the whole business of twisting this way and that. But surprises are always good, because they take you somewhere you didn't know you were going to be. And we got another surprise immediately following that, when we did the twist to the right and the twist to the left, without the usual repose of a forward fold between the two sides. My quadriceps were screaming, but as I twisted to the left, and got a glimpse in the mirror, I managed to smile, because that seemed like the right thing to do.

Interestingly, in the past few weeks, I have seen lots of "new stuff" showing up in our classes. Last week, we saw the Warrior II to Crescent Lunge transition in a couple of classes. Today, Heidi had us do (if I remember correctly) a transition from Dekasana (Airplane) into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), which was interesting and super-challenging because of the balance in the standing leg, combined with the core work of pivoting the arms into a completely different orientation without falling over.

These unexpected things are really good, I think, for the mind, and one of the reasons that I much prefer Vinyasa yoga over Bikram. Though, as I've said before, there's a place for both, and each grows the mind in a different way. But I love this idea of needing to reformulate our understanding of the "Universe of Possibilities" each time we experience some new pose or transition that we haven't done before. In some ways, these transitions are almost like a game of Twister, where you need to actually say to your own brain, "Ok, what muscles do I need to use to make this happen?" When we discover something new is possible, we grow, almost instantly. It's like a revelation.

Heidi started class with a reading by Shel Silverstein:

"There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
‘I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside."

This really is what yoga is all about. Listening. Trusting.

I am grateful I was able to be present and share in the experience of watching a flower blossom.

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