23 July, 2012


Today was Power Vinyasa with Michel at Be Luminous.

In the seven months since I started writing this blog, I have taken over 150 classes at Urban Yoga Spa. It's become, as I've said a number of times, a community that feels almost "church-like" if not "cult-like." Anyone who goes there can surely appreciate how tight-knit things are. This has played a huge role in my life. I am not sure I've noted it previously, but yoga has been so amazingly helpful to me, I actually opted to take a hiatus from "therapy" (counseling) because it just wasn't even feeling necessary. For one reason or another, though, over the past month, I've started feeling like I'm hitting a wall. In spite of the yoga, I'm still finding myself feeling a little bit "stuck" (for lack of a better word). I know that this is the place where the work really needs to happen. But I have started to wonder if I've become so comfortable, and if Urban Yoga Spa has become so much of a social routine for me, that I am not as effectively showing up for myself on the mat each day.

Other than a few short stints of a day or two where I have been traveling, I've not experienced any other yoga studios. In fact, I have never taken a yoga class in Seattle other than at UYS. Some people bounce from studio to studio, following teachers, or based around their schedule, or just to have variety. I've been a devotee of this single location. Given the rut that I feel I'm sitting in, I thought now might be a good time to take a little "vacation" of sorts. I'd heard that Be Luminous has a special for new students, and I thought I'd give it a shot.

I have no illusions about what practice is and is not. I know that "No matter where you go, there you are." I'm not expecting a greener pasture, where yoga is easy again, and solves all my life's problems. I am just curious what a slightly different environment, a slightly different message, new, unfamiliar faces and voices will do to me. Maybe it will be like shaking loose something that's stuck.

All that said, class was good today. The first time in a new environment, one is immediately drawn to "what is different" in the new place. Focusing on the tangibles that are most applicable to yoga practice: (1) higher ambient light level in the studio, (2) temperature regulated at exactly 90 degrees, (3) no music (at least not during the class, though this may not be true for all instructors there). In spite of the heat being substantially lower, I still managed to sweat more than anyone else in the (rather crowded) class.

The entire sequence was very familiar. The class was called Lvl 1 and 2, which would mean nothing to me, since UYS classes are unleveled. The difficulty felt on par with the bulk of the classes I have taken. There were no official rests during class, but there was a brief break for an instruction in the middle of the class. There's something exciting and stimulating about hearing a new voice. Even if they are saying pretty much what you've heard before, we are such amazingly sensory creatures, the impact of words is heavily flavored by the delivery. For me, that novelty brings a kind of high. I don't know if that's a "for better" or "for worse" phenomenon. It is what it is.

Things I focused on today, through instruction (or adjustments) that I had not yet focused on in previous classes: (1) really getting the hips rotated properly during Triangle pose. I have always known that I'm under-rotated. Today, Michel actually physically twisted my hips in the pose, and I felt a stretch on the top of the upper hip that I'd never felt before. (2) Feet wider and very slightly pigeon-toed in Downward Dog. I have a bad habit of always ending up with my feet too close together during Vinyasa flows, which causes them to also be too close in Downward Dog. Today, she called attention to that, and I tried to focus on constantly bringing them back apart again. (3) When "floating" forward from Downward Dog, she encouraged us to really take flight, and get our hips up high instead of making a thud forward, with knees bent the entire time. We practiced this by just taking hops. This is something that other instructors have called for, but we didn't actually get as much explanation about what this is a setup for (handstands). I had a little fun with the hops, but found that when I tried to use that same hopping motion to bring me into the Forward Fold, I came down hard, lost my balance, and forced my quadriceps to contract so hard, I thought I might have almost cramped up! That tells me that I've definitely not been getting much "hop" in my "float" previously.

So, for now, it looks like it will be 10 days on this field trip. It's a Vinyasa-only studio, so I'll need to take extra precautions to not further stress my shoulder.

What new things will come?

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