16 October, 2012

You call that gentle?

Today was Gentle Yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

First off, let me say that it was an amazing class today, full of light energy, and emotional flowing, humor, creativity. I feel like Elizabeth is like a magical pixie-like creature who landed on Earth, wise and spiritual, and she shares thoughts with us, in almost a meditative stream of consciousness. With nearly all of my instructors, I feel a sense of being cared for. There's not a shortage of that. But Elizabeth seems to have a gift of imparting in her style. I feel like we are receiving a gift just being there. And every class is different, based on the whim of the day, and what her eye observes in the room. She really pays attention, and that is something special.

Today there were two things that made class into something that would ultimately not end up feeling "gentle" in its aftermath. First, she had us take our leg up in a Three-Legged Dog, and do some serious long, slow circles, with the leg fully extended, really opening up without bending the knee. We were held in this for a long time, going first in one direction, then the other. This was a serious glute and outer hip workout.

Then, she noticed that we were not getting very much extension in our Standing Splits, so she suggested we all try a wall exercise, where we did Half Moon with our foot squarely placed against the wall, followed by Standing Splits, with our "vertical leg" pressed up against the wall, using the wall to aid in getting that extension. There were two possible lessons here: (1) If you were able to easily get into a full-on Standing Split, using the wall, that implies that you have the flexibility to achieve the pose, and need to work on building the strength, or (2) If you were simply, completely unable to get the top leg all the way up the wall, it implies that you do not yet have the flexibility to achieve the pose, and need to work toward opening up more (likely in hamstrings and hip flexors). Of course, no surprise, I fell into the latter bucket. But the effort of trying these wall-assisted poses, resulted in my feeling some extreme soreness in the associated muscles for several days after the class.

I really love her class, because it is always outside the box. I think of her as having the lightness and whim of Ginger, the gentleness of Diane, and the technical knowledge of Patrick (to compare to my long-time instructors at Urban Yoga Spa), which is a pretty interesting combination of attributes.

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