23 May, 2013

Laughing outside the comfort zone

Today was Power Yoga with Edna Barr, at Yoga Belly in Mountain View.

"I haven't met a single YB yogi or yogini who isn't a huge fan of the insanely talented, warm, focused, and hilarious Edna Barr"

That is a quote from the blog on the studio's website, and it pretty much sums it up. Edna was all of those things. She's petite, ridiculously strong and flexible, and had the energy like I have never seen in a yoga teacher ever. At the start of the class, she introduced herself to each of the new students, of whom there were several. And, in spite of her seemingly (and self-admitted) ADHD, she remembered everyone's name the entire class, and repeatedly would call out people by name to encourage them, assist them, or make us laugh with playful teasing if we weren't working as hard as she perceived us to be capable of working. She asked me what kind of yoga I practiced, and when I mentioned Baptiste Power Yoga, she commented that she could try to do a standard Power class, but that she has a hard time sticking to that kind of a plan. "And plus," she said, "There are 84,000 yoga poses... you need to get *beyond* Warrior 1 and Warrior 2!"

And that, she did. We didn't do a single Warrior 1 or Warrior 2 in that class. It was a very fluid flow. If Liz Doyle and Ginger Saunders flow like a river, Edna was like an ocean current, unrelenting. The class was, indeed, insanely difficult, with lots of twisting while balancing on one foot, and bringing one elbow up to one knee, launching into a balance pose from Chair Pose (and then back down to Chair again), and lifting one arm off the ground from 3-Legged Downward Dog. It truly catapulted me into a different realm of "What is possible?" The flows were long, and I don't even know that we repeated the same things on the left and right sides, and I am not even sure that was necessarily on her agenda (at a couple of points, she would say "What are we doing next?" and I couldn't actually tell if she was serious, or just getting us fired up for the next sequence).

But even though it was, by all accounts, past my "edge," it was still fun, and I found myself laughing, and trying in spite of it all. The music was blasting, and Edna was running all around the room assisting people, and giving encouragement while, somehow, still doing about 90% of the class along with us.

There was so much grace in her movements, it was truly an inspiration. Even watching her do a simple Sun A, when her arms would circle up, she would go into a wide-armed back bend that had her arched almost like Camel Pose, while standing. It was amazing.

Anyhow, it was an honest ass-kicking.

After the class, I spoke for quite some time with some Spanish women who were working at the front desk, and learned a bit about the studio, and about some of the other teachers. People were friendly. The studio, in Downtown Mountain View, had a very welcoming feel to it.

Think I'll give it another go. But perhaps I will seek a little earth to slow down that water.

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