I was fortunate to be on vacation this past week and travel to Saskatchewan, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. I have to admit, I tried quite hard to actually "vacation" and leave the normal hum drum of life (including this blog) behind.
Photo: Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Yet, I had to try at least one yoga class at a new location while away!
My yoga class journey was interesting to say the least. Living in a large city, a yoga studio is relatively easy to find. In smaller cities, not so much. I tried two locations with no success so I ended up with the option of a hot yoga class. Yikes! No preparation with the necessities (i.e., towel, water) and the mental prep it takes for me to do a hot class!
The class was called Hot 26 which I think it related to the number of poses we did during practice. Each pose was completed two times and I enjoyed the repetition. Overall, the session was intimate and challenging.
What struck me the most was that the teacher taught by only using her voice. We were placed in front of a panel of mirrors and watched ourselves throughout. She did not demonstrate any of the poses. I have rarely used a mirror in practice and typically fix my gaze on the floor in front of my mat or at the teacher. So this was a new way to practice.
The teacher's voice was exquisite as she used tone to help guide us through the poses. Instead of using my eyes, as in typical practice, I actually just focused on using my ears for guidance. Interesting new perspective on practice.
It got me thinking on how I would like to teach. It takes a lot of experience and skill to only teach using your voice. The teacher spoke during most of the class (with the exception of savansa) and if I were to do this, I would need to speak eloquently, concise and detailed all at the same time. Cueing every single aspect of the pose was essential for the teacher. Lots of work to be done to get to that point!
As always, I have been shown another way to practice and another way to teach.
I sort of feel "behind the times". This is sometimes the case - if you only knew I just recently got my first ever cell phone and considered staying with a film camera. Hot yoga has been a craze for some time and for whatever reason I've stayed away.
I wonder if I have not done a hot yoga class because of the preconceived notion that it would totally suck...for the lack of better words. The heat and intensity would be awful and I saw myself needing to leave the room for reprieve from the heat.
This is so not the case!
I entered the room at Yoga Central and the first things that jumped out to me was the warmth (not heat) and the red floor! I settled on to my mat and waited for the class to begin. I did some initial low back stretching with child's pose (balasana) and let my body (and mind) get use to the warmth. I have to admit that I panicked a little bit and my breath shortened. But then class began...
It was a practice much similar to a regular Hatha class. I anticipated that the poses would be rapid fast and my body would be drenched within the first five minutes. Not at all. The pace was perfect and I was, let's say, glowing in the first five minutes. We practiced many downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) poses and I felt I finally could get the release in my calf muscles that I so needed. I felt strong and stretched all at the same time.
The other real benefit beyond what a normal class provides for me is the focus on the breath. It wasn't emphasized to a great extent but for me it was how I coped with the extra warmth of the room and my body. It was something I could control in an environment I couldn't control. Interesting...
At the end of class, I felt little rushes of cool air over my body as I lay in corpse pose (savasana). Was it my mind playing tricks on me or did the teacher lower the temperature in the room? I'm not sure but it was the most refreshing end to a class I'd been avoiding for years!
Curiously, after class, I wanted to know why the class was not referred to as a Bikram class. It seems that hot and Bikram are not necessarily one in the same (kinda like all Catholics are Christian but not necessarily all Christians are Catholic). Bikram yoga has a specific prescription whereby the temperature is standardize as well as the poses, 26 of them, are completed every class. Who knew? So many things to learn!
Hot in Edmonton and ready to try it again,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.