yoga, then and now

i redeemed my yoga groupon yesterday! now, one more month of ommm-ing and breathing and contorting stretching mind + body at fearless heart is all mine!

i’ve been off the mat for exactly four years now. it’s funny because yoga is something that i am not at all inspired to do on my own – i need a class to go to. this is quite unique because i don’t need company to knit, run, watch movies…quite funny that i never whip out my mat at home.

my introduction to yoga came in january, 2003. it’s complete serendipity how i found my teacher, karin. i was in the health food store on devitt street (it had a different name then) and was looking at the community bulletin board. i pulled down 3-4 slips of paper about various yoga classes. once home, i called them all and karin was the only one who actually answered the phone. [and i found out later that this was a totally rare occurrence].

i started with the beginner ashtanga class, once a week, and my yoga world blossomed from that point, on.

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from january 2003 to august 2007, i practised yoga anywhere from 1-5 times per week. guess what – i never got super-bendy! but, as i learned during that yoga journey, ├╝ber-flexibility is not the goal of a yoga practice.

we’ll cut short the trip down yoga-memory-lane for today or else i’ll be typing you’ll be reading til midnight. the story will continue another day.

fast-forward to this summer: the outdoor yoga class was seriously the first yoga time i had indulged in since august 2007.

serendipity, once again!

yoga gives me time to think, and i’ve enjoyed a couple of a-ha flashes of insight during the past couple of weeks. here’s a comparison of yoga, chapter one (with karin) and yoga, chapter two (with a fearless heart):

yoga then:

~ i went to yoga to get a workout. a 90-minute ashtanga yoga class, the primary series, with full vinyasas, is indeed a form of exercise, and that’s what i wanted.

yoga now:

~ i go to a class for the complete mind-body-spirit experience. i like saying, “body, how are you feeling today?” i’m willing to listen to the message my muscles, my heart, and my brain are all giving me.

yoga then:

~ for each pose, i tried to mimic the proper form perfectly. it didn’t matter how my body was feeling – i tended to muscle my way into the pose no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel.

yoga now:

~ i listen to, and absorb the cues from the instructor and let my body go as far as it pleasantly wants to. then i stop. i breathe. i enjoy the stretch/twist/bend.

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yoga then:

~ i practised *competitive yoga*. i was very mindful of what the other class participants were doing. i was totally jealous of anyone who could do a jump-through (i never, ever got that – ever!). if she could bind with her toes, well, i would, too! if he could reach his wrist, well i could wrap my hand around my wrist, haha on you!

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yoga now:

~ i don’t watch other class members. it’s silly to compare, and sillier to base my feelings on what others are doing or not doing. i focus on my own experience.

yoga then:

~ my yoga teacher was my guru. karin had a unique gift for sharing her knowledge with others. i learned so much from attending her classes, over the years. whether she was sharing anecdotes from her own life, or wisdom from david swenson or patthabi jois, i marvelled at the life lessons that i was absorbing. and it was more than stop and smell the roses stuff. i admired, revered, respected, appreciated karin – she is one of those rare gifts of in humanity. you only meet a few of these in your life.

yoga now:

~ the instructors are my guides. the teachers at fearless heart are less hands-on with adjustments than karin was, but they still impart yogic philosophy that i find totally groovy. two examples: we were in warrior pose, and instructor suzie asked us, “what energy is available to you today, for this pose?” that word available really struck a chord – don’t force yourself past what your body is up to right now. then, the other day, when we were in savasana at the end of class, lindsay suggested: “if you’re finding it hard to keep your thoughts from wandering, that’s ok. let yourself think about what your mind is drifting off to. don’t fight it.” i loved this! usually, we hear, keep your mind focussed on your breath/don’t let your mind wander/stay with your breath etc. to be told it’s ok if your mind is up, down, all around was refreshing.

yoga then:

~ dad came to class! with karin, the year was divided into fall, winter, spring and summer sessions. about a year after i started, dad joined me in the beginner class. this was absolutely my favourite yoga era, ever. there was a core group of us in that class that all got along so well. and our class was held in a belly-dance studio with mirrors, colourful saris draped around the room, and christmas lights! it was a totally happy place to be.

yoga now:

~ i miss dad! i don’t miss the mirrors! i always thought i needed a mirror to be able to perfectly find my pose. guess what? who cares if you’re a tad more hunched on one side than the other! similar to the belly dance studio, i still enjoy the hardwood floors and natural light of the fearless heart studio.

yoga then:

~ the only sounds in the class were our breaths and karin’s guiding words – and laughter, every so often!

yoga now:

~ background music! i like it! it’s not a distraction, but an aide. i like the ambiance that the zen-y music creates.

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yoga then:

~ front row, right-hand side was my spot. i had to have this location or else i couldn’t enjoy my practice!

yoga now:

~ i prefer the front row, right-hand side, but it’s way ok if i’m somewhere else in the room. i can comfortably do yoga anywhere!

have you ever taken a “vacation” from a sport or activity? i hardly knit at all during university, esp my eight months in quebec. i had no time, energy or desire at that point in my life!

~”you take practice, all is coming!”~

sri k patthabi jois

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Comments

  • Dorry  On August 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    This is so wonderful! I’m so happy to hear you are getting back into yoga. :) I go to different studios in Dallas, so some are for more of a workout, and some are to just zen out and stretch/relax/meditate. Any way you look at it, I think everyone can benefit from a regular yoga practice. :) xo

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      you’re right dorry: there are so many types of yoga, that anyone could find a type of class that appeals to them. sometimes it’s a matter of try, try again! even within one type (ex: ashtanga) with modifications, you can make it as vigorous or as meditative as you want. that’s awesome that you have a variety of studios close at hand!

  • Holly  On August 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Sounds like yoga is a much better experience for you now! I like your more “laid back” approach — I like yoga for the stretching/calming/relaxing aspect. I’m not sure I’d like the more intense workout type classes.

    I used to take a vacation from running each year from July – January (and then start training in the spring for a June race) — this year is the first year I’ve actually ran through the summer!

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 23, 2011 at 9:51 am

      i do still want to try bikram, but have heard it is quite regimented – more the “yoga then” me, maybe?!! good for you for the summer running, holly. i know you prefer cooler temps!

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