Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I had an unexpected detour in my practice today. In the morning, I received an email from Shala South promoting a free yoga class in the park. Cool! I like Shala South for being funky and somewhat non-traditional. They don't take themselves too, too seriously (Unlike Shala Central, who take themselves VERY seriously and are VERY traditional. I can't speak of Shala North, since I've never been there).

This class was over two-hours long, Ashtanga-based, accompanied by a live drummer. The drum was a nice touch because it kept the pace going (I kept thinking of Arturo and his metronome).To add icing to the cake, the class was being held in the same park where my favourite drum circles gathers. It's been ages since I attended a circle, so I decided to bring my drum.

Just as I was firming up my plans, it rained. Not just a few sprinkles here and there, but *heavy rain with big thunder booms and lightning flashes across the sky. Gah. By afternoon, I received a message saying the class had been moved indoors.

Fortunately, the showers eased off enough to allow me to bike to the Shala. I arrived early but the room was already packed. Over the next 15 minutes, the mats got closer and closer together. By the time class started there was *no space* between mats, not even a centimetre! There must have been over 60 people packed into that tiny room. Every time another person arrived, the assistant would call out: "Move your mats closer!" People were literally squeezed into corners and in odd spaces.

I'm not really picky about where I am in a room, but somehow I ended up over by the wall beside the cubbies. I finally moved myself and my mat to one side for awhile so the cubby-goers could tuck their items away. It wasn't a problem once the class started though, and the wall came in handy. It was also a relief to have a tiny bit of personal space, even if it was only 3 centimetres of space to my left.

The heat was tough. The storms had brought up the humidity. It was unbearable inside that room. I hadn't done a single sun salutation and sweat was streaming down my face. I spread my yoga towel over the mat, figuring that I was already dewy enough to stick to it. I was right. I've *never* had a sweatier practice. It felt like Bikrams. My shins were sweating.

The class was taught by one of the studio directors, Teacher D, and it was truly, completely, entirely free (which suits my budget just fine). We started with an abdominal exercise that left me gasping for breath. All around me, I could see the regulars pumping away and I was moving in slow motion. Sun salutations were next, 5 A's and 5 B's and then some of the standing sequence. We varied the practice a bit, due to space constraints (there was no way we were doing the Prasaritas).

There were a few fun poses thrown in. She taught Svarga Dvidasana, Bird of Paradise (I think this pose is stalking me. It comes up in every Vinyasa class I go to) and Parsva Bakasana. I got the impression that she was teaching a milder version of the class due to the heat and the multiple levels in the room.

By the time we finished, I was sweaty, but nowhere near as sweaty as the guy next to me (his mat made 'squishy' sounds when he walked on it). My clothes were soaked and the bike ride home felt *heavenly*.

Overall, it was a good experience. As a home practitioner, it was great feeling the energy of a room full of people and I *loved* the drum. The pace was pretty steady throughout, except for the more difficult poses. Interestingly, the drum seemed to act as a prompt for my Ujjayi breathing too - it helped me focus.

I'll be seeing Teacher D again at the end of August because I've signed up for her class at the yoga conference I'm volunteering at.

No comments: