Saturday, February 13, 2010


I love my Astanga practice, but it’s really fun to do something different. This morning, I decided to try a 60 minute Anusara class offered on YogaToday. This novice level class was called ‘Expansive Heart Openers’, and taught by Neesha Zollinger.

This is definitely a beginners class and the pace moved slowly. No sun salutations, just modified vinyasa with Chaturanga and Bujangasana. The flow was simple throughout.

There were two poses that would be challenging to someone brand-new to yoga. Full Vasisthasana (side plank) was taught without modification on the first side, then an alternative was offered for the second side. This didn’t make sense to me. When I teach beginners, I offer the easy mods first, then offer more difficult versions for those who feel ready for them.

There was also a lunge/quad stretch that could be tricky for students with bad knees. However, done correctly, this is an amazing stretch for the iliopsoas, so I quite enjoyed it! It was one of the high points.

The other tidbit that caught my attention was a standing shoulder stretch. It’s hard to describe, but I’ll give it a try:
1) Standing comfortably, put the hands behind the head with the elbows angled out to the sides
2) Press the elbows *forward* while at the same time, pulling the shoulder blades towards the midline.

This has the effect of puffing the chest out while bringing a subtle bend into the upper back. Classic Anusara heart opening stuff, but I was digging it.

What I didn’t like: The instructor’s chatter during this class. She often spoke when the moment called for silence. One of these moments came near the end of the class: She FINALLY shut up, only to start chattering about what ‘students should do when the teacher is silent’ (the answer: 'go within', not that she gave us a chance to do that).

Oh, and her constant, cloying use of the word ‘expansive’ was driving me NUTS. There were three instances of cringe-inducing cliches that had me rolling my eyes. The left/right cueing was off, but that didn't bother me as much as the inconsistency in the way postures were presented. There were a couple instances where a pose was taught so differently between the two sides that it created an imbalance.

Overall impression: Not impressed. At the end of the practice, I didn’t have that warm, post-yoga glow-y feeling. In fact, I didn’t feel like I’d done any yoga at all. This is the second YogaToday class that I’ve tried and have not enjoyed. I’m starting to appreciate the high quality of the YogaDownload classes. Even the worst YogaDownload class is far better than this.

I took a State-of-the-Backbend photo yesterday, after my Primary+5Intermediate practice.

I think I’m starting to see some progress. For comparison purposes, here are two backbend photos. The first is from a month ago:

December 17

February 12


Arturo said...

hi Kai
it's hard to tell the difference. maybe your internal feelings will tell you the difference. i see that you removed a table runner that was under the Buddha.

Kaivalya said...

The table runner is still there! It's probably just the angle of the photograph. The fabric is from southern India, a gift from a friend who travelled there.

LadyRayCello said...

Regarding Anusara.... it intrigues me so much...
If you're ever in NYC please seek out Holly Horvath. She's an AMAZING Anusara lady. I think she teaches at Virayoga. But you should check out her site: And if you're ever in Boston, check out Kate Greer!!! OK, totally plugging here. Sorry, but gotta because these ladies are incredible forces! :)