I did a yoga double-header today. I’m pretty wiped!
In the morning, I did my full practice, battled my way through the Intermediate poses, then did some deep backbending (repeating Urdhva Dhanurasana over and over again, walking my hands in as far as I could and holding for five breaths). After my three dropbacks (with some unsuccessful rocking-to-standing), I finished my practice, in just over two hours.
Then I dashed off to teach a class, ate my lunch, walked my dog, and headed out for some more yoga fun.
During the recent yoga festival, I ran into one of my first teachers in this city, H. She was one of my main teachers for years and led my YTT. I realised that it had been at least two years since I attended one of her classes, so I promised that I would come by for a visit soon.
H was very cute about it, warning me that her Vinyasa classes are pretty ‘hard core’ now. I reassured her that I’m pretty hardcore now too! Then she laughed and said “I know! I know! I’ve heard! That’s why I mentioned it - you’ll be challenged!”
Aw, the yoga community grapevine...it never lets me down! I wonder who she’s been talking to? :-D
While it wasn’t the most difficult yoga practice I’ve done lately (she’s up against some very stiff competition, given my current practice), I certainly broke a sweat in the class. And there was a tripod headstand that was a bit tricky (and unexpected - I didn’t pull it off very gracefully). The rest of the class was pretty easy going for me.
No complaints, though. It was very, very fun! She taught some unusual variation on Surya Namaskara, lots of vinyasa and standing poses, Vriksasana to Virabhadrasana III, Natarajasana to Ardha Chandrasana, a few lunges and deep hip openers, a Krounchasana variation and some peaceful forward bends near the end. I enjoyed it. I would have liked to see an inversion in the finishing, but I savoured the long, long child’s pose.
Her style has shifted back to a more vinyasa-flow dynamic since the last time I took a class with her. It reminded me a lot of the led classes at Shala South, which makes perfect sense given that H trained there and still studies with one of the senior teachers. She’s a master at teaching to different levels in a class. At the beginning, she encouraged us to find ‘freedom’ in our practice, and find variations that best resonated in our own bodies.
I’m glad I went. It was an the opportunity to do poses that are not normally part of my practice. There’s a chance I may be able to attend her class next week as well. If I can do it, I will. Mid-month, things start to get crazy. I’m back to teaching full-time and I won’t be able to attend classes again until December at the earliest.
I knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly: I’m getting bored and just a bit lazy in my home practice (I lasted what? All of two weeks? I guess I really *do* like being at a shala)
I miss practising with a teacher, with people around me. I miss having a community and a place to go for practice in the mornings. A friend was concerned I might be considering a return to Shala Central, but no. That’s out of the question now - for many reasons, but chief among them, the teachers would never support my Intermediate Series practice.
Unfortunately, this also takes Shala North out of the running. DR is very firm that his students must stand up from a backbend in order to move on to Intermediate Series.
Again, I’m not going to get into the politics of this (and it’s a tinder-box issue, to be sure). In the Astanga community, there’s a huge divide between teachers who follow the ‘stand up’ rule and those who go by the older standards. I honestly don’t know which method is the best (I’ll let you know six months from now).
I only know that I came by my longer practice very honestly: I was given these poses by a certified teacher. I didn’t ask for Intermediate (in case any of you were wondering). I feel like this series of events unfolded for a reason.
My gut is telling me to follow this thread, but I also need help with my practice.
So I’m considering all my options. I’ll let you know what I figure out.