Thursday, October 11, 2007

Relax

This semester, I signed up for a yoga class at work. (This is on of the brilliant parts of working at a university or college: the zillions of amenities offered to students, faculty, and staff.) And I think that I'm enjoying this class more than any other class I've ever taken.

For one thing, it's in the middle of the day on Wednesdays, so it's smack in the middle of the week. The week can even be divided into "Before Yoga" and "After Yoga." It really gives me a lot of perspective to take time out of work to go and practice. Much more so than going after work, or squeezing in a few asanas in the morning before leaving the house.

I also like the people in the class. It's offered through the religious life office on campus, and as a result, the people who show up are looking more for relaxation or meditation than ab-sculpting exercise. Sometimes, when I took classes at my last gym, I would find myself between ultra-competitive people who were more interested in seeing who could reach farther than who or knot themselves into pretzels than in controlling their breathing or meditating. It's nice to practice among people who respect the yoga philosophy of being in the moment and non-competition.

The teacher is wonderful too, although I wish she had a studio locally or taught somewhere where I could take more of her classes. She has a wonderfully soothing voice, and a good sense of humor. A good teacher is a must for a yoga class. I've been to classes with several teachers now, and the standouts for me were Bo Forbes, with whom I took a workshop at Kripalu last July, and a substitute instructor I had at Healthworks once, who offered a mantra that I often find myself repeating:

"It's called yoga practice, not yoga perfect."

The style of yoga in the class is a new one for me, but the one (so-far) that best fits my own ability and purposes. It's called Viniyoga, and it's quite gentle on my muscles. There are many modifications to each pose that suit my abilities. It's also a lot more relaxing for me, although I'd be hard-pressed to quantify how. Additionally, unlike my former vinyasa yoga practice, my inability to "flow" gracefully from one pose to another isn't a hindrance.

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