“When water starts boiling, it is foolish to turn off the heat.”
My yoga journey started a little over two years ago. I should say my “more-than-passing” yoga journey, really. I re-upped my membership to Corepower after the chickens went back to school, determined to get my om on and look like Madonna.
I had had some experience with Bikram years before, and looked at this studio as kind of a more mainstream, less strident type. They offer a nice array from beginning to advanced, so I figured I would work my way up the ladder to maybe eventually go back to that hard-core practice.
Let me take you through my journey:
This class is the same every time. Which is a great way to build the foundations of later practice. And your triceps.
Since the poses and flow is always the same, you choose instructors pretty much based on their choices of music. It’s always nice to “shavasana” (rest) at the end to a little “Clare de Lune” or Jack Johnson’s easy vocals. My favorite was a soft piano version of Pearl Jam’s, “Black” (I tried desperately to find the version I heard to share with you, but I couldn’t).
You do a ton of tricep push-ups. One instructor had us place a block under our chins so that we would know how far down to hover in our “chaturanga dandasana” (low tricep plank). He told us he was the former football coach at the local high school. I expected him to ask us to drop and give him 20, which, actually? I think he did.
You also learn the beginnings of “crow,” a pose that forces you to balance on your hands with your feet off the ground, and your knees somehow tucked into your armpits. Instructors often call this part of class “playing,” or “recess” as we all struggle to “fly” but often just topple over. Fortunately, it’s not too far to the mat.
I managed one day to balance both feet off the ground one day, and I swear you think I had won the lottery! I felt amazing! I felt accomplished! I felt ready to move on!
C1.5: The Next Level
This class has differing poses for half the class, but still relatively same structure as the C1. This is the class I started seeing differences in instructors, and finding myself gravitating towards certain ones. Cool! Must mean I’m getting up there, becoming, like, a pro.
Oh, yeah. Bring it! I can totally do C2!
C2: Nice Taste Of Humble Pie
You know you’re in for it when half the class is upside down before class even begins. Not that I judge, or that I allow anyone to intimidate me by their intense level of bendiness. It’s more annoying, really, if you feel like they are doing it to show something off, rather than legitimately working on improvement, or meditation. But whatever, I was ready!
You also know that you have an awesome teacher when the class is wall-to-wall yoga mats, and you need to arrive at least 20 minutes before or you’re out of luck. Close quarters during Prasarita can be uncomfortable, so if you can get a corner, highly suggested.
Ray: “Yeah, I couldn’t do that with some guy’s butt in my face.”
Me: “Baby, trust me. No one’s really looking.”
Ray: “You told me some guy was in a speedo!”
Me: “Well, I try not to look.”
It’s all about your teacher. Each class is completely different, all depending on the emphasis that instructor wants to focus on over a month (usually). It’s all your preference. I’ve had drill seargants, meditative gurus, aerobic instructors, and flat-out torturers. One looked and sounded like Matthew McConaughey, and seemed to get lost in tangent thought, forgetting we had been holding the pose already for about ten breaths.
Or did he . . ?
Matthew-look-a-like: “I see some of you are in here for the first time. If you came here for Vinyasa flow, this is not that class. This is old school.”
I was dying. And I wasn’t even moving.
So, ok. I’m not an expert. But at least I was learning the ropes. What else did the studio have in store?
Hot Yoga: Spiritual Stretching
Bikram yoga lite. Instead of 90 minutes, it’s an hour. Instead of 108 degrees, usually they keep the class around 105. Not the full 26 poses of Bikram, maybe half that. Still with the same restorative mantra though, so if you need a good meditative detox, this is it.
Loud breathing is encouraged. Some take it a little too far. Also, the constant resting poses after every pose that follows the second half of class gets a little annoying for me. I’ll go to this class to get a yoga fix, but it’s not in my regular rotation.
Hot Power Fusion: You’ll Feel This One
This class is relatively the same every time you go. The difference between this and the Hot Yoga? This one may vary slightly, depending on the teacher. Plus, you do a number of “horse” poses which always kill my adducter muscles, since my ankles and knees have a tendancy to roll inward. More flow, and a section that focuses on a core strengthening series.
Read: Ab killer series that may or may not employ use of torture blocks. As of late, it’s the trend. Prepare to curl into a ball after.
Yoga Sculpt: NOT YOGA
My beautiful, very sick friend Elise made me do this.
Come join me, she said.
It’s awesome, you’ll love it, she said.
The last time I had taken yoga sculpt was back in my 20’s when I had a brief free week with Corepower. I remember being held in awe by the amazing tiny women besting me with their arm strength, utilizing 8/10lb weights in yoga poses with total ease.
Fast forward to now, I had been taking yoga regularly, coupled with routine Orangetheory classes. I was way more conditioned now than I had been then.
How hard could it be?
Elise (now a curse word) is my very in-shape, very Zen, incredibly sweet and caring friend. She and I try to schedule classes together when it fits into both our schedules. Sweet and caring, I said. I trusted her when she said that one incredibly popular instructer in particular was totally worth going to class for.
I had been curious. One weekend I tried to get into his class, only to get laughed at when I approached the front counter 10 minutes prior to class to check in.
“Um . . .yeah. If you don’t come a half hour ahead of time, there’s very little chance you’re getting in.”
“Well . . .there’s some space on the balcony right outside? I can just practice there, right?”
She was not amused.
Neither was I.
So, this time prepared, I showed up to get my spot the suggested half hour before. And we ended up right up against the mirror, mat-to-mat with the hundred or so other people that had done the same.
Ok, community. Ok, the closeness. But these 20-somethings were all here for the same amazing class, right? The average age should have been a red flag, but Elise wouldn’t steer me wrong. . .?
Well, see. For her? Pain and dying aren’t wrong. They’re cleansing. And meditative.
The instructor came in already yelling. Not at all amused by the guy wearing a hat. Not at all allowing for any kind of resting on our laurels. He started moving in what can only be described as Shawn T’s T25 workout on steroids. And all those 20-somethings managed to keep up, and so did I . . .
For about half the class.
It was hot. It was manic. It was most certainly not yoga.
Someone before me tried to walk out for fresh air and a breather, and got called out (what happened to listen to your body?!). Not wanting to explain my imminent fainting spell fast approaching, I waited until our instructor was on the opposite side of the room and turned away to dodge kicks and flailing limbs and swiftly exit.
“You did well,” said Elise. “I didn’t finish my first time, either. He’s no joke.”
“First time” implies there will be a second.
So, there you have it. I just started back on the yoga train this week, with the children back in summer camps, and I can’t wait to get my om back on. The journey has been amazing, and I’m hoping to work on getting out the kinks that seem to be creeping up on me in old age.
After all, Madonna still looks amazing.