- OMFactory Yoga – Aerial Yoga with Amanda W. Friendly, energetic teacher with a great sense of humour, welcoming, helpful and beautifully open and warm. This was exactly what I needed at the time. After more than 24 hours in transit, much of that in a plane seat, my spine needed the beautiful traction that aerial (and anti-gravity) yoga provides so very well. I’m quite sure I was standing 5cm taller by the end of the class. I hadn’t flown for so long, it was so good to get back in the hammock. Starting things with a familiar yet fun, style of class gave me the confidence I needed to walk into any studio in the city (despite the front desk staff being a pair of emo girls – smile ladies, it’s yoga!).
- Strala Yoga – Relax with Tara Stiles. After walking around NY for about 4.5hrs I was well and truly ready for a clam, gentle relaxation class – wrong! Despite the false advertising (or perhaps more, a different interpretation of the word relax) this class was sensational! The flow of the sequencing was exquisite, up, down, around, down, up, open, flowing, rhythmic and sexy as hell! The playlist was definitely a big part of the sequence which was made even more powerful by the timing of changes in the volume. At 2 different times during the class we were given permission to do whatever we felt was best for our bodies at the time, by then we were primed to the flow of the class and with a few suggestions on board and the music turned up loud, people went freestyle with little to no inhibition whatsoever – amazing. This was a reasonably strong, vigorous class, what was ‘relaxed’ were the rules (although a there were a handful of people who seemed to know the sequence very well and emulated Tara’s style almost perfectly, adding their own personal fair and interpretation here and there – show offs). But within the cueing there were no instructions for placement, alignment, positioning – no rules, just suggestions to move your body this way or that – glorious. (The only downside to this class was that, as an AUS size 12, I felt the biggest in the class by far, and oops, yoga phopar, I wasn’t wearing my best lululemon, neither was Tara mind you, but clearly the studio attracts slim young men and women with enough disposable income to spend on the most expensive yoga gear). Still I loved the alternate nostril breathing to finish the class and the fact that the only ‘hands on’ adjustments weren’t adjustments at all but beautiful oozing, releasing massages.
I felt very happy with both of my Day 1 choices, they were exactly what my cramped and tired, jet lagged body needed. I resolved to go back to the Relax class with Tara on Day 2.
What did I get from day 1? Primarily a sense of confidence that I was in the right place doing the right thing. The Relax class at Strala was a wonderful introduction to stylised vinyasa flow and a taste of what makes particular teachers so powerfully popular.
- Integral Yoga Institute – Integral 1 with Maji. Things took a real turn toward the spiritual with this class. I was already impressed with the size and layout of the centre (I saw at least 4 large asana rooms over at least 3 levels, change rooms, a book store downstairs and a whole foods store/cafe next to the book store). Rolling out my mat, the other people waiting for the class to start were mostly meditating or whispering very quietly with a friend, no one smiled or greeted me in anyway – oooh you all take your yoga seriously here, I see. I had some muscle stiffness from traveling and soreness (the good sort) from my 2 classes the day before so I just started rolling about on my mat to loosen up a bit. What shocked me a little was when the teacher decided to start the class with the words “Alright my beloved, welcome…”. Beloved? Ok, open mind. It was a beautiful class, which started with some really lovely chanting which I very much enjoyed. The hatha yoga was gentle but demanded a sense of focused awareness that can only come with a spiritual style of mindfulness. The asana was not at all challenging but accessible and again, permissive in the sense that if something wasn’t available there was less than zero pressure to conform to the asana, the message was definitely to take the pose to your body, not the other way around. I also very much appreciated the question “may I adjust you?” before the teacher placed her hands on anyone, very respectful, thank you. After gentle, traditional asana, came yoga nidra, I have no idea how long, possibly 15 minutes? After which came pranayama and then meditation which was amazingly easy to slip into after all the priming of what had come before – if stillness is what you are looking for, Sivananda is possibly the style for you. Part of me fell in love with Integral, strong yet soft, was oozing from the entire school. I look forward to going back.
- Jivamukti Yoga School – Spiritual Warrior with Danielle (who apparently had been way for a bit and some students seemed extremely very happy she was back – good sign). The school itself is amazing to walk into, there’s a real sense that you are ‘somewhere’, the is a vibe of positive energy throughout the space occupied by the school, from the beautiful (if not very expensive shop), the 8 or so asana rooms and the funky, vegan cafe. I have to admit, the slightly ‘clicky’ feel of the staff and some obviously regular students was a little off-putting at first but after class I spent some time in the cafe, had lunch and just hung out and read a book for a while and came to realise that the clickyness was just a sense of belonging that people seemed to derive from the school rather than any huge degree of snobbery (that was probably coming from me when I noticed again the ridiculous about of lululemon prancing about the place – ergh, did any of them see the gorgeous organic, hemp yoga gear in the school shop???). Anyway, the Spiritual Warrior class was great. My body was tired and shaky but I managed to keep up in this strong vinyasa class and even made it up into headstand without the wall, the sequencing was very similar to my own (thanks to Heather from Trinity). The only thing I didn’t like about the class was the hands on adjustment, too strong, no asking and suggestive that there was something I was doing wrong, but because of the constant counting of breath (which continued for the majority of the class) there was no explanation of the adjustment, so I wasn’t really sure what she wanted from me as holding my head in Trikonasana didn’t feel like it was achieving much (though I did appreciate it as my right shoulder was very sore). I also didn’t really enjoy the peacocking by some of my classmates, but I guess that’s just something I need to work on, letting go of old patterns. What I did appreciate was the strong shoulder massage I received in Savasana, my shoulder suddenly wasn’t sore anymore (was she that good she could tell I was nursing it? cool). I also liked her little bit of chanting. So now I’m in love with Jivamukti. Oh boy.
- Strala Yoga – Relax (was supposed to be with Tara again but subbed by Mike, initially disappointing but then I realised it gave me a chance to experience the sequence taught by someone else, which would be different in some way of course). Initally I thought, oh good we will all be a little less self conscious with Tara not here, but about 10 minutes later I realised the vibe was actually less relaxed than it had been the day before. Different crowd maybe? The difference between sunday afternooners and Monday after workers? I was very tired by this stage but went for it anyway and after class felt better for it (resisted the temptation to feel fat in front of all the model types there again, despite my shirt flying up over my head in the first inversion and Mike rushing over to rescue my dignity, which he actually stole coming to my rescue I would have preferred to fix the short myself and felt like a real noob trying to tuck it in with him standing there holding it down.). either way, I still got another chance to try to remember some of their awesome sequencing – must ask someone about the lack of focus on alignment and that they don’t often stay in a pose long enough for the body to really register what’s going on, still something works, felt the yoga buzz after class both times. Will I go one more time I wonder?
Thoughts during meditation/relaxation:
Dreams are just visions that come to you in sleep.
I am constantly struggling through or pushing into something – stop, open, receive, surrender.
Without judgement, of myself, of my thoughts, even if there is the possibility of interpreting them as ‘bad’, negative or unhelpful. Instead, just be aware of them, wonder why they’re popping up when they do, what can you learn from them about yourself? Let them go, let yourself be yourself, be free.
You don’t need to feel a sense of close belonging here to get what you need from the classes. Mindfulness is really useful for not falling asleep in Savasana when you’re really tired.
What did I get from day 2? A sense of achievement from being able to do 3 fairly intense (in different ways) classes and still feel good at the end of the third. A sense that what I’m offering people at Bodhi Tree Yoga is a great middle path with regards to the style of the asana and sequencing, the amount of spirituality I include, the fact that I’ve started doing restorative, philosophy and soon, paranayama workshops. And also the type of teacher I am, the way I cue and the way I interact with students/clients/fellow yogis – I’m doing ok.
Do I want to come up with my own custom/signature sequence? What are the pros and cons of this I wonder? hmmm???