Friday, January 7, 2011

Take a Vinyasa

I've been practicing yoga the past couple of years and find it both a good work-out and very centering.  (One definition of yoga is actually "controlling the mind" so this makes sense.)  So I was very excited to check out the Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda--with a name like that, how could I go wrong?  Just to backtrack a bit, in Chester, my yoga instructor teaches in the Iyengar method, which focuses on holding postures for a period of time so that you can really get into the pose.  In NJ, I enjoyed flow classes, which had a nice pace and involved some inversions (head stands, head stands and backbends).   I actually learned how to do a free standing head stand, which was quite satisfying!  The class that I seem to have become a regular at here is yet another type of yoga--Ashtanga.

It was with some trepidation that I went to my first class.  I was told just to follow along as best as I could, which I did for the next 90 minutes.  Each class starts by singing a chant in Sanskrit.  (In Chester, we do call and response so you at least have some idea what it's supposed to sound like.  Here most of the students actually have the chant memorized but I follow along on a laminated sheet.)   The class then goes into a series of "asanas" or postures, starting with five sets of each of the Sun Salutations.  According to one website, "In Hindu mythology, the sun god is worshiped as a symbol of health and immortal life.  The Sun Salutation gives reverence to the internal sun as well as to the external sun, the creative life force of the universe..."  Pretty powerful stuff.

Chataranga--I'm sure I look just like this!
After saluting the sun, we move on to the rest of the asanas.  I don't think I can even aspire to doing the poses to their full degree in the time I have left on this planet--my shoulders and hips just aren't that flexible--but the instructor gives modifications that are more or less manageable.  As you become more familiar with the poses, you can begin to pay attention to your breath and use it in the proper way (again, something I aspire to).  At the end of many poses, the instructor says, "Take a vinyasa."  This is your cue to go through a routine that includes "chataranga," a modification of a plank, followed by upward and downward dog positions.  At the end of the class, I feel like I've had a good work-out (having done more than 50 "chatarangas," you do feel it!) and I'm ready to face the world.

One cool thing about an Ashtanga practice is that it's the same the world around.  There are a couple of different "routines" (for lack of a better word) but the one we do here is the most common practice.   I was looking on the web at yoga classes in Nova Scotia yesterday and noticed that a woman I've taken a few classes with in a nearby community teaches an Ashtanga class one night a week.  Her studio is in a boat house extended over Mahone Bay and is an amazing place to do yoga.  It has been added to my "to do" list of things for the summer--yet another reason to look forward to getting back to Chester!

Namaste!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed the Ashtanga class! I've practiced yoga for a few years and exclusively Ashtanga for the past 9 months or so. I love the structure as well as the community aspect of it - I can go anywhere there's a shala and know what to expect, and fellow ashtangis can relate to your experiences because they've been there too. I hope you stick with it!

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