Before yoga, I ran. And before running, there was basically an extended time period (my entire life) were I was inherently awful at any sports.
Dear readers, I am not a team sport person. I am not a ball sport person. Laws of gravity, logic and cause of effect all work their way around me when it comes to sucking at sports. But you know, then I started running (it didn’t involve balls, bats or people laughing at me) and that worked out pretty well. I liked the solitude, the sweating and the loud house music I played on my iPod. Then I discovered yoga: that was basically love at first stretch. And cliche-alert: It changed my life.
If you exclude the few hatha yoga classes I took when I was in Canada (and I hope you will because our teacher was a vegan with a Mac ‘n Cheese fetish), I’ve done Bikram Yoga for almost 2,5 years. That is and shall remain my holiest of holy yoga practices. However, I’m always curious to other things and so this summer I started taking a few other yoga classes here and there to see what else I like and what I can learn there.
Iyengar Yoga: Lin took me to her Iyengar yoga class a while back and it was lovely. A great, relaxing work-out that stretches and strengthens all your muscles. Basically what you do in Iyengar Yoga classes is use props. Things like belts, ropes, ballet bars and little wooden blocks to put your head up when you can’t yet reach the floor in a weird position.
What I loved most here was the teacher who would occasionally just push me further into a posture and I could really feel the difference in my body. This is something nobody ever does during Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is only vocal with the occasional extra instruction if you need a little extra help, but they never touch you.
Iyengar? Lovely way to practice yoga, basically.
Sivananda Yoga: I took this class a few weeks back. In this class there are lots of breathing exercising, a warm-up with Sun Salutations and then some postures the teacher decides on and helps you with. I liked the individual coaching that happened here and there, but I do like my yoga a touch more intensive. There was a little too much breathing, Ohm-ing and relaxing: a 20-minute relaxation exercise is a little much for me. At the end of class so I did float out of there all mellow so if I have some extra time I might go again, but it’s definitely not my favorite of non-Bikram Yoga classes.
Asthanga Yoga: …Now this I like! I took this class yesterday and I’m already excited for next week’s class — definitely going again.
This class was intense for me because in Bikram we never do any Downward Dogs or Sun Salutations and you do shitloads of all the Dogs or Sun Salutations in there. You gotta love Bikram but it’s nice to do a different set of postures every now and then.
You also have to hold a lot of postures for five whole breaths — I could really feel them working my muscles. Some postures were relatively okay for me to do (I have a good limber back from all the Bikram backbends) while with others I was flopping all over the place and looking at other people in terror: “Do I have to do that too?!”
The yoga teacher was very good with both instructions as helping us into the postures with her hands. I was kind of surprised when I was in stretching and you know…she sat on me. I mean, actually downright sitting on my back. However, she did it very gently and it got the job done: I touched my forehead to my knees and never stretched so deeply.
For now, my non-Bikram favorite is absolutely Asthanga Yoga; but I want to try a few more classes to be sure. Next week I’m trying a few other classes (Yoga Intensive, finally!) and see if I find anything else I like. I’ll report my findings like the good little yoga and self help geek that I am.
Have a lovely weekend, you guys.