17 July 2011

Hip opening class

It was my first Ashtanga class at the shala in nearly 3 years.

What possessed me to go to a class?

80% redemption - I hadn't done any yoga practice this week

10% curiosity - the shala has moved to a new building, and Simi's son (who I've never met) teaches classes there now

10% entertainment - just to have a bit of fun

I've driven past Simi's new Ashtanga studio, its in a lovely old character building on the city fringe, my side of the city too. It's close to my house, but a 40 minute drive from work. I left work on the dot of 5pm and got to the 6pm class just on time.

I'd expected Simi's son to be taking the full Led Primary class tonight. I'd heard he takes the half Primary on Tuesdays, the class which would have suited me better as I my lumber doesn't permit me to do Bhujangasana through to Garbha Pindasana, but I just haven't been able to get to that one.

I thought I might sneak in to this class, take up a spot at the back, remain inconspicuous and anonymous, and bumble my way through the Primary practice.

Not likely.

Turns out that Simi takes this class - we embrace and she welcomes me back like a long lost friend, making me feel like a celebrity.

Instead of full Primary, she led the class through some clever hip-opening sequences.

There were a lot of Dog Poses with one leg lifted high and held for a few breaths before stepping forward to the lunge. Along with the usual Primary standing poses, she included some more advanced poses in the sequence: Vashisthasana, Bakasana to tripod Headstand with legs split into an upside down Hanumanasana, Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (great, I'd been working on this one), a killer lunge with the torso bent over the forward leg and the hands interlocked and raised up to the ceiling, and towards the end of the class, a move that took me by surprise (though I do remember trying this one years ago in an Iyengar class): Dog Pose into Urdhva Dhanurasana - you get there by lifting one leg up in Dog Pose, twisting it backwards, and flipping your body over into Urdhva Dhanurasana - after recovering from the shock of trying this on the first side I was able to do it on the second side. I flipped over from Dog Pose and found myself in Urdhva Dhanurasana on my neighbour's mat, with one hand pointing forward and one hand pointing backwards, wondering how I was going to awkwardly negotiate my way out of it.

The class wasn't particularly easy, and Simi kept it tight, moving us through vinyasas between the poses and making it light hearted and fun - there was no pressure or striving, just a playful, we-can-do-anything-if we-try mood.

For me it was an evening's entertainment - a big night out, like going out to a concert or a football match. The yoga class felt familiar but new, it was challenging but fun.

I didn't learn anything that will add to my practice, I didn't gain any new inspiration.

But I had fun.

I adore Simi and respect her enormously as a teacher and mentor, but will I go again?

Probably not...simply because, compared to the deep sea explorations of my own practice, a homogenised yoga class feels like a playful but shallow skim along the surface.

Fun and entertainment? Yes.

Soul stirring? No.

No comments: