by Heather (State College, PA), who paricipated in 40 Day Practice
Hello yoga enthusiasts,
I apologize for the long post, but I feel compelled to share about my experience this morning.
Every so often, I head to Camp Hill to meet a friend for a Friday night Yoga Trance Dance session at the Just Plain Yoga studio. We always have a terrifc time releasing energy, taking up space, and dancing our booties off! After staying up way too late chatting, we sometimes get up early to catch a yoga class together the next morning, as was the case this morning. Jenn has been searching for a “yoga home,” so we went back to JPY to check out a 90-minute Ashtanga class. What it taught me is huge.
If there were 24 students (which, I believe, there were) 23 arms went up with shallow breaths every time the teacher said “Inhale.” And those same 23 were off and running to earth touch to monkey to plank to raised cobra to mountain to lotus (yes, mountain to lotus!) before I looked up from monkey and realized I’d better just ditch the breath and get moving!
It was all I could do to keep up. It wasn’t for lack of strength or flexibility. Quite the opposite. My muscles were saying, “No no, let’s breathe here. Oh please, couldn’t we just hold this a bit? Let’s open our hips, draw our shoulders down, engage the pelvic floor.” NO TIME! Inhale!
I found myself flying through a series of kriyas that looked more like Chinese acrobatics, but without the purpose and control I’m used to exercising with my body and breath. The class was organized such that we would go through a series of kriyas (usually the one mentioned above) before receiving our next asana assignment. There was no instruction for alignment, no mention of modifications, and not a prop to be found. For each asana, the teacher counted the breaths.
“Ouuuuuuuune……….tuuuuueeeeee…………tha-reeeeee…………fooooooouuuuuurrrr…………..fiveinhalerelease.” And inevitably I was on my second inhale just getting settled, finding that relaxation in motion, lenghthening into natural alignment, and releasing the muscles I didn’t need and honing in on those that I did. NO TIME! Inhale!
Being of flexible body and strong muscle, I was able to achieve some semblance of every asana, but I’d look around the room and think “Oh, the horror!!” I was surrounded by poor twisted bodies with contorted faces and straining muscles! Whether it was warrior, rotated triangle, forward bend, or lotus twist, there were grunts, furrowed brows, and wincing from my perfectly fit but poorly aligned fellow classmates.
But the silent witness within was amazed by my own practice. Through Tri-yoga, I have developed a deep compassion for my body and an abiding respect for the power of breath. As I raced from kriya to asana this morning, I saw that shear muscle memory made my movements far more graceful than my classmates. And drawing on the Tri-yoga knowledge that Theresa has so passionately shared, I used un-spoken alignments to protect my body from injury and support my body in new openings. I felt so loved and held by the tradition.
I don’t write this to brag about how I’m so great and blah, blah, blah. And I don’t write this to rail on the style of yoga or the teacher at this morning’s class. Actually, both the teacher and the class were very enjoyable in their own way. What a workout!! But this Tri-yoga….it gets in the blood and the bones. And anything else just feels like exercise.
Over and over again, I’ve been told I have Pitta energy (fast and furious). Being of the Pitta family, I’m always conscious of how I might move through a flow faster than my Kapha counterparts. But what I saw today reminded me that it’s all relative. Today’s yoga was ohmmygodthisisreallyfast! I loved learning that I may be Pitta, but my mind, body and breath totally wants to hang with the Ohm. My. This. Is. Slow. Tri. Yogis.
When you come to YOUR next inhale,
Heather