Took my first yoga class a few weeks ago…A Intro Workshop in Hatha Yoga taught by Bethany Hobbs, an amazing teacher, over at Namaste in Oakland. I taking another class on Monday, and plan on starting a regular yoga practice.
Yoga is something I’ve been wanting to get into for a while, principally to get back some of the flexibility and bendy-ness that time and being sedentary will take away from you. Many friends have been telling me about the amazing physical and spiritual healing powers of this practice for years…And, I can use about as much of both as I can get right now.
My process in approaching anything new, starts with an intellectual exploration…Reading, web surfing, looking for the right kind of schools in the area that will meet my own, emerging, goals for a yoga practice. Bethany suggested a book called ‘The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’ by T.K.V. Desikachar, a world-renowned yoga instructor. It’s a great book that stresses the personal aspects of yoga as both a spiritual and healing tool.
Right now Bikram Yoga, the creation of self-styled guru, Bikram Choudury, is very popular. I’m not it sure it’s for me, but plan on checking it out at some point, as much out of curiosity (Bikram is very controversial, even among devotees) as from an interest in exploring different schools of Yoga. My main concern, aside from issues with the heat (the room is heated to 105°) is that Bikram is sort of a ‘one size fits all’ practice consisting of a sequence of 26 postures repeated in a scripted fashion during each session. Desikachar speaks quite a bit about the need for individualizing the yoga practice, based on the needs of the individual, which makes a lot more sense to me.
For now, I want to get a basic grounding in Yoga thought and practice before jumping into the deep end of the pool with Bikram, it’s 26 postures, and 105 degree heated studios. So I’m choosing beginners Hatha-style classes influenced by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar champions use of props…blocks, belts, pads, etc., to help you get into the various asanas (postures), and seems right for me, for now…
Anyway, my first experience reminded me of this musical number from an Elvis Presley movie, “Easy Come, Easy Go”, from when I was a kid (I think they based it on ‘Rhythm of Life’ from ‘Sweet Charity’, very similar groove.) Elvis’ experience pretty much mirrored my own total lack of coordination at everything from breathing to stretching…I was a total disaster…Although unlike Elvis I will continue my practice and not ‘blow the scene.’
Thought the video was cool enough to share…The instructor is played by Elsa Lanchester, who folks may remember from her role as The Bride of Frankenstein.
Image: Yoga Girl by Night by Daantje. Licensed under Creative Commons.