As you may or may not know, I love my yoga.
Now I go to class twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The Tuesday class is a small, workshop-like setting, and the Thursday class is a larger group. This afternoon, I was the only one there for the first half-hour of the workshop – a private class! And we worked on headstands: yes, you read that right, headstands are not just for ten year-olds anymore!
My yoga instructor just got back from a retreat at the Salt Spring Island Centre of Yoga, and he had a few new tricks up his sleeve. One of those was a new way of getting into a headstand: instead of scissoring your legs straight up with a kick, you sort of lever them up bent…as if you’re squatting upside down…then you slowly straighten your legs – like this:
It was great to have a new approach to this pose that I’ve been working on for a year now! Okay, I’ll come clean…it wasn’t just a new approach, but rather a new challenge. Let’s just say I’ll have to be working a little bit more on my core strength before I master this one! But that’s what I love most about yoga – I can challenge myself in new ways even with the most familiar of poses or flows.
For example, our workshop group has been working on flowing smoothly into downward dog from cobra in our A series sun salutations. So instead of just popping up and repositioning our hands and feet to get into a good downward dog, we work to get the foot positioning just right in one step before we lift our hips up in one smooth movement. And then there’s the fine-tuning in all the familiar poses: perfect hip and arm alignment in warrior one, hitting 100% hip and shoulder rotation in triangle. And pressing for just that centimetre more in all the stretches…month-by-month it all adds up, and one day you find yourself doing a full lotus and the sense of achievement is so worthwhile.
And for all you non-yoginis out there, that last paragraph just sounded all Charlie Brown, right? "Mwah, mwah, mwah mwah-wah…"
Anyway, the point is, I love yoga. I get such a sense of accomplishment and well-being from my practice, and I miss it when I can’t go to class. Which is so weird, because I’m essentially pretty physically lazy. Give me a choice between exercise and sloth, and I’ll usually pick sloth. (And before anybody tries to suggest that yoga is anything like sloth – try it first! It ain’t easy: it requires great physical and mental discipline.) I’ve joined at least a half-dozen gyms that I never went to, took up and then gave up running, and barely ride my bike at all. But there’s something about yoga that’s got me hooked. If someone could find a way to shoe-horn another 90 minutes into my week, I’d sign up for a third class.
And so now I’ve turned into one of those people who always kind of bugged me…someone who signs off online by saying: