Readers, do you know the difference between ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga, yin yoga, and Pilates? Neither did I. Or I should say, neither do I. But I’m learning.
Following my commitment to get fitter and healthier, I’ve registered for the “Mind/Body Flex Pack.” This allows me to go to any registered yoga or Pilates class at the Athletic Centre. Last term, I did a few drop-in yoga classes, and always felt so calm and relaxed afterward. And, my muscles always felt really sore from holding poses like “downward dog” and “triangle.” So, for me, yoga has been a challenging workout, much different from the running, cycling, and aerobics-style fitness classes that I’m used to.
I’m hoping, that by registering for the Mind-Body Flex Pack, I’ll have an easier time staying committed to keeping my body healthy and managing my stress. So far, it has helped. On Tuesday, I’d planned to go to a 12:10 pm ashtanga yoga class. If this were last term, when I hadn’t been registered, I probably would have skipped working out and kept reading to prepare for the sociology seminar I had later that afternoon. But, since I’d registered for the Mind/Body Flex Pack, making it to the class was a real priority.
What I discovered was that while I really enjoyed the drop-in yoga classes I’d done before, I prefer the experience of participating in a registered class. The class was much smaller- a mix of about 20 staff and students. In Tuesday’s class, some were beginners, like me. Others, from the way they easily twisted into positions I didn’t think were physically possible, had clearly been taking yoga for a while. Also, unlike drop-in classes, where there’s a different mix of people every week, participants in registered classes sign up for regular weekly sessions. So, it’s the same group of people every week. This allows us to learn new progressions, making each class a little tougher than the last.
I also prefer the equipment we use in registered classes. The mats are thick and cushion-y, which is comfortable for my knees and feet. We also use foam blocks. I’d never used these before, but I found it helpful to have the option to place the blocks under my hands or shoulders to add extra support for some of the more challenging poses.
The instructor did a great job of demonstrating proper technique and giving options for the poses so that everyone felt challenged. I was inspired by how gracefully she was able to move from one pose to another. She made everything look so easy. And for me, she was a live example of how strong and flexible I might get if I stick with yoga!
Since this class was ashtanga yoga, the focus is on breathing and concentration as we went through a series of poses. Ashtanga yoga means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit. This refers to the eight systems of practice developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, like breath control, sense control, and meditation. So, by practicing ashtanga yoga, I’ll learn how to strengthen my body and cleanse my mind of stressful thoughts that might be damaging my health. I have a bit of work to do on my technique, but after the class, I noticed right away that I felt really relaxed and less stressed out about all the reading I had to finish for my seminar!
So, now I know that ashtanga yoga is about connecting the mind with the body through breathing. Next up is yin yoga. Readers, have any of you tried it? Any advice to help me out before my first class? Don’t know what it is? Well, you’ll have to just have to check in next week to find out…or, you, readers, can be adventurous and try it out yourself!