Now that Yoga Month has come and gone, we can get on with our regular practice. Shiva Rea is coming back to the DC area in October 9-10 at Flow Yoga. This will be one of the largest mega-classes this year because Flow will probably hold the event in an outside site to pack as many yogis, shoulder to shoulder, into a limited space. Sign up early (if you still can) and go early.
I will be looking forward to the Brian Kest workshop at Thrive Yoga on October 23-25. A leading advocate of Ashtanga yoga on the West Coast, he has been a symbolic bennchmark for me. When I started out doing yoga five years ago, I used to watch the free yoga workouts on my cable service. For a while, it was one of Brian Kest’s videos. But they were so demanding for me that I could never get beyond the opening sequence before pooping out. The cable service rotated the video to other yoga instructors so I never got a chance to catch up with Kest’s pace. Of course, it took me a couple of years to just make it through a full vinyasa session.
Now I think I can handle it. That’s pretty amazing considering that I turned 60 last week. And I look at the coming decade of my life as even more challenging and fulfilling than previous ones because I am a more whole and healthy as a person.
I took my first Jivamukti class at Flow Yoga. The teacher was Jill Abelson, who happens to be featured in the December issue of Yoga Journal. There are only two certified Jivamukti teachers in the DC area, and they both call Flow Yoga their home studio. The 300-hour residential teacher training program is demanding and requires big bucks and tons of commitment.
For those who are familiar with this style of yoga, Jivamukti flows from a New York City yoga studio run by Sharon Gannon and David Life. Despite being on the trendy edge of urban chic, Gannon and Life are respected innovators in American yoga. It draws a lot on Hindu spiritual practices to expand yoga beyond being just physical exercise.
The class was fast-paced and I sweated up a storm, in part due to the fact that the class was packed. Jill kept things interesting and challenging. Aside from more chanting and pranayama than in most classes, I was not able to put my finger on what makes the Jivamukti style so distinctive. Of course, one class just gives you a short taste of the approach so I should probably hold off on any judgments.
I had a great session last night at Flow Yoga. Angela, our instructor, had us gradually work towards doing Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand). We ended up using the wall and “flirting” with the transition into headstand. Along the way, she point out several checkpoints that we needed to watch to avoid injury and ackward attempts at headstand. For instance, she made us aware of how our arms had to carry most of the weight and not our necks. By checking her students in the preliminary steps, Angela made sure that we all had the body strength to sustain a headstand.
At the end of the headstand preliminaries, we were all confident enough to make the leap [the wrong word for the physical movement, but correct for the mental predisposition that we acquired] into headstand.
After the headstand practice, my daughter, Stephanie, had some cramping in her chest and shoulders because she was using muscle that weren’t used to the exercise so Angela had us do Ustrasana, Camel pose, as a chest opener to compensate for the strain.