Yoga Styles: Variety in the bendy world.Posted: September 23, 2013 | |
My love for yoga began with Ashtanga. The teacher training that I embarked upon in January has expanded that love into other styles. In the past year, I’ve learned that never is too constricting for my constantly adaptive personality. I never thought that I would love Yin as much as I love Ashtanga. I never thought I would enjoy creating flow yoga classes. I never thought I would voluntarily take a hot yoga class. I was wrong about most of those things.
I love the Ashtanga primary series because of the way that it’s paced and structured. It’s a set sequence that is one breath, one movement. Inhale, raise your arms up. Exhale fold forward. The structure allows me to leave my thoughts behind and blend my whole being into the movement. I’ve been doing Ashtanga (on and off) for two years. The sequencing is an intense workout. The sun salutations are difficult; the standing series is challenging. The seated sequence requires a great deal of flexibility. The challenges of Ashtanga are ongoing, regardless of your level of practice. I love that about Ashtanga. I love that there’s always a new variation to explore in each pose. I love that it’s difficult for me every time that I practice it, although the difficulty isn’t always physical. I also think that Ashtanga is the foundation for all other flow classes of yoga that I’ve practiced/designed; and having a strong foundation is crucial for my overall yoga practice.
To me, yin yoga is the opposite of Ashtanga. When I considered yoga classes, yin was never at the forefront of my thoughts. I always thought that it would be slow and boring, and I didn’t see what kind of extra benefits it would offer. Yin yoga weekend for teacher training was revolutionary. To begin with, the practice of yin yoga comes with its own set of challenges. It’s hard to stay in one pose for 5-10 minutes. Of course, the poses lend themselves to longer holds. We don’t stand on our heads for ten minutes. There are a lot of seated poses. There are hip opening poses and plenty of forward folds. Yin is about yielding, and trusting your body to go where it needs to go. Yin taught me more about props (blocks and blankets and straps, oh my!) than any other yoga practice. For the most part, yin is a very internal practice. In other classes, I tend to play the comparison game. I find distractions by watching other bodies in the room. With Yin Yoga, I rarely watch anyone else in the room. Plus, yin is so chill. And in our crazy world of stress – sometimes, it’s just really nice to chill out. (Yin Yoga is also Alex’s favorite, so I practice it more and more because I love doing yoga with people that I love)
Honestly, 105 degrees Fahrenheit is not that hot. I know that I sound a little insane when I say that, but I’m going to stick to my sentiments. The greatest thing about hot yoga is the fact that it’s a great series of poses for a beginner yogi. The poses are done twice, and the repetition helps with going deeper into the pose the second time around. The standing series builds strength and increases flexibility in a very gentle way. The warm room helps warm up the body, which – for me, allows my hamstrings to feel much more open to forward folds. It’s a great series. It’s a great practice; if you can get over the heat, which is not an easy feat.
These days, for the most part, I’m doing flow yoga. Flow classes at my studio combine breath and movement, which is my favorite aspect of Ashtanga. Changing poses that quickly sometimes interferes with settling into a pose; but at the same time, I feel like I’m dancing at the yoga studio. It’s a great feeling. Flow yoga combines my favorite elements of Ashtanga and hot, with the addition of many other interesting poses. There’s a ton of variety, and the core work is sneaky. Occasionally, I toss in a hot or an Ashtanga class (no more than once a week). I’m attempting to do yin once a week, but it’s a difficult practice for me, mentally. I’m teaching flow yoga to my Monday night group every week; and I’m taking flow classes at the studio. My home practice is still lacking, but I’m making up for it by coming to Journeys in Yoga with greater frequency and regularity.