This is why I completely disagree with Bikram's comment on how North America has ruined yoga with introducing various styles (see the previous link to his interview in the Chicago Times). Having the freedom to choose a yoga that works best for me has been a wonderful experience overall. As someone who isn't very strong or bendy and is Type A (relaxing is hard!) finding a studio that I can justify paying the class prices has been tricky to say the least. But then, what's the harm of shopping around? It's just a yoga class, and if I don't like it I can simply try the next.
Let me quickly share my first experience at the "Yoga Loft" late last August. The instructor has won "Best Yoga Instructor" in Halifax a zillion times in a row, he has a PhD in Political Philosophy and the class we attended was a level 2 with specific indications that modifications for all abilities were given. His classes aren't restricted to a "style" but simply named "Yoga with R". I was excited to see why so many people in Halifax LOVE this instructor. We had just moved from BC where I had two years of other traumatizing yoga experiences and had been practicing at home.
Well, he definitely didn't let me down on the new "yoga" experience! Although filled with different ways of using props (chairs etc) and new sequences that were interesting, a lot of the class submitted to a more "militaristic" style of instruction. At one point he stood at the back of the class and said: "You in the front, I said bring your chair closer!". By the end I was almost giggling to myself, his style was so akin to being back in Grad class at McGill with the prof informing us how to learn. I was ready to believe he was having a bad day- yoga teachers are just human after all.
The last part of the class "R" began to guide us through a more interesting shoulder opener using metal folding chairs. He indicated that our legs should be over the top of the chair, with our backs on the seat and our shoulders on the ground. Now I don't like shoulderstand all by itself, it makes me feel anxious- so add a flimsy metal chair and I was a little nervous. I gave it a try- cuz you know, maybe it wouldn't be that bad. When I immediately began to hyperventilate, I quietly moved out of the pose and asked him if there was a modification I could do. This is the conversation that echoed in the quiet class:
Lisa: "Is there a modification I could do?"
Lisa: "I just don't want to do this pose"
R: "why don't you want to do the pose?"
Lisa: "Well, because I'm afraid, honestly"
R: "there is no modification for fear, you either do the pose or you don't"- cue turning away from student.
WTF? Ok. So I tried again, actually had tears come to my eyes this time and glanced over to my side. A woman who didn't have a chair had been set up by R with a few blocks under her mat and was doing the modification for the pose.... So we switched- she balanced precariously on the chair and I did the modification.
I have no idea if R was having a bad day or what, but he is extremely popular in Halifax. So, it must be personal preference on what people are looking for with yoga. I have only been back to that studio once though and not with R.
Now I do believe that "hot yoga" can be beneficial for many people- but it is also more extreme than other styles and does have more potential for injury and dehydration, especially as it's probably one of THE trendiest styles of yoga. Although not everyone does "hot yoga" just because of the media attention, trends tend to attract more people who may be less informed than other styles of yoga. Also, this is an "eco" blog; and well, despite all the green measures Moksha studio took to help lessen their environmental impact, the reality is that "hot yoga" is definitely on the lower end of being green.
Does anyone else have specific styles of yoga they prefer? Have you switched throughout your yoga journey? (I know I have!) Please leave a comment! :)