Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Paper Doll" Yoga...

I have mentioned, summer in Halifax has been pretty darn dreary so far. Rain, drizzle, fog, drizzle BLEGH. I'm even a little worried that our garlic will rot. My plan for "Yoga in the Park" has been on hold since May, as there were maybe three sunny-ish days in all of June. I've taken a short "vacation" from Canada day last Wednesday until Monday and even bought a bicycle helmet! (fog on the 103 highway heading to Halifax)

Yesterday I decided that since singing has been out due to my "death" cold-cough and it was so terribly muggy and misty outside that some "hot yoga" at Breathing Space would be in order. Trying new yoga styles has been my personal goal for the past few months and my first "hot yoga" class I tried a few months back wasn't a huge success. Briefly, it was at the Moksha studio and I found it too quiet and too hot and I was nervous I'd overstretch. After living in a semi-desert for two years I had a moment of: right I DON'T like 40 degree (c) heat! (*seriously, Okanaganites were JOGGING in that weather!!) There's a pretty good discussion on my post if you'd like to read more about that experience. (if you are reading this on a non-blogger site, come on over to get the non-stolen version-

Breathing Space studio also offers a "hot yoga" class, in the style of Baron Baptiste. The class isn't as hot (less energy and more "eco" friendly!), the instructor is phenomenal and there is no "quiet" rule so I can feel free to be less serious and laugh (which happens a lot when I practice...quietly of course). I've gone once before, stayed next to the door in case I wasn't feeling well and it went much better!

Yesterday was my second "hot yoga" class at Breathing Space and there were only six of us in the class... so beautiful. While sitting and trying to prepare my UBER tight hamstrings for their yoga-nightmare (lol), the lady next to me asked the instructor if she could buy a new mat after class. Hers was dirty and she just wanted to... "throw it out"....GASP. I waited for Sherry to offer alternative suggestions for this yogini's mat... you know, like "well you don't HAVE to throw it out". Nothing. Oh my goodness, I can't just let this go! But I don't want to sound CRAZY. Like the type A eco-warrior that I am!!

I am proud to say that I didn't harass the poor woman. I told her something that Mekare said in her comment on my "yoga mat rubber edition" post: that the discoloration (ahem-dirt) and wear were indications of her love for yoga and her dedicated practice... and therefore beautiful. (I felt very zen in that one tiny moment). It didn't work. We talked about how much I loved my rubber mat as it was super sticky and I "casually" mentioned that she could use her mat for gardening. THEN she came up with making small mats for her school classroom Followed by a mention of how she could do this with all her mats (all???) at home. I resisted sharing more information on yoga mats and landfills and left it at that.

The practice itself was great, Sherry is an awesome, open and fun instructor and it was interesting to see how some asanas are finally becoming "easy". The yogi/ni's in the class reminded me of Flo's post that commented on the Western Yoga-body "ideal". As if the skinnier you are the "better" yogi/ni or more healthy you are. My body is a nice example of how this 'ideal' is flawed: I'm not a big person but I'm not naturally bendy at all and I'm also not very strong. Andrew has taught me a lot about how to accept your own body's "versions" of a posture as ideal (his arms are shorter than his legs, so reaching his toes at all has less to do with tight hamstrings but a physical impossibility).

While my legs were trembling trying to find the strength to hold warrior II (after a ridiculous amount of standing postures), the lady next to me who was a few decades older held them with ease. I also noticed a woman who was tall and had a strong frame with a... belly!! When I snuck a little peak during a forward bend she was being asked to take a shorter stance to actually get SOME sort of stretch as her head was on the floor. During the yogi-leg lower (30 degrees, hold two breaths...ack!) the instructor asked her (after I had given up on the last round) if she was even shaking... nope! Such a beautiful example of how strength and grace has nothing to do with how we look.

I left that class feeling wonderful, sweaty (I had even spilled a bunch of water on my mat...oops!) and happy. Two years ago, a class like that where most of the postures would be challenging, surrounded by yogi/ni's that were obviously stronger and more flexible than myself AND a hot class would have left me feeling insecure and stressed. What has changed? I have accepted that I will have to work harder to achieve the small steps of strength and flexibility that others seem to do naturally, that my yoga isn't about achieving an asana-externally imposed "ideal" but about helping my body and soul to be strong... and that the instructor was loving, supportive and kind. Sherry even commented on how a year ago I wouldn't even attempt shoulderstand (I despise inversions) and how far I've come. It was nice to have that acknowledgement from someone who easily does standing splits. :)

Happy Independance Day to all my American Yogi/ni's and many Blessings!


  1. Clearly in time the yoga has stretched your spirit as well as your body, as you seem to be so much more self-accepting. I'm missing my practice, and need to find another place (the one I had been going to - adaptive yoga for folks with physical limits / age) is too far away and I can't justify all that driving. But I sure miss it and feel I'm losing ground.

  2. The weather here is has been getting to me too. Where is the sun? When I was out and about today, everyone was talking about the weather. And there's only more rain for tomorrow!

  3. If a yoga mat is dirty, you can wash it. I just toss mine in the washing machine and hang them to dry. Jute & Jades don't go in the sun or they'll biodegrade, but most mats dry in the sun nicely.

    Vancouver weather has been unusually dry, with lots of sun, which is great for this yogini -- My car is my bike! And your weather is unusually wet. Hmmmm... Perhaps you have our weather this season?

    Hot Yoga can be amazing. Takes some getting used to. Bikram believes one size fits all, which is a turn-off for me. There's a Moksha studio in Vancovuer. I'm so curious. Checking it out very soon.


  4. Mary Ellen: hehe, stretched my spirit- sounds fun :) I hope you find a nice yoga studio near by- another option is using a dvd to practice at home. Yoga is also about the non-asana practice, and it sounds like you're doing lots of that :)

    Grace: ugh i know. Went to the free concert on the hill tonight, it was foggy and wet.. but free! :)

    Michelle: I know, I have no idea why she just didn't scrub a bit more. I think she tried to wash it out, but thought it was stained...

    Ahh yes, i was just saying to someone that it kinda felt like what everyone says Vancouver can be like- weeks of rain. Hope you have fun at the Moksha studio. I'm also not a fan of cookie-cutter Bikram (that and his personality...). :)

  5. I've never tried hot yoga. I'm always so hot (not like hot in oh mama you're hot :-)) so I'm thinking it would probably make me sick. We probably all have asanas that we dislike more than others. For me, the only one I can think of is Boat. I don't like balancing on my tail bone. A good ''friendly'' instructor sure helps in a practice. My instructor is the best. She just recently got her certification. And of course I have Kerry over at The Barn in Tusket which is so experienced and full of knowledge. I just love her.

  6. i tried bikram for the first time a little over a month ago and i didn't do too well. the heat was overwhelming for me. i don't do well in heat as it is and being between 105-110 degrees fahrenheit was killer. out of the 1 1/2 hr class, i lasted 1 hr and 10 mins. i almost made it through the class. i don't think i've ever sweat that much in my life. i did feel good after i got past all of the nausea and feeling like i was going to pass out (which is why i left the class early to begin with). while it's not my kind of yoga, i plan on taking another class just so i can complete one full class, that's just me being stubborn :)

    i think i'd like to try a heated yoga class because i do enjoy the vinyasa where i get my flow & sweat on, but the bikram style was just too hot for me.

  7. I'm so proud of you for directing that woman into a more eco-friendly way of disposing of her mat! Bravo!


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