Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sustainable Yoga Week 1; Sivananda Yoga (or something like that) and CTV Downward Dog Butt

Thanks everyone for the input and thoughts on various yoga mats! I have my solution, but I'm going to wait until Mr. Crumbles replacement comes in to chat about it. Keep the thoughts coming in- I'd LOVE to hear about your mats and experience. :)

Week 1 of 'Bike Sustainably to Yoga Class' has ended with minimal mishaps (as in I survived bicycling on the road). So far this challenge has been WAY easier than 'yoga every day'... and boy have I been enjoying NOT having to practice every night. Ya know what though... I kinda feel like I'm missing something- weird.

In any case, as I mentioned, Thursday I attended my first Sivananda class (with the embarrassment mat who shall remain nameless... cough-MrCrumbles-cough). My plan: to walk to The Yoga Loft straight from work with a fellow yogini- L. It wasn't too bad, we arrive SUPER early, sat in the studio and chatted.

I had no idea really what to expect. I read the description online but my research ended there. It was developed by Swami Vishnudevananda in India... and that's about all that I can gather. The International Sivananda Website along with The Yoga Loft's description is pretty darn vague and maybe for a reason? I was a little nervous, as I am for all my new yoga class experiences. 

It was *very* different from any type of yoga class I've ever attended. We moved in 'slow-mo' (practicing my dance moves!) which was difficult and in my opinion not done enough in most yoga classes. I love moving mindfully, but at the end of this class my muscles had been clenched for so long that it was painful. My back muscles STILL hurt from Thursday's class.

There was no flow, which I found a bit sad (and practiced 'letting go' of my yoga expectations), after the class I felt ready to actually *flow*. The teacher- Paul- was fantastic and extremely approachable after class. When I mentioned how it was my first Sivananda experience he muddied up the waters even further by saying 'Well I just teach 'yoga', and really every class is different- sometimes we flow, sometimes we don't'. Alright. Now I have even less knowledge about the tradition...

As L. and I left the building I got ready to walk home in the misty misty fog... and heard the little 'beep beep' of my car horn. Yep, Andrew had driven over and waited patiently in order to give me a ride home. Aww... so cute, except this was my *sustainable* yoga week! The first thing I said (ungrateful me) was 'but I'm supposed to WALK home today!'. Le sigh. What could I do, he'd been so thoughtful. So class 1 was 50% sustainable.

This Saturday I attended the four hour Great Canadian Yoga Stretch finale event. I almost punked out- until the organizer emailed me confirming my attendance. Yep, I am a sucker for peer pressure.

I got up at 7am on Saturday morning, donned my classy bicycling helmet and rode my yoga butt over. I was a bit nervous that since it was only advertised through one studio (as we know that Halifax studios don't communicate well with each other), that it would be a 'one-studio lovefest'. It kinda was, but it was fun nonetheless.

AND I was a super 'eco' geek which caused a bit of embarrassment on my part. The organizer (who is ridiculously kind and friendly) proudly handed me a plastic bag containing paper hand outs, a plastic bottle of water and other trinkets. I had a moment of 'Ahhh sh*#, what do I do?' followed by: 
'Umm, not to be a total weirdy, but is it alright if I don't accept this? Thank you very much for offering gifts, but I'm kinda an eco-geek and not really a fan of plastic bags or bottled water. Thank you very much though'.  
She didn't even blink an eye. Looking around the room though, I was a bit disappointed with all the plastic bottled water, plastic bags and lack of composting facilities to put my eaten apple.

Randomly people started showing up taking pictures for local papers and such... and then a camera guy showed up for the local tv station and started filming at the BACK of the class. We all know what posture he managed to capture right? And who was in the last row? Yep, my parents and cousin actually facebooked me last night to announce that they had seen my downward dog butt on tv. Great.

Bicycling back home (Andrew was not in fact there to pick me up) was not very pleasant. Lots of traffic+ rubbery four hours of yoga legs+ really steep Chebucto Road= walking my bicycle. I tried really hard to do the whole 'I am a vehicle, I will not hug the curb, I am a vehicle...' mantra but the cars just kept squeezing by! I actually had to take a nap when I got back I was so exhausted. (I have no idea what will happen to me when I have children... yes I know).

So that's my week 1! I have realized that should I bike to certain studios they either don't have bike racks out front or they do and I don't feel comfortable leaving my bike out there unattended... This is going to be an issue I'll have to resolve (i.e. take off my dringdring bell). It's going to feel kinda like when you park illegally and 'hopehopehope' that when you come out you don't have a ticket...

Any Sivananda Yogis out there?? I'd love to hear your thoughts :)


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Hmm, where to start? I feel like giving you a checklist to see if they did x, y and z cuz sivy classes tend to be pretty standard although in beginner and advanced ones things are a little more flexible.

    Key elements would be chanting or at least a basic invocation, pranayama, sun salutations and lots of resting in between poses culminating in a nice long savasana at the end.

    Apart from the sun salutations it doesn't really flow in the ashtanga-y vinyasa sense although it does have a slow steady rhythm that becomes more apparent the more you practice.

    There's a lot more I want to say but I'm having a hard time finding tactful ways to say it - soo, I'll leave it there, would be interested to talk about this more if you want and congratulations on your now famous DD butt ;)

  2. Hmm new class experiences are always a little nervewracking, although it sounds like this one went well. Kudos to you for using sustainable transportation!

  3. One more thing I should probably reiterate - I am not, by any stretch a Sivananda yogi, just a regular eclectic yoga child who did a Sivananda TTC years and years ago when the options were not as vast as they are now and got a lot out of it for what it was... an intense ashram living stop along a long, winding yoga path that has taken me way to other end of the yoga spectrum as a practitioner and teacher today.

    I think there are core bits of truth in every style and the diversity of approaches now is part of why yoga as become so popular now, there is a way in for almost everyone. I've always been wary of rigidity and dogma, even moreso now than then, but think that there are good teachers, in every style, who are intuitive and sensitive and that makes all the difference.

  4. @Dragonfly (both): yep, lots of what you mentioned wasn't really present- we did some nice pranayama (basic) and mindful movements.... lots of precise alignment which was great. I really like the teacher's style of teaching...

    but maybe when I mentioned the whole 'sivananda' thing at the end, that was why he was very reticent about attaching a discipline label... he said every single class was different- he has a theme and usually he tailors it to who he sees in the class.

    which is kinda nice... but very confusing as to whether that was more an eclectic class, or was that sivananda?

    maybe I'm too attached to labels haha... i was just curious. :)

    Thank you very much for your comments!

  5. Yeah, labels are a tricky thing... he sounds like a great teacher and I can't tell you the amount of people I have run into who started as strictly sivananda style teachers but then branched out into their own thing... all hail the yoga eclectics!

    That being said, it is nice to know what you're getting if you're signing up for a specific thing but maybe not. Since I started teaching entirely based on who shows up, instead of having some sort of set plan in my mind, I've been able to bring so much more of what I've learnt from different traditions into play in the sam class in a way that better meets everyone's needs. In a small place I think that also offers nice variety to the regulars and helps us all to practice going with the flow and being creative in our own practice a bit more.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it, good luck with the rest of the month and have a great week!

  6. Lovely post! I love your concept of sustainable yoga since they do seem to go hand-in-hand. I went to a two day expo this weekend on LIVING GREEN, and I actually thought of you because I know you would have loved it. I learned a lot about permaculture and thought it sounded neat. And you'll be proud to know that today I am going on the search for the cheapest form of a recycling bin, so I can start recycling. We do not have curbside recycling since I'm in an apartment, but that's ok because there are tons of drop off centers, so I need to stop being lazy.

  7. congrats on the 4 hour stretch, that's amazing! too funny about your butt being on TV :P

  8. Ecoyogini--You practiced from my alma mater of yoga--as it were :). Sivananda is the practice I did my teacher training within the yellow and white realms of :). It is more of a spiritual, breath, inner centering based practice that follows a sequence of postures meant to activate all the "necessary" elements for optimal body, organ, brain function.

    Rest between postures, as dragonfly mentioned, is a key element--which from a mental health perspective is a nice focus although I don't like the rigidity of a "set" sequence of postures which (as you mentioned) besides sun salutations lack some of the fluid poetry of other yoga practices.

    I found some wonderful and profound elements in Sivananda practice--and some things lacking in my yoga pre-teacher training which was vinyasa and flow heavy but not much on the quiet pauses. I realized I need more quiet pauses from my yoga but that I still love the flow and occassionally a good vinyasa flow.

    So, my middle ground is that I integrate a lot of breath and restorative practice into the workshops I give--which I love and feels like a little piece of solace to give away and at least once a week I try to Sivananda my home practice :)...but I still like a good, fast, flow in my regimen :)!

    Teresa @ and

  9. SOoo funny your butt was on tv - I don't know how you managed to focus, I would have been so self concious I would have fallen over.


  10. I'm surprised by your experience with that class. The only classes I've ever taken were Siv. classes and they were just what dragonfly and Teresa explained. I took 90 minute classes, and we'd start with chanting, do about 15 minutes of intense (yet relaxing) breath work, then we'd do some sun sals - sometimes super fast ones to get our heart rates up - then corpse pose (one thing I love about Siv. - you get to do corpse pose over and over!), then intense ab work, then corpse pose, then some basic flow work, really concentrating on posture and alignment and balance, then corpse pose, then more chanting. I always left feeling like melted butter. I still think of those classes as the best yoga practices I've ever experienced. So relaxing yet rejuvenating.

    As for the rest - who could imagine your butt would end up on TV! Too funny! My worst nightmare.

  11. you know what- we did actually do corpse pose a bunch of times- the second pose was corpse pose- which i thought was really weird at the time.

    i didn't realize it was a sivananda thing! :)


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