Further to my explorations in restorative yoga last night, I followed up the spirit of trying new things with a Hatha class today. OK, so for most people I imagine [but please correct me if I’m wrong!] Hatha is the beginning, the vanilla yoga, the basic style from which they might then choose to diverge.
But from the outset of my yoga practice, although I knew nothing more than this, I knew I wanted to move. I wanted to flow, to shape shift seamlessly, carried on by the incessant inhalation and exhalation that keeps us alive and sustains us. I had been stuck in one place for too many years. And I was lucky in finding a teacher who had (still has — just elsewhere across the globe!) the most beautiful fluid vinyasa practice, full of femininity and light and love. Yes, I had a bit of a yoga crush! But truly, she offered the most amazing savasana EVER, and you can’t knock that!
So I was slightly doubtful about Hatha class today. I went along because my regular vinyasa teacher was subbing in, and I thought if anyone could offer a Hatha class that appealed, it would be him. Afterwards regular attendees told me (slightly grumpily, truth be told) that it was a much stronger class than the usual teacher gave. But I LOVED IT! Yes, I loved it so much I burst into tears at the end of class. Damn it, I hate it when that happens. (Though also I secretly love it — better to be overwhelmed by emotions than feel nothing at all! Even if you’re a shy English girl!)
It was bitter-sweet. The final twist wrung out of me a longing for the practice I used to have. This class, totally unexpectedly, felt so much like my own home practice — pre hamstring glitch — that I felt swept away by nostalgia and some sense of loss. I don’t know if this is what Hatha is usually like, I suspect not: the class moved pretty briskly and there was a physical intelligence to the sequencing with none of the stop-start I personally associate with Hatha [again, rightly or wrongly]. But equally the length of time we held some asanas really allowed me to feel my way into them with mind and body. To stretch and lengthen, to pull back a little and explore what space I could find, and ultimately just to be where I found myself.
For me it was the perfect preparation to meditation (or would have been if I hadn’t been snuffling too much by then and feeling under pressure to vacate the studio ready for a workshop).
It was perhaps something of what I might have experienced in last night’s restorative class, but didn’t. There the static poses didn’t bring ease, just a sense of being stuck.
And it was what I always hope to find in my regular vinyasa class, but mostly don’t.
Now in a moment of self-doubt I ask myself if the very thing I aspire to, the fluid movement, is a step beyond my physical strength and my ability to focus. Do I need something slower to allow me to ‘move into stillness’ (to quote Schiffmann’s book — my first yoga book, since this seems to be a post about beginnings)?
Am I overthinking it? Is this just part of the practice? After all I used to be glad to be able to execute a semblance of a vinyasa, now I’m after dharana as well!
I’ll figure it out in time, what my yoga is, how to balance expressing joy in movement with some deeper enquiry, what to find offered in class, and what to seek in my home practice.
STOP PRESS: My present moment of stillness, the sense of release after writing and considering, has just been enhanced by the delivery of coffee and French macaroons courtesy of Hubby, (nicely set off by his beach stones and my girly fairy lights!):