My yoga journey has evolved plenty over the years. I first craved the “spiritual” aspect because I was still searching for the missing link in my life, and chanty yoga classes resonated with my Catholic upbringing. They reminded me of my favorite part of church - the music! And I really dug the regimented practice where there were 12 postures and a rest. It was organized and fit right into my weird OCD lifestyle.
Prop Me Up!
Then I hit the yoga streets of California and was confused. I met a bunch who were really into props - blocks, blankets and straps. I especially dug how the teacher would prop me up at the end, but everything else seemed cumbersome. I spent half the time propping the proper prop. Whew!
Smokin’ Hot Yogi
After a while I morphed into a hot yogi. The chanty Catholic yoga wasn’t as cool and neither were the props. These new yogis chanted OM, but the other stuff? Not so much. California yoga was all about the flow. And I felt like a yoga dork with my old-school yoga hymns. So, I morphed into a Vinyāsa girl. By the way, “Vinyāsa” means “connecting” or “putting together” or “flow”. And now I was linking all these cool poses into a crazy yoga dance. Disco!
The cool part about Vinyāsa was that there were so many variations! Some rooms were warmer than others. Some rooms were just filled with people who made the room hot. Regardless, I loved the flow. It resonated with my inner party girl who often conflicted with my inner Church goer.
Then I heard about this yoga freak named Birkram Choudhury. One of my most loved Type-A girlfriends was a huge Bikram fan. She told me a story about a Bikram class she was in once where a student complained that the teacher was loud. The teacher responded that life was loud and that her student needed to get used to it – and over it. Later my friend introduced me to a Bikram-trained teacher friend. She relayed stories of Bikram swearing at his students. Hmmm. Occasionally I’d attend a Bikram class for the sweat, but his stuff just wasn’t “me”. I got the “life is loud” part, but I was looking for peace. And a way to tame my inner Type-A. For me, Bikram just enhanced it. Yuk.
Aṣṭāṅga: Bringing Yoga Home
Lately I’ve settled into aṣṭāṅga, a disciplined practice with a regimented series of poses, but for whatever reason it doesn’t feel heavily rooted in dogma and there are no cumbersome props. That doesn’t mean dogma and props are inherently bad. The practice just agrees with me. I’m half Type-A, half hippie-chill-disco queen. How many halves is that?
The point is that there is a yoga style for you. And me. Some can be intimidating, or too slow. The cool part about western yoga is there’s so many ariations. Just pay attention to them, and yourself.