Yoga Injuries / Yoga Musings / Yoga Philadelphia

Second Yoga Class in 4 Months

I went to another Anusara-inspired yoga class, my second yoga class in 4 months, and probably just my 15th yoga class in the past year. So far, no pain in my shoulder, so I’m hopeful that this time I can really make a comeback. I’ll be much more cautious this time, and am making sure to go no more than 3 times a week for the first few months. My shoulder still makes some gnarly grinding noises (think pepper grinder with stones in it), so I am not ready to say it’s healed. But I’m cautiously optimistic.

As with my first class, this second class of the year made me feel very odd and disoriented. One thing I noticed is that teachers often espouse one set of beliefs but manifest a totally different set of beliefs in their actions/teaching. A lot of yoga teachers will preface class with some familiar slogans about “just do your best” and “yoga is not a competition, ” etc. (I used to do this myself when I taught yoga.) But the very same teachers often go on to push their students, and create an environment in which it’s all about doing tougher and tougher asanas, the pinnacle of which is handstand, arm balance craziness (see my digital asana project videos). I would like to find a class where the yoga really isn’t about the physical feats. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think it may be time for me to get away from Ashtanga/flow/Anusara yoga, and take up Iyengar or (dare I say it) Kundalini.

As someone who used to be an advanced yogi (purely from a physical asana perspective), I find it odd and discomforting to take a flow yoga class and not be able do any of the things I used to do. One reason for this is simply my ego. I know that I used to be able to do some pretty unusual and even amazing things on the yoga mat. Now, I’m lucky if I can do down-dog without hurting my shoulder. But beyond my own ego, there’s something else I’ve noticed about these more exercise-oriented yoga class–there’s not much there beyond the exercise. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is good, and there’s nothing like the yoga high after a hot, sweaty class. And I recognize that asanas can be very powerful and that the physical asanas can go hand in hand with the other aspects of yoga. My observation, though, is that a lot of yoga classes are really just fitness classes with some “spirituality” sprinkled on top. Now that I can’t really do yoga for fitness, I think I’m finding certain types of classes don’t have much to offer me.

I’d certainly like to get back to the point where I can do a strong asana practice and enjoy all the benefits of sweating, twisting, inverting, etc. But I feel like I’m also looking for something else, something that I won’t ever find in a mainstream flow class sponsored by Lululemon and YogiToes.


5 thoughts on “Second Yoga Class in 4 Months

  1. I totally agree with you on classes that are so physically based!

    I taught at a studio that was this way…and didn’t continue because this is NOT how I teach yoga. And it’s funny because now I teach at two gyms, and gym yoga usually carries the exercise stigma. Not my classes though!

    I try to constantly remind my students that though this practice is a great way to stretch, the point of it all is the personal connections you are making with your true self and the divine that is within each of us.

    I’m not sure the majority of my students care so much about this aspect…and they really don’t have to because they’re getting these benefits whether they want to or not (hahaha!)

    I think it’s the yogi’s responsibility to find what they’re looking for in a practice. That’s so hard to teach, but in time, I hope my students and more yogis in general come to realize that the path of yoga is not so much about reaching physical goals (especially those imposed on you by a yoga instructor who really wants you to nail that handstand or other challenging pose) but more about fostering that connection between your external and internal self.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your experiences! 😀

  2. Ashmastandrea is right on.

    You have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it for the physical or the spiritual, as you put it. In the west, it appears yoga has become another form of exercise.

    I have been practicing yoga in the comfort of my own home for over 35 years. I know exactly what I want from it and it is among the most enjoyable times in my life, second only to the practice of meditation that I do. They are two separate things.

    with regard to injuries – they happen. If an arm is sore, don’t use it. Give it a rest. It will heal but it might take 3-6 months. If you do use it, go gently – don’t push it.

    Enough for now – good luck with it.

    . . ./John

  3. Just a thought … Many of the so-called middle path studio I personally know of where I live, are still relatively vinyasa-oriented.

    Your best bet is old-school hatha, such as disciples of The Himalayan Masters or some of the places run by traditional Hindus or even a community center. Some may be not quite as spiritual as you may like, but still I’m talking really old-school–I’m talking about one of those “breathe into it” kind of hatha disciplines. These throwbacks from the late ’80s and early ’90s are still around. And there is a lot of rolling around on the floor in the classes I took.

    Of course, those kinds of classes attract all ages, sizes and also some young people from the surrounding community.

    I had not seen much Lulu there when I went to such a place. They were so off the radar, the coolest yogi I ever knew is no longer teaching there … [they had to keep up attendance] …

    I felt so at home. Not just because of the other students, though …

    Let me be blunt: You know how in the front-and-center type of studios, before class the teacher and maybe some advanced students and teacher trainees “warm up” in-your-face with those kind of poses that look good when a trained French poodle or circus clown is doing them.

    All gone.

    And they don’t try to teach me them, either. 😉

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