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.