It’s All About the Fundamentals

Sage words of advice for our Mariners, that.  But this is not about the Mariners and how they’ve lost 7 of the 8 games I’ve seen played at Safeco Field this year.  This is about how brushing up on the basics, or learning them in the first place can help take your yoga practice up, oh about 10 or 12 notches.

The yoga studio I go to just started offering a Power Vinyasa Fundamentals class once a week.  Having been to one, count it one, power vinyasa class and falling miserably behind pretty much the entire time, I knew that if I want to mix vinyasa into my yoga routine, I needed to get up on the basics.

While hatha, which I love, focuses on flexibility, vinyasa is driven by strength.  In hatha you hold a series of poses for a really long time, in vinyasa you power through the poses in a rushing river type flow.  If I wanted to keep up with the river I needed a guide.

So off to the fundamentals class I went.  The class was a mix of yoga newbies and frequent practitioners who wanted to work on their form.  For an hour and fifteen minutes the instructor – who bears a striking resemblance to Ewan McGregor, yum – demonstrated, explained and individually corrected every student in  every pose of sun salutation. 

The class was conducted in a manner similar to dance choreography, we would learn a step and then another and then add them together. 

About 75% of the way through class – and remember the heat is on at about 103 the entire time – I was chosen to demonstrate putting all the steps together while he coached me through and corrected my form, very slowly (I’m pretty sure I was picked because I happened to be in the middle of the room).  

What this means is I got to hold high plank for like, forever and then attempt to move into low plank (I went for the modification and put my knees down) and stay there.  It also means that I was a mass of cascading sweat while being adjusted.  And let me tell you, it is disconcerting to have a hot guy put his hands on you – in a purely professional manner of course – when you’re dripping with sweat. 

It was worth it though.  I walked out of class with a corrected warrior 1, 2 and chair position and full knowledge of the poses in sun salutation.  I also got to stare at eye candy for an over an hour – not a bad way to spend part of a Sunday morning.

The morning after class I woke up and soon discovered that those planks had taken their toll – my chest and arms were sore, as in having lifted weights sore even though no weights were involved.  But that’s ok, I worked it out at hot hatha that night.

Further Adventures In Yoga

Over the past month hot hatha yoga has become a pretty regular part of my exercise routine as has the .80 mile walk to and from the yoga studio.  2-3 days a week, I meet Lucia at the corner between our offices and we hike through the urban landscape of downtown Seattle – past the Sheraton, Specialty’s, City Kitchen, the monorail, Westlake Center, til we arrive at our hour of hot, stretchy nirvana.   

The studio that the hot hatha class is in can fit 20 people comfortably, more at a push.  Yesterday there were easily 26 with the front row mostly populated by newbies.  Having been a rookie once myself, I commend anyone for trying out yoga.  I was a bit dismayed, however, when the 4 high school girls who wedged themselves in front of Lucia and me arranged themselves so they were directly blocking our line of vision to the mirror.  Ok, so they probably didn’t know any better right?  Maybe.   But when the instructor told the entire front row to shift so that the back row could see and even made room for them to do so and they didn’t move, not one bit, I became a bit annoyed.  Still, it’s yoga right?  Best time to calmly make the best of it. 

Not being able to see myself in the mirror, I also couldn’t avoid noticing the girl in front of me.  With the enthusiasm of youth and no less than 8 clanging bracelets, she flung herself into the poses, overextending on many and pretty much repeatedly falling out of the balancing poses 90% of the time.  I have to admit, it was pretty entertaining in a train wreck kind of way – you want to look away, but somehow you just can’t.  I’m sorry to say it didn’t help my personal practice, however, oh well.

After class and the so-needed shower, Lucia and I walked back toward our offices.  The lights pretty much dictate our route and last night they took us straight down 4th Ave through the Westlake “Park” area, a haven of high school kids who would otherwise be hanging out at the 7-11, skaters, street entertainers and the homeless.  While walking by a group of rowdy young men, one turned to me and said “Hey beautiful, wanna f**k?”  Seriously.  While we walked on and ignored such an oh so tempting offer, there was a part of me that wanted to say “How did you guess?  Absolutely.  Right here, unzip and show me what you’re working with.” Just to see what his reaction would be.  I’m guessing he would be pretty flummoxed, because I have serious doubts that such a lame come-on ever works.  

Lucia and I are heading to hot hatha again tonight and in June there’s a challenge to do 20-30 classes in the month of June.  It will be interesting to see what further adventures will come our way both in and on our way to/from class.  But, that’s what makes life interesting, right?