Usually, I call these things I do “exercise odysseys.” It’s the complete opposite of finding a quick fix to target a body part, or seeking out the most fun thing to do to lose weight. In fact, I’m generally looking for the tasks that the public would consider to be least fun in hopes that I can understand a sort of discipline that scares the average person. I’d also like to come back from each quest with a much deeper knowledge of the task or activity than I’ve ever had. We will officially make this “Exercise Odyssey #1″
With all those inspirational words written, and one day of yoga at YogaWorks in the books, I failed on Sunday February 13, 2011. I was supposed to attend the Yoga Blend class at their Union Square location but the A train was painfully slow all weekend and I arrived late. Being late for yoga means to me that I didn’t make it important enough, and in my personal set of yoga guidelines, this is a massive failure. I checked the schedules at their other locations and decided to move on to the Soho location for two classes. Sometimes, failure is good.
The Soho YogaWorks location is a nice place. Like upscale health club nice, like the W is a nice place to grab lunch with a buddy, like Cowboys stadium has a nice video screen. Everything is masterfully done or designed, from the chairs to the locker rooms.
The first class I took was Vinyasa Flow with Elizabeth Neuse. I was apprehensive about taking another vinyasa class because I’d taken one on Saturday at the Eastside location, but when they say that the program varies, it does. I won’t say that Ms. Neuse’s program was more or less challenging, just different, and I can honestly say that after another trying New York City commute (even on the weekends, the MTA is terrible) I didn’t put my full focus into my yoga. Ms. Neuse is a tremendous instructor though, and she elaborated on something that I’ve come to love about places like YogaWorks. You see, even as a trainer, I encourage my clients to practice yoga. Not only with me, and not just to be fit. I think that yoga is like prayer for fit people, and I won’t openly discourage a person from practicing yoga. Ms. Neuse, on various occasions during class indicated that if we were in her class, a “level two” type class, then we should have extensive home practices. Even though I already practice at home, I started this based on examining yoga culture, but hearing it, and hearing it encouraged by a teacher made me realize that YogaWorks is about helping people practice yoga properly, and not about selling yoga to people.
I set up closer to the front of the room, and for no other reason than the fact that I’m uncomfortable finding a good spot in a long and narrow yoga space. The meditation and chanting portions kept me focused, but that was at the beginning and end. Otherwise, my mind drifted many times, and I never found a way to take control of the breath. I executed all of the postures except the headstand, which Ms. Neuse instructed in a different and more difficult way than I’d learned the day before. Overall, my physical strength helped me through the class, and my fellow yogis propped me up, but if I was practicing alone, I would have gotten a plethora of corrections.
My real problem was finding the next class. You see, on top of being a nice place, YogaWorks Soho is also a big place. From what I can surmise so far, this location is the only one with in New York City with multiple floors. By the time I’d gotten a firm answer on where my class was, it was starting.
That class was Yoga Blend with Maya Ray-Schoenfeld. This was my first class using yoga blocks, and I’m happy I opened my mind to using props. This class, a “level one” practice was a perfect complement to the semi-strenuous vinyasa class I’d taken right before, and after the yogis in the vinyasa class held me up, I realized that I was one of the more advanced practioners in this room. This doesn’t mean that I wowed everyone with my feats of strength, it means that when I released power to the instructor, taking and applying the simplest directions and corrections, I could feel the subtle areas where I’d usually lose focus or wasn’t executing fully. These experiences are far more valuable than mastering a physically demanding practice.
Day two ended with me feeling the way I did on day one: tired, hungry, and on an extended yoga high. I’m slowly getting used to the soreness that comes with practicing every day, and the appetite that comes with burning that many calories daily. I like knowing that my body is craving food, or craving sleep, instead of me just feeding it so that its fed, or resting it because I like rest (which I don’t). In two days, I’ve made activity so important that it dictates these things.