Prior to joining Yoga Today, I had never really seen anyone do yoga, at least not in action. I had seen it as the media presents it -- a sensual, relaxing, blissful, blonde group meditation with a sexy instructor -- but that wasn't anything like my practice. My practice was one pose at a time, struggling to breath through my nose, trying to deal with the tension, and resting and wondering what was wrong with my body between every pose. As I became more comfortable in the breath and sought more fluidity in my practice, I sort of intuitively began to use something like a vinyasa. I would take a forward fold, and then extend the back for a few breaths after each standing asana before coming back to tadasana, because it felt right, but I didn't really know what a vinyasa was, or how to use it. Adi Amar at Yoga Today taught me how to move with the breath, and more importantly, to allow it to guide me. She taught me to use downward dog as a home base, to make it my resting pose, my happy place. In short, her classes transformed my practice.
Last night, I canceled my subscription to Yoga Today. It was a sad affair, thinking back on all that Adi's vinyasa classes have done for my practice. She is the type of instructor who can safely guide you into an intimidating asana in spite of yourself, but I think it may be time to move on. Each time I've gone to the site to scope out a class over the past couple of months, I've found myself thinking that I can do better on my own. Maybe it's just arrogance, but the longest classes are just over sixty minutes, Adi's classes are the only ones that I enjoy of the three instructors, and I've already taken all of hers that interest me, many of them two, three, or four times. Admittedly, I haven't given the other two instructors on the site, Sarah and Neesha, a fair chance. I think I've taken two of Neesha's anasura classes, and two hatha classes with Sarah. Both of them talk a little too much throughout the practice, in my opinion, and their sequences are never quite as fluid as Adi's. I'm sure it's just a style preference.
However (and this is a big one), when I canceled my subscription last night, I was informed that my membership would be active through the 18th of April. A whole month! So I'm thinking of taking as many classes as I can to soak in as much instruction as possible before I completely let go of the hand of Yoga Today. I noticed while I was at the site yesterday that they've just started posting some new studio classes, as opposed to all the previously made classes which take place in various enviable outdoor settings. They've also begun updating a "Scheduled Releases" page, which announces upcoming class debuts. I'm curious how the studio setting will change the nature of the classes, if at all. I admit I could easily be convinced to stay with Yoga Today if they added a little more variety and some new classes more often than once or twice a year. I joined the site in June of '09, and I've noticed maybe 2 or 3 new classes since then. But it appears as though they may be picking up the pace. We'll see what happens over the course of the coming month. In the meantime, it's classes for me. Maybe I'll start taking two each day. That might be an interesting challenge.
I began my class-taking endeavor this afternoon with one entitled "Balance, achievement, and freedom," with Sarah. This class was pose-specific, building up to salamba sirsasana twisting variations. I'm not sure why I selected this class; I'm not ready for that. I think I meant to play a class called "Supported head and shoulder stand," but I got mixed up somehow. I just practiced my good ol' regular salamba sirsasana away from the wall as a challenge for me instead of the twisting variations, working on lifting up smoothly.
After the class, I prepped for shoulderstand with a bridge pose, then practiced salamba sarvangasana for 10 breaths, followed by five breaths in plough. After a brief fish pose, I went on to work on my handstands for about 15 minutes. Lots of kicks of all kinds: one leg on my strong side and weak side, and with both legs together. I also tried coming down from handstand with straight legs to build more control in the core. Lots of good balancing today. This was easily my best handstand practice yet. There were a couple of holds where I was steadily balanced for 3 or 4 good, long breaths. I've been moving gradually away from the wall to allow myself more space to try to catch my balance before my feet touch, but success has been limited. My feet still bang the wall first every time. But I'm getting there, and, once up, I'm finding my balance much more quickly.
A little high on the inversions, probably, I practiced one more headstand before calling it a day. I set myself up about a foot and a half from the wall, so that it would be there, but not unless I reached for it. The lift up was good, slow and steady. I didn't tip backward. Definite improvement.
I ended my practice with a twenty minute seated meditation instead of savasana to counter all the inversions. The orange afternoon sun peaked in through the curtains. It was a damn good practice.