Guess who emerged from her yoga hole today to practice in the company of other yogis? That's right, I was able to squelch my misanthropic tendencies and made it to a studio class. I remained pleasant and congenial, even when another student asked me to move my mat so she could be by her friend.... ugh. I obliged, but wondered in what possible way her proximity to her friend could deepen her practice. I've only been hitting the studio about once every couple of months. When I do attend, I usually enjoy myself. I find that the classes, though just sixty minutes, have a way of illuminating the weak points in my practice... patience with my fellow wo/man not the least of these.
This was a Power Yoga class, and it was packed. There were at least 30 people in the relatively small, L-shaped space (weird layout at this place), and the pre-class chatter was deafening as I tried to cultivate focus and awareness lying there in a wide bound angle, closed eyes twitching at the pounding of bare feet back and forth along the side of my mat. Apparently, I had relocated to a high traffic area.
Things settled down once we got started, and the class was pretty focused. The instructor had us begin from standing, and after 2 or 3 surya As led us through a long garudasana sequence: garudasana, warrior III with garudasana arms, warrior II with garudasana arms, downward dog with garudasana legs, side plank with garudasana legs... it was weird. Not bad, just weird. To give you an idea of how packed it was, during warrior III, I could feel first the hair and then the breath of the person behind me on my extended foot. That's a tight fit.
I had fun. It wasn't a particularly challenging sequence, but the HEAT, my God, the heat! The heated room gives me a headache every time. I don't generally take pills, but I may try popping half an aspirin before I head back to the studio again. It's just too damn hot, and it's not even Hot Yoga. I've decided I don't ever want to know what Hot Yoga feels like.
The practice of asana is a whole different experience when someone else is calling the shots, so to speak, though I maintain possession of my own practice, take an extra breath or two when I need, and move in my own way, even when under the supervision of a teacher. I try to be respectful while not relinquishing my practice entirely, but I'm not experienced in the studio atmosphere, and I have to fight the urge to be competitive or become discouraged if something doesn't feel right for me. If given the opportunity to set my own intention at the beginning of a class, I always choose to practice with an intention of openness and receptivity to the teachings offered, since it is a rare opportunity for me.
The studio is a donation-based cooperative, which I very much approve of. The suggested donation for classes is $10-$15, which is not bad. Sometimes I think I'd like to bump up my studio visits to once or twice a month to get more instruction and show support for the place, but when considering the options of a home practice versus attending a class, I almost always choose the free option. I'm that cheap.