Friday, November 23, 2012

Diving Into a Hatha Yoga Class

After home practicing with the Power Yoga & Five Tibetan Rites DVD for a while I started needing something more. I accidentally found out that there was a new yoga studio just 5 minutes walking distance from my house and decided to enroll. I dropped by and  the teacher informed me that they had daily Hatha Yoga classes, beginner and intermediate level, and two times per week they had a Vinyasa Flow class while every other weekend they would do seminars on meditation, chakras, traditional medicine, ayuverda etc.

She told me that in order to attend the Vinyasa class I had to take some Hatha first and then she would judge whether I am ready to enroll or not. At that time I had no idea what was the difference and I was ignorant of all the different yoga types so she explained to me that “Hatha is the most traditional type of yoga where we keep postures longer while Vinyasa Flow is more dynamic and challenging”. Anyway, the Vinyasa Flow class hours were not suitable for me so I thought I would give it a go with Hatha anyway.

Next day I stepped into my first class. It was a semi-basement spacious room, beautifully decorated, and there were already about 10 people there. I paid my monthly fee, got a studio card and asked what I should know before I begin. The answer I got is I should start practicing and do as much as I can. By the time the class began we were somewhere round 15 students. The teacher had a mat in the center of the room and demonstrated all poses we went through, speaking in a very low voice sometimes I could not hear. First lesson was ok for me, some poses I already knew, some were new but doable, some others I could not do. The relaxation with guided meditation was the part I enjoyed the most but at the end of the class I felt left out. I was new, it was my first lesson, nothing was explained to me, no help was provided. I liked the feeling I got after the practice though so I went back, again and again.

Some weeks passed and the teacher had not even once come close to me to correct me or help me adjust a pose. I did not have previous studio experience so I thought maybe that is just the way it goes: you hop into the class and do what you can. Silly, you should have googled it I hear you saying! Yes I should, but I didn’t. I put my faith in it instead.

One day to my surprise (and probably everyone else’s) the teacher did not took her usual place on her mat but instead went wandering around the room, giving specific instructions and correcting poses or helping with adjustments. I was EXCITED! I would love to know what I do wrong and what I can do to make it better! I would love a push or a piece of advice! She approached me from behind during Utthita Parsvakonasana B and tried to get me deeper into the pose, grabbing me from my shoulders and pulling my back towards her. Oh my! She did it so intensively that I lost my balance and I almost fall! My back hurt, my legs hurt, I was huffing and puffing, couldn't breathe well and my concentration was gone, I was living a nightmare. That was the moment I understood I should stop going there, and I did.

It took my lower back 1 week to recover the strain and I was left wondering what should I do next. I felt I needed the guidance a teacher can offer but I was shocked with my first experience. So I decided that untill I figure it out, maybe I should just go back to home practice and find some new DVD. Better than not practicing at all, right?

Trusting and believing in the person that is supposed to be your teacher is a good thing, but blind faith isn't. You should always do some research and follow your instinct when something feels strange or wrong. There are many yogis out there that are great or even charismatic teachers that can really guide and support you and you deserve that.

(Photo from here)

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