Silence in the yoga studio

Creative Commons image. Artist information at http://www.andreminduka.com/

Today I made what is becoming a monthly trek to 815 Yoga in Rockford, Illinois. It’s quickly becoming my away-from-home studio.

I attended the beginner flow class but there at 815 I think they approach it right — it’s a class great for beginners, but experienced yogis get something out of it, too. The instructor, Nicole, tailored her directions to beginners, but verbally offered modifications for more experienced students.

What I really enjoyed about today, though, was the quiet. The building had experienced some problems lately, including the absence of heat. Nicole told us the heat had been restored (as we could tell), but the electricity was out in part of building. That meant no music today.

I have always attended yoga classes with music, and I run music in my own classes. But I’ve never thought much about it. The music has always been mellow, not jarring, and I like background music. Today it struck me that this might have been my first yoga class without music.

I loved it! Nicole offered constant verbal cues so it’s not like there was complete silence. But the absence of that additional sound created a more meditative atmosphere. Instead of taking me a few minutes to settle into my practice, I settled in right away. Perhaps it was because my mind has been spinning lately and the previous 24 hours had felt rushed and anxious and stressful. Today I got exactly what my psyche needed and I know it’s going to serve me well through the rest of the weekend.

If music is always running in the background of your classes, even if it’s super mellow, try it once without and see what you think.

A beginner class? Sure, why not?!

I seem to find myself in Rockford, Illinois, every few weeks and I enjoy stopping by 815 Yoga! This morning I attended a class labeled “beginner flow.” Don’t let labels turn you off! I’m not a beginner — I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about 17 years. But I chose this class today for a couple of reasons. For one, it was at 8:30 a.m. and that worked well with my schedule. The other option was a 10:15 a.m. hot yoga. I haven’t yet tried hot yoga and I didn’t think I was ready for it today! But someday…

Since 815 is not my home studio, I don’t know the teachers and their styles. So in that sense, something new is brought to my practice. And also, I generally practice and teach a vinyasa flow or Ashtanga style. So being able to settle into poses and really think about them from a beginner’s perspective offered a welcome break and shook things up, so to speak.

I quickly settled into the practice. I enjoyed the slower pace and the ability to pay close attention to my breathing, posture, and alignment. The studio was slightly warmer than I was used to, and that warmth combined with the focus helped me get into the best-feeling wheel pose I’ve had in quite a while. My spine arched back effortlessly, whereas in the past few weeks it’s been pretty tight.

My yoga teacher training at Sun Moon Yoga Studios is helping me to embrace different styles of yoga and teaching me the importance of “letting go” of routine (as well as “letting go” of other things holding me back). I embraced this morning’s practice and if you get a chance to step into a different class or different studio, please give it a try!

The value of special yoga events

Mala

Photo Credit: wickenden Flickr via Compfight cc

If you’re lucky enough to live near a studio that offers special events and workshops, take advantage of it! I’ve been to two special yoga events in the last two months at SunMoon studios in Mankato.

Cacao

Photo Credit: esc.ape(d) Flickr via Compfight cc

In December, lightworker Amy Heilman visited to perform a cacao ceremony. As a group we slowly sipped the cacao drink, paying special attention to the taste of it, the feel of the cup in our hands, and meditating on the source of the drink — the sun that warmed the plant, the people who picked the plant, and its journey to here. We followed this with a vinyasa flow.

On January 18, I attended a vinyasa flow/meditation with background music provided by Kevin Paris. We set our intentions for 2018 and then practiced a calming, mindful vinyasa flow.

These type of special events stand out for the following reasons:

* A break in the routine. We go to our regular class, we teach our regular class, we work our regular jobs, etc. It’s nice to attend a class at a different time with a different teacher.

* Open up new experiences. I would not think of signing up for a cacao ceremony on my own. I had no idea what to expect, and I’m glad I had the experience. Same with live music — I had never done a yoga flow with a musician in the room.

* Sense of community. Both of these events were sold out. I saw women whom I’d known for years because we’d been in yoga classes before. I saw women whom I’d only recently met. I saw new faces. You can feel the energy in the room when people gather in a place like this to meditate, set intentions, and practice yoga.

After both of these events, I felt a little drugged, yet energized. Thursday had been a long day for me — I started the day with teaching the 6 a.m. yoga class at Fitness for 10 and ended the day with another yoga practice. When I went to bed I was tired, yet I wasn’t quite ready to settle down. When I did fall asleep, my sleep was deep and solid.

If you have a yoga studio near you and haven’t checked to see if they offer special events and workshops, I recommend you do so. Sign up for one — new experiences await.