Well, I don’t know about you guys, but Day 30 really snuck up on me. I guess that’s what happens during this time of year! But the yoga has been a great reminder to slow down and be in the moment, even if only for a few minutes each day.
Last night I was trying to decide what I should do for my last day of the challenge. I knew I wanted to go to a class and not just do a Yoga Today class here at the apartment, so I checked the schedule at The Yoga Room. The Astoria location listed a hot flow and an Iyengar class. My first reaction was, “Darn, why isn’t there just a regular Vinyasa flow?” But then I thought about it and realized that this is, after all, a challenge. I should go outside of the box. I decided to go to the Iyengar class.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Iyengar is a form of yoga developed by, you guessed it, B.K.S. Iyengar. It is extremely precise and alignment-based and often utilizes props in order to help the body maintain proper alignment in each asana (pose). My older sister Rebecca practices Iyengar almost exclusively; I have taken a few classes with her over the years and have discovered that, to put it mildly, it’s just not my cup of tea. I find it to be too slow and choppy; I prefer more movement and flow (which, conversely, my sister absolutely dreads…but I’ll get her to a Vinyasa class one day :)). However, you do end up learning a ton about your body in these classes, which is why I’ve said in the past that I couldn’t practice Iyengar exclusively, but it’s good to go occasionally for a tune-up.
It had been a while, which is why, upon rethinking my game plan for today, Tzahi’s Iyengar class sounded like a good idea. Of course, within the first five minutes, I was quickly reminded why this is not my typical practice. The focus for today was the movement of wrapping the inner thighs to the back of the body, of which we were constantly reminded as we stood in tadasana, urdhva hastasana, and parsvottanasana. Times like these are when I just want to yell back to the teacher, “I AM wrapping my thigh!” or “I have NO idea how I’m supposed to do that!” But then, it was as if the universe winked at me when he directed us to the wall to practice our full arm balances (a.k.a. handstands). Sweet! I went up a few times and felt pretty good, although my arms are definitely tired from all of the practicing. Not to worry, however, because next thing I knew, the universe was giving me a huge hug when we were cued into Sirsasana (headstand) and Tzahi hooked up some straps to the rope wall and showed me how to hang…upside down.
Yes friends, the one thing that Iyengar has that vinyasa classes do not is a rope wall. There are many ways it can be utilized, but up until today I had never used it for any inversions (though I had watched in awe in previous classes when fellow students easily strapped themselves in and let it all go). Since I had told the teacher in the beginning of class that I wouldn’t be practicing headstand, he seamlessly set up the straps for me while I was resting after handstand. It was a little nervewracking at first, but he guided me into it and before I knew it I was hanging upside down with zero pressure on my neck…total bliss!
I reluctantly came out of the pose and finished the class–which included more mind chatter about how much longer we’d have to hold a pose, but also a lovely supported savasana in supta boddakonasana (reclined bound angle pose). All in all, I left class feeling more open and definitely more aware of my inner thighs. Plus I’ve gotten a dose of Iyengar that should last a few months at least…
And that completes my 30-Day Challenge! Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop yoga (or blogging). I’m formulating a new challenge for myself already, probably for the beginning of the year. Until then, I’ll continue to share insights into my yoga practice, delicious treats and whatever else strikes my fancy. Let me know if you have any great recipes to share or thoughts for my next challenge!