stretching out with a half-smile


yesterday, I went to my third yoga class in as many weeks. I’ve been meaning to get to yoga for years but always thought i had to do a course first. Doing a course just never suited me – I was always in between courses when I looked to start one and by the time the next course started, I’d have lost interest. SG convinced me to just turn up with her and I did, to Yatren’s class at the Yoga Arts Academy in the city. The form is Sakshin Ghatastha Yoga, a style of Hatha yoga.

I’ve never done any yoga before so I’m not sure if this applies to all yogas, but I was surprised by how much importance was placed in the breath as you moved in and then out of a pose. I could see that if one knew the patterns of movement well enough, the series of movements from one pose to the next could easily form a kata. Some of the leg stances were also quite similar to eastern martial arts stances.

I’ve done a variety of eastern martial arts over the years and always found the class structure with its rankings and gradings to be a problem for me. I just dont want to do something that is quite so formal. The yoga classes so far has been as tough physically (but much gentler) as any of martial arts I’ve done but has the added bonus of putting me into a meditative space through its movements and its emphasis on internal awareness.

Beside the informal walk-in, learn-at-your-own-pace nature which really suits me, there’s also the lightness and humour that the instructor, Yatren, brings to his classes. Relaxing one’s jaw, easing the space between one’s brows and maintaining the meditative half-smile through the poses is something he never fails to emphasize. After years of gung-ho serious martial arts classes, this is something that’s really refreshing and relaxing. I come out of each session soaked in sweat, aching pretty much all over but lighter mentally and emotionally than any other form of exercise I’ve done.

Anyway, I’m also slowly coming to the conclusion that I should be doing some of this at home, just to get some additional flexibility in. It’s either that or go to two classes.

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