Today I tried a new style of yoga. I usually do a class of Hatha yoga. This type of yoga is typified by the use of breathing, meditation, and postures to relax and to purify the body. I love this kind of yoga, especially when it's Vinyasa Hatha yoga. In this class, you move from one pose to the next with synchronised breathing and movement. Sun salutations are a basic vinyasa that most classes use to start the class and get you warmed up. This yoga is more of a 'workout', and you can work up quite a sweat if it's a fast vinyasa class.
Today, I was feeling much more yoga-y than usual, and decided to try a 90 minute Iyengar yoga class. According to Wikipedia (yes I googled Iyengar before I went to the class), Iyengar yoga is "a form of yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility, and stability are emphasized through the asanas."
Sounded interesting...In my head, I was picturing this:
But knowing that this is NOT India, and that this would mostly be a class for older people, I figured I would risk it.
The class was definitely different. Each pose was done carefully and with precision. Held for longer than you would in other forms of yoga to ensure precise posture and execution of each pose. The instructor explained why and how to open the chest, turn the leg this way, pull up the spine, etc. The pace is slow and deliberate and calm. The room was lovely warm and quite, and it was a peaceful experience. You don't have to use props in Iyengar unless you need them, and luckily I didn't really need them as I'm quite flexible. Until we got to the shoulder stand...
Now, I do these all the time, but the instructor INSISTED that we use blocks under our shoulders and necks and a belt around our arms. Talk about weird. and awkward. the instructor had to put the belt on for me once I was halfway in the pose. The band pins your arms together behind your back, allowing what? I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure it was the best shoulder pose I've ever done.
I left the class feeling relaxed and happy. So even though I think I'll stick to Hatha, and regardless of weird belts and slow moves, it was a nice way to start the day.
"The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you."