The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vinyasa Virgin No More!

I had a near death experience last night.

I joined my first vinyasa class.

Deciding not to reveal my teacher status, I unrolled my mat in the front of the class, between a man who looked like he spent half his life doing chaturangas and a girlfriend whose body had undergone a dramatic change since she began dabbling in Ashtanga. Annie, the teacher, whose sweet face disguised her warrior spirit, settled down on a block and led us into the first round of kapalabhati.

The first set of chaturangas were a piece of cake. The second was still doable. By the third, my jaw was firmly set and it was all I could do to not disintergrate into a trembling puddle during the fifth set. Mercifully, it ended there and my burning biceps gratefully passed the torch over to my thighs. The warrior sequence was like a shot of brandy on a bitterly cold night. Annie glided through all my favourite asanas, throwing in a few unexpected twists (literally and figuratively) into the sequence.

Then she introduced the final sequence and my jaw slammed onto the floor. Gracefully elevating herself into kakasana, she effortlessly slipped into the variations without missing a beat in her instructions and breathing. Balancing one knee on one arm with the other leg stretched up behind her, she smiled and told us to have no fear. After three attempts, my weary arms refused to coorperate and so I sat back and stared at my neighbour's feet high up in the air.

Was it difficult? Yes.
Are my muscles weeping in agony today? Yes.
Did I enjoy the class. Yes
Am I returning. YES.

Being in Annie's class reminded me what it feels like to be a new student again. To struggle with the unfamiliar, to swallow my ego, to accept my body's limitations and to allow my thoughts to pass without judgement. Her class gave me the opportunity to practice what I preach to my own students. Most of all, it helped my body feel alive again. Alive with emotion and physical euphoria.

And if my abs look anything like Annie's in the next six months, all those chaturangas would be more than worth it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's vinyasa?

Enjoy the rush, it all(your experience in this post) sounds familiar to me as a beginner.


5:49 PM  
Blogger starlight said...

Hi Uma,

Vinyasa is a yoga style where you flow from one pose to the next, unlike Hatha where you hold each pose for a length of time. A typical vinyasa sequence would be Downward Dog - Plank - Chaturanga - Upward Dog - Downward Dog - Warrior 1 - Standing Forward Bend - Roll Up and Arch - Forward Bend - Downward Dog.....and all over again for another four times, alternating the legs in Warrior 1. It looks simple enough, especially for someone who hates holding postures but in reality, it's more difficult than Hatha. Requires more strength and stamina.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Starlight,

I totally understood where you are coming from and how your thought resonates with mine as a beginner to Ashtanga after practising and still am practicing Bikram yoga for 2 years now - it offers a sense of humility no matter how many yoga years I have under our belt (I'm still a baby at this!)

7:44 PM  
Blogger starlight said...

Hi J,

Yoga can be so humbling ya! Just when you think you've 'got it', you realise that there's so much more you haven't 'got'. Give me another 6 months with vinyasa and I may summon up enough courage to try Ashtanga! :)

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So can the sun salutation sequence be termed vinyasa?

Wonder if I'll ever get to vinyasa?


5:49 PM  
Blogger starlight said...

Hi Uma,

Yes, the Sun Salutation is a vinyasa sequence. Try a vinyasa class sometimes! It challenges and delights you in different ways. :)

3:15 AM  

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