Entries in SenseS Hot Yoga (3)

Tuesday
Nov262013

Open Letter to New Male Hot Yoga Students

Dear men. I love that more and more of you come to hot yoga classes. You do good things to the the energy in a hot room full of yoginis. And you’ll do good things to yourself.

I’m glad you’ve realised that yoga is not ‘just for girls’. It can be quite challenging. Especially if your hamstrings are as tight as a drum or you find it difficult to just be present with your body. But there’s room for you too, new hot yogi man, and here’s a few things I’d like you to know to make your first encounter with hot yoga an enjoyable one.

Welcome to the Hot Room

Yes, the room is hot. It’s 38 degrees Celsius. That’ll make your body bendy as a cooked noodle. It’ll feel humid too, and as the air in the room comes from the air outside, the weather (and the number of students) will decide the humidity. Expect to sweat more on rainy days.

You’ll Sweat

As it’s hot and humid you’ll sweat. A lot. Probably more that women, so make sure you bring a towel. The sweat will cool your body down so you don’t have to wipe it off. You could wipe it off the floor afterwards as a courtesy to the next student and the staff if you wish.

Wear Clothes

You don’t have to wear a shirt, if you’d rather not, but please do wear shorts that cover your bits. Even though white is said to reflect your aura better in yoga, it’s a no go in the hot room. Unless you’re looking for miss wet t-shirt kind of action and for that I’ll recommend you go elsewhere.

Don’t compete

I know it’s in your nature and that you do it in the gym, but please don’t compete. You’re new in the game so you’ll never win. And yoga is about accepting what is. And right now you’re a rookie. That means that you might not be able to touch your toes without bending your knees. So bend your knees. Don’t do your back in.

Breaks are OK

In the beginning of class I’ll introduce child’s pose or balasana, as it’s called in Sanskrit. I’ll also tell you that you can use this posture if it all gets a little too much. I’ve never seen a man in child’s pose, though. I’ve seen you stand hunched over with your arms out to the sides trying to balance while you breathe heavily or even moan. This is a sign that you ought to be in child’s pose. Actually moaning will only occur quite a few minutes after you should have taken child’s pose.

Breathe

If you can’t breathe you’ve gone too far. Back out of the position until you can breathe nice and slow again (remember child’s pose? It’s also good for getting the breathing going again). Sometimes I’ll remind you to breathe. This is not because I think you’re so stupid that you don’t know. It’s because people sometimes actually do forget, and as I want you to enjoy your first hot class as much as possible I don’t want you to get dizzy.

Try Not To Care

Yes, there are many people in the room, there are mirrors, and you might feel a little exposed in your shorts.Try not to care. Everybody else is too busy trying to remember to breathe, to keep their legs straight and their bum tucked in to notice how your Trikonasana looks. In yoga we try to practice Pratyahara, which means to withdraw from the senses. We even have gaze points for our eyes (Dhristi) to stop them from landing on your Trikonasana. And we’ve all been new.

I Might Correct You

Yes, I might tell you to bend your legs or square your hips. That’s my job. I’m here to pass the ancient tradition of yoga on to you without you hurting yourself. And as you’re new I’ll keep an extra eye on you. I’ll only do this to make sure you’re alright. I’m not doing it to pick on you.

Bhujangasa-what?

Sometimes we speak Sanskrit in yoga. This is not to confuse you. It’s just that all the yoga positions have Sanskrit names and some of us teachers love to use them. Others will use the ‘animal-names’ and call it cobra instead of Bhujangasana. We’ll also show you the position and tell you how to get into it, so don’t worry.

Relax

When you’ve made it through to the relaxation - or Shavasana as we call it, you might feel a little weak. I understand that. But try to really feel your body now. Maybe you’ll feel your heart rate a little more or maybe you’ll feel a tingling sensation in your body. Maybe you’ll feel restless as I’ll keep you in Shavasana for a while before we all get up and leave. Again I don’t do this to bother you. Shavasana is where all the positions and all the hard work sinks into the body. So see if you can just lie here and be present without doing anything. Just for a little while.

Come back

Good job. You made it through your first hot yoga class. Make sure you drink a lot of water today, come see me after class if you have questions. It’s now up to you if today’s experience is something you laugh about with your friends and never attempted again or if it is to become a new routine that might change your life... I hope you come back. Next time will be so much easier.


Namasté

Keep in touch. Like Omshanti.dk on Facebook.

Tuesday
Nov272012

Thanks for Restoring

 

What a great, uplifting experience to guide twenty-something beautiful yogis through gentle flows, restorative poses and yoga nidra this weekend. The yoga shala at SenseS was filled with calm energy, sleepy smiles and a little snoring.

I wish I had taken a picture of all the relaxed bodies stretched out across the shala floor to show you.

Thanks to the people there for sharing the energy and for asking for more events of this kind. Keep and eye on Senses.dk and Om shanti’s Facebook page to keep updated on other events. Until then I hope to see you for some sweaty Asthanga Vinyasa on Sundays.

Namasté,

Thilde

Monday
Jun042012

A Weekend in the Opera with David Swenson

I spent my weekend in the Opera with one of my biggest Ashtanga heros: David Swenson. Listening to David teach was like attending standup comedy for yogis. Never have I laughed so much during practice. Every instruction or philosophical discussion was followed by a funny anecdote or an impression. I particularly liked the Pathabbi Jois imitations (which, by the way, corresponded pretty well with my teacher trainer Mark Anasari's impression of Guruji). David's down to earth approach to the Ashtanga tradition was very liberating for somebody like me (you might know that I struggle with dogmas about determining when it's yoga and when it's not and worry about how much we are free to alter tradition). This following anecdote from David hit the nail on the head.

Once in one of David’s workshop a girl had protested: ‘David, we haven't chanted yet. And if we don't chant we don't follow the Asthanga tradition’. David's answer had been that chanting might scare the people who had just come for the physical aspects of yoga away and that he'd rather have as many as possible discover yoga for whatever reason.  The girl didn't buy this explanation and said: ‘But that’s not following tradition’. A comment not very different from my rants about traditions and definitions here and here. David's answer was. ‘Ashtanga was traditionally only practiced by male Indian teenagers. How many of us in here can fit into that tradition?’  B a m! If it wasn't for altering the tradition I would never have known Ashtanga yoga. 

David's playful approach to the practice shows in workshop names like ‘All Aboard the Ashtanga Train’ or ‘Ashtanga's greatest hits’. By letting us support each other he had us all in handstand, Pincha Mayurasana and lifting out of bridge. I didn't leave uninjured, though. My body is sore as if I'd done cross fit for the first time (so I've heard). I have a burn on my left foot from jumping through and a blue toe on my right foot from thinking I could do it again. As if this wasn't enough I was dropped hanging upside down and pretty much fell on my face. But it was all worth it. 

‘Relax where possible, engage where needed’ was the mantra of David’s teaching and I already feel it supporting my practice and my teaching. Teaching a full beginner Ashtanga class at SenseS Sunday was a beautiful opportunity to pass just a little bit of Mr. Swenson on.

The Opera was a beautiful setting for a spectacular weekend of yoga. Thanks, David, fellow yogis and Peter and Bodil from Yogamudra for setting it up. Much, much appreciated.