Combine Yoga Styles for Balance and Increased Benefits
While it is natural to be drawn towards specific yoga styles, I encourage you to seek out various styles and try them out. Consider the following:
“…styles tend to not only separate man, because they have their own doctrines, and then their doctrines became the gospel truth, you know, that you cannot change…but, if you do not have style and just say, ‘here I am, as a human being, how can i express myself? Totally and completely?’ That way, you won’t create a style, because style is a crystallization…and THIS…is a process of continuing growth.”Bruce Lee
For anyone who practices yoga regularly, you are familiar with the various physical and mental benefits. If you are new to yoga, imagine an
environment where you are presented with scenarios in which you must make challenging decisions, and, each time you willingly choose, you have a sense of relief once that decision is made, and subsequent action taken. Really, it’s analogous for the choices we face in life. As with life, a mindset of rigidity can often cause us to adopt “safe” habits, thereby minimizing our potential for growth. Why would we ever want to stop growing and progressing?
There is no “One Size Fits All”
Like most other areas of fitness, we are often bombarded by ‘the next best thing’ when it comes to yoga. When I first started practicing, I began with Hot 26 (Bikram) and Power Flow (Vinyasa). As I delved deeper into my practice, I wanted to learn more, and so I studied and practiced Ashtanga, Yin, and Restorative Yoga, and the accompanying history/lineage for each. Doing so reminded me of the cardio and weightlifting worlds, where new styles are popping up, seemingly every few months. From Insanity to P90X or Six Pack Shortcuts, or from 5×5 to 6-12-24, it seems everyone always has “the secret” to the best version of you.
I have nothing against these regimens, I just find the mentality of “this is THE answer” to be…misguided. When my husband, Marcel, was injured from lifting, I encouraged him to work with my friend–yoga instructor and personal trainer, Dawn Cunningham. One of the things he valued most about working with her was her philosophy of “do what works for you and your body.” While we must be diligent to maintain a form that prevents/minimizes injury, sometimes different goals call for slightly different modifications (example: focusing on top half or bottom half bench presses versus full range-of-motion presses). A lot of “know it alls” will often try to tell you the “right” form on a given exercise. When I’m approached by one of these jackasses at the gym, I either point to my headphones or refer them to CT Fletcher.
Try to remain open to what YOU need
In my experience, practicing and teaching yoga is similar. My Monday morning 6am Vinyasa class vibe is different from my Sunday afternoon Vinyasa class. As a teacher, being open to these vibes is similar to what I imagine the relationship is between a live vocalist and accompanist–while the goal is to give a great performance, they must be open to dynamic and emotional expression as a cohesive unit.
Yesterday, Marcel was recounting to me how our friend and his teacher, Joel Bolen, acknowledges the tendency to project one’s idea of a musical arrangement or dynamic into a live performance, and how often times, the challenge is to immerse oneself in that moment and allow that moment to musically evolve, in and of itself. Teaching in a room full of yogis presents similar (welcome) challenges for me, and I enjoy the process of (ideally) becoming more conscious of the vibe in a particular class. In so many ways, teaching, for me, is actually a valuable learning experience.
Often times, Vinyasa classes call for an arc, physically and, where appropriate, musically. We don’t begin the class in half-pigeon with the racing tempos of drum and bass. But…we may work up to them.
I hope to see you on your mat soon – drop me a comment or send me an email with any questions.
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