My Yoga Journey: adding Vinyasa to the mix
9 months. While some people can grow an entire human being in that time, all I had managed was a barely passable chaturanga and an uttanasana that didn’t involve a 90 degree bend. Anyhooo, I was feeling quite pleased with myself, and knew I wanted to do more yoga. But in pretty low effort way, which meant trying the other classes on offer at my work gym. Which meant vinyasa.
I would love to say at this point that I went to my first vinyasa class and fell totally in love.
The teacher was (is!) a fan of drills…5 chaturanga push ups, 10 side plank switches, 6 high lunge to half moon transitions…. wowzers. I have such a clear memory of coming back to my desk after a couple of these classes and telling a colleague to stop me next time I talked about going to the class because I hated it!
My balance, body awareness, and stamina were all still pretty shocking at that point, and while in the Iyengar I had done to date I could kind of get away without these, vinyasa was a whole other story. Moving quickly and fluidly from pose to pose was just such a challenge, forget about getting a half decent pose without all the time and detailed instruction I was used to once I got there.
But something kept me going back. The music? The movement? The way the class changed every time? The beauty of a room full of people flowing in sync? That you can make it your own practice the more you get to know your own body and which modifications work for you? All these things! And slowly I got less worse. Slowly. By the start of 2016, I was jumping back to chaturanga and forward to uttanasana. And it felt SO GOOD.
Fast forward some 18 months later, and I write this having just completed a teacher training centered around vinyasa. While I could not be more grateful for the foundation that Iyengar gave me – in flexibility, in technique, in alignment – vinyasa has really stolen my heart. I love the sheer amount of space there is in the practice to truly make it your own, both as a student and as a teacher. I have never considered myself to be a creative person, but vinyasa has bought that out in me.
Firstly, learning to modify for my own body at that time. To begin with that was because I couldn’t quite manage what was being asked of me. Getting a foot between my hands at the top of my mat took two steps, in the second half of most classes chaturanga’s became knees-chest-chins, wheel pose regularly got subbed for bridge pose.
Now I am at a point in my practice where it’s time to explore each pose and flow further. Can I float back/forwards rather than jump? Maybe today is a day for forearm wheel rather than normal wheel. Perhaps I can add a cheeky arm balance into that transition. The options are limitless.
And secondly, to flow by myself. I’ll dive deeper into this in a separate post, but developing a self-practice, learning to flow by myself, and now creating my own flows to teach, has been one of the most unexpected but most fulfilling parts of my yoga journey. And for me vinyasa was the type of yoga that coaxed that previously unknown creativity out. It’s really something special.