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Yoga Week Review

February 1, 2010

I did it. I did 7 days of studio yoga in a row. And how to I feel? Effing sore man!! Also, I feel like I know how to go anywhere and do anything with a yoga mat attached to my hip. Even Momofuku Milk Bar.

Ok…let’s back up. I don’t know why, but I wanted to wait till this was over to say where I was taking classes, to give a full review of the studio. I had a free week pass to YogaWorks, which has several studios in NYC, and mine was to their newest in Soho. They have a very full schedule with lots of different types and levels of classes; I was actually thinking that the studio wasn’t going to be very busy and the classes weren’t going to be so full because of all the classes and the newness of the studio. Oh no…each class I took was packed to the brim, in large studios, I might add. My first impression of YogaWorks was oooooo…pretty. The studio is beautiful: spacious, calm, beautifully decorated, peaceful. The studio I go to (YogaEffects) is barebones, but that has never, and still doesn’t, bother me. Also oooo…pretty? The students. I was pretty intimidated by all the ladies in their fancy, head to toe Lululemon gear. Yeah, I had Lululemon pants on, but they’re the same pants I have worn for every single yoga class during the past three years; I’m too cheap to branch out, topped with a $6 tank top from Old Navy. I am the queen of mixing Steal vs Splurge. But, I sucked it up, and pretended I knew what I was doing and…just spread out my mat in the back of each class. I’ll always be a back-of-the-classer. I don’t like people looking at my pathetic yoga.

My BFF Molly helped steer me to what classes to take. She is my yoga guru. She actually started taking yoga at the same time I did at YogaEffects (YE), but she turned into a yoga queen, when I became obsessed with running. She now lives in LA (loser), but has since become teacher trained in yoga at a branch of YogaWorks (YW) out there. She encouraged me to take a level 2 vinyasa flow classes to start; YE classes are vinyasa flow, so that’s what I tried to stick to. These are the classes I took: Mon: Vinyasa Flow 2; Tue: Vinyasa Flow 2/3; Wed: Vinyasa Flow 2; Thu Vinyasa Flow 2/3; Fri, Sat & Sun, Power Yoga 2/3. My favorite classes were Tuesday’s Vinyasa Flow 2/3 and Friday’s Power Yoga 2/3, probably because they were freaking hard. I like the hard though (twss?); I like being challenged and pushed in yoga; I like it to feel like a workout. I’ve become discouraged from yoga in the past because of the slowness and lack of difficulty. It wasn’t until I found YE that I started to like yoga because of it’s ability to really get me to push myself. The vinyasa flow classes were similar to my YE classes, but they didn’t have long sequences, with several poses linked together, which is something I really like. They also didn’t to a lot of more challenging poses. In the first class all the poses were some that I had done back in my beginner classes at YE several years ago. That’s one reason why I stuck to level 2/3 after the first class (except for Wed, when level 2 was the only class I could take with my schedule), to continue with the challenge.

The Tue/Thu classes were the closest to what I take at YE, and they were great classes. Good flow, great, non-preachy teacher, lots of ab work, nice challenge poses. The Fri/Sat/Sun Power Yoga classes were different, but awesome. The first 30 minutes were vinyasa, followed by just doing individual poses. I’m used to doing poses from a vinyasa, so to do them without that was weird, but it didn’t bother me. Those classes, though, were hard. During the first Power Yoga class, at the end we were cooling down, doing relaxing poses and I was expecting the teacher to call out shavasana any minute. All of a sudden, he turns on a Black Eyed Peas song and calls out 30 pushups, boot-camp style. WTF!?!?! I stared at him with my mouth wide open in disbelief. Considering I had done 20+chaturangas earlier in the class, I somehow managed 2 pathetic push-ups. We spent the rest of the song doing crazy ab work, and I wanted to die. I was ready for that in the Sat & Sun classes, but I still was pathetic.

So, in planning this week, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to expect in terms of results. 7 classes is a lot, but a week is not a lot. I was shocked by the improvement I was feeling even after the 2nd class. My flexibility improved and my ability to do difficult poses and to get deeper into easier poses was noticeable. In my Thursday class I was able to do binds for the first time and by Sunday, I was doing a bind in almost every pose I could. The highlight was, in Friday’s class, getting from bound side angle into bird of paradise without letting go of the bind. I have never been close to this before, so it was pretty freaking exciting. And in Sat’s class, while in forward bend, I could feel myself bending deeper, raising my hips higher and my chest lower. It was just easier to get deeper, more involved in each pose, and to become more involved with my practice. Even my strength, in that very short time, has improved; my chaturanga is dramatically better and stronger. Feeling the improvement day to day was amazing and made me enjoy it even more. I only started liking yoga this past fall; I used to get bored and frustrated with my inability to improve. I would do it only do counteract my running. By going regularly this fall and really liking my teacher, I came to really enjoy yoga. And this week made me fall in love with it. I felt fantastic this week and I looked forward every day to going to class. My body felt strong, flexible, relaxed (although by Saturday I felt sore sore sore). However, I can’t do a daily studio practice; this past week was pretty hard to plan and be at the studio every night. Also, there is no way I can afford a monthly pass. So, where do I go from here? I want to keep up my practice to see even more improvements and to be able to reap the benefits from yoga. I think I’m going to stick to doing 2 studio classes a week (at YE), 2 longer classes at home, and at least 20 minutes a day to stretch my body out. This is something I’m finally looking forward to. I used to dread going to yoga, but I think I’m finally over that.

I fell in love with yoga this week, but what does that mean to my running? Nothing! Running is still #1 by a mile. At every class this past week, I would wear a long-sleeved race t over my tank to, kinda, prove my allegiance. I’m a runner, and will always be a runner deep down; it’s who I am.

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