Last night my neck was feeling back to normal (meaning: tight and full of stress and tension, but no more than usual), so I headed to the yoga center and had a great practice in N’s class. Tuesday night’s class is on the schedule as an “All Levels” class, but N seemed to know everyone in the room and she definitely taught a challenging class, the sort of class where downward dog really is a resting pose and a relief. It’s been a long time since I was so sweaty in a yoga class that I couldn’t hold on to my own slippery leg and was wiping my face on my pants. Definitely need to remember to bring a towel to N’s classes in the future!
N’s class was different from J’s typical class, maybe because I usually catch J’s class when it really is an “All Levels” class. J almost always structures his classes the same way, typically does basic sun salutations with lunges, and always has us hold the poses a long time. N’s class was more of a vinyasa flow; we did vinyasa-style sun salutations, moving on each inhale and exhale rather than holding each pose for a few breaths. I knew I was in for something different when one of the first poses we did was crow. We came back and did arm balances several times over the course of the class. I didn’t always practice an arm balance – I did crow once, but sometimes I just hung out in a squat or did leg stretches – but the other women in the room were doing crow, side crow, tripod, handstand, all kinds of cool stuff.
At one point N linked several balance poses together so we were on one foot for a while without coming down. I can’t remember the exact sequence we did, but the poses included ardha chandrasana (half moon), standing split, crane, dancer, tree, and two ardha chandrasana variations: one in which the raised arm was behind the back in a twist/bind; one in which the raised hand held the raised foot, almost like in dancer pose but with the other hand on the floor. This last I could not do at all. The balance chain was overall really tough on me and I had to keep coming back to standing split, which was the easiest of the forward-bending balances (with both hands on the floor), and after each balance chain I really needed to stretch out the standing leg. I think the fact that this sequence was so rough for me means that I need to go to N’s classes more often. N also had us do a different inversion sequence: starting in plow, lifting one leg at a time up to shoulder stand, and then working into lotus in shoulder stand, rolling out that way, and doing a lotus fish. Pretty intense stuff. I don’t do lotus so I just played with cobbler pose a bit in my shoulder stand.
To come from J’s class, which is slower paced and tends to have many beginning students, to N’s class, fast-paced, with an all-female group of students who were doing advanced arm balances like side crow and handstand and who could handle the difficult balance and inversion sequences, was really kind of inspiring. You don’t always see women doing those sorts of challenging poses, especially not ones relying on arm strength. This class was an amazing workout and I felt like I was really able to relax in my savasana, which doesn’t always happen in J’s classes. I think I may stick with N’s Tuesday class for a while rather than J’s Monday class – not because of the headstand, although that’s part of it, but because N’s classes have different things to teach me and it will be a different way to challenge myself. I do still plan to talk to J, but I think I’ll spend some time with N for a while.