Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Ashtanga time! October 1, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:22 pm
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Saturday was supposed to be the first of the series of three workshops on hands-on adjustments that I signed up for. Unfortunately, the workshop was postponed indefinitely due to lack of enrollment. The instructor, Amy Nobles Dolan, offered me a complimentary ashtanga class as a consolation, and I’m so glad I went.

My first yoga class in NC, over ten years ago, was a power yoga class, and after moving to Boston I took a hatha class, but the first yoga class that stuck with me in a long-term way was ashtanga vinyasa with Gene. I took Gene’s class Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime at the Harvard athletic center for two years, and often it’s still Gene’s voice I hear in my head cuing poses. Gene was fascinating – a wiry little Italian guy, 63 years old when I knew him, and a great teacher on both a physical and a spiritual level. I was one student in a room of 25 or more, so while he knew my name as one of his regulars, I doubt he’d remember me now, but I’ve always remembered him fondly. He’s the one who introduced me to the concept that yoga can improve wellness for older people, for one thing – he also taught at retirement communities. That idea really stuck with me and is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a yoga teacher myself.

Gene had been teaching yoga for years and was incredibly knowledgeable, and he liked to mix up his classes with different poses and exercises, always challenging us. Later on, I learned more about different types of yoga and found out that ashtanga has a set series of postures, and I wondered how close my experience with Gene was to the usual ashtanga class. As it turns out, my yoga practice actually has a strong solid ashtanga foundation because of Gene. I haven’t had a real ashtanga class since leaving Boston in 2006, and this class on Saturday felt fantastic, like an old friend – the sequencing of poses and emphasis in each pose were all familiar. I think Gene and Amy would get along well! In that sense alone, it was awesome to go to an ashtanga class, change up my usual practice, and challenge myself.

As a learning experience, the class was so great. Amy is an RYT-500 and it shows, she really knows her stuff. At EEY, N & J don’t choose to emphasize hands-on adjustments, so it’s been a while since I’ve had much adjustment. It’s Amy’s philosophy to make hands-on adjustments a part of her class, and with only two other students, I really benefited. Her adjustments were strong, supportive, and helpful, and gave me new perspective on poses I’ve been practicing for years. Even more, knowing my interest in adjustments, Amy always explained what she was doing so I could understand the action of the pose and why the adjustment helped that action, and she also gave me tips on how to apply the adjustment as a teacher to my own students. It was a LOT to digest, and I think I’m going to be thinking about this for a while. I can’t wait until we can reschedule the workshop, and until then, I’ll look forward to getting back to Amy’s class sometime soon!

In other news, while playing with YB last night I wanted to stretch out and took a downward dog. She loved it and crawled underneath me, and when I chaturanga’ed down to her, she laughed and crawled out and climbed on my back. I never think to practice yoga around her because I take it so seriously, but moments like this remind me that yoga can be playful and fun. I need to do this more often!

And in OTHER other news, I have my first class at Wellness on Park tonight! 7:30 pm, all-levels vinyasa. Wish me luck!