Discovering the joys of an open minded practice

I love hanging with my sister-in-law. She’s a yogi too.. .and impressive. She can do postures like crow. But our practices didn’t overlap; I was devoted to hot yoga and she to flow and never our paths would cross. When visiting one Christmas, I convinced her to come to a hot class with me. She wrinkled her nose and said, “but they sweat so much and I don’t want anyone sweating on my mat”. I laughed and told her, sincerely, that in nearly twenty years of steady practice, NOBODY had ever sweated within a yard of my mat. I ultimately prevailed and we went to class. “YESSSS,” I thought, “now she will see the error of her flow-yoga ways”. We had an amazing teacher and I eagerly awaited her verdict, which was: “Someone sweated on my mat”.

It was then that I understood that there is no ONE yoga. Okay, that’s not true because there are guiding principles that are a constant in all variations of yoga. I mean that the practice of “yoga” is as vast and rich and deep as, say medicine. There’s no ONE medicine; there are surgeons and internists and so on. What I’m saying is that it is my observation that people practicing different styles are quite committed to THEIR style of yoga and not so open minded to the others. Or maybe that’s just those of us at the beginning of our yogic journey? Either way, for me it was hot yoga or bust.

As a new co-owner of a yoga studio with a diverse practice, it was pretty important to me that I understand all the different practices in our studio. So I grabbed my mat and nervously walked in to a flow class. Would I look a fool? Would it kick my butt? What if I HATED it? How could I possibly serve all the students at evolation if I felt that way?

I had done flow classes before but never with teachers I trusted. At Evolation, I know I can trust every one of my teachers to know their stuff. So despite my worries, I walked in with an open, inquisitive mind. More importantly, I walked into class with a real hunger to understand what these “other” yogis found so intriguing.

I am certain I looked ridiculous at times. But the teacher kindly helped me find my way. And the other students encouraged me with smiles and words or just by demonstrating their practice. And it wasn’t all foreign – I saw echoes of my hot practice and was a total rockstar as my body’s muscle memory kicked in. Oh, and it totally kicked my butt. But in a wonderful, glorious way. You know the delicious burn after your body has moved in ways that are new and different?

So here is what I learned, why I have been back, and why YOU should do this too:

Hot and Flow Yoga have many similarities: both are moving meditations – if you start thinking about your to do list, you can expect to fall over. Both are full body workouts – you can count on stretching and strengthening many muscles, ligaments and fascia. Both are guided by an experienced teacher, completely dedicated to your well-being. In both, you move in unison with others in a shared purpose, possibly creating something greater than any one of you could have created alone. And in our studio, both are practiced in a beautiful environment with a view of the ocean!

I have learned that focusing on just one type of yoga robs me of the complementary benefits of the other types of yoga. I found that after a hot class, my back muscles talk loudly. After flow class my core was shouting for..ahem. . . joy? I don’t know about you, but I need BOTH of those areas to be strong. In flow, I had a meticulous focus on breath and moving in concert with that rhythm. In hot class, I focus meticulously on stillness, despite exertion. Hot yoga provides the comfort of repetition and space to focus on perfecting my pose. Flow provides the whimsy and interest associated with movement and the excitement of not knowing what will come next.

There were many more similarities and differences that I could share, but I would rather hear your discoveries. The point is that my body and my mind benefit from doing all of the above because in LIFE I am doing all of the above. And the epiphany is that if I focus just on one or the other, I am depriving myself. I realize there is no winner between Hot & Flow. The winner is ME as I challenge my body and mind in different ways and make wonderful discoveries in the process.

Are you like I was? Convinced that *your* yoga is the superior style? Join me in the classes that are new and different to you. Evolation’s class schedule makes it easy to try different styles. Life is too short for either of us to get stuck in a rut and there’s nothing quite like the rush of trying something new and maybe a little scary. Let me know how it goes!

Be well, Astrid