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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

challenge survivor!

two weeks ago, i was halfway through my upgraded version of the lululemon south bay yoga challenge; not only was i going to challenge myself to take 4 yoga classes a week for 4 weeks, but i was going to do that one better and take a yoga class every day for 4 weeks. but when i posted my progress at the halfway mark, i realized that it still wasn't that much of a challenge. at least to me. so i decided to up the ante and throw in as many yoga styles as i could within those 4 weeks. i had so much fun mixing it up that before i knew it, the challenge period was over.

so here are the results of that challenge:

week 1
1/19: leslie kazadi @ truyoga - therapeutics
1/20: david lynch @ yoga works south bay - vinyasa flow
1/21: mark frankel @ still yoga - anusara
1/22: kishan shah @ exhale venice - vinyasa flow
1/23: knekoh fruge @ yoga circle downtown - vinyasa flow
1/24: hagar harpak @ black dog yoga - anusara
1/25: tom morley @ lululemon brentwood - vinyasa flow

week 2
1/26: annie carpenter @ yoga works main street - vinyasa flow
1/27: jesse lombardi @ be love yoga - kundalini
1/28: bonnie johanson @ spectrum club south bay - vinyasa flow
1/29: jamila tazewell @ downtown yoga loft - kundalini
1/30: jo tastula @ yogaglo - vinyasa flow
1/31: brigette dunn-korpela@ core power yoga HB - power yoga
2/1: *** surf city half marathon *** (yes, i actually skipped a day -- after running 13.1 miles, the mind said "yes i can!" but the body said "no you won't!")

week 3
2/2: catherine mcdonough @ santa monica yoga - vinyasa flow
2/3: travis eliot @ power yoga west - power yoga
2/4: genevieve fischer @ yogaglo - vinyasa flow / david kim @ yoga works westwood - vinyasa flow (two classes that day)
2/5: melissa margolin @ home simply yoga - ashtanga
2/6: ross rayburn @ guerilla yoga - anusara
2/7: marla apt @ yoga works montana - iyengar
2/8: ginger lewis @ lululemon south bay - power yoga

week 4
2/9: michael ruccolo @ lyfe yoga center - iyengar
2/10: julie rader @ yoga loft MB - vinyasa flow
2/11: noah maze @ yogaglo - anusara / jennifer fromm @ bikram yoga silverlake - bikram (another doubleheader)
2/12: marla wedge @ harmony yoga - vinyasa flow
2/13: sue elkind + naime jezzeny @ yoga works larchmont - anusara
2/14: tara judelle @ city yoga - anusara
2/15: amber rothwell @ karuna yoga - restorative

my 28-day adventure was something most yogis don't get to experience, much less in that compressed of a time frame. and because of that, i consider myself extremely fortunate. for one thing, not only did i visit yoga studios in the south bay, but i also stopped by places on the westside, in downtown, in the san fernando and san gabriel valleys, and even out in the OC. in addition, my yoga teachers ran the gamut from well-seasoned and well-known experts to those still trying to make their way up the yoga ranks. i should also point out that not all of the classes were in the usual 90-minute format; one of the classes was a 30-minute "quickie", while another was a two-and-a-half-hour workshop followed by a kirtan (which turned it into a five-hour delight!).

as for cramming in as many yoga styles as i could, it reminded me of what i liked -- and in some cases, didn't like -- about each of them.

take, for example, these observations:

anusara - all i can say is that all those inversions must be what's making anusaroids awfully happy people. sure, you have to work hard in class, but it always seems like a lot of fun. and the fact that most students can say ekapadarajakapotasana AND do it with a minimum of effort is totally amazing.

ashtanga - i'd always thought that ashtanga was for die-hards. i mean, i'd heard how ashtanga students are pushed and prodded by their teachers until their poses are textbook-perfect. and about how they can't move on to the next pose in the series until they've mastered the previous one. so it came as quite a surprise to me when i took a mysore class and was taught accessible modifications of the poses. in fact, after being given tips on how to do some poses more easily, i actually wanted to go back the next day to learn more. wow.

bikram - the way i look at it, you either love bikram or hate it. you either love that it's hot and you're oozing sweat out of your pores like it's no one's business, or hate that the room's so artificially heated that you're about to pass out. you either love that you do the same 26 poses each time and can easily monitor your progress, or hate that you do the same sequence over and over and are totally tired of it. but the thing that i'm still trying to reconcile in my mind is this: considering that the average bikram student probably drips a quart of sweat per class, why do most studios have their students practicing on carpeted floors? it's not like someone runs a wet-dry vacuum when class is over. ewww...

iyengar - just like kids have to practice their penmanship to have legible handwriting, or singers need vocalization exercises to improve their singing form, i need a regular dose of iyengar's structured discpline to learn proper alignment so that i can, hopefully, prevent further injuries.

kundalini - after some thought, i realized that my response to the constant repetive movement was similar to my response to the first few times i did pigeon pose -- i just wanted it to be over! getting my mind to see past the discomfort has been a study in patience and perseverance. i'm still not at the point where i actually feel blissful during my practice, but i do know that i'm blissfully relieved when i'm done!

power yoga - as far as i'm concerned, power yoga is pretty much the same as vinyasa flow yoga; the name just makes competitive people feel like they've pushed themselves harder. unless, of course, it's the kind of power yoga that's performed in a room heated up to 100 degrees or more. in which case it's pretty much the same as bikram yoga... with maybe a more creative sequence of poses.

restorative - this is probably the only style of yoga where you know that if you've fallen asleep at any point during your practice, you've had a great class :)

therapeutic - this is the class you go to when you want to know which poses will strengthen your weaknesses, heal your injuries, and soothe your aches. you might also learn which poses aggravate any conditions you may have and which variations are better alternatives.

vinyasa flow - this is the typical style of yoga class taught at most studios around town. you start with sun salutations, move on to standing poses, then seated poses, then backbends and inversions, and end with savasana. some teachers have you constantly transitioning from pose to pose, while some have you hold a pose for a handful of breaths before moving on to the next. if you have a good foundational knowledge of the mechanics of each pose, it can be an exhilarating experience. but if you have no idea what you're doing, or if you get careless and sloppy, you can end up hurting yourself. so be smart and pick your level wisely.

so now that i've completed my challenge and turned in my class card to the south bay lulus, i'm just waiting to pick up my reward: a lululemon eco align ultra mat and a 5-class pass to the south bay yoga studio of my choice. after considering my options (including a one-month yogaworks pass, for use ONLY at YW south bay), i chose to receive a pass to lyfe yoga in hermosa beach. why lyfe? because i like michael's iyengar class and because i feel his studio could use the extra publicity :)

so thanks again to all my teachers for all the wonderful instruction... and for their pretending to understand why i couldn't visit their classes again until my challenge was over!


Blogger Admin said...

Joni can I just say you are nuts! That challenge-I'm a yoga teacher and I know that doing a different style everyday would have made me schizophrenic. Plus just adapting to each teachers "way" or manner. Wow!
Did you experience any sense of like confusion-so Trikonasana ok what class am I in? Is in Iyengar style-ultra wide stance (get a block for Christs sake) or is it Astanga-grab your toe and start counting???

8:19 PM  
Blogger joni said...

funny you should ask... i constantly had to think about where i was. if anusara, trikonasana required a wider stance with the hand on the floor. vinyasa flow had my hand on my shin. and my ashtanga teacher said i needed a block! oh, and there was the time my iyengar teacher pointed out that my fingers had to stay together... i apparently was still in an open-handed anusara mindset :)

9:23 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

That's funny your adaptation to various "correct" ways of being in yoga. You could actually write a nice bit about that aspect of the experience, I think it would be interesting for your readers. And it would be humorous.

7:42 AM  
Blogger joni said...

the thought has crossed my mind a number of times, so since you've expressed an interest -- or that someone else might be interested -- i'll start working on that right away :)

8:05 AM  
Blogger Admin said...

Yeah! I look forward to reading it.

10:02 AM  

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