Adventures in Yoga Land

I'm getting there

Yoga is my way of combining two tasks on my to-do list: cure insomnia + get more exercise.

I’ve been giving yoga a try for the last 6 months at a place called YogaWorks with locations in NYC and all over California.

So far, I’ve seen some results. Not too dramatic. I think it’s b/c I’m only able to practice 1-2 times a week. I’m still learning how to focus on my breath and calm my thoughts while I’m lying awake in bed. My flexibility is improving in my hips. I can do a decent headstand against the wall. My wrists don’t hurt as much when I’m in downwards facing dog.  My lunges are stronger and less wobbly. I can show off  some fun poses and wow my friends.

I’ll write more about yoga later, but if you’re a beginner thinking of trying yoga  here’s what I’d recommend:

1) Start with an Iyengar class: If you’re a complete newbie, this seems to be a great way to introduce yourself to the practice. Iyengar (a method developed by the yogi B.K.S Iyengar) is hyper-technical. About 1/3 of the class time is spent on explaining what every body part (even your toes and knee caps) are supposed to be doing while you’re in each pose. Yoga is all about “awareness” and you will never forget that in this class. In Iyengar, you will get your basic poses down. I think this also helped me to prevent injury. Taking Iyengar was key before moving onto more advanced classes like Vinyasa where there’s less explanation of proper technique and more focus on movement between poses.

2) Do your homework: Make  the most out of your yoga experience by practicing at home. I like to do 10 minutes (twice a week, if I can, on top of attending class) before going into the shower in the morning just to warm up my body.  This was important to me since I didn’t get to the yoga studio as often as I wanted to. I got more out of my practice by reading a great book called Yoga: The Iyengar Way by Mira Silva & Shyam Mehta (Knopf, 1990) which has some clear photos and notes on all of the basic poses.

3) Here are the teachers from YogaWorks that I like the best:

Adam Vitolo (Iyengar): Vigilant, likes to correct his students, very articulate. His class served as a foundation for all my other classes.

Douglass Stewart: Something about the way he talks and moves is so soothing and enjoyable.

Tatjana Eres: Super nice gal. She makes an effort to learn her students’ names and is developing a curriculum so you feel like you’re making progress.

Sarah Bell: Her patience, mannerisms and kind nature will remind you of your favorite kindergarten teacher.

YogaWorks Cost: My membership is $98/month — that’s unlimited classes at one location. I believe it has gone up by a few dollars since I joined.

Last winter, I started with a membership that allowed me to go to all of their sites in NYC ($115).  I later moved my membership strictly to the new Soho location when it opened since it’s closer to where I live.  The Soho location is gorgeous and loft-like: 2 floors with 3 spacious studios, with a pleasant “retreat” — basically a fancy locker and shower room.

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