I feel like yoga is one of those things that I’ve always thought would be really cool to do, but never put in any real effort into making it habitual (kind of like my 5 day stint with meditation a year ago). Maybe it’s just me, but people who do yoga always seem to be so put together and serene, possibly because yoga seems less like just an exercise and more like a lifestyle or mentality. I was intrigued by the yoga classes offered here at Penn State (maybe I’ll start going to all the yoga classes and get fit and tranquil and stuff!), particularly because there are a couple different kinds of yoga offered throughout the week. I didn’t realize there were different forms of yoga, so I looked up a little bit about Vinyasa yoga before attending the workout class Sunday night at 7:00 pm.
Vinyasa emphasizes fluid movement. Unlike some yoga classes I’ve attended where you kind of just hold one move for a long time, this practice focuses on seamlessly flowing from one move to another at a pretty rapid pace. Vinyasa developed out of the Ashtanga school of yoga created by a man named Sri Krishnamacharya. One of the students of this school, Pattabhi Jois, taught yoga in India during the early years of the 20th century. Jois taught vinyasa yoga and other similar forms of yoga as a kind of moving meditation; be believed focusing more attention on the transitions between poses and the flow of movement would enhance concentration, meditation, and body consciousness throughout the entire workout (as opposed to just striking a pose, holding it, doing a different pose, holding it, etc.).
Now back to the class. When I walked into the room, the lights were dimmed and there was calming, rhythmic, soft instrumental music playing; the room was kept like this for the entire class. There were only ten other girls in the class with me, so the entire atmosphere was calm and quiet, especially in comparison to Butts and Guts where there were 30 girls packed into a hot room. We began by laying on our backs for about ten minutes. During this time, the instructor started talking about the sanctity of the womb as the home of all creative energy and the perfection of the female body… Yep, the entire class placed tons of emphasis on building the soft, tender strength of femininity, and the instructor even talked for a while about periods and how they represent the strength of creation, a powerful cycle of life. As we flowed through different poses (the Star pose, the Goddess pose…), the instructor’s calming voice in the background would direct our focus to finding our inner goddess to channel our soft womanly power. Towards the end of the class, she talked about female strength and how women are so important in making a difference in the world. She ended class by telling us to find ourselves through our third eye in order to become who we want ourselves to be, and reiterated the importance of self care and self worth. Although I was a little uncomfortable at some points throughout the class, I appreciated her overall message of taking care of our bodies and remembering that (in the words of a great lady) women are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance in the world to pursue our dreams.
Because of the huge emphasis placed on seeking our goddesses and meditating on our bodies, I felt like there was very little emphasis placed on the actual “workout.” If you are looking for a heart-pumping, muscle-aching, sweaty, intense workout, this class is definitely not the one you want to attend. In fact, towards the end of the class I think I actually fell asleep as we were lying on the floor, reflecting on our breathing. I didn’t break a sweat and my heart rate stayed steady, although many of the poses were extremely difficult because you had to hold poses and flow through movements in a very slow, controlled way. The flowing nature of the class combined with some really tough moves challenged my muscle control, balance, and strength, but wasn’t enough to leave me sore the next day. Instead, this class would be awesome for anybody who needs to relax, take their mind off of something, or be reminded of their worth.
Overall, I thought the class was an interesting experience. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it again, but I am definitely happy I at least tried it. If any of you guys have done Vinyasa yoga at PSU before with a different instructor and had a completely different experience, please let me know in the comments! Check in next week for another workout adventure.