Riding the Yogi Bicycle…

Sub Schedule:

Saturday March 10th 2012: Equinox Soho, 9:30-11am. 19th and Broadway, 11:30-1pm.

Sunday March 11th 2012: Equinox Columbus Circle, 5:30-7pm

Hi readers! My teaching schedule has expanded!  This is wonderful.  I shall celebrate, however, one of the updates to my schedule is a 15 min earlier start to my Sunday morning Power Vinyasa class, so the celebration shall be measured:)

My new class schedule, all at Equinox Fitness, various locations…

Sundays, Columbus Circle,  9:15-10:15am Power Vinyasa (new time)

Tuesdays, Columbus Circle, 6:30-7:45pm Level 2 Vinyasa

Wednesdays, Soho, 7:30-8:30pm, Level 2/3 Vinyasa

Thursdays, 54th Street and 2nd Ave, 6:00-7:15, Power Vinyasa (new class!)

I am so thrilled to be teaching 3 nights per week!  Please come to any classes, and be my guest if you are not a member.

Ride the Yogi Bicycle…where did that idea come from?  Those words were spoken from the mouth of a very gifted yoga teacher downtown at Yoga Vida, a small-ish Yoga studio in the NYU neighborhood.  I took class from a woman named Kyle, whose teachings included the above phrased “ride the yogi bicycle”…and for some reason, even though the class was over 2 months ago, I have kept that phrase in my head, along with a super soothing image of me leisurely sailing by on a bicycle, the wind in my hair and a song in my heart.  Really!

There is no end to the things in life that can make us happy.  For me, yoga is one of those things.  Its funny, because sometimes we forget why we love these things so much.  We could list all the benefits of yoga, and all the ways that it has enriched our life, but that can start to sound very info-mercial-ish, inauthentic, robotic and rehearsed.  Sometimes we need to have experiential references to bring our love for yoga into a fuller context again. Example to follow…

Often in the fitness and wellness field, because the issues of health, strength, body composition and nutrition are so complex, there seem to be a never ending array of options out there, each one touted as the “newest”  “hottest” (stress on new) fitness craze, the idea being that this one, above all others, will be the one that finally solves this problem of complexity. This one above all others will envelop strength, flexibility, simplicity and efficiency in a neat, ready-to-use, often very attractive package.  Done!  Right?  Well, maybe.  And at the same time, perhaps not…. a bit cryptic I know.  I am not going to name any of these “newest-hottest-all-you-ever-need” crazes by name.  Lets just say there is one in particular that I was exposed to recently that looked very familiar.  Very familiar indeed!  What did it look like?  I bet you can guess.  It starts with a Y and rhymes with Toga.  hee hee…It also looked like alot of other things, but since this is a Yoga blog I will stick to that.

Why was this striking?  After all, lots of things in fitness, and in life, borrow from their predecessors, sometimes with permission and sometimes without.  Lots of “newest” things are those ideas built on the shoulders of those that came before.  In fact, where would we be without the inspiration of what has come before?  I suppose for me what was useful and enlightening about this experience of learning  a new set of movements was noticing what was missing  – for me – at least.  What was missing was breath.  Yes the movements were eerily similar to yoga asanas, I mean, similar as in carbon copy – but they couldn’t be called Yoga, because there was no breath!  And I found myself wondering, “well, that’s cool, but when do I breath?  Where is the inhale, and where is the exhale?  Do I just make it up?”  And I didn’t ask, for fear of being the “Yoga freak” who is always turning everything fitness into a derivation of Yoga.  I think I managed to do that anyway!

Why is the practice of Yoga different?  I would argue that asana practice has a higher intention and loftier goal than traditional forms of exercise done in the gym.  The forms may be similar, even identical, but without breath, without meditation, without the focus of the mind and body on the present moment, without the link between the body, mind and breath, there is no growth on a deeper level.  We remain the same as when we started.  We may have made some changes to our physical body. And these changes are not to be overlooked.  I question how sustainable these changes can be if we are not using consciousness and attention to breath while we are implementing these changes, as life is often times overwhelming and complicated, tossing us into a whirlwind where we lose our most basic of faculties, our breath.  We look up and we are stressed, we feel frustration, anger, fear, and worst of all, we feel lost.  What brings us back?  Our breath.  We take a deep breath, maybe we rest, drift into sleep, talk it out.  That is, we use our breath as we exhale and express ourselves, we unite body and mind and the disconnect fades, the anxiety dissipates and we find ourselves again.

I normally write lengthy posts about the science of breath, the physiological mechanism of the autonomic nervous system and the subsequent relaxation response.  Today I am not doing that. I have to teach in 2 hours!

And I am going to need to find my breath first:)

See you in class!

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we recieve that heals us. ” M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden