Until my good friend Chicagogirl took me to my first yoga lesson, I had been ambivalent in regard to …well, what was that yoga anyways? Sitting still, breathing, making strange poses, incense sticks and esoteric chatter – neither of this sounded at all appealing to me. This, however, pretty much sums up my understanding in the time BY (before yoga).At the time of my introduction, my friend had already been practicing Forrest yoga for a while (Forrest after its founder Ana T. Forrest, not after wood and trees, mind you) and was
quite very excited about it. I agreed to come with her but didn’t quite know what to expect and was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it. I only hoped not to totally embarrass myself by being clumsy and inflexible.
Turned out, I didn’t. Turned out, I liked it. A lot. Enough to want to learn the basics. Since all classes at bYoga (currently the only Forrest yoga studio in Austria) are open level, I looked for and found a hatha beginner’s course at YogaLounge. It wasn’t Forrest yoga but it was yoga.
We were a small group of only around 5 persons and our instructor was a lovely young woman. But as much as I enjoyed the movement and the silence (inside and out), I was usually cold for the whole session and had to wear at least a fleece jacket and thick socks. I needed something warmer.
Therefore, I reverted to Forrest yoga (with more confidence) as soon as I had completed my beginner’s course and have not looked back since.
Forrest yoga is practiced in a comfortably warm room (around 27°) and what I like so much about it is that it really is for everyone no matter your physical or mental state. During practice you can take whatever you want to take – concentrate on the mere physical aspect (i.e. see it as a workout), focus on meditation or make use of the theme or challenge offered by my favourite teacher Alexandra at the start of each class.
Physically yoga definitely becomes more demanding the more you practise. You will be able to execute the asanas (poses) more accurately and combine them with the correct prana (breathing) – and gradually move on to more advanced poses. I much appreciate that all teachers at bYoga will walk around the room, correcting poses as well as suggesting alternatives if you are uncomfortable with a certain asana – or if it is simply too difficult for you. You will always be encouraged to try a handstand against the wall – but you will never be forced to or looked down upon if you don’t want to do it. There never is any judgment and you are strictly advised not to compare yourself to others in the room. Those are your 90 minutes and yours only.
Mentally, I find it easier now to get to that certain place where everything quiets down. That said, oftentimes I will still not manage to get there during the 90 minutes of my practise. But at least I have been there several times and know that this place exists and how it feels like.
There are times when I “fall” deep into what I cannot quite describe in words within minutes of sitting on my mat. There are also times I don’t manage to turn off the noise in my head.
I have also fallen asleep during Shavasana (dead man’s pose – the final relaxation) numerous times – out of relaxation as well as from sheer exhaustion after an especially challenging practice.
Yoga has long become part of my daily routine. At least on workdays I will complete four sun salutations just after getting up in the morning. It helps me bridge that path between sleep and reality and on workout-days (link to blogilates post) this is also my warm up for whatever comes after.
At night I will sometimes do a few asanas if I feel like I need to calm down before I go to sleep.
Have you ever tried yoga? Which style is your favourite? How does yoga work for you – how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?