The summer has flown by, and as we head into the season of falling leaves and colors on the mountains, it’s time to anticipate the other changes that come with Fall. After a summer of yoga in the park and on (or off) the paddleboard, I’m having a hard time letting go of the great outdoors. Fresh air, grass beneath your feet, sun shining…I could go on. So what happens next?
Just as kids return to school, the outdoor yogi has to anticipate a return to the confines of a studio. But since we are typically on a mat that is roughly 2 feet by 6, “confinement” doesn’t necessarily pose a problem. It’s the nature and location of the confinement that poses the question: what’s next? I am perplexed, but my hope is to try a new practice until I work all of the choices and see what moves me.
How many “kinds” of yoga are there? I’ll let you Google that for starters or maybe ask Siri. I must admit that I didn’t know what was out there until I trained to teach. I knew after teacher training that there were more ways to practice than I’d ever imagined.
What would you like to see happen in your practice? In your body? In your mind? Choosing wisely could help you on your way toward whatever you seek.
Are you sleeping well? Do you find yourself gritting teeth and white-knuckling the steering wheel? How long has it been since you’ve been on your mat? All of these questions are just starting points. I ask them of myself, and you may want to do the same. Take a little inventory. The end of summer is a time of change, so this might be an opportune time to recharge your practice. And beware: your answers may change form time to time, just like your body. Your practice should, too. I’ve listed some options below, but they are only a few. There’s a list as long as my mat of practice styles. I encourage you to dig a little, step onto your mat in a new way.
If you’re feeling anxious and twitchy, maybe it’s time to step it up and blow off some steam. Have you tried a hot yoga class? Really, just give it a try. It IS bloody hot (98-105 degrees in some studios, less so in others). But it is amazing. And it will wring you out physically, mentally, spiritually.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is restorative yoga, which can accomplish the same wringing out in a completely different fashion. Restorative yoga will place you in a space to be still, and let the body soften while the mind quiets. It’s as challenging as the hot class in a slower, less motion-filled way. The poses are held longer than a typical flow. There are bolsters to lie on, blankets for covering up with and lying on top of, and blocks and straps to support the body totally. TOTALLY. Have you ever been in that place of total support…where your head has had a time to send the message south of your neck, and your body has had time to respond by letting go and succumbing to relaxation on a level you’ve not remembered? Or maybe, you’ve never experienced?
Those are extremes. Let me move you toward the middle, where there’s vinyasa, and bhakti, jivamukti and kundalini. And still more.
Vinyasa, which like most Sanskrit words has many optional meanings, is a breath-centered flow. Moving from one pose to another, breathing as a way of moving in and out of the postures, is another way to move your practice into new realms. The focus on motion and breath, as well as the sequence of those motions create the space for the body and mind to come back together.
Are you needing to reconnect your with your soul? May bhakti, the yoga of devotion, is what you need. Bhakti can mean devotion to God, the Divine, or connection-however you choose in your practice to seek that higher power, if you choose that. A bhakti class could have chanting, movement, maybe even kirtan to foster that deep devotion, that connection, that escapes many of us day to day.
Jivamikti is challenging, yet still meditative in nature. In this vibrant practice, you may find some unique musical selections, readings and classes that are themed. You can count on getting an education if you attend jivamukti practice.
How are your chakras? Kundalini was brought to the west in the late 60’s, and the baking philosophy of health and happiness keeps it a thriving practice today. Raising the energy of the body through the chakras is the focus, done by using the breath, mantra meditation, and asana. This practice will light up the spine and when practiced often, can lead you to a blissful place.
Got any ideas yet? Are you ready to grab a towel and head over to the next hot class on the schedule? Or maybe at the end of the workday, you’d prefer to find a spot in that restorative class and put your feet up legs up the wall, and let your body and mind come to rest? Maybe something is in between.
Whatever you choose, may you be well, and happy, and peaceful. Namaste.