This weekend I tried a completely new yoga class – Iyengar Yoga at Yogaworks. The journey through the class ended up being journey for myself. I walked into the class and we were told to get a couple of blankets, a strap, a bolster, and A CHAIR. A CHAIR?!?! What sort of class had I gotten myself into? A super easy class where we are going to figure out how to sit up straight? WHAT????
The class was ultimately working toward Revolved Side Angle pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasasa), although you would never have know it from the start. Instead, we spent the first 30 minutes sitting in our chairs, working deeper into our twists, and moving our chests forward and down while keeping our hips on the chair. There seemed to be a lot of taking our chair to the wall, doing something, and then going back to the mat, and doing something else, all while working toward a deeper twist. At first, it all seemed so disconnected, and I was going crazy with frustration and boredom. I also should put in a disclaimer that while I am no twist master, I was finding the use of the chair easy because of my long arms. I am barely removed from a monkey.
Back and forward, sitting with blankets, holding onto the chair legs. When was this going to end?? And then, suddenly, without me even realizing, the class became hard. I was no longer finding it easy to place my hand wherever I was supposed to. Even though they were supported by a chair, my thighs were burning with the stretch. We did a neat Warrior 2 using the chair to get our thighs parallel to the floor, which demonstrated just how hard that is, and really, how far away I am from that at the moment. And then suddenly, we were back on our mats, going into a really sweet, deep Revolved Side Angle pose, which although was tough to hold, was definitely the furthest and most “correct” version of that asana that I have ever done. It was incredible.
From there we moved into Shoulder Stands, which I am still completely incapable of making the “leap of fear” to get my legs in the air and up. If someone catches my legs and sets me up, I’m a happy camper. If anyone has any suggestions on literally how to make the leap, please, please let me know. Finally, those chairs came back into play with some nice supported back bends.
I came out of the class both feeling accomplished, and changed. I had learned to be a little more open, and a little more humble, and a lot more flexible, both in mind and body. A true yoga practice.