NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘Vinyasa

Not to be a fickle-hearted yogini, because I know half the time I am professing my love for Bikram (especially when I am not getting along with Vinyasa as I recover from an injury) but I don’t think Bikram yoga and I can ever have a deep, committed, monogamous long-term relationship.  I just love Vinyasa too damn much.  It was the first kind of yoga that I practiced, and I don’t think I can ever get over my first love.  Nor do I want to.

Here’s the thing.  Bikram is easier on my injuries.  My muscles don’t tweak out or seize up in those 110 degree studios.  And the post-class yoga bliss is better from Bikram:  my mind is quiet and clear, and I feel energy shooting through my body.  If ever there was a yoga high, Bikram will give it to you.  But the 90-minutes in class are absolutely brutal.  I struggle through them, and once I’m out, I generally don’t want to go back.  Unless my craving for the Bikram high overrides my resistance.  Which happens sometimes, but not often enough for us to really get to know each other, in like, a meaningful way.

Then there’s Vinyasa.  I still get the post-class yoga bliss, it’s just less intense.  And sometimes really really subtle.  When I have injuries, my muscles seize up and tweak out in class.  But the class.  Oh the class.  How I adore those 90 minutes.  The flowing and the moving and the music.  The candles and the incense and the chanting.  The bearable temperatures.  All those things that are not present in Bikram class.  And enjoying actually being in the class instead of fixating on when my yoga fix is going to kick in makes me be present.  Which is one of the main purposes of yoga for me – dragging my mind out of the past, pulling it back from the future, and steadying it here and now.

On Friday night I went to one of my favorite Vinyasa classes.  I hadn’t been there since before I hurt my foot in December.  When I walked into the studio, the familiar scent of incense greeted me as the teacher welcomed me.  In class, under the dimmed lights, I flowed through poses breathing deeply, as “Purple Rain” by Prince played.  And in that moment, I felt so happy to just be there, exactly where I was.  Practicing yoga at the end of the week, night falling outside, moving in this familiar way, music playing, winter turning to spring.  That’s yoga bliss.  That, is true love.

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When I hurt my foot in early December, I was told that I shouldn’t go to yoga for two weeks.  But after two weeks my foot still hurt, and then two weeks turned into over a month without yoga.  Last week I hit the five week mark, and although my foot still hurt a little, I couldn’t take the yoga detox anymore.  Since my foot was feeling better enough, I decided that it was time to venture back to yoga class, and just proceed with caution.

First I went to a couple of Vinyasa classes and tried to modify poses that involved crunching my foot.  But in Vinyasa, there are many poses that do this – plank, chaturanga, upward to downward dog transitions, and jumping back and jumping forward, which all come up a lot during the flow sequence.  Also, my hamstring still likes to seize up in triangle pose, and stay seized for the rest of class.

Regardless, it felt so good to be reunited with my beloved yoga after the long hiatus.  As soon as I stepped in the studio I was soothed, and when I unrolled my mat and sat cross-legged on a blanket in the moments before class began, I already felt that familiar “Ahhhhh” sensation settle into my body and mind.  Yoga is such a huge and integral part of my life, and helps me deal with stress and anxiety and low energy and depression that without it, I didn’t totally feel like myself.  Plus I was stressed, anxious, lethargic, and depressed.

Since I had several muscle injuries in the fall and I’m trying to avoid foot-crunching poses (and since it’s freezing), I thought that Bikram might be better for me to practice right now.  So I went to a Bikram class yesterday.  And I struggled through it, fighting, as I usually do, waves of nausea and the feeling that I might pass out.  But it didn’t hurt my foot, because there are only three poses that require being on tip-toes in Bikram, and I could make adjustments and modifications for all of them.  And my hamstring didn’t seize up or even bother me at all.

After the brutal class is when the bliss always kicks in.  My racing thoughts had been quieted.  I felt peaceful and calm, yet energized and alert.  My face was bright red for hours after class, but my skin looked dewy and glowy.  And I slept really, really well.  Bikram is also great at combating brain fog, and today I feel clear-headed and focused.

Since I started practicing yoga over 12 years ago, I have been a devout Vinyasa yogini.  But as I am having to negotiate some injuries, my practice has to change to accommodate that.  While I don’t see giving up Vinyasa, I want to add more Bikram classes to my yoga mix, and see how it goes.  And hopefully the waves of nausea and verge of passing out-ness will decrease as I get more acclimated to the intense heat.

Whether I go to Bikram or Vinyasa classes, it feels so good to be back at yoga.  When I practice regularly, I am so much more calm and energized.  My body feels active, awake, and that good kind of sore.  My mind is tranquil.  And best of all, I feel like myself again.