Reasons for a More Diverse Yoga Experience

I am very fortunate to be a Bikram yoga devotee. Though I think the 26-posture torture chamber series is absolutely impeccable I keep encountering the desire for a more diverse yoga experience.

Today I started to explore that desire with an amazing work-trade position at the Savannah Yoga Center, a studio offering a delightful mishmosh of yoga flow and community vinyasa with 3 notable and veritable style gems: kundalini, ashtanga and yin.

I am already convinced that my desire for a more diverse yoga experience was correct for 4 reasons.

( Reason 1 ) 
Slower, More Mindful Transitions
Movements between the postures are the times when I can feel huge transformation taking place in my body. Unique but familiar sequencing in 'yoga flow' is an element of my more diverse yoga practice that I appreciate SO much. Like, thanks for tellin' me to take a Vinyasa through to: warrior 1 / warrior 3 / standing splits, Miss Amanda.The transitions feel like the trigger to blast off a precisely graceful practice. Transitions allow me to access deep muscle and refine subtle movement.  Slower, more mindful transitions help me understand and experience how body and breath can control the muscular contractions that make the asana as delightful and challenging as that posture (with its entry and exit strategies) can possibly be at any given moment.

( Reason 2 )
Different Movements = Different Muscular Developments

 Exhibit A: The Trapezius
The trapezius muscles thank me over and over and over as I take a simple strap held at arms length parallel to the ground, just wider than shoulder width, and bring it in a half circle up and over my seated body, like a rainbow, thanks Stephanie J. With a simple yet unfamiliar movement, the trapezius got a chance to unwind, unkink and again befriend the rest of my back and the neck and the shoulders. Dare I say it was delectable?

Exhibit B: Spread Fingers and Toes
William Blake wrote in The Marraige of Heaven and Hell: "Exuberance is Beauty". As I splay my fingers and toes to outlet the exuberance of the asanas as they channel the blood/energy flow in directions unlike those encountered in everyday ho hum life, I feel the posture becoming more free, more beautiful, more exuberant. As each posture gets more exuberant, it gets more difficult. I can visualize the energy balance recalibrating as it pulses through my widespread toes and fingers. I can also play with activating some larger muscles, starting with the teeniest ones in my extremities. Eureka! I'm able to walk the tightrope because these splayed hands and toes feel like that tightrope walkers big long balancing stick.

this is high wire artist Philip Petit and if you haven't seen his documentary
Man on Wire, please see it. Your inspired self will thank you later.

( Reason 3 ) 
I love a good soundtrack to a great yoga practice. I know. I know. I KNOW. Unnecessary, I know. I can't argue with my natural propensity to move in harmony with a high strung melody or keep the dynamics balanced by smoothing out some ragged breathing to a fast-or-slow paced rhythm. I love music with my more diverse yoga practice because it is fun. Inspiring, too.

Falling out of a challenging pose then getting back in it over and over then working your ass off (literally and figuratively) in the yoga room is hard. I'm not complaining. It's hard because combined with the physical challenge, we need mental stamina and determination to stay focused and forward-moving in the moment each time we fumble and tumble and sway out of an asana. It's a helpful antidote to petty hurt feelings and disappointment when a singer croons out a soulful ballad about the love of my life or the sun coming up again and again. So what - I'm a wuss. We'll talk about my home practice soundtrack laterrr. Dance.it.off.

Exhibit A: Alexi Murdoch, Orange Sky

Exhibit B: Mason Jennings, Be Here Now

(Reason 4) 
More Core
After a year and a half of consistent Bikram Yoga practice, My Pariparna Navasana (Boat Pose) is still pitiful. That translates to: My core is still pitiful. Granted, we don't do Navasana in the Bikram series and my core has gotten 1000 times stronger than it was but I'd think that any consistent practice would get dat tummy ready for at least for 10 breaths in a pose named after a boat.

Compensation and 'cheating' has a hoaky way of disguising itself as true work or proper alignment to an eye unused to testing its own focus on unfamiliar terrain. Aka: Do a Navasana every now and then day to check in with how your center is really doing. Claudia Cummins wrote that Navasana can teach us boldness of spirit.That comes in handy, especially when a more diverse yoga experience gives the tools to lead a truly powerful life.

Truth isn't truth if it's only approached from one angle. 
That's why I am ecstatic about my more diverse yoga experience. 

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