I attended twelve yoga classes last week. Excessive? You bet. But I found benefit in every one.
Since I stopped doing Bikram last September I’ve expanded into doing a variety of yoga styles. My home base these days is CorePower Yoga. CorePower offers four different kinds of classes. C1 Fundamentals is a 60-minute class at 85 degrees with a set sequence of postures that cover yoga basics including flow, balances, inversions, and core strengthening. C2 Power follows the same guidelines at 95 degrees but includes a greater variety of poses since each teacher choreographs his own class. Sculpt is yoga-influenced aerobics; the class includes cardio, squats, bicep, and core work with light weights. Hot Fusion is modified Bikram; the 26 Bikram poses in a 104 degree room, held for shorter periods with some flow in between. Last week I went to 4 C2, 3 Sculpt, 2 Hot Fusion, and 1 C1 class.
I also attended two yoga sessions with Santosh Karmacharya, the Nepalese owner of Om Namo, an alternative medicine and bodywork center that offers therapeutic yoga. Santosh teaches a distinctly different approach to yoga. He doesn’t focus on building strength, as Sculpt does; or balance, as C2 does; or flexibility, as Hot Fusion does. Santosh’s approach emphasizes postures that use an array of muscles at equal intensity. He arranges students around the perimeter of the room with our mats perpendicular to the wall, and then uses the wall as a support for many positions. During 75 minutes I never stress any particular area, yet when class is over I feel every part of me massaged and enhanced.
It’s been six months since I moved from monolithic yoga (Bikram every day) to a cross-training approach. I don’t experience the same benefits I did from Bikram; I don’t feel as light, I’ve lost my body temperature sensitivity, I catch colds (never sick a day in four years of Bikram), and I rarely have those intense mind/body/consciousness moments that Bikram’s intensity fosters. However, I feel better rounded and I enjoy the process of yoga rather than simply it’s end product. After more than a thousand classes, Bikram was simply too hot, too repetitive, and too grueling. The mental stamina that got me into the hot room has evaporated. I used to feel great after yoga, now I feel great doing yoga.
I also love the variety, and having fewer expectations for each class. I woke stiff this morning, after shoveling out ten inches of snow yesterday. My C2 class was rich in plank/chaturanga/upward dog/downward dog flows that helped firm compress, and expand my spine. It was the perfect way to counter the hundreds of pounds of snow I hauled. Tomorrow perhaps I’ll want to work with weights or build a heavy sweat. When you do as much yoga as I do, it’s good to have options.