So I have to apologize for being out of touch for over a week, but I have a good excuse…I finally found a yoga instructor. Yeah, you’d think that finding a yogi in India would be easy. (You certainly see a lot of lithe, bearded men that look like they sit in lotus position all day.) But since arriving in here, I’ve heard that there are actually more people in the U.S. practicing yoga than there are in India. And, according to Namasta, the North American Studio Alliance, 30% of U.S. yoga practitioners have a household income of more than $75,000. It’s a leisurely, yuppie thing. So, that explains why I don’t see people in the streets doing surya namaskar before going to work. Why “greet the sun” when it beats down on you all day?
Anyhow, there are some renowned yoga schools in the Bombay area. The best known is the Yoga Institute in Santa Cruz. And one of the more famous yoga resorts in the world, the Osho Commune, is just east of here in Pune. But the thought of sitting in traffic for more than 1 hour both ways just to destress didn’t make sense.
Enter the personal yoga instructor. About four of my neighbors and I have hired a yoga instructor to come twice a week, and we do about an hour and a half of yoga and meditation up on the roof.
I am a beginning to intermediate yoga student, at best, but I have found (from my limited experiences so far) that yoga is practiced a bit differently over here. My only other opportunity to do yoga before finding this instructor was in Kerala, where it seemed that meditation, rather than power asanas, was more a part of the practice. In my new class, we meditate and do breathing exercises for a good part of the class – I’d say about half of the time. It certainly helps with the stress level, but I wouldn’t mind breaking a sweat now and then, either.
My current instructor seems keen on doing a lot of back, ankle, and knee stretches, whereas my DC instructor (Christine at Washington Sports really is one of the best I’ve worked with) was all about twists, balancing, and strength building exercises, such as warriors 1,2,3, whole earth pose, etc. Man…if I could only combine the two classes.
In terms of my new instructor, I do have one complaint, though. Of all the times I’ve done sun salutations, this is the first time when I have been told to do the poses differently:
“Keep your back leg straight; don’t put your knee on the floor.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Forehead, chest, then knees.”
“Instead of vice versa? I’m going to hurt myself!”
I knew something wasn’t right, and I double-checked my little DK Sivananda yoga guide to make sure. Sure enough, my yogi was wrong. Hmmm…are surya namaskar different depending on the yogic school? It goes without saying, but I’ve got a lot to learn.
As I woke up this morning, newly-found muscles aching in that pleasant way, I was thinking about yoga, in general, and came across a point-counterpoint editorial in the Times of India. Apparently, there is a drive to make yoga an Olympic event. Yeah…It seems pretty crazy to me, too. But I’m really starting to dig the idea of taking a week or a month off to go on a yoga retreat. Go ahead, call me a yuppie. I don’t mind.
Om. Om. Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. Om. Peace. Peace. Peace.