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I’ve talked about before how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and try new types of yoga. While I didn’t  fall in love with Bikram Yoga, it was still a learning experience (and it answered a lot of assumptions).  Earlier this month I decided to try out another type of yoga I’ve always been curious about: Anti-gravity yoga.  Anti-gravity yoga was invented by an aerial dance artist, who took the silk hammocks that they used for dance and brought them much closer to the ground. Think Vinyasa yoga with the aid of a hammock to gently encourage your body deeper into your each stretch.

I did a week long trial at OM Factory in Manhattan, and from the first class I was hooked–I was there every single day (and it’s an hour commute!) I’m usually not a huge fan of inversions beyond shoulder stand, but the support of the hammock made inversions joyous and much more accessible. The hammocks also lent themselves perfectly to the restorative class (Baddha Konasana becomes “womb pose”, you swing gently back and forth as you relax). Even ab strengthening exercises in the “Flying Fitness” class were transformed from grueling to playful.

I don’t think I’d solely practice anti-gravity yoga, for me a practice rooted in Vinyasa flow is what  suits me best, but I would love to add a little flying into my practice every week. Anyone want to buy me a class pass or membership?

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I read a great line in  the May issue of Yoga Journal yesterday:

“Yoga isn’t about achieving a goal, it’s about learning to skillfully move your body through its appropriate range of motion.”

It’s so true. It can be very frustrating when you are new (or even when you’ve been practicing for years) and your body won’t cooperate to look like the picture perfect pose (or like the person next to you).  And so many people think they can’t “do” yoga because they can’t touch their toes or balance on one foot. But as I tell my students, if you are trying you are doing it.

So next time you are having trouble in a particular asana, think of that qoute above, or think of T-Rex:

(this is from this hilarious site: T-Rex Trying)

 

It’s easy (especially in New York City) to get image wrapped up with yoga. Yoga has for many, become associated with upper-middle class skinny white women, and can seem from the outside to be very elitist.   Beyond even the comparisons of body types and ability, there is so much consumerism tied into yoga–so many cool yoga mats and props, so many pretty $180 stretchy pants. On one hand I get it, there’s a lot of opportunity to make money and a lot of people willing to spend it. On the other hand though it’s the thing that bothers me the most about yoga.

I truly believe that anyone from any background,  with any body type, at any age, wearing any clothes, standing on any piece of ground can not only do yoga, but benefit from and enjoy it. Which is why I found this blog post on Yoga Journal (by Erica Rodefer). Here’s the outline of the article, click the link to read the whole thing:

The 5 things that yoga does require:

1. An open mind.

2. The willingness to look silly.

3. An adventurous spirit.

4. A sense of humor.

5. Body, breath, and spirit.

I found this list and the entire post very refreshing, and I wholeheartedly agree– I espically love this line:

“It’s a comforting thought that you were born with everything you need to do yoga.”

I would add to the list though the following two items:

6. Patience. I’ve talked about it some already, but it’s really so relevant in all aspects of life and especially in yoga. My wonderful fiance only does yoga because he wants to support my teaching endeavors, and he gets frustrated with himself for not being able to get into some of the poses. He’ll say his body isn’t capable of doing those things, but it is– he’s only done yoga a handful of times, he (and all beginners) just have to keep trying, keep practicing, be patient.

7. A Teacher. This one could be argued, you can certainly learn yoga and pratice yoga all by yourself– and as many people in the “yoga world” will tell you, a good solo pratice is important. But I’d say it’s essential to have as least periodicity practice with a teacher. There’s only so much you can learn from reading or DVDs, and even if you’re practicing in front of a mirror, without a teacher you could have the wrong alignment and never know it. Tiny adjustments, guidance, someone to ask questions to and encourage you, I’d say those things are pretty essential to yoga too. (but of course I would say that, I’m a yoga teacher..)

I had a unique opportunity today; one of my fellow newly minted yoga teacher friends is also a trained budokon teacher, and was asked to give a special class at Joschi Studio for a few of us.

Just what is budokon? In a nutshell, it’s a mix of yoga and martial arts with some animal movements thrown in (a more in depth explanation here) Here’s a video that includes some of the movements we learned today.

It helps tremendously to come to budokon with an understanding of yoga movements as many are included, but there’s also quite a bit of reframing your muscle memory of how flows and poses go, since it’s not quite the same. At first a lot of the hopping and switching sides and legs and arms was a little confusing, but like anything with a little repetition it clicked a little more and when we sped up the flow, I started to have fun and even feel a little badass. But boy o boy is it a workout, this isn’t really a practice that you can come into without some sort of movement in your life already.

After almost an hour of various fighting stances, we ended the class with animal movements, which was, while still strength and agility building, pretty fun and playful. Mats aside, we moved back and forth across the room as gorillas, chimpanzees, frogs, and  other animals.

I could see incorporating some of budokon’s take on yoga poses into my classes (especially the roll through to plank from down dog), and the animal movements seem like a great way to snap people out of taking themselves so seriously and play with their strength. Booker is a great teacher and will be subing the 1:30pm Sunday flow yoga class at Joschi and incorporating some budokon in, I’m going to try to check it out again.