In honor of the big 3-8 yesterday, I got up early in the morning and dragged my aging butt to a Mysore-style yoga class with a really well-known yoga instructor from my area.
I’d met this lady by chance this summer at my beloved Edge, where she teaches a class a week and occasionally subs for the other teachers. There was something about her I immediately liked. She was playful, disarming and intense, all at the same time, and she had the ability to motivate the class without stroking the flames of ego or insecurity.
She teaches at another studio I frequent and when I saw they offered Mysore-style classes, I figured it was my chance to do something different but with an element of familiarity.
Mysore is a lot more personalized than I had envisioned. I think I’ve mentioned several times before how much I like being the center of attention in yoga. I really do spend most of the class trying not to be THAT asshole – you know, the one showing off, competing with her neighbor, or calling out to the teacher – look! look! I did it!
In Mysore, it’s all about you and what’s appropriate for your level. The instructor gives you a sequence to memorize, and only lets you take it as far as your skill level will allow. In other words, you can’t progress past a pose you’re not “proficient” in.
I’m not going to lie, I loved seeing myself fly through the poses. It was like acing the entrance exam to the grad school of your dreams.
It was also really refreshing to move at my own pace (which is, fast). When I’m in a led class, I have a terrible time trying to coordinate with my breath with my movements because my inhales are usually so much shorter than everybody else’s. And we all know how much I like holding my breath.
It was interesting, though, what passed for proficiency during the sequences. I’d learned in my past yoga experience not to deepen a pose until you had near-perfect alignment in the modified version, so I’d been doing Triangle and other groin-stretchy poses with a block this whole time. Here, the instructor had me grabbing my big toe despite the fact that I could feel my torso pitching forward and my shoulders were decidedly not stacked with my hips. In Mysore, that apparently passes for proficiency, so we moved on to the rest of the series.
I followed my Mysore experience up with one of my regular led classes in the afternoon. The instructor picked precisely that day to kick things up a notch in this ordinarily manageable class, and I spent a great deal of the time in Child’s Pose, wishing the class would end and go on forever, all at the same time.
All in all, if the remaining 364 days of my 39th year on this earth are anything like the first one, I’ll have buns of steel in no time – and nerves of steel to match. And I’ll continue to not look a day over 30.