Always up for trying something new, this morning I went along to Ashtanga Yoga Bath to a class that would opens my eyes to a whole new type of yoga.
Whilst I have always been an advocate of the benefits of yoga and was aware of the different types, being a cardio junkie I liked the idea of Ashtanga and it’s challenging nature.
The Ashtanga Primary Series is a set routine of poses that is performed in this case with a teacher counting the breaths, and calling out the poses in Sanskrit. It’s a bit like Line Dancing…but without the cowboy boots!
But no, in all seriousness this type of yoga is a very methodical and challenging, yet nurturing and I was keen to learn more.
I was greeted by Simon and Sheridan, two of the kindest people you could hope to meet, who reassured me that despite my limited knowledge of the Full Primary Series I would be fine and if I shuffled myself to the back I would be in good company with other beginners.
We started the class with Pranayama, another first for me. Pranayama is the control of prana (the vital life source inside of us) through breath. I was also introduced to the Ujjayi breathing. This type of breathing, where you restrict the back of the throat to create an oceanic sound, that is so immensely soothing, helps to calm the mind and body.
What focusing on the breath really does is expose those areas of tension in your chest that you can so easily ignore when we breathe our normal shallow breath…
The practice began with a chant (or ‘sing song’ as my children call it) that felt a bit self conscious for me, but everyone else was very committed and I tried to join in.
We began in earnest with 10 rounds of what I usually know as Sun Salutations, but today they were Surya Namaskar A&B, then we moved through all the poses in the primary series, each one interlinked with a vinyasa (part of the Surya Namaskar).
By the end of the primary series I was warm to say the least and my arms were more than a little tired of the vinyasas. Whilst I had to sit out some of the latter poses I was more than happy to stare in wonder at the more advanced members of our class getting themselves in the most unbelievable (and to me unthinkable) poses.
We then moved on to the back bends…and then the closing chant…I was a bit more gung-ho with the chanting by the end and it was a fantastic way to start and end the practice.
The final bit….Savasana is the most blissful thing. Lying down, wrapped in warm clothes and blankets, whilst Simon takes us through a guided relaxation. I could have happily stayed there all morning. Alas, it was time to leave and after a kind invitation to stay for coffee and cake, everyone left for the cafe.
So, was it what I thought it would be? Much less intimidating.
Was it hard work? Many of the postures are not for the faint hearted and they are uncomfortable to begin with. Many of the advanced people have taken years to become comfortable in the poses.
Will I go again? Definitely…..