Monday, January 6, 2014

Yoga Year in Review 2013

My husband and I started practicing yoga in October 2012 as a way to try something new together. Since then I'm hooked. I haven't talked about yoga on the blog at all so here's a detailed look back at 2013 on the mat.

Our "home studio" is Journeys in Yoga (on Magnolia in Tallahassee). I like Journeys because they are truly welcoming and there are all ages of people practicing and teaching there. We also went to one class at YogaQuest (on Market Street). More about that later.

In 2013, I went to 77 yoga classes:
38 - Yin
28 - Intro Flow
8 - Flow & Meditation
2 - Open Flow
1 - Partner Yoga

We started with Intro Flow and it has been and continues to be a great introduction to yoga. The official class description: "An introduction to the core yoga poses that serve as the foundation for a yoga practice, this class is great for beginners and advanced students alike. The emphasis is on proper alignment and awareness of the breath in each pose." Even though now we are more familiar with poses and the process of moving between them, the extended instruction in the Intro class helps me really do each posture to the best of my ability.

From there, I expanded into Yin. There is a class on Monday mornings that I hate to miss. Official description: A yoga class designed to stretch the deep connective tissues of the body, the joints and ligaments. Each pose is held for several minutes and the focus is on allowing the body to open at its natural pace. This is a mellow class that is suitable for all levels and the room is not heated. Going to Yin is like learning every week how to relax. Definitely time well-spent.

Sometimes we aren't able to make our regular Intro class on Thursday night and that's where Flow & Meditation comes in. Combine movement and stillness with 45 minutes of all levels flow yoga followed by 30 minutes of guided meditation, self guided meditation and reflection. Great for those wanting to experience different meditation techniques along with the physical practice of yoga. This is such a great class. The active part is really vigorous so you work up a sweat and really have to stretch yourself physically, and then you relax and go to another place entirely during mediation. It's like your body has opened up so your mind can too. There's time at the end for journaling and even paper and art supplies if you are moved to create.

Twice I've been to Open Flow which is the class that Intro Flow prepares you for. It is faster moving than Intro so you work a bit harder. Pairing postures with breath we create a flowing moving meditation while improving our strength, flexibility and balance. Prior yoga experience is helpful, since we move fluidly from pose to pose, but this class is open to all levels. And that reminds me that one of the things I like about yoga is that in many classes, you actively work on developing your balance. This is not something that comes naturally to me so it's been great to see my balance improve with practice!

In February we took a Partners Yoga class: Take time to spend with your significant other in a new way by doing yoga together! This Valentine's Day, Yoga Quest will offer a partneryoga class for all levels of experience which will allow you to explore the poses in a dynamic way with a partner. Partner poses are a great way to deepen your communication with someone and also an amazing way to expand your practice. This class was fun and we laughed a lot. Honestly there are a lot of poses that work best if the two partners are about the same size and same height and my husband and I are neither! For one pose, I was supposed to lay on my back on his back and I slid right off, like he was a human slide. We laughed. There was live music, a big crowd in the room made for a festive experience, and they had an organic wine tasting afterward so all-in-all it was a fun evening.

yoga mat bags handcrafted
just for us by Gayle
One of the fabulous things about yoga is it doesn't require a lot of stuff. All you really need is some comfortable workout clothes you can move in easily. Most studios will lend you a mat if you don't have one, and will provide props (like blocks and straps). It's nice to have your own yoga mat if you practice regularly (or at home). We have fabulous Manduka yoga mats. After a year they are still in great condition and super comfortable. My sister-in-law Gayle
made us great bags for carrying our mats this year too (thanks Gayle!!).

Looking ahead to 2014

  • I'd like to maintain my consistency and continue to practice yoga twice a week. 
  • I'd like to try some new studios (both here at home and when we're traveling). A good start to trying new places, on my birthday (Friday) we are meeting some friends for Gentle Breath and Flow with Emily. Reconnect with body, mind, and spirit through a gentle series of postures amid relaxing music and flickering candles. Release tension with slow, deep stretches and a concluding yoga nidra guided relaxation at Namaste and then to dinner afterward. I'm pretty excited about that. 
  • One of the things I wanted to try and didn't in 2013 was outdoor yoga so hopefully I can find some opportunities for that in 2014. Yoga on the beach anyone? 

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