Back before Christmas, I started going back to the yoga studio I went to a few years ago, Laughing Lotus. I really do like yoga even if I’m not the most bendy person in the world. I like the challenge of it – trying to keep my mind basically out of the way and just BE. And it can be fun and playful.
LL is definitely that – from the NYE celebration to yoga in the new year to Sunday evening classes led by the founder where we’d go through a series of poses a couple of times and then set free to play as we wished for 5-10 minutes. But at the same time, even from class to class with the same teacher but definitely between teachers, there isn’t really a set pattern. A teacher might decide they want to work on the fourth chakra one day and the second another. Not that that is a totally bad thing – keeping your body guessing can be a good thing. But I found that as much as I loved that, I really seemed to be wanting something with a little more structure, a little more of a regular rhythm to it – something where I could really see growth throughout my practice.
I started looking around. Bikram definitely has the exact sequence thing down – it doesn’t take much investigating to find that no matter where you go or who the teacher is, if you’re taking a Bikram class you know the pattern. The ultra high temps and discouraging of drinking water also scared me off of that particular school.
But I found something that seemed to be, at least on paper, exactly what I was looking to try. Hot, but not as ridiculously hot as Bikram – and drinking water is encouraged. Playful, but with a structure – there can be an arc, but there are basic poses and a general arch every class will have. And good comments from “regular” people about it. Here in the US it’s called Modo Yoga – in Canada it’s called Moksha Yoga.
I decided to wait until after Goofy to try it out – taking advantage of their $40 unlimited month for new people. I bought my month on Thursday and took my first class on Thursday night. It’s a great little studio – the floors are cork in the practice rooms and something else (I think recycled tires?) in the “lobby” area. They have a “trade for yoga” program where you can work a 4-hour shift once a week cleaning, washing towels, etc. in exchange for unlimited yoga.
The class was great – they have mat spaces marked out on the floor and have a limit on the class size to fit the practice rooms as laid out (I’d had a class or two at Laughing Lotus where the mats were pretty much literally touching each other – not super comfy for someone who isn’t bendy and who isn’t always balanced). The first thing I noticed is that people enter the practice rooms and set up, and then they might stretch a little but pretty much go directly into savasana (corpse pose) and the class begins from there – none of the handstands, headstands, standing splits, etc. that you can see in other studios – very intimidating for non-bendy newbies. The practice rooms are also silent spaces (other than the teacher of course, though they do have a silent class – not trying that for a while if ever! Ha!), so you can immediately start to zen out without all kinds of chatter going on around you. Randy, my teacher Thursday evening, said right from the beginning that this was our practice, so if we felt we needed to take child’s pose or savasana and/or drink water at any time, we should listen to our body. There was none of the chanting or mini-sermon/reflection that starts the classes at Laughing Lotus – that isn’t necessarily bad, but I kind of like just getting into it. He led us through the general sequence of poses in Modo – some standing, some balancing, some floor-based. At various points between poses he would have us go back into savasana for a moment or two – and he’d actually turn the ceiling fans on briefly just to send a cooling breeze across the room. Lovely. At final savasana, we were invited to stay as we needed, but when we got up, to be mindful of our neighbors. Randy then sang part of a song to us, which was really cool.
Friday was with Michael, and it was just as good. That one was 60 minutes rather than 75, but still felt great. Saturday I did an hour class with Zoe, and she was awesome. I was struggling with dancer’s pose a lot because at Modo you’re supposed to grab the inside of your foot, and I wasn’t getting it (maybe you’re supposed to grab the inside anyway, but I’d never been corrected for grabbing the outside before). I had my arm turned opposite from how it should be. Weirdly, with my arm and hand facing the correct way I got my right foor much more easily. But my left foot…I looked like a flamingo on crack or something hopping around. Zoe was going to get me a strap, but we were done with the pose at that point. When class finished, she saw me in the lobby and apologized for not getting back to me with it. I said it was ok – I’d be in her class today. And she said for me to get there a little early and between her class before the one I was taking and the one I was taking and she’d show me how to use it for dancer’s pose and also for bow pose. And she did! 🙂 I still need to work on it, but that’s why it’s called a practice. We do “om” in Zoe’s class at the beginning and end, but that’s cool. Today we even heard the group in the other studio doing oms after we did. Haha!
I’m really loving it. I love that there is a series of poses to learn and that you can know the general arc a class will take even if there can be some variations from time to time. I actually do love practicing without music. And yeah, surprisingly I actually love coming out of class soaked in sweat – and taking up every available hanging space in my apartment to get things ready for the next day. 🙂 I’ve already chatted a bit with some of the people who work at the desk – it’s nice to get a friendly smile when you sign in – and for them to ask about your practice as you’re putting your shoes back on. One of them I’ve talked with is a teacher in training, and she said they are actually encouraged to go to other studios and take classes to learn and deepen their practice. I really like that – it’s not completely insular. I also love the outreach things the studio does.
So…yes, it’s early days, but I really think I’ve found my studio “home” for my yoga practice. Not to say I won’t occasionally pop back to Laughing Lotus – but with Modo that’s ok. I’m even considering the “energy exchange” (trade for yoga) program to learn more about the studio and community…but we’ll see. I for sure will get the monthly membership if I don’t do the EE program. It’s that cool of a place! 🙂