Exploring All the Yoga
By Trish Reyburn
I believe there is a yoga practice for everyone.
It may take some exploring to find the right one for you.
My explorations began with a video from the local library and soon enough I was looking for live classes in my area. In the 1990s, there were no yoga studios around me so classes were held in church spaces, school classrooms and gymnasiums. All of my first teachers received their training from the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, so there was a similarity to their teaching styles.
I received my first teaching certification at Kripalu in the year 2000.
I did more video practices at home when I discovered Power Yoga. This practice was much more vigorous and strength-building than what I had experienced before. I also took three years of Ashtanga Yoga locally without really knowing which style I was practicing. We did the same sequence each Thursday evening at the Odd Fellows Hall. I remember one steamy July evening when the heat was overwhelming and I opened a window only to be chastised by my teacher:
“We are building the heat on purpose!”
I practiced Baptiste Yoga, too, which built off the Ashtanga practice and included even more heat in the room. I had one particularly memorable practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the founder of the method. The floor of the room was taped so the mats were just inches apart. On the first sun salutation, I knocked the person next to me in the head because I wasn’t accustomed to folding with my arms forward. By the end of the class, I was beyond sweaty — I was slimy — with no place to shower.
Kundalini Yoga held my heart for a few years as well.
I loved the chanting during the practice!
I appreciated how there was a formula or recipe (kriya) to follow for certain health issues in Kundalini. When I was dealing with a major relationship break-up and exploring the world on my own, my dear teacher offered me a 40-day chant practice to dispel fear and it worked wonders!
I also took a short Vinyasa Yoga teacher training. Vinyasa is the linking together of breath and movement and it is more of a flowing type of yoga practice in which one pose leads to another in repeating patterns. Vinyasa Yoga invites more diversity of movements that change in each practice.
Another style I explored was Svaroopa Yoga, which is a seemingly gentle, alignment-based practice. Svaroopa uses props such as blankets and blocks to hold the body in place so the practitioner can relax fully into the pose. It differs from Restorative or Yin Yoga in that Svaroopa is mainly focused on releasing tension in the spine.
But it was the Anusara Yoga method that really stole the show for me.
Although I had practiced Anusara Yoga on and off since 2001, it took until 2008 before I was ready to leap into a teacher training.
The deciding moment occurred when I was in a weekend workshop with one of my esteemed teachers. He asked the group, “Does anyone know how to press up for handstand?” I shot my hand up exuberantly before I rethought what he had just asked. I thought he had meant headstand, not handstand! So, I humbly admitted that I could only press up from a headstand. He waved me up in front of the group anyway and encouraged me by saying, “Let’s try it anyway!”
We started in a forward bend with my feet wide apart on the mat and standing on blocks. My hands were placed on the mat below my shoulders with fingers spread wide. As he stood behind my back and held my hips, his first instruction was to lift my heels off the blocks. I did that and he asked me to start squeezing my legs together.
He respectfully placed his hands on my inner thighs and asked that I press into his hands. I did so and watched my legs lift effortlessly away from the blocks. I lifted into the handstand, which was great, although it was not my first time coming into the pose.
The real magic happened next, when I began to lower my legs. He still had his hands on my inner thighs and gave me the same instruction: “Hug your legs together as you lower them down.”
I should have landed like an elephant, but instead I landed like a swan, completely light and graceful in my movements. That blew my mind!
I was amazed, astounded and elated at the same time. A voice emerged from deep inside me that said,
“I MUST TEACH THIS METHOD OF YOGA!”
In today’s world you can find many different ways to practice yoga postures. Within every method you will find many teachers who bring their own style and voice to the practice. Some like it hot and others prefer a more meditative practice. Regardless of which type of practice you choose, commit to practice regularly, be it weekly, bi-weekly or daily. I hope it will make a difference in your life as it has in mine.
Video: Kundalini Chant
Aad Such – You are you. You are pure Truth since the primal beginning.
Jugaad Such – You will be you. You are pure Truth throughout the ages .
Hai Bhee Such – You are Truth, here and now.
Nanak Hosee Bhee Such – You, forever, shall be True.