Even flow

Evening flow yoga with Jackie McDonald

Hold that pose: Yoga Shack instructor Jackie McDonald does a handstand. For class times and descriptions, check out <a href=www.yogashack.com.">

Hold that pose: Yoga Shack instructor Jackie McDonald does a handstand. For class times and descriptions, check out www.yogashack.com.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Sometimes I feel like an imposter in the halls of spirituality. I wonder if other people feel this way. I’ve occasionally boasted about how I’m able to use this column and my spiritual practice to work conveniently within my life, but I think a lot of true believers feel that view is antithetical to real worship. In other words, the person’s life must work within the spiritual practice—even when it’s not convenient. In other words, a person must be Christian or Muslim or Jewish or whatever and not skip around as I do. They must declare an allegiance, not be lukewarm.

I see a bit of the same thing within yoga practices. It seems many people choose a studio and stick to it, never checking out the other studios—more than just brand loyalty. But that’s just my impression. But more to my point, it seems as though when someone starts practicing yoga, if they don’t get obsessed with it, they’re considered somehow lukewarm.

I ruminate along these lines because of the notable absence of this attitude at the Yoga Shack. (You’ll recall I said I was going to visit last week before I got conscripted by the intriguing Christian study group, the Lab Rats.) I got in there, and everyone was really friendly toward me, chatting and taking my $12 drop-in fee. True, I was headed into a “beginners’ class,” but I didn’t get that exclusive vibe at all. Weird, because Yoga Shack has the reputation for being a home for the city’s very disciplined practitioners.

At any rate, perhaps because of the change in the weather, there were only two of us to take the Evening Flow class with instructor Jackie McDonald. The class went from 7 p.m.-8:15 p.m. on Monday evening.

The lights were kept low in the studio, which is above Blue Moon Pizza and the Biggest Little City Club at 188 California Ave. The proximity to the noisier businesses below intruded slightly into the practice, but not enough to be a distraction.

McDonald is a patient teacher. She moved us through the various asanas (postures), which were mostly variations on the positions used in the sun salutation, which is kind of the foundation series for yoga. When I went astray, once or twice confusing my left and rights (easier than you’d imagine when you’re all twisted around), she’d gently correct me either with words or pressure to bring me into alignment. At one point, my shoulders were off the ground, and she put pushed them flat, sending a ripple of stress-easing pops up my spine. “That’ll be $30 for the chiropractic visit,” she joked.

Now, as I’ve said many times in this column, I believe savasana is the whole point of yoga. I’m not the only person who says this, people far more expert on the topic have told me as much. McDonald told me after class that she originally approached yoga as a strength-building, limberness-enhancing exercise but has more recently come to believe it’s all about the preparing the body and mind for the meditation at the end.

She approached the savasana from a point of view I haven’t seen in Reno’s yoga offerings. I found it in line with my top two or three yoga instructors in town. And since she did such a good job through the prior yoga practice, I was in that meditation headspace, so I’m unable to remember very clearly what she was saying in her “guided savasana.” But the second half of it went something like “breathe into the space between here and the mountains,” “breathe into the space between the mountains and the ocean’s coast,” and so on until we were breathing into the space between the galaxy and universe. And then she incrementally returned us.

I like this class and this teacher. I think if beginners are willing to be a little lukewarm and try out a new instructor, they just might find this one worth visiting.