Fiana Anderson’s Intro to Yoga
One of the things I like about this gig of searching out spiritual experiences is that I can tailor each week’s column to what’s going on in my life. This week, which has been a bit of a staycation for me, I’ve been suffering from flu-like symptoms caused by this wildfire haze. I literally spent Sunday and Monday in bed, slightly feverish and achy, getting stiffer by the moment.
I needed to loosen my muscles up and to get my head back together, so a gentle yoga practice was just what I needed. I’ve wanted to get over to The Studio, which is above the Scotland Yard Spy Shop, since they opened (formerly Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center). So I scoped out their schedule on their website, http://vajrastudio.org, and found a class that I didn’t think was going to be too strenuous for my weakened state.
I was quite pleased with what I found. The woman at the front desk signed me in and gave me a quick lowdown on what the studio has coming up, including some tantric training on Oct. 17; a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement class which began Aug. 25; and a visit by Simrit Kaur for an evening of Kirtan (a melodic version of chanting) on Sept. 12. More information about these events can also be found on the website.
While the class I attended was considered an introduction to yoga class, I could see that many of the people were experienced enough to move beyond “beginning.” Fiana Anderson began the class with breathing, the four-count in, four-count out that you often find in these sorts of classes. Throughout the hour-and-a-half class, she offered near-constant reminders to return to the breathing. After the centering type breathing, we went to Breath of Fire, which is a very quick inhale/exhale with one nostril pinched closed for 100 breaths. Then the whole process is repeated with the other nostril. The idea is to clear the sinuses and to balance the body and focus the mind. And it does focus the mind, as you’ll realize when you try to count 100 breaths silently.
Now, even though this was a beginning class, I could tell that Anderson was an experienced instructor, able to key in on weak points in posture and physicality. A quick glance at her bio on the website shows she has had an asana practice for 10 years and a dedicated meditation practice for one year. She has completed more than 800 hours of various yoga training and 500 hours of Swara mandala practice in India.
From the breathing, we moved on to various postures relating to the Sun Salutation, but we didn’t necessarily always go in order. Again, since it was an introductory class, the idea was more to learn the postures and techniques correctly, presumably so that the body would be prepared for the next steps into more formal yoga practice.
Since this is Filet of Soul, I’m always interested to see how an instructor handles the meditation period that comes after the postures. Not to generalize, but I’ve found that instructors tend to look at it as either a specifically physical relaxation or a physical relaxation with a meditation component. Some instructors will do kind of a guided meditation; some will just let you lay there.
Anderson’s approach was different than others I’ve seen. For one thing, even though the class went a bit long, she didn’t just skip the meditation. She didn’t offer a lot of commentary as we meditated, either, but as we lay there in corpse pose, she went around the room, applying pressure, adjusting postures, ensuring a deeper relaxation.
I think this is a great class for people who’ve been out of the yoga scene for a while, or who, like me, were just looking for a gentle practice for the day.MUSIC