Mind, body, soul

Tibetan Heart Yoga

Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center is an uncommonly soulful business.

Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center is an uncommonly soulful business.

Photo By David Robert

When searching for varieties of religious experience in Northern Nevada, I feel it’s more important to go deep than broad. It’s almost too easy to scan the streetscape as I go through my day-to-day life, looking for religious iconography. It would be simple to write about a new church every day, let alone every other week. I guess until spirituality becomes part of your everyday life, it’s difficult to see what a fundamental thread the soul is in the community fabric.

That said, Hunter and I almost ended up at Bully’s to examine the soulfulness of the crowd watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. I’m glad we didn’t, as we ended up at the Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center, above the Scotland Yard Spy Shop on Virginia Street. This was Hunter’s first “real” yoga class—we’ve done DVDs at home before—but really, on Sunday, I was most interested in the meditation aspects of the yoga practice. Coincidentally, instructor Sarah Class is a student of Tibetan Buddhism and a teacher of Tibetan Heart Yoga.

The foyer itself is upscale. It’s businesslike and of darker shades and a cool vibe with the trickle of water. The usual accouterments were in evidence, cubby holes for shoes, yoga mats for sale, comfortable seats. I don’t really know the science behind yoga studio design, but somehow, like libraries, they manage to create a meditative space. We were greeted by Kate at the front desk, where we signed in as first-time visitors, and she took our $25 for 2.

As we entered the yoga studio itself, Class was preparing a white, dry-erase board with a chart that basically showed the concepts we would be applying to our yoga practice and mediation. I’m going to be pretty superficial in my description here—mostly because I didn’t take a notebook into the studio, and I don’t want to misrepresent what Class said. Before the class began, she went around and mentioned everyone’s name, introducing everyone in the class. I believe there were five women and three guys.

Basically, the idea was to emphasize the body’s five winds and, through the poses, to allow them a direct channel out of the body. Each wind has an associated color, god, emotion and chakra (or set of chakras). The idea is that the world outside our corporeal bodies is a reflection of what’s within, and we can release things like anger, jealousy, greed, desire and pride. If we successfully exorcise them, the world outside our bodies will show less of those negative things in it.

Following a chant, we began our practice with a short guided meditation, maybe 10 minutes, in which Class discussed the concepts I just mentioned (a sermon, if you will), asked us to concentrate on our minds’ eyes, and included breathing exercises during which we visualized glowing light beams coming in and out of our nostrils and ending/beginning in our minds’ eyes.

The Tibetan Heart Yoga, at least as I saw it practiced that day, is a flowing-style yoga in which one asana fluidly moves into the next. There were a lot of strength and balance poses, most of which were beyond Hunter’s and my unpracticed skills. Class was a patient and kind instructor, occasionally correcting the broadest mistakes in poses.

We ended with relaxation, savasana, while Enya’s “Only Time,” played. Class walked among the students making adjustments. At least I assume she did. I went to that savasana place, and when she came to me, pushing my shoulders into the mat, I opened my eyes, and just for a shocked second, I didn’t recognize her or know where I was.

It’s hard to say where a person may go when they’re avoiding the Super Bowl and Super Bowl parties. An hour and a half practicing Tibetan Heart Yoga with Sarah Class is a pretty good place to find yourself.