I haven’t been able to attend evening yoga classes in a while, but yesterday I managed to make it to 7:30PM Vinyasa Flow at Bliss. I’d gotten held up in a late meeting at the office, so I arrived at the studio about 5 minutes after class had started, but luckily, before sun salutations.
Because it’s been so long since my last evening class, I noticed a marked difference in how my body feels during morning and evening practice. In the mornings I’m usually tighter and I get winded faster (really not a morning person), whereas last night I found it easier to sink into my forward folds, my downward dog felt great, and I was able to keep up with Minh’s relatively challenging routine (she had us do Warrior III, standing split AND ardha chandrasana almost consecutively!).
Conversely, even though my stamina was better, my flow was not as smooth. I’m not sure if this was a consequence of having missed the first few minutes of the session (when Minh usually has us do some pranayama), but I struggled to keep my breath and my movements synced. During morning classes it’s usually not an issue for me.
But the most notable difference between morning and evening practice is the aftereffects. After a morning class, I feel refreshed and energized, ready to face a long day; after an evening session, I feel relaxed and serene, purged of the stress that built up after a long day (I also sleep better afterward!). I love how yoga has these different but equally positive effects on me, and I hope to get more opportunities to practice in the evening, for a more balanced set of benefits.
Back when I was in college and choosing which classes to take, I came to believe that ultimately, it’s the teacher that makes or breaks a class. I didn’t mind a crappy schedule or unairconditioned room or even a difficult syllabus, as long as the teacher was good and I really learned from him/her.
I now find that the same thing goes for yoga: the teacher’s experience and expertise make all the difference. Regardless of how groggy I am in the morning, or how stifling the studio is, I get the most out of my practice when the teacher is someone who builds a well-balanced sequence, conveys cues clearly, checks and corrects students’ alignment, consistently encourages the class, and altogether fosters an atmosphere of positive energy.
I recently attended a Vinyasa Flow class where the guest teacher (presumably a newbie) either forgot or neglected to do a set of asanas on one side, leaving me feeling a bit lopsided and bitin afterward. This was a far cry from the previous class I’d attended, with Monique of Bliss. Even though it was a Gentle Flow class, it was still challenging and pushed me to find my edge. I emerged from class both refreshed and revitalized, in spite of waking early on a Saturday morning.
I really appreciate my teachers at Bliss and how they do their best to make each class a physically rewarding and spiritually uplifting experience. I am always made aware of their love of and respect for yoga, and their willingness, even eagerness, to share the gift of yoga with everyone. More than the convenient location of the studio (right behind my house!), I keep coming back to Bliss for the teachers, and how they continue to inspire me and help my practice deepen and grow.