It seems that Pura Vida Yoga is the closest Iyengar studio to Coral Springs at 17 miles away, so Kim and I chose this studio for our first re-visit. With rush hour traffic and delays, it took us 45 minutes to arrive at the 9:30 AM class. I wish there were Iyengar teachers closer to home! Nevertheless, today’s experience was wonderful. We received 90 minutes of friendly, articulate instruction and observation from Susie, the studio owner. She was so friendly and approachable, we each decided to buy a 5-class pass. Once again, I was totally humbled. We worked on only a few postures today, but they were so much different than the way I perform them in other classes. I’m used to finding a pose, correcting any major misalignment, holding for a little while, then moving on. In Iyengar, that’s just the beginning. Each pose is refined through a slew of detailed instructions for muscle engagements, internal rotations, external rotations, lifting, pulling, letting out, shifting the weight… making each pose a practice of concentration and effort, but the reward is strength, length and space! I was sweating for sure and sometimes reminding myself to breathe.
Susie stopped the class three times to gather us around one student for demonstration. For the first two, she highlighted their poor alignment, which was educational, but I felt bad for those students called out for their wrongness. When I suddenly became the third person put on display, I was nervous because she’d already corrected me a few times in other postures. To my surprise, she wanted the class to look at my Gate Pose because I was doing it “beautifully,” “without ego” and in my “cute pants” it was easy to see my muscles engaged optimally. Yeah!! Afterwards, I asked her about Gate pose because she instructed the foot of the extended leg perpendicular to the short edge of the mat, not parallel like I have been taught and teach. This was new and challenging for me! But apparently my hips liked it. I’m thinking Iyengar might even solve some of my chronic tightness and occasional aches and pains. We’ll see!
I’m still a little curious why Iyengar teachers push bodies into poses, and don’t offer modifications more often. As the teacher manipulated one student on display who was doing something wrong, she pushed and pulled until the student said, “hey, stop, you know I could break.” Wow. I know that Iyenger is generous with props, but what about postures that can’t use a prop? For example, in Warrior 2, she insisted that we all sink our bent knee to 90 degrees, thigh parallel to the floor, and even told us how her Iyengar teacher would sit on that thigh to make sure it was parallel to the floor. Yipes! We all sunk as far as we could, even the elderly in the room, and she didn’t sit on anyone. In the opening of class, she brought us all into a seated pose with hands in prayer gesture behind our backs. Ouch! I could only grasp my wrist today. Luckily, I told her my right shoulder was in discomfort today so she didn’t insist that I connect my palms back there. Good, because I just couldn’t.
Regardless, I’m looking forward to coming back to Pura Vida Yoga. I really like Susie & Kerry and have enjoyed both of their classes. I like the students, too.