After we arrived back home, I was quickly able to settle back into my routine of classes at the gym. This wasn’t the case after trips in the past, where I often was out of equilibrium for a week or more after arriving home. Things were feeling different now.
I was reading more too, working through the books and discovering Elephant Journal online. Reading what others experienced help me understand and articulate what I was feeling.
Before long, I decided I should look at studying at a studio. It certainly wasn’t for lack of options or good instruction at my gym – there was more than enough classes on the schedule and I really liked my teachers. But I guess I was curious about the studio experience, and I started to look at options around town.
The studio closest to home was Dharma Yoga, just a block away from Hecky’s Barbecue. Needless to say, I was already plenty familiar with Hecky’s. There were other studios, but Dharma was the frontrunner due to location – easy walking distance.
In any event, I studied the Dharma site, reading about the philosophy, instructors and class schedule. Pricing looked kind of steep, at $17 for a drop-in class and working down to $13 or so for a package of 10. I wasn’t convinced, and if I liked it, would I then get rid of the gym membership?
Thank goodness for the Groupon. I’ve never used one before, but I found Dharma had a group of 30 classes for $89. I’ve always shied away from Groupons because I thought they would result in crappy service, especially at a restaurant. I did the math, and found this to be a screaming value. And if I went to one class and hated it, I could be out the cost of a dinner out in the city and never go back for another class. Seemed an acceptable risk, so I took it.
I went to my first Hatha Yoga class at Dharma on Wednesday, Feb 12.
I found the warmth and personal touch to be a huge contrast from the classes at the gym. The instructor led some “om” chanting and had some more esoteric references, but I was hooked. And I sensed no difference in service due to the Groupon.
I went to my next class in the style of Dharma Yoga with a different instructor on Saturday, and got pulled in deeper. The asanas were well-explained and most were within my reach. Headstand, not so much. But this class went deeper with the chanting, and incorporated some mudras and pranayama practice at the end.
The pranayama practice involved an elaborate sequence of breathing exercises that involved closing one nostril at a time, inhaling, holding, exhaling through the other nostril and so on. When class concluded, the sun was out and teacher played some really uplifting tribal music. I’ve never felt so energized after a class, and felt a lasting peaceful feeling throughout the day.
The next day, I went to the gym and hopped on the cycle for a while. I put on the headphones, closed my eyes and listened deeply to Divided Sky by Phish (8/13/96 – Deer Creek, IN for those heads in the audience). Over the course of the song, I felt a rush of energy radiating up my spine from my tailbone to the top of my head. This was deeper than the goosebumps I sometimes found in the past during a great Phish jam. Strange things indeed were happening to my body. Oh, and I was sober too.
Not only had yoga lifted a block to reading, it had also helped me listen to – and really hear – the music again. Even better, I could pick up a half rack of ribs after practice every week.