Monday, September 6, 2010

ESSENTIAL: Today is Austin Free Day of Yoga.

Do you guys do yoga? 

I am convinced that yoga makes you a better person. It's true. It makes you forgive your body for its limitations, and in turn, makes you more forgiving in general. Take my hamstrings for example. They are so tight that I can't touch my toes. Which would normally make me embarrassed, but in yoga, you hold poses for so long that eventually I have to give up my silent vendetta against the tightness and just say, "it's ok, I forgive you hamstrings." And then I can stretch a little deeper.

Yoga also makes you more vulnerable, which is good for all of us, but especially those of us who walk around feeling mostly competent, most of the time.  A while back I took a naked yoga class, and afterward a guy in the class revealed that that that, this particular session, was his very first yoga class EVER.  Can you imagine?   

That is some serious vulnerability.

Anyway, I have tried lots of yoga in my day, and even taught it at one point. Don't be too impressed, because like the hamstrings, I am still a stiff grandma in certain poses. But here in town, out of bikram yoga, all-women's yoga, naked yoga (I really need to tell that story sometime), hatha yoga, 24 Hour Fitness yoga, hot yoga, outdoor yoga, and many other yogas I've probably forgotten, there is one studio that is consistently amazing, and you get to try it for free today.

It is Dharma Yoga, and it is on Guadalupe. It is one of the few places in town (besides Yoga Yoga) that offers teacher training, and it is very Buddhist in its approach. You know how I'm cuckoo for Buddhism these days.

Yesterday, during vinyasa, our teacher handed out a piece of paper with these words on it:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

What does that phrase mean to you?

When I read it, I immediately thought: "Oh, that's because the beginner gets so excitable about all these possibilities which are probably WRONG, while the expert can hone in on the CORRECT possibilities."

Very un-Buddhist of me.

As it turns out, that's not what the phrase means. Our instructor explained that the beginner's mind is open, ready to try new things without preconceived notions of how it all "should" go. The expert's mind, on the other hand, is much more narrow, because they approach everything in life assuming there's a right way and a wrong way to carry out operations.

Guess who walked into class yesterday with expert's mind!

Anyway, every single class I have been to at Dharma Yoga teaches me these little pearls of wisdom, because the founder, Keith Kachtick, and all of the instructors there teach class on a Buddhist foundation. That doesn't mean you have to BE Buddhist or know anything about Buddhism - it pretty much stays at the level of the quote above. 

Also, everyone plays excellent music at Dharma Yoga, which is a HUGE deal.  I can be wrecking house on the yoga mat, having the best time, and then the instructor pops in grocery store smooth jazz and it's all over.  "No - NO," I think, and then instead of holding half moon pose or forgiving my hamstrings, my mind gets all judge-y and pissed. Which I'm pretty sure are emotions opposite of yoga.

This kind of thing never happens at Dharma Yoga. It's a CD collection you can trust.

Austin Free Day of Yoga is happening today at tons of times and locations around town, and Dharma Yoga is participating. I really recommend checking it out. Keith said yesterday that Free Day is typically kind of raucous and crazy, since there are so many new people, but even so I think you will be enchanted. It's right on the Drag, so you get this feeling of being ensconced in a special, sacred cocoon, while the city rages outside.

Photo credits here and here.


Amanda said...

I just recently started going to Dharma Yoga in an attempt to stretch out between runs (signed up for the half marathon in February - this may not actually end up going down). I can't touch my toes either. Since I can't get my face down low enough to look behind me, I assume everyone else is imitating a pretzel while I look more like a pirate's plank. Comforting to know I'm not alone :)

In other good news - I *think* my kombucha mother has rallied and is once again afloat. Been gone all weekend, so the verdict will be passed when I get back.

amy said...

Yoga is good. It makes me feel good. It's just that I'm not that good at it, which is OK, because of the very zen-mindedness you begin to learn when you practice it, and realize that it's much more about the mind-body connection and all that deepness rather than winning a race or lifting a certain amount of weight, etc. Uh, I'ma need to interrupt myself for a moment. NAKED yoga? Yes, you definitely need to tell that story. Did you borrow the mats? Was it safer at the back of the room or the front for down dog? Were all the lights out in the spirit of Dating in the Dark? I have so many questions.

P.S. Love the hipstamatic!

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Amanda - First of all, HOO-RAY for your resurrected mother! I am so proud of you. That's the thing about this kombucha stuff - cultures are unpredictable. That's because they are ALIVE, and, here in the U.S. at least we're unused to ingesting things that are still living. So I'm not surprised she rallied. Let me know how she turned out?

And secondly, I have been running a bit more too, and it is magical.

@Amy - Haha no kidding right? I've thought about pitching that story to a fitness mag or something, because it was such an unusual and cool experience. Anyway, the class took place in a circle, so down dog wasn't as big an issue (LOL- thank God). It was dim but definitely not dark, and speaking of definites, people brought their OWN mats. The instructor was totally sweet and awesome, which makes a BIG difference. In any yoga class I mean, but especially one where you are not wearing any clothes and need to feel as safe/comfortable as possible!!

Katie said...

I miss yoga and need to get back to it...possibly more for my mind than my body???

Um, naked yoga needs a post soon. Very intriguing.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Katie - Girl, let me tell you what, each Dharma Yoga class is like THERAPY. So yes, it is fantastic for your mind. But, both Ross and I (he went with me to vinyasa) woke up sore! So rest assured, it'll work that body too.

Moody Girl said...

Ack! I missed the free Yoga. Oh well, thanks to the picture you posted, I did do a version of the Cat Balancing on Your Butt pose at home. It didn't work out so well. I was not nearly as graceful about it and balancing dogs is not as easy I'm afraid.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Moody Girl - I imagine dogs, even small ones, are entirely too floppy. :) Love the visual image, haha

Texanthropology said...

Naked yoga??!!?! I am intrigued/terrified and demand to know more.

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