Hire Tom
Mostly Mozart


Yoga Critic
Posted July 15, 2004

I went to Bikram's in Victoria. It was hot. It was sweaty. We were doing standing back bends in the first five minutes. I thought that was crazy.

People looked like they were trying very hard to make progress. The teachers encouraged us to "go back, go back, way back" and such. The one-way "dialogue" was timed to the second, amplified by a PA system, and full of promotional messages about how Bikram was going to solve all of our health problems. It felt more like a fitness training class than a yoga class. I liked it, in spite of the encouragement. I like sweating and stretching and being really hot.

I'm not sure whether it's a good way to learn to love oneself.

(People often wonder why I spend so much of my life doing ashtanga yoga, and what the benefit is. I think the benefit is the habit of being honest with myself and liking myself for who I am.)

I went to the Yoga Shala in Calgary. I haven't bothered to find out what a Shala is. This one is warm and inviting. Last week I did some instructorless practices early in the morning. They were quiet and peaceful.

I went back on Monday evening for "Mysore with Danielle." Maybe it was Tuesday. Danielle acts like she has lots of caffeine. She pulled on my arms to make them stretch further in prasarita padotanasana C. (Some instructors push in the opposite direction so I can find the muscles which will let me stretch further. That makes sense, although Danielle's way has instant gratification on its side.)

While I was doing a headstand, she explained to someone beside me that I kept "collapsing" because nobody had ever corrected me before. She also noticed that my hips were wrong in virabadrasana; "unfortunately" other teachers don't teach it properly. Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better about myself. I'd rather take responsibility for my own posture, though.

As I left, she said I would probably like her back bending workshop. I asked, "even better than Bikram's? 'Hi, welcome to yoga. Let's do standing back bends!'" I don't know whether she misunderstood that, but I misunderstood her when she said that "they come here for these workshops."

I went to the back bending workshop today. I guess I forgot to ask what it was about. For some reason I expected to learn how to do back bends better. I guess I should have figured out that I would just do back bends further, which is not necessarily what I need to do. It was nuts! We started with handstands and some sun salutations; then we did various back bends while Danielle pulled us further into them. People made some scary noises while Danielle was pulling on them.

I thought I was going to wreck my lower back by the end of the hour, but somehow I felt OK after a nice child's pose and savasana.

We did a spinal twist thing which was really fun but difficult to describe. Remind me sometime, and I'll show you.