Sunday, March 14, 2010

Baptiste Yoga by Liz Affa

Liz Affa

Baptiste Power Yoga

Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga describes it's practice as a challenging, flowing yoga practice that produces extraordinary results while being accessible to all levels and abilities. Vinyasa yoga is a practice that works with synchronizing the breathing with the movement of each pose. Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Studio in Boston, Massachusetts was founded by Baron Baptiste, a man who was born into a heritage of health and yoga. Baron is an international best-selling author, educator and international presenter. Baron's Vinyasa Yoga has a strong emphasis on bringing our own personal life stories into the practice. This form of Yoga brings in enlightening distinctions that transform our negative connotations from our stories into ways of building new possibilities for ourselves.
When I went to the Baptiste Yoga studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I attended a class called "Relax and Renew" on a Sunday evening. Before arriving at the studio, I was worried that I did not have enough experience with the practice of yoga and it would be difficult for me to keep up with the rest of the classmates. My worries soon disappeared upon my arrival, where I was greeted kindly and given a tour of the facilities. The studio had a very strong yet calming smell of in-scents throughout it's rooms and had very gentle lighting. This gave off a sense of complete comfort to me. One thing that did catch my eye, however, was the merchandise that was for sale near the front desk which lead me to start thinking about a Western approach to Yoga. While learning about the origins of Yoga and the different types of Yoga throughout this semester, I have found myself thinking frequently about Western culture and it's ideal lifestyle. Here in the United States, our lives focus on upholding an image of ourselves and obtaining material objects to enforce that self-image. The Baptiste Yoga studio had Sigg water bottles, various brand-name Yoga mats and Western Yoga magazines for sale. Even though I realize that this Yoga studio is a business and needs to make a profit, I could not help but think what Yogis from India would think of the commercialized products being manufactured and sold for their meditative way of life.
The studio where the class took place was a large room with many windows. The windows were covered in large curtains to block out all outside light. The room temperature was set to 90 degrees-Fahrenheit and the air was very moist. I was not aware that this studio specialized in Hot Yoga and was a little put-off when I found out that the class would be held in a very hot, sticky room. Once the class began, I realized how important the temperature was for the ideas we would be focusing on throughout the class. The warm temperature combined with the stretching allowed a new form of release for me because of how relaxed my skin was---I felt completely open.
The idea behind the class, "Relax and Renew", was to practice a series of slow, subtle stretches in order to calm the body and arrive into a state of peace. The teacher began to play soft, chanting music to help calm everyone in the class, which reminded me of the chanting that we actually perform in our Yoga: Theory, Culture and Practice class. I felt that listening to the chanting, instead of speaking it, was not as effective for me personally. Since I do not completely understand what is being said within these chants, I feel that the only way to feel a connection within them is to actually speak them while meditating and come up with my own meaning. Throughout our one hour practice, the teacher kept reminding us all that this class was to help benefit your state of mind and to feel completely refreshed and ready to bring on whatever tasks await us. We began the class while performing very simple stretches such as the Downward Dog and the Cat Stretch. These poses, along with synchronized breathing, really helped calm my body. When performing these stretches, it was important not to take the stretch too far---the point was to perform the stretch in a very subtle way so that it made the body feel good, not strained. Each pose was held for around three to five minutes causing the stretches to feel very rewarding when moving on to the next pose. When we moved onto to more difficult poses, such as the Pigeon Pose, the teacher gave us blocks to help us with balance and support. I, personally, really enjoyed using the blocks because I felt as though they really helped me get into the correct position and helped me stay there for the full duration of the pose. I feel as though the blocks are a great tool to help train your body as a beginner in Yoga but if I continued to practice, I would like to eventually move on from using the blocks. When the class was over, I felt as though I had just awoken from a very long and refreshing nap and I felt completely at peace with myself.
Overall, I felt the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga was a very good experience. I felt that this Yoga studio contains Middle-Eastern Yoga ideals and matches them with a Western approach. I also really appreciated how there was complete acceptance for me, as a new and inexperienced student of Yoga. The teachers and fellow classmates were very accepting of everyone creating a very peaceful atmosphere within the studio. If I were to continue practicing Yoga outside of school, I would definitely return to Baptiste for it's welcoming environment and and constructive classes.

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