30 days of yoga classes in Toronto
Part 4 of a 4-part series
I finished my 30-day Yoga Challenge at Lila Yoga Studio, Toronto, on Monday, March 19 — finished as I started, with a class by owner and yoga teacher Shelly Rowen. I am proud to say that I never missed a day. There were days I didn’t want to go — the sun was shining or I was tired or I just didn’t want to face myself — but I went, and I did the yoga class with those thoughts and feelings. Yoga is not about being a specific way; it is not about being perfect, or looking like the cover of a magazine, or feeling calm and compassionate at all times. At the ashram I go to in India, there’s a sign that says, “All life is yoga.” And that’s what I experienced during my 30-day Yoga Challenge.
To read about my last 10 days, and what I learned and gained from the experience…
I was feeling particularly stiff for my Day 21 Saturday morning Hatha class with Shelly, and she had us doing twists and seated forward bends early on in the class. I’m a died-in-the-wool Vinyasa yoga student, I guess, so I like to warm up before getting stretchy with Surya Namaskar (sun salutations). I know it’s a different philosophy, and also probably depends on your body, constitution, etc., but I like to warm up my muscles, especially in the morning. Instead of judging the class and being miserable, though, I came up with a mantra to get me through: “Don’t be right, be light.” It worked! I said it in my mind, and relaxed a lot. Day 22 was a close call. The weather was beautiful and I was happily at home when I noticed it was 4:01 p.m. — class started at 4 p.m. I grabbed my hairband and literally ran out the door — but thank goodness I live so close. I made it on time, believe it or not, to Sahara’s Flow Yoga Class — a class I hate to miss. Flow Yoga just rings all tension and crumminess of just about every kind out of me, and I always sleep like a baby on those nights. Monday night Hatha Restorative with Shelly is another class I look forward to. The Day 23 class was everything a restorative should be. I loved the long, intense leg stretching and snuggling under the blanket. Happy day.
How do I love Flow Yoga, let me count the ways! Day 24 was perhaps my best class of the entire month. Janice did a great job with the flow, she’s a truly lovely teacher, and I even liked the modern music she played (seemed like she raided my collection!). But best of all, I moved, I flowed, I didn’t feel restricted. Great class. On Day 25 I enjoyed the class that Shelly “built” on a very intelligent series of postures that led deeper into the movements, into the body. When getting snuggled up for Savasana, I suddenly realized it was like nap time in kindergarten, which made me giggle. Very satisfying class. But of course every day is different and on Day 26 I didn’t want to go to yoga AT ALL. I felt fragile and vulnerable and didn’t want to do any standing poses, so I stayed on the floor for most of the class. Was thinking about whether rigid discipline is worth it…
In the home stretch! Wasn’t going to go to class on Day 27, but I ran into Shelly in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood, and went with her to Jill’s restorative class — and was I ever glad I went! It was a very creative class, and all the postures stretched and relaxed the spine and hips. Yummy. And then I had a subtle but profound release in my diaphragm/stomach area — and I breathed in and really felt my stomach for the first time in years. It has been held by a knot of tension, apparently. Day 28 was Shelly’s classic Saturday morning Hatha class — and I think it was my favourite Shelly class ever as we did many rounds of slow-paced, delicious sun salutations, which really got everything moving. Day 29 was one of my favourite never-miss-classes, Sunday Flow with Sahara. I notice a nice community building up around this class. It was a great class and I was able to notice the progress I’ve made in a month: I moved into the flow immediately, without even noticing. Finally, Day 30, Restorative Hatha with Shelly. I was just so thrilled to have made it without missing a class to Day 30 that I don’t even remember the class! I remember the deep savasana, and holding up my arms in victory at the end, and then feeling mixed emotions as I left the studio … a sense of achievement, but also sadness that my daily routine was ending…
Summary and benefits
I’ve been thinking about the benefits I received from doing the Yoga Challenge and I think there are essentially three:
- The most profound is that by moving every day in a yoga class, I really stirred up my energies, and the spillover effect was remarkable. Many things started to change in my life, and move in a very positive direction — too numerous to mention them all here, but I will point out that I announced a change in direction for this blog within the last month, which is going to materially affect my life!
- The physical benefits are also profound. I was feeling very stiff, sore and stuck; unable to get moving; gaining weight; feeling sluggish. Yuck. The regular yoga got me moving — and how. It didn’t cure all of my aches and pains — my left hip is still funky — but it made me feel a WHOLE LOT BETTER, and much more positive about life in general.
- It was a wonderful social experience. I loved being part of a new studio, and experiencing all of the classes, and seeing a lot of the same students week in and week out — right in my neighbourhood. Shelly has created a very special studio with sincerity and integrity, and a light touch. I feel blessed to have Lila Yoga Toronto in my life.
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