Hello all!  Just a quick post to get back in the flow of things – no yoga pun intended 🙂

I have been taking what is now my annual (2nd year running) yoga teaching/blogging hiatus.  It is nice for me to have some time to step away from teaching and just practice yoga.  For these several weeks, I am never the teacher, but purely the student.  It gives me a new perspective, so that when I return to teaching, I can remember what it is like to be on the other side of the room.

This year it is a new experience also, because I am in a new town.  I have been sampling all that Wilmington has to offer on the yoga mat.  There are so many options in Wilmington for taking yoga, and I have not even hit all the spots yet.  I just wanted to speak to 3 separate experiences.

1.  Yoga at the gym

Normally, “gym rat” yoga, as it is known in many places, is not really my thing.  If you are my student, you know I like not only a physical practice, but a mental and spiritual practice  that yoga offers.  In gyms, many times it is only a physical experience and even then a very shallow one at that.  This is not always the teacher’s fault.  There are various reasons: types of students that attend, time limitations, lighting limitations, temperature in the room, noise from the rest of the gym and the list goes on.  It is hard to teach in a gym.  But, I have found a great class.  The teacher actually can control the temp of the room and she is offering the full package of yoga.  Now it still has its issues.  The lighting stinks so we basically practice in the dark and there are still “gym rats” that walk into the room in the middle of class after their run to “stretch”.  Can you believe I actually had someone sit their mat beside me about half way through class and then she proceeded to do her own warrior series while we were in savasana.  Can you say yoga etiquette??!!  The point is though the teacher does not let this throw her.  She is committed to providing a well-rounded yoga class that allows time for a physical practice as well as meditation, extended rest, chanting, and relaxation.  She is staying true to her yoga, and people are loving it.  Her class is full – in a gym – so that is a lot of people.  I always leave feeling I have gotten just what I needed that day and with a greater ease than when I came in.  She has created a little oasis of peace and relaxation in the middle of a busy gym.

2.  I visited the local hot yoga studio because they were running a special.  I preface this with I love hot yoga.  I love to sweat, and I love a physical challenge.  What I missed from this class was a connection to the teacher and to the community there.  The studio was HOT.  I was expecting this, but it was relentless heat – maybe 105 – and the humidity was crazy.  But, still that wasn’t the problem.  The studio has a set flow they teach.  They do not advertise this, and I many times tire of a set flow.    It seems to be a mix of Bikram, Baptiste, and maybe some others thrown together.  I cannot place the lineage and since the teacher has neither introduced herself to me or stays after class, I haven’t gotten a chance to ask.  But this still wasn’t my biggest problem.  My biggest problem with the studio is they do not get the whole class up together and close the class with salutation or a chant or anything.  They put you in savasana and then leave the room!  I had never experienced this before.  It left me feeling disconnected and incomplete.  I actually stayed much longer than anyone else to let myself feel settled before entering the world again.  BUT, they have a large following.  The room has been packed all 3 times I attended.  So, for some people this style of yoga must be working.

3.  Finally, I have been to local “power house yoga studio”.  By this, I mean they are the largest here by far.  They put out lots of yoga teachers through their trainings, they bring in big name yogis to teach workshops, and they have tons of classes all day long.  I have never been to a class there that I haven’t enjoyed in some way.  They have a variety of classes from restorative to hot to power vinyasa.  The teachers are always very well-trained, offer well-balanced classes, as well as meditation and relaxation.  I can tell the owner values the entire yoga experience as opposed to just a physical practice.  They have great temperatures, great lighting, cool setting, and lots of like-minded people in their community.  It creates a great vibe that makes you excited to practice and be part.  But, it is such a large community.  Crowded coming in and leaving.  People don’t seem to chat unless they have been in teacher trainings or workshops together.  The desk staff and some of the teachers introduce themselves but not always.  As a newcomer, I have not felt “accepted” into the community yet.

So, as someone who has been part of strong yoga community before, it has been hard to find the same flow and ease in Wilmington.  I am sure it takes time to make those relationships and connections.  What is interesting to me and what I wanted to share with you guys, is that the place I felt instantly at home and felt connected to my yoga, was in the very place I was expecting NOT to like.  I almost didn’t even attend any yoga classes at the gym we joined, because I fully thought I would not like it and not practice there.  Goes to show you what expectations can do to you.  If I had not tried yoga at the gym, my previous experiences and my stereotype of “gym yoga” would have prevented me from finding an awesome teacher and my best experience yet.  Lesson learned to lower my expectations and try things with a beginner’s mind.  I think that is a good, fresh perspective for living in a new town.  I should know this.  Yoga has taught me this time and time again.

What do you think about expectations?  Do they hold you back from something great?  Do they prevent you from finding happiness and fulfillment?  Or, maybe you think they help you and guide you in some way.  Maybe your experience has been different than mine.   Let me know your thoughts…