Tag Archives: Ashtanga yoga

>Let’s get demonic: Going to the mat over yoga

>It would be tempting to dismiss the “Yoga ‘Demonic’?” story on the front of the Metro section in today’s Seattle Times as idiotic, but in truth, there is something demonic going on.

To recap: The influential pastor at the head of Seattle’s church for hip young born-agains, Mars Hill, said flat-out that yoga is demonic. He was giving local support to an essay by the president of a Baptist seminar that warned that yoga is contradictory to Christianity.

Jaws dropped.

Not mine. I’d been prepared for his argument, though I thought at the time the preparation was overkill.

Turns out that Susan (my yoga teacher, Susan Powter) was right.

She believes firmly that men do everything possible, at a political, cultural, societal, and family level, to prevent women from being healthy and fit. They load them down with kids, work, responsibilities, guilt — and then outright discourage them from eating right and taking care of their bodies.

“Oh, Susan,” I used to think, as she lectured on this topic while we lay on the floor doing yoga stretches and crunches, or did wind sprints and lifted weights, “isn’t this just a bit paranoid?”

Turns out, not if you’re a gal in the Mars Hill congregation. Can you imagine trying to get healthy and fit by taking two hours a week to get to a yoga class (“HOW DARE YOU!”)— and now your pastor is blasting you from the pulpit for engaging in demonic activity?

I’m particularly incensed because yoga is a great activity for women who have been utterly out of shape and want to get back into it. You can start with gentle stretching and core strengthening and later build yourself to aerobic fitness with Ashtanga or Vinyasa workouts. It’s low impact, it’s cheap — all it takes is a mat and you can do it in your living room.

And now it’s demonic, too! Does this mean I can skip my usual witch costume for Halloween and just go in my yoga outfit?

All I can say to the pastor of Mars Hill Church is “thank you!”

If I ever need motivation to stay strong and fit, and get to my yoga workout on a regular basis, I’ll just think about you and your ilk. Praise the Lord!

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>The freedom of routine

>My usual yoga group took a break for the month of April, so I got to try out some yoga classes at the Ballard Health club. I found an early morning class that was interesting, but too slow-moving for my taste, and some great late-morning classes that really challenged me.

Susan’s yoga classes resumed tonight (at a new studio) and I was delighted it. It was a fabulous workout.

I realized that a lot of what made it great for me was knowing Susan’s routines and thus being free to work to my capabilities within them. When I was trying to learn new routines at the health club, I didn’t want to get too far into a pose because we’d move quickly to some new, unknown pose (or series of poses) and I didn’t want to be off balance and slow to make the transition. As a result, it was difficult to get to the point where I could break a sweat. Though I did learn some wonderful new standing poses, including reverse warrior. How had I ever missed reverse warrior?

>Flow yoga

>Susan Powter stopped teaching her Fremont yoga class last month, so I’ve been back to belly dancing at Visionary Dance studios, taking the Power Belly class (belly dancing with a special weight belt) on Thursday evenings. I’m also doing Iyengar yoga at Taj Yoga at the Crown Hill Community Center on Mondays.

But I really miss the Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles of yoga that Susan was doing with us because they provide a tougher workout.

If you’ve read this blog much, you know that one of the biggest barriers to exercise for me is getting comfortable in a new class environment. A new studio. Strange classmates. A new teacher, with new terminology.

But somehow I got myself over to the Power Flow Yoga class at 11:30 a.m. at Ballard Health Club. Outstanding! The instructor, Carl, teaches the Baron Baptiste type of power vinyasa flow yoga; I’d read Baptiste’s book, but had never done one of the classes. I found it to be completely do-able, and I hope to become a regular on Sundays. I encountered a couple of new poses, including The Fish.

And I liked the studio at the Ballard Health Club. It’s underground, has a great sound system, and they dim the lights, and it’s very easy to forget the rest of the world and focus on the workout…er, the practice. Susan used to have us work out to rock and hip hop, which I loved. Carl uses Nick Drake-style indie pop tunes, and that was a pleasant surprise.

Ballard Health Club offers several yoga classes including Power Yoga Wednesday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons and Carl’s Power Flow Yoga on Sundays (late morning). The club also has a variety of payment options, including memberships, drop-in, etc., this some of the most affordable yoga in town.