I’m the guy who never enjoyed being sung to by Christmas Carolers. In fact, I’d jump down and hide behind the couch before ever being subject to such a thing. I mean, they’re all singing their hearts out and looking at you. What am I supposed to do? Have an awkard smile for however long the song or songs are sung? And since I don’t like being sung to, I don’t sing to others like that either. Its just not what I do.
I’ve led the Ashtanga invocation and closing, which is a long mantra. But I don’t do it often and its a struggle. For one thing, my classes are mostly women and I don’t have a very soprano voice. So finding a key that everyone is comfortable with is not easy. The same with Om’s. They are hard to find the pitch. I do enjoy it sometimes, but it is the only mantras I ever do.
So for Kirtan or anything like it, its not something I volunteer to do. Yeah, I’ll sing at church when there are a lot of people facing in the same direction and people can’t really hear me. I sing to myself all the time. I sing strongly while traveling. I used to sing cadence when I was a Drill Instructor and was pretty good at it. But those troops weren’t looking directly at my face (or I’d smoke them like a cheap cigar 🙂 ). So yoga singing is not something I enjoy.
Also, breath clearing or cleansing is not something I do. I love coffee in the morning. And as much as I’d like to say my breath is always minty fresh, coffee does something to it. So when you’re in child’s pose with your face on the mat and the teacher says, take a deep inhale into your back body and breathe out the mouth, I’m like "nah, I’m good". I always opt for my normal ujjayi breath instead. The same is true with Breath of Fire and other dynamic breathing (except ujjayi or Fire Breaths in Ashtanga). I just don’t enjoy mouth breathing most times.
Then there comes Body Pump in yoga class. Actually, I integrate a lot of things in my yoga. I teach Rocket Abs that is mostly Pilates based. But I still struggle with doing poses that look like Zumba Yoga. I mean, they say there are 80,000 asanas to choose from. Why do we have to make something up? Instead of doing Zumba, just do more yoga. But the main issue is my lower back. I know a lot of yogis who have back issues, so they are in the same boat. When I do a heavy squat or deadlift, I usually wear a weight belt. Competitive lifters use the valsalva maneuver where you take an inhale, hold your breath, lock down your core, and then do your lift. Then you breathe. Its how I was trained to save my back. More…
One time, I was in this Flex & Flow class, which is a Body Pump yoga style. We were in a forearm plank and the teacher had us rolling on our toes rocking our hips from side to side. And would’t you know it, my back totally went out. I didn’t think I’d be able to walk out of the room. And that led to a spiral of being bed-ridden for several days with about 3 months recovery. I’ve had similar or near misses when people had us go from Down Dog to hugging a knee to elbow. Instead of locking in your spine, you are rounding and releasing that control. So your spine becomes very vulnerable. I also don’t do a spinal roll to standing from a forward fold. Its just not smart for my spine. I lock it in flat and rise with strength. I’m ok with other people doing it, but I don’t do it in class nor do I ever teach these moves. I know there are people like me out there.
My last one is savasana with loud music. I know of some teachers who actually make the music louder once we get to savasana. I mean, isn’t it meant for peace and bliss? I don’t get the need to make it loud. You don’t turn up sound when you go to sleep. I always forget to take ear plugs or sound proof muffs when I go to those teachers. We get to savasana and I’m like "oh rats!!" I only have a little soothing sound on to drown out any ambient noises outside of the studio. Or even for coughs and people shifting inside the room. Its kind of like white noise. But I def don’t play it loud.
We all have quirks and things we like and dislike. I’m sure there is a lot to like and dislike about my classes too. And I’m totally OK with our differences. I don’t often do a regular practice on my own. I’d rather have someone lead me. And it may mean I have to do things I’m not comfortable with (to an extent). I just do my thang and we’re all happy.
Peace out, friends!!