I thought I would spend some time tonight discussing a recent yoga experience I had that left me truly inspired.
I grew up in Danville, IL. It was a great place to be a kid and I knew a lot of really incredible people there. It afforded me many opportunities as a high schooler. But it also has some pronounced disadvantages. I knew that once college ended and I stopped having long breaks to return home, I would only visit a day or so at a time to see family. I knew my social life in Danville would end abruptly.
Danville isn’t a bad place, but it also isn’t exactly on the cutting-edge or trendy side of things. So I was shocked when I found out that they were having a yoga retreat this year, in October. It happened to be the weekend before I was scheduled to attend my Level 1 YogaFit training, and I thought it would be a great warm-up to a weekend of training. It was that, and so much more!
The retreat was hosted by Gordon Alexander, who became interested in the martial arts while serving in the Army in the 1960s. His background is in Tai Chi, which inevitably led him to yoga. The day was from 8:30-5 and included six one-hour sessions. We broke for lunch and we were treated to a martial arts demonstration by some of Gordon’s yoga students. Lunch was great — soup and bread — and just the right sort of light meal to accompany a day of yoga.
The best part? The entire day was $20. TWENTY DOLLARS! For six hours of yoga with really amazing instructors, lunch, and networking with fellow yogis. I couldn’t really afford not to go.
I started the day with Kripalu yoga with Gordon. His flexibility really impressed me, and I can only hope to maintain that sort of strength when I’m his age.
Next, I went to a Yoga for Strength and Endurance class with Chuck Crosby from Indianapolis, IN. Chuck blew my mind. It was with his help that I came into the best tree pose of my life. He makes teaching look so easy, and I have to say I have borrowed some of my favorite cues from him. He kept an excellent flow going through class while still making me sweat.
My last class before lunch was Iyengar with Thom Adams from The Shanti Center in Terre Haute, IN. I know that this is the class that made me sore the next day! I had never experienced Iyengar before, but I was very impressed. Simply put, Iyengar focuses on just a few poses during one class, and you hold the poses for much longer and spend a lot of time focusing on your alignment in each pose. We did Warrior I, Warrior II, Triangle, and Side Angle/Extended Side Angle. I think a Vinyasa (flow) style class is more my style than Iyengar is, but learned a lot from Thom. If you read his bio at The Shanti Center, you’ll find out that he’s also a bodybuilder and a professor of mechanical engineering. So long stereotypes!!! He also has a tattoo of a unicorn on his shoulder…which was adorable, if distracting. ; )
After lunch, I took a Vinyasa class with Amy Luke of Heart Wisdom Yoga. It was the most standard class for me, a lot like the practice I get at my fitness class. I can’t find a website for Amy, or else I would share it with you.
I couldn’t resist – I went to Chuck’s class again next. He is just outstanding!
The last class I went to was Restorative with Rachel Burge. Let me tell you – after 5 hours of yoga (two of them being Yoga for Strength and Endurance!), I needed the restoration. Rachel did not disappoint. The last 30 minutes or so of her class we practiced something called wakeful sleeping, basically putting your body to sleep while keeping your mind engaged. Rachel led us through a stunning guided meditation.
All in all, I was so incredibly thankful for the opportunity of the Danville area yoga retreat. It was really unbelievable to spend the day with other yoga folks and get to experience so many different approaches to something I love. I left feeling so inspired by the people I met and so enthusiastic about my YogaFit training the following weekend. The Saturday I spent in Danville injected my practice with a dose of energy I really needed. I can only hope Gordon will organize the retreat again next year!