Corpse Yoga

This morning I decided to take a Hatha Yoga class at my gym. I’m generally leery of Hatha Yoga classes because they are too light for me, but it is Sunday, so I figured I’d give my body a day of rest. Boy. Did I ever.

My first clue that this Hatha Yoga class would be particularly gentle was that the instructor looked like a kindly middle-aged kindergarten teacher, with a matronly bosom and soft belly. My second clue was that the first pose was Savasana. The second pose was Savasana. Then we lifted our legs, and then Savasana. Then we twisted our knees from left to right, and then Savasana. Then we did some mini-crunches, and then… guess what? 15 minute Savasana! We didn’t get off our backs the whole 60-minute class.

Don’t get me wrong. It was very relaxing and meditative, and the teacher was quite skilled at evoking a meditative state of mind. I liked the cleansing breaths, the nonpressured atmosphere, and the slow movement. The class seemed well suited for many of the older and out-of-shape participants.

After the class, I heard the instructor explaining that she is an Arhum Yoga instructor. Arhum yoga is a sect of yoga that emphasizes breathing, meditation, sound vibration, and focused energy. Its Westernized name is “Pathways” yoga, and the teacher training takes place in New Hampshire, meaning there are many instructors in New England. Most of the class seemed to really enjoy the slow movement and breathing, but as I left the room, I did see one young woman doing vigorous sun salutations.

I like to feel my muscles stretch and strengthen. I like to move. I sit on my butt 40 hours a week… I don’t need to lay on my back for an hour, barely moving my legs. So I felt compelled to work out for 45 minutes on an elliptical while watching an edited episode of the Sopranos on a cable channel. All that relaxation evaporated in a cloud of TV violence. Tonight, I’ll probably do a power yoga DVD.



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