Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Window Opening - My Yoga Journey Begins!

I've practiced yoga for many years, but being my son's only parent it was often difficult or not even possible to attend classes, and sometimes I would let my home practice slip as other things demanded my time and attention. A few years ago, however, I rededicated myself to the practice and strove to embody the philosophy behind yoga. This varies depending on style, of course. For me, I want the calming peace that yoga practice brings. Slower, more deliberate poses, challenges, focus on breath and breathing, a state of mind I could take outside of the yoga studio and into the world. I wanted to, as the wonderful book by Judith Hansen Lasater describes, live my yoga.

Though this was going well, I wanted to attend regular classes at a yoga studio. I needed to watch and learn from others. I also wanted - and needed - the camaraderie of fellow students. There are several styles of yoga and I've experimented with many of them. At the end of the day, however, I come back to Hatha yoga  as the style that most calls to me. The gentle shift between poses, focus on the meditative aspects and breathing, and the smooth flow of a typical Hatha yoga style class appeal to me. So when our summer plans changed (post on this coming soon!) I decided to look for the open window instead of at the closed door, and began taking classes at The Matworks Studio, right here in my own hometown!

Borrowing from the website, "Debbie Harvley, founder and director of Mat Works Yoga, is a certified yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She has been a student and teacher of Hatha Yoga since 2001...She teaches an eclectic mix of yoga with influences of Vinyasa Flow, Iyengar, Yin and Restorative.

Debbie helps her students discover, as she did, the amazing effects of yoga on the physical body as well as uplifting the mental and emotional states of being. She utilizes a more holistic approach to healing with yoga as her guide and a personal determination to make a difference in her own health and well being."

Thursday night, I was able to attend my first class. It was wonderful and being back at The Matworks, where I had practiced on occasion years before, was great. The new location is lovely and the teacher for this class, Bess, immediately put me at ease with her kind disposition and a sense of 'realness' that she maintained throughout the class. As the other students began to arrive, there were hellos, introductions, and refreshing, lively banter. I knew I was with a good group!

We gathered supplies and settled in to begin the class. I had a great position in the large, open room which gave me a nice view for asanas!

The salt lamps reminded me of our recent getaway to Asheville and the decor was relaxing and peaceful. Bess began class and led us through beginning poses. I really enjoyed her teaching style and how she encouraged us to take our poses a step further, if desired, and showed us the way to do it (for those who wanted to try). I was delighted when she demonstrated the Crow pose, which I've wanted to master for a long time, by showing the basic flow of steps that lead up to this pose. I'd never seen it presented that way and it really flowed together well. Though I did not attain it Thursday night, I know now how to prepare to!

From Warrior Two pose, she reminded us to hold our positions by saying, "Don't lean back into the past, don't lean forward into the future. Stay here, in the present." How often I need that reminder, in poses as well as in life! 

The last few minutes of any yoga class are some of my favorite moments. The relaxation poses, meditation, the wind down. This is where I embody what I've learned and prepare to take my yoga out into the world. Bess made sure to give us plenty of meditative 'winding down' time. Very peaceful moments after a fairly strenuous class!

 Something The Matworks offers to the community as well as yoga classes is a yoga store! I enjoyed perusing the goods after class. I especially liked the delicate patio chimes. I believe I'll be adding these to my own patio soon!

So if you are in my area and interested in Hatha yoga classes, please join me at The Matworks Yoga Studio located at 463A Calhoun Avenue here in Greenwood. I'm looking forward to continuing my practice here as I begin my own study towards yoga teacher training, something I'm very excited about and have long felt called to do!  The Matworks current class schedule is available here and also at the studio! 

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