21 May 2012

The Baptiste Experiment

Last week, while on vacation, I wanted to try some different types of yoga. With four different studios within 10 minutes of home, there was ample opportunity to try something new.

Or so I thought.

Let’s just say that what was supposed to be a calm, relaxing week turned into a hectic stretch of days. It wasn’t until Friday that I could even consider going to a class. Even then, at noon last Friday, I wasn’t sure I would go even if the chance arose.

It was then that I told myself, “You will not get a better chance. Don’t be afraid. Find a class. Go. Now.”

I’ve driven by Indigo Yoga countless times in the six years it has been open. It’s three minutes away from our current home, and is a “Baptiste Affiliate Studio.” – meaning they teach the style of yoga founded by Walt Baptiste in the 1940’s and carried on today by his son Baron. All I really knew about it was: a) it is practiced in a warm room (though not nearly as warm as the Torture Chamber), and b) it involves postures I’ve never attempted.

Lucky me!! An “all levels” class would start in one hour. Thankfully, I had been much better about hydrating all week – just in case I could actually attempt a class. I grabbed my mat, towel, and water and headed for the door when that voice in my brain stopped me:

“Yoga? Really? After all this time, you want to go try more yoga? I thought we had this all straightened out. You realize you will look really stupid. You won’t be able to do much of it anyway. Look at you. You’re weak and flabby and you will be so self-conscious in there. You don’t really need to do this… Stay home. “

I have wanted to get back into a yoga room – ANY room – for too long. I pushed the fear and worry aside, jumped in the car, and went to the class.

The “lobby” at Indigo is very small – more of an anteroom than a lobby. The lighting was subdued and incense filled the air. I signed the necessary form, paid, and headed into the room. The room itself was large – even larger than my home Bikram studio. I could easily see 70- 80 people fitting in there. Pastel shades of blue on the walls, ceiling painted black, black ceiling fans hanging down, music softly playing – very relaxing indeed. Curiously, one side of the room had the fans on, the other did not. I took up a spot on the back row near the center (where there were no fans) and laid down in Savasana, just grateful to be in a warm, if not hot, room. There were around a dozen students, including two other men. The instructor, Kelsey, entered and got us up and began the class.


There was no Pranayama breathing to start. She just called everyone to Child’s pose and off we went. No stopping, No breaks between postures. No “party time”. It was, “Upward Dog”, then, “Down Dog”, then “High Plank, Low plank…” and on and on. I don’t mind saying I got lost pretty quickly. I hate to look around at other students but I had no choice because I didn’t know what was going on. My mind returned to that April night in 2009 when I took my first Bikram class – all flustered and bewildered and flushed with the heat. Thankfully, I started to catch on a bit and I really started to enjoy it. I got a good sweat going almost immediately. I did have to stop more than once because either I did not know what the posture was, or I was just beat.

Other thoughts?

1) My Breathe mat was completely inappropriate for the hard wood floor. Off I go to get a sticky mat. Thankfully, Kelsey grabbed one of the studio mats and set it up next to mine so I could work without slipping all over the place.

2) Not used to the instructor walking around during class so much. I was startled when she got behind me and lifted my hips up during the first Downward Dog. 

3) For this particular class, Kelsey returned to Utkatasana (Chair Pose) over and over. My legs quaked so badly. We must have done that pose four or five times. Then there was an addition to the pose where we would turn to one side or the other.

4) Instead of Trikanasana (Triangle), we did Warrior Poses 1,2, & 3. There were extra movements, which made it even more difficult.

5) Frog pose hurt. I didn’t even attempt a headstand or Crow pose. I heard the term “Chaturanga” a lot. Happily though, I surprised myself with a damn good Camel posture!!

6) I did enjoy the cool washcloth the instructor placed on my forehead in the lone Savasana.

7) “Wild Thing” looked ridiculously difficult.

8) I was really sore the next morning. REALLY SORE. And that is good!!

All in all, it was a heck of a ride. A lot of it is still a blur in my head. However, I do know one thing: I want to do that again!! Fortunately, they run an introductory special: 10 classes for $30. I’m signing up ASAP!! They also have a free class for the community every Saturday. Too bad I work most Saturdays.

Unfortunately, that was my only class of the week. I was going to take advantage of the $5 community class at Sumits on Sunday, but that was cancelled for a teaching workshop. Maybe next week. (Their intro special is similar: two weeks for $20 – don’t think I won’t try that one!!)

One other note: before I went on vacation I broke down and had a cigarette, five months and one day after my last one, then had another one four days later. The streak now stands at nine days. :(

Apologies if this post droned on, but I’m just really happy to be actually writing about my practice again! Thanks for listening.


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