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How I Went From Vinyasa Yoga to Iyengar Yoga

Types of Yoga | Yoga

Chocolate, yes. Coffee, yes. Mad Men, yes. Vinyasa yoga, yes. These are just a handful of the things that, at one point or another, I have been addicted to. (Obviously, chocolate never leaves the list.)

When I first started studying yoga seriously, any class I attended had to move quickly. I craved challenges in poses and sequences and wanted to build up a sweat while working my body enough to ensure my muscles ached the next day. These, along with a thought-provoking class theme, and extended, restful Savasana were my personal criteria for a great yoga experience.

Even though I did attend and teach slower classes at the time, the favorite class for me was always a flowing Vinyasa class. But then, things changed.

From Spontaneity to Stability

My life moved from the single phase with freedom and spontaneity, to the family phase of stability and responsibility. Baby #1 arrived safely and happily, and three months later, I was back to class—Vinyasa class. I went not quite as frequently as before but often enough to get my dose.

Baby #1 was swiftly followed by baby #2. This time, morning sickness came along for the ride, so my yoga class attendance got patchier. Recovery was also longer and life became more chaotic with two little ones under two. Leisure time dwindled until yoga consisted of a disjointed home practice of random stretching sessions or a deep breathing restorative pose over sofa cushions…if I was lucky enough to get naps to coincide.

Time quickly filled with family life as my muscles tightened, my energy levels decreased, and the number on my birthday cards increased.

Life is constantly evolving.

Just as you think you’ve got it down with one phase of life, another phase creeps up on you. Children start walking and talking and before you know it, they’re in kindergarten. As my spare time increased, a return to yoga was inevitable, but my compulsion to spend 90 fast, sweaty minutes jumping back and forth between poses was somehow less appealing. I craved something different.

I’d reached a point where my wrists and hip joints had a lot to say and post-pregnancy middle age had gifted me with a few extra pounds. My head yearned for an opportunity to learn new things beyond the scope of a stay-at-home mom, but the yoga I had loved didn’t seem like the right fit any more.

I considered for a while that perhaps yoga had run its course for me and it was time to move on to something new. Pilates, gym work, and zumba classes followed…but they just weren't for me. After a six-month yoga hiatus, I returned to a studio.

Re-thinking Iyengar

Iyengar yoga was on the schedule in a time slot I could attend. Even though the last Iyengar class I had attended more than ten years prior was logged in my memory as ‘boring’, I now had an opportunity to approach it from a fresh start.

Armed with an open mind and a new set of life experiences under my belt, I turned up and rolled out my mat.

I’d spent many years believing that Iyengar wasn’t the yoga style for me but it turned out, at that very moment in time, to be just the right yoga style for me. I finished class inspired and motivated, and I continue to study with the same teacher today.

Practicing Non-Attachment

In yogic terms, I needed to embrace Vairagya or, non-attachment. My fixed concept of what made a yoga class great changed once I let go of my attachment to fast-flowing classes, and embraced a practice that works in my life as it is at this very moment.

Life takes different turns as we follow our path. Our age and circumstances change as expectations and perspective shift. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Vinyasa classes, but I’ve also learnt to embrace the fact that life is constantly evolving— yoga practice included.

Image Credit: Arielle Rabier

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