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“Downward Facing What?” An exploration into Uptown Yoga
My jealousy grows (as does my waistline) as I see my limber roommate bound out the door with her yoga mat, carefree, just eager to stretch her muscles and calm her mind and spirit. Many people, including Silke Schroeder, co-owner and yogi at Uptown’s Grasshopper Yoga Studio, originally seek out yoga classes because they are searching for a way to not only stretch and tone muscles but to learn stress reduction tools. “What I discovered in my first class was that something quite transformative occurred. Not only did my body feel lighter, but I also experienced a spontaneous light-heartedness and ease,” Schroeder explained.
Yoga isn’t just another workout trend. Uptown offers a multitude of classes at a handful of different locations; essentially, classes to satisfy every student--whether it be Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Hatha.. Jennifer Grey, owner and director of Calhoun Square’s Yoga Center of Minneapolis explains that they strive to offer classes that attract anyone and everyone. “Whether you are out of shape or in shape, beginner or advanced, we have something for you to try,” Grey says.
Wondering what to expect when attending your first yoga class? The first thing to think about is, “What type of yoga do I want to do?” Are you seeking out a class for fitness or for a more meditative purpose? Both Grey and Schroeder recommend research. “Try a class…or a few classes. You might even be surprised which class resonates with you the most,” comments Schroeder. “Sometimes a person who is athletic and driven really needs a relaxation class or restorative yoga more than another hard workout.”
Grey stresses researching not only the class type, but the establishment as well. Is the studio reputable? Who are the instructors, and how long have they been practicing? Yoga isn’t recognized as being a certifiable fitness regimen, and therefore doesn’t have an official certification process. Grey advises to use caution when choosing a studio and teacher, stating, “A six week course does not make a yoga teacher.” Schroeder agrees that “trends in yoga come and go. The most important thing is to find a class that meets your needs, is led by a teacher who is steeped in the yoga tradition and can provide you with proper guidance and inspiration.”
Once you choose your yoga style and make it to your first class, an important thing to keep in mind is to be your own self-monitor. “Don’t force yourself into poses. They should be challenging, but not painful,” cautions Schroeder. Grey says its important to have zero expectations for what your body can do compared to what other peoples’ bodies are able to do. “Concentrate on yourself and take things at your own pace. Don’t look around the room in an attempt to mark your own success by others.”
A typical class at Grasshopper, explains Schroeder, could go a little something like this: “I begin with a short introduction or review of the theme, followed by a brief centering. We then move into a ten minute warm-up to create more fluid movement and heat, and then continue with more dynamic sequences of sun salutation and standing poses. After that, we often move to poses on the floor that can be held a little longer and can have a deeper effect. Generally, there is an ‘arc’ to the class where we build towards a challenging pose, be it a forward bend, backward bend, twist, lateral, etc. Students learn how the mechanics and dynamics of the earlier poses translate into the more challenging ones. We gradually wind down and finish the posture practice with about a ten-minute relaxation. Time allowing, there will also pranayama--controlled breathwork--and/or a brief meditation.” Sounds invigorating and exciting, right?
Unfortunately, many people are still nervous about waltzing into a yoga studio, comfortable pants on and mat in hand. As a solution, both Grey and Schroeder recommend signing up for class with a friend. “It’s really fun to sign up with a friend. It may help reaffirm your commitment, or it may be a way to see your friend more,” Schroeder comments. But she also gives this nugget of truth, “If you really want to learn yoga, ideally you come whether your friend comes or not.” Good advice for a first timer with the need for a security blanket. Grey remarks, “We believe that if you didn’t laugh at some point during the class, you didn’t do the class right.”
Around the Uptown neighborhood, check out:
Grasshopper Yoga Studio:
810 West 31st Street
2nd floor of Lyndale United Church of Christ
Yoga Center of Minneapolis (Uptown Location):
Calhoun Square, Second Floor
2327 Hennepin Avenue South
2808 Hennepin Avenue South
©2007 Uptown Neighborhood News