A shift in my schedule last week prompted me to stay at the studio after teaching Tuesday afternoon to practice with my friend and colleague Natalia Rudovsky. Her level II class offers a very different style from mine and while I have a deep respect for Natalia's abilities both as a yogi and a teacher, I don't usually find myself craving the fiery energy explored in this 75 minute practice. Perhaps something about the bright sun that day alongside chilly temperatures nudged me to challenge the physical body, lay down a mat and surrender my desire for ease. Yoga is a discipline that asks us to find balance between ease and effort and I confess that I am generally more at home with the former. I like to curl up to a nice mellow, gentle series of poses. And so, even though I don't often seek it, a practice that pushes the limits of my physical strength and breath capacity can be just what I need from time to time. Not only did the asana sequences challenge me, but Natalia's exploration of the Chakras brought me face to face with an aspect of the subtle body that I often find illusive. What are Chakras? My longtime teacher, Lisa Steele, describes them in this way: "the Chakras are an invisible center of spinning energy, located where the mind and body meet. While not synonymous with any portion of the physical body, their effect on the physical body is strong; it is believed that our physical bodies shape themselves around the Chakras."
If you enjoy a strong asana practice and want to deepen your understanding of mind-body-spirit connection, I encourage you to try and make it to Natalia's Sunday and/or Tuesday evening classes soon. Every two weeks features a new Chakra (current focus is on Manipura (third/solar plexus). I myself hope to be there again soon.