After a stressful week, spending a day in London with a friend yesterday was exactly what I needed. She’s recently moved to Bethnal Green, and we went to a Dynamic Yoga class with Adam at Stretch London on Ada Street, which came highly recommended by another friend. It was brilliant.
Since I started my yoga teacher training, I’m constantly on the lookout for things I can learn from other teachers – it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about my travel plans for the next six months. As a teacher, and I’m not just talking about yoga here, I think you learn the most from watching other teachers – everyone has their own unique teaching style and that’s great, but I have never seen a single lesson or been to a single class that I couldn’t take something away from. That said, I’ve been focusing recently on my self-practice of yoga, so I was very ready to experience some actual teaching again.
The teacher and class yesterday were so good that had I not been completely zenned out by the end I would have been grabbing my notebook and frantically making notes so I didn’t forget anything. So while it’s still reasonably fresh in my mind, what did I like best?
The creativity and openness of the practice
I’ve been basing my daily practice for the last 12 weeks on the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. I’ll blog about this soon, because I do love it, but because this is so structured and disciplined, it was great to mix it up a bit. I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Dynamic Yoga”, but it was a beautiful flowing class with quite an unexpected sequence of postures. Adam combined longer holds of postures with flowing sequences and vinyasas in an order which kept me on my toes, and yet felt very natural. He invited his students to make the practice their own – to adapt if postures didn’t feel good.
This openness of approach did not lead to a lapse in focus on form, which can be the danger with very flowing classes. It’s so easy to inadvertently injure yourself by rushing through postures with poor form, but Adam’s instructions and adjustments were precise and clear. Yes, you could adapt the flow to suit your body, but no, you could not lose all sense of form and alignment. I love adjustments, because I find it difficult to sense where exactly my body is in space. I tell myself I’m not clumsy, just proprioceptively-challenged! Unsurprisingly, it turns out my hips in trikonasana and downward facing dog are nowhere near where I thought they were. I got two helpful adjustments during this class, which I thought was good going, considering there were 24 students in the class.
The supportive, yet challenging atmosphere
I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive that the class would feel a bit cliquey – it’s right next to Shoreditch, so it definitely attracts the cool kids of yoga. But actually, the atmosphere was inviting and supportive. I felt completely welcome as a newbie and outsider, which does not go without saying at all yoga studios in my experience. Although Adam left it to us to determine the level that we pushed ourselves to, there were plenty of opportunities to take more advanced options. It challenged me in a different way to my ashtanga practice (and I can absolutely feel it today in my obliques! Yoga abs here I come…)
As an added bonus, we were able to float out of the yoga class and straight into Broadway Market. I personally recommend the organic carrot cake – it’s the best I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tried a lot!). It’s all about balance, right?!
Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Mandy at Emm in London