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Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge, Day 12: Vairagya

Today I returned to Triyoga Primrose Hill for a class with Heather Elton, entitled Vinyasa Yoga Level 2-3. After yesterday’s class at the Life Centre, I was curious to see how the difficulty level would compare. Having spoken to Heather a few times and knowing a little bit about her, I was interested to attend her class. Heather is an Astanga practitioner and teacher who also practices Iyengar with one of my teachers; she leads many retreats and is a talented photographer.

Overall, I enjoyed the class. It was appropriately labelled, there was a clear focus on the breath and deepened foundation standing postures with alignment cues, that developed into more challenging arm balances, hip openers and inversions. The class had an interesting flow to it, with the bulk of the sun salutations slotted into the class after 45 minutes of preparatory asana work. The overall experience felt well rounded with a tempo that enabled the body to warm up and deepen into postures, but left enough energy to explore more challenging variations.

The aspect of the class I found missing was the initial connection between the teacher and the students. For the majority of the class Heather stayed up on the platform and performed the asanas while she spoke the class through the sequence without eye contact; in all sincerity it was unclear to me whether she wanted to be there or would rather have been practicing on her own. The other aspect that took me some getting used to is the quality of Heather’s voice and how it traveled through the space of the room. At times, particularly at the beginning of class, her naturally low voice seemed to fall to the floor and get washed out, which made it difficult for me to hear (I came home and cleaned my ears out…you don’t want to know!) Then, 45 minutes into the class she addressed someone in the back of the room and gave specific verbal instruction (it turns out she was watching us after all), and from that moment on the gestalt of the class changed. Her voice became more dynamic and she seemed more engaged.

I left the class feeling open and energized. It dawned on me that what I may have initially read as a lack of enthusiasm was yogic vairagya, or dispassion; colourlessness. It was a good reminder for me that despite my subjective opinions about teachers, classes and studios, it’s not reality, just a shade of perception at a given time, based on my own avidya (ignorance).

…I still think Triyoga Primrose Hill should clean their studio floors.

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