Monday, May 23

Shakti Yoga Shop | Des Moines, IA

LOCATION: With my Tom Tom, this was a breeze. It's located in Shops at Roosevelt near Drake University on Rollins Ave (which is different than the address given on google maps). In looking for parking I found a free parking lot behind the studio, but I also found the last spot. Seems to be busy Saturday mornings, between yoga and the wonderful smell of the bakery a couple stores down... you can understand why. There is also free street parking equally packed. Two entrances to the studio, I chose the one off the parking lot, which was a good choice because the front entrance lands you right in the front of the class... which would have been awkward since I was running late (again) and the room was packed.
COST: Drop-in fee was $15

STUDIO: Beautiful! Walls were light yellow mostly, with an accent wall of moss green and some exposed brick. Ceilings were black with ceiling fans and HUGE paper lanterns hanging over the practice space. There were windows running along the front of the room, high enough to keep things private, but low enough to let a breeze circulate. The practice space was "sunken" with two areas up a couple steps. One being the back entrance where you check in, grab a mat (which I believe you rent), kick off your shoes & hang up your coat. The second section was where you pay for classes and/or buy merch. There was a bathroom and another little office area for the instructors. Great use of space.
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Levels 1 & 2—Move beyond the fundamentals in this moderately paced class and be introduced to more challenging poses.
INSTRUCTOR: Paula is an Anusara-Inspired Instructor and co-owner of Shakti Yoga Shop. She has been studying and practicing yoga since the late 1990’s. Paula teaches classes that are explorative, playful, and thought provoking. She takes pleasure in empowering students to connect to their inner strength, beauty, and divine nature. She loves learning from everyone around her, in particular her students. Paula is on the path toward Anusara certification.
CONTACT: Shakti Yoga Shop

You know, people in Des Moines are REALLY nice. Between Yoga in the Park last year and this class, people always say hello and introduce themselves. I really have to remember this when someone new walks into any of the classes I go to, it's just a wonderful way to start a practice. Paula, the instructor, was equally great. I walked in hurried, as usual, and realized the class was packed... with a look of "uh oh" on my face Paula quickly made a spot for me in the middle, back row to calm my worries. I'm always amazed with how easily you can squish a bunch of yogis together in a studio space and still have plenty of room for your practice. Paula handed me a sheet of paper saying, "We'll chant this after our three om's—you can just listen along if you like." Listen along? Oh no, sign me up!
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
I offer my heart to the power of Grace

Saccidananda Murtaye
That lives in us as goodness

Nispraprancaaya Shantaya
That is never absent and radiates peace

Niralambya Tejase
And lights the way to transformation
It's official... I'm more of a traditional yoga girl instead of doing yoga only for sport, so to speak. I feel like I'm learning yoga the way it was intended to be learned when all parts of the practice are brought into the studio. And I know you can't do everything in an hour and half, but I appreciate any extras the instructor brings to class. I really do. Once we chanted, we got right to the point of things... stood up and started our sun salutations. There was no music playing, which was a new one for me. I don't know if it was an off day (there were speakers set up in the room), but I ended up not caring and just focusing on what Paula was trying to get us to do. And, I tell you what, she was trying to get us to do some crazy stuff. I think having such a mix in the class made it less intimidating though... there were all ages there, all body types, quite a few men—which was great to see, since that's rare, so far, in my practice. There were people who could hit every pose Paula threw out there... and there were people (like me) who attempted but it wasn't happening today, and there were people who just didn't bother at all. Love it!

The one, or two poses, or three poses really, that Paula had us do was going from Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana) with your top leg bent/foot planted in front of you for support. Then you grab that support foot as if doing a forward Extended Hand to Big Toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana), only your leg is in front of you instead of to the side. Which then you swing that leg around to the front of the mat where you land in the splits (Hanumanasana). Say what? Yep... and people could do it. I... was not one of those people, but I was excited to see it in action! I could barely lift my support foot off the ground. I tried it though, which was fantastic. Why? Because my brain would have never thought of my body doing such a thing before, and now I'm training it to think it can and will.

Here's a video with a similar series (she doesn't need to use the support foot).
I realized, after re-reading my description, if you don't know yoga... hell, if you know
yoga even a little bit... what I said may have not been clear:

We ended in shivasana, where Paula didn't say a word. Still no music. Just me and my thoughts. Yikes! I know, right? But no one has ever done this before, so I was grateful for the opportunity to work on my own concentration instead of depending on someone else to distract me. I need more work, quite a bit actually, but it's a start. And I love finding my starting points.

Honestly, if I ever move to the Des Moines area, which is a possibility with my boyfriend's family being there... I could see this being my new "home studio," so I look forward to the checking out more classes/instructors on future visits. I promise to check out other studios in the area too, for all of us, but I was really happy with my visit at Shakti Yoga Shop.

Thank you Paula & classmates!

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