Friday, August 12

Silent Dance Center | Honolulu, HI

LOCATION: I'm going to be honest about my walk to this area of Waikiki/Honolulu... it's pretty rough looking. I don't think I'd be comfortable walking around here at night, to say the least. People were friendly in passing, but the garbage, the dilapidated buildings and the overall despair of it all, I wasn't expecting. Beach town, laid back, rundown is quite different. BUT... the place was easy to navigate and walk around (they also have a fantastic & cheap bus system). This place would have been a little difficult to find in a car, as it's not visible at all from the street. Although their website has a great map explaining it's location and showing the studio front. There seemed to be free parking for customers, and it was right next to an all vegetarian/organic grocery store (LOVE!). 
COST: First time students get to go for free! This is great, and quite common around Honolulu. They also supplied blankets, blocks, straps, etc. for free. I didn't see any sort of credit card machines around, nor do they seem to have online payment. See their site for further fee descriptions.
STUDIO: This one room, open-air studio was beautiful. It reminded me of a Japanese tea room or something. I'm not sure why, maybe the simplicity of it all. The two long walls of the room opened up completely, one with doors and the other with shutter-style windows. The window side had a dance bar running the length of it (it either was a dance studio before, or they also teach dance there, not sure). Straps hung from the barn-door side, as this is an Iyengar-based studio. I believe Iyengar is big on props, I'm still learning. I would say there were at least 20 students comfortably in the space. We faced one another from the long walls, while our instructor worked from the center of the space. There was no music, just the wonderful breeze rustling the palm trees outside and cooling down the studio.   
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Yoga 1A Basic yoga postures and concepts (including alignment, breathing, and relaxation). Recommended for new students. 
INSTRUCTOR: Deb (I hope this is your name, it's what the website said and I, unfortunately, did not introduce myself) is a teacher trainer subbing for Val (the regular instructor) through August—because she's a teacher trainer (I assume), I can't find a bio for her, sorry. 

Walking in, after removing my shoes outside (reminded me of Mexico), I wasn't sure who the instructor was. Most of the students were there already, and I was happy to see so many at a class on a Monday morning. I set up my mat, and waited. When the instructor magically appeared, she had us start in Supta Baddha Konasana, with our toes pressing against the wall. We used our blocks to support our lower back and head. For a first level class, this was a bit intense, as I'm use to doing this with a bolster. She did mention using a bolster, which I probably should have done with my unhappy sacrum, but I just propped up my knees a little more (ahem, side note, you should not be lazy or embarrassed about any injuries you have... because if you make it worse, you can't do yoga at all. Why I haven't quite come to terms with this, I'm not sure. Sometimes I adjust, sometimes I push through... I have been trying to remind myself at every class to pay special attention to these areas instead of paying attention to my pride or laziness to get up and get a prop. I'd love to hear feedback on why you may or may not do the proper thing when offered up a modification). 

This class reminded me why I love basic-level new experiences. Some techniques I did, I couldn't tell if I was doing them right. As a new yogi, you should know this is common. And often, by doing the position a little bit wrong, it may even be easier. So you may think you're not really challenged by a class. It wasn't until probably six months into regularly doing yoga that I discovered how being in a pose the proper way caused me to pour sweat. The heat generated in your body when you engage all those muscles the right way is amazing! 

Deb had us get a chair and face it towards a wall. We sat down in the chair backwards, pressed our entire lower back to upper back and shoulders against the wall. She then asked us to raise our arms up. This is hard! While your entire back and shoulders are against the wall, you also should be able to touch your entire arm and back of hand against the wall... with your elbows straight. I have pretty tight shoulders, so I couldn't do it... but, wow, the sweat! She walked us through a few more basic poses, adjusting us all when she could, and giving special attention to those who needed more modification. 

Deb mentioned Lois Steinberg a couple of times. I couldn't believe it. Here I am, for the first time in Hawaii at my first class of vacation, and my instructor is mentioning an instructor based in Champaign-Urbana, IL! So often I find my world falling together in these magical little moments, connected by yoga. Today is the day I feel I truly understand why this practice is called yoga... which means "yoke"  or to join/unite. We really are all connected, in peaceful and encouraging ways. 

I spoke with Deb after class, to tell her about the Lois connection, and it made her teary-eyed. I also learned she's a teacher trainer, not quite at teacher level yet. I would have never guessed as she was so comfortable with everyone, with the space, and with the practice. Deb, thank you so much for a beautiful Monday morning experience in Mal'ili'ili... for your wonderful class (and my first Iyengar practice), your kind conversation, and your pure and vibrant energy. Mahalo and namaste. 

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