“Your Ass Looks Fat in Warrior II.” It’s all I could think as we held the challenging pose and my Drishti settled right on my rear end. All through the practice at another Louisville studio, I couldn’t resist checking myself out in the mirror as we moved from pose to pose. But not necessarily because I was checking my alignment—although that’s what I told myself—it was because I was concerned for looking good. And I was constantly being disappointed.
I’ve been uneasy with how I look for decades. At 11 or 12, I noticed the uniform skirts fit the other girls in my class differently, and after intense examination in the mirror and self-criticism, I determined what was “wrong” with me: Short torso. Wide hips. Huge ass.
These self-judgements have traveled with me through several decades, through many fashion trends, through pregnancy and childbirth (contrary to popular belief, wide hips do NOT help with childbirth), and now into a career where I live in spandex. Fortunately, my yoga practice has been a space to practice self-acceptance and appreciate my physical strengths. I know that I’m capable of so much more than your average mom-of-a-2-year old, but once that mirror is in front of me, I’m immersed in critical self-talk.
I don’t know a lot of other mommy’s (besides my yoga mama friends) who can do this!
This is why we don’t have mirrors at 502 Power Yoga. Some argue that a mirror is a tool to help you find alignment in a pose, but at 502PY we provide more valuable tools to help you find alignment:
Skilled instructors who don’t practice while they teach so they can see you and speak to what they see and assist as needed.
Assistants who move about the room to help with alignment and foundation in your postures.
Spacefor self-insight so you can create a pose for yourself and truly immerse yourself in their moving meditation without concern for what they look like.
Practicing without mirrors allows me the opportunity to feel as beautiful on the outside as I feel on the inside. For someone with image issues, this 60 minutes of going inside and feeling powerful goes a long way for my confidence. This empowerment causes me to make bold moves in my life, for example, that one time I opened a yoga studio.
The most beautiful I have ever felt in yoga was in a blindfolded practice–it was so liberating to drop all concern for looking good that I actually practiced with my shirt off for the only time in my life. I felt sexy, glowing, and powerful for weeks. Had a mirror been present for that practice, I would probably still be wallowing in a bout of self-pity, drowning my sorrows with pizza and cheez-its.
Every day I am bombarded with images of what the female body “should” look like and then catch my reflection in my mirror at my home and see the discrepancy. Then I roll out my mat, turn inward, and am reminded that I’m strong. I’m powerful. And in that, there is beauty.
What have you experienced in your physical practice or in your self-inquiry by practicing without a mirror? Do you feel like you’re missing your reflection?
#ProTip: If you really need a reflection of yourself, the spots up by the front window often act as mirrors when it’s dark outside.
By Cat Larimore
Everywhere you turn, people are recommending yoga as a therapeutic physical exercise. Unlike running, tennis, and some other high-impact repetitive motion exercises, yoga is low-impact, incredibly varied and is accessible to all ages, sizes, and skill levels. It’s a practice—and that’s what it’s called, because it’s never expected to be perfect–that you can take with you as you age, constantly improving, customizing, and tweaking to adapt to your current conditions. There are dozens of styles of yoga, from very gentle chair yoga to the extreme heated classes in the Bikram tradition.
So where does Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga fit into this spectrum, and why should you try it?
It’s not “just stretching.”
In our Power Vinyasa classes, attention is placed on creating tapas (heat) and vinyasa (flow) by moving the body. A LOT. You will sweat and torch calories.
It isn’t too hot.
The room is heated (85-90º) to help cleanse the body and warm the muscles, but it is not heated to stifling temperatures that can be uncomfortable for some practicioners.
People are often surprised that a class at 502 Power Yoga typically includes high-fives, laughter, cheering, and applause. But that’s how we roll.
It’s in English…
It’s important to know the Sanskrit, but we’re aware that 99.99% of new students coming through the door will not know what “Prasarita Padottanasana” means but might be able to figure out what “Wide Legged Forward Fold” means.
…And the English isn’t “flowery.”
Instead of saying “offer your heart to the universe” in a pose, we will more likely say “press your collarbone forward.” When you’re in the middle of the flow you won’t have time to decode the flowery language.
You will leave empowered.
Our teachers are not just taught Sanskrit, they are taught how to be powerful, insightful leaders who are able to give you nuggets of transformation right there in your twisting triangle. You will leave a class at 502PY feeling LIT UP and empowered.
You will make a ton of new friends.
At 502PY, we push people outside of their comfort zone and make our yogis get OFF their mat and meet new people. And the craziest thing happens: You make new friends. We’ve witnessed many new friendships blossom out of our studio space.
You don’t have to be “good at yoga” to try it.
You do not have to be flexible to try yoga. You just have to be ready and willing.
It complements every other exercise out there.
Runner? Swimmer? Cyclist? Golfer? More than likely, the strengthening and toning exercises done in a Power Yoga session will help you in your sport of choice.
You will be helping yogis in need practice.
Our members’ monthly payments help support our Outreach program in which teachers volunteer their time to take yoga out into the community where it’s needed but not affordable: Children’s homes, prisons, etc.
Convinced? Try our studio for 40 days for only $40:
A First Time Experience With Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga
by Laura Olinger
The first time I tried SUP yoga, I couldn’t imagine how I’d be able to take my yoga practice onto the water, but I was up for an adventure. I wasn’t disappointed; I was met with a challenging but fun experience. I was a little nervous, I’d only been on a paddle board once before and it took all my concentration to stay standing. In this practice, we started by paddling out into the middle of a pond and slowly worked our way into Sun Salutations. The slower flow, and the added challenge to balance, allowed me to experience more mindfulness in my practice for the simple reason that I had to, or else I would fall in the water. I was conscious of pressing evenly through both feet, and felt the power of being grounded while still floating on the water.
SUP yoga can bring a lot to your practice. It allows you to train outside and soak up some Vitamin D, gives you the opportunity to notice any imbalances in your practice (i.e. if you tend to shift more weight to one side of your body), encourages you to focus on your foundations – hands, feet, core (lots of core!), and it’s simply fun! It can be the breath of fresh air, literally, you need if you feel stagnant or stale in your practice. In Savasana, I let my hands fall out into the cool pond while my board drifted – it was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt in that pose.
It can also be physically refreshing if, like me, you fall into cold water when you attempt Wheel a little too enthusiastically.
While many people wait to go on vacation to experience SUP yoga, there are opportunities to practice locally. If you’re a member at neighboring Lakeside, you might have noticed the Paddleboard Fitness classes that meet there. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg also offers several sessions throughout the summer. If you’re feeling independent, you can rent a board from Canoe Kentucky in Frankfort and flow on your own. As SUP and SUPY become more popular, I anticipate more opportunities in the Louisville area.
Yoga lingo. We throw it around like everyone speaks Sanskrit. One of our favorite Yogi phrases to throw around: off the mat.
When we are “On the mat” we Tadasana, Utkatasana, Utthita Trikonasana, and Adho Mukha Svanasana But when we talk about a practice “off the mat” – we mean the stuff yogis take with them out of the studio and into the world.
5 Things I Have Taken “Off the Mat”
1. I think I’m a good listener, but am I? I have always identified as a “good listener.” But in classes at 502PY, I’m realizing that I am not always listening.
In yoga, you know when you aren’t listening. When you’re in Mountain Pose and everyone else is Chaturanga-ing, you definitely weren’t paying attention. On the mat, I laugh these moments off and find my way to the correct pose. Off the mat, it’s made me think more critically: where else and with whom am I not truly listening?
2. Where do I add extra crap in my life? I can hear Sarah’s voice now. “GUYS, some of you are tugging on your tank top, fixing your hair, wiping sweat from your face before moving into Crescent Lunge. Just go into Crescent Lunge. Go there, without adding that extra crap.”
I add a lot of “extra” to my life. When I get home from work, I notice that I spend the first 20 minutes thinking about what I need to do. “I should roll up my yoga mat.” “I should put a load of laundry in.” “I should make dinner.” Why on Earth am I not just doing these things instead of thinking about doing them? My tendency to make mental lists stalls me from taking action. And life is about taking action. I know what I need to do and where I need to be. I need to just go there; anything else is extra crap.
3. Breath builds power. This has been my simplest, and most entertaining, lesson learned from practice at 502PY. Remembering to breathe is so important to our yoga practice. And we don’t just breathe any old way; we practice Ujjayi breathing. Ujjayi breath is “victorious breath” a.k.a. “sounds-like-the-ocean breath” a.k.a. “Darth Vader breath.” It builds heat in your physical body; it builds calm and focus in your mental body.
Two recent moments when I took Ujjayi breathing off my mat:
1) At work. When an incident at work left me wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, I closed my office door, took a few deep Ujjayi breaths, and brought myself back to calm/appropriate/professional Carrie.
2) Before a date! When some last-minute nerves crept up, I paused, breathed, and kicked the worry and stress to the curb.
4. Together we can do things we cannot do alone. This has been the biggest breakthrough, and the biggest challenge, for me to take off my mat. I’m an extremely independent person. I used to cringe when people spouted, “Together we can do things we cannot do alone.” I thought it was baloney. I thought it only applied to those people who couldn’t figure out how to do things on their own. I’m not exactly proud to write that, but it’s true.
I’ll never forget the first time the 502PY community proved me wrong. The class was in Tree Pose, and we were asked to go back, to try on a mini-backbend. I went, I bent, I did okay. Then, the teacher told us to stay in Tree, press our hands against our neighbors’, and go back again. And I went back deeper, more gracefully than I ever had. I stood up, mind blown. It was undeniable, anatomical proof that with the pressure and support of a row of yogis, I went somewhere I could not go alone. I still have a lot of work to do on this topic, but today when I think about my career, my relationships, my interactions with strangers, I often catch myself going back to that Tree Pose moment.
5. Rest is how you rebuild, how you come out stronger. I love this. I love Savasana at the end of a yoga class, and I love what it stands for. Savasana, or final resting pose, isn’t about napping or checking out from all the work you just did. Savasana is when you give yourself permission to rest and absorb the benefits of your practice. It’s the part where your body rebuilds so that when you sit up in a few minutes, you are stronger than you were when you entered the studio that day. (You know how when you install updates on your computer, and, after all of the whirring and downloading, the computer needs to close all programs and restart? Yeah, Savasana’s kinda like that.)
We need to be taking Savasana all the time off our mats.
We live in this fast-paced, crazy, demanding world. Self-care, rest, and fun is so important, and often so overlooked. In the studio, the teacher tells us when to take Savasana. Off the mat, we have to create our own Savasana, and we have to do it without feeling guilty. Savasana is our reset button.
If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d have said I wasn’t buying “off the mat.” No way. But today, I spend my days with an incredible community at 502 PY, and I’m seeing the off the mat practice come to life.