Thursday, March 16, 2006

Yoga Baron

I fear BC is in the process of biting the big one- Pacific took then to OT?! Double OT??!! Thankfully, I'm not seeing it live.

Anyhooow, as advertised, I ended up taking not one, but two classes from Baron Baptiste while he was in town this week. For those who don't follow, Baron is one of the ten or so most famous yoga teachers in the country, who owns two studios in Boston, and while he's not been full-time there for several years, he comes to teach every couple of months. His style of teaching combines an amped-up vinyasa flow (similar to Ashtanga primary series, no less challenging, but a little more accessible to most American bodies) and very clear, relatively simple alignment instructions (also studied extensively with Iyengar) with 95 degree heat (for awhile he was Bikram's protege) and a lot of inspirational, self-empowerment talk in class.

I don't mean to sound jaded (especially since someday I'd kill to teach at his studios), but if you read the bio, Baron certainly doesn't aim for subtle, or overly-humble, and it's gotten him into plenty of hot water in the past. Even among those of us who go to his studio a lot, you find plenty of mixed feelings.

That said, he's a great teacher, and I can say the same about 95% the teachers he's trained. His classes are very hard- it's always hotter than normal when he comes, and while he doesn't teach any nutty poses, and rarely does a lot of "hard" poses (crow, natarajasana, etc.), he'll hold a pose for a long time at an unusual spot, and what's normally a very doable practice suddenly takes you to your edge, or your wits end. Which is his idea- one of his little catchphrases (he has many, and for the most part they're ridiculously corny) is that he wants to squeeze you like an orange, so you'll examine you're juice.

I can safely say that on Tuesday, my juice was too much coffee, or what I ate, or something- by about halfway through class I was a raisin shriveled up on the floor. (most likely, the coffee) I was not alone, either- I'd say 25f a very full studio was right there with me. The combination of the heat, the holds, and the flow can be overwhelming. Wednesday, I prepped better, and paced better, and had no problems getting through.

That said, I only went back Wednesday because Tuesday's class kicked my ass so much. On my door on Cruise Ship X, I had a Winston Churchill quote on my door- "When you're going through hell, keep going." I find the more I take that attitude, the better the going gets. Not easier, not more fun, or more successful, necessarily, but better. So I went back. And for me, Baron can be hell, so love it or hate it, I keep going.

A side note- charisma is one of those qualities in people that I'll usually recognize, but never completely understand. One of the things that seperates Baron from so many other teachers is his charisma, but for the life of me I don't know where exactly it comes from. He's obviously in great shape, but isn't physically imposing by any means. His voice is strong, but on the nasal side, and his delivery can be quite affected. His jokes are, to be kind, corny. But, he walks into a room and can hold it completely for two hours. It's truly remarkable.

Okay, that's the last yoga bit for a minute. The Eagles survived a double OT. (actually, so far I'm 3 for 3 picking the games today, including my first correct upset call.) Makes me nervous for Saturday, but it's a lot better than a loss.

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