Last night there was a new sub for Nancy (who has mostly departed Greenhouse for acupuncture school). The sub was Paul Manza, and I’d somehow heard of him before in a random blog I read, so I hopped on over.
Oh, I just realized he might be the Paul that used to teach at Laughing Lotus! That explains why he looked familiar, and why he played a full-volume party mixtape (Lotus-style): RJD2, Bjork remixes, and Aphex Twin. I almost said something after class, that I played a lot of the same tracks during yoga, but the lameness of that comment was reserved solely for my blog.
Paul was super excited to tell us about his current study of Iyengar yoga. This did not mean he departed from his super calm voice. Rather, we heard 10 minutes about how to keep the chest open while standing, moving, jumping back, all in the support of eventually meditating. “If we’re going to practice all these movements while collapsing the chest, practice collapsing the chest, we might as well do drugs or something. The whole point is that we can open up like this [with arms and chest open] in meditation.” (Not a perfect quote, it was something like that.) His other classes are listed as “Iyengar-inspired Vinyasa,” which has amazingly not been shortened to Iyengasa or Vingar or other Tex-Mex naming mashup. Power Super Vinyaya Glow.
One of his repeated ideas that I really liked was “stay awake, but passive.” This word passive has such negative connotations for me — 50’s housewives, wimpy men, poor grammar — that it was helpful to reclaim it as a good thing. Similar to the Vipassana meditation practice of not doing anything, just being there. (In their retreats, you are not allowed to practice yoga or anything energetic, because their focus is on NOT trying to change things, just becoming aware and accepting things.) I am very visual — if my eyes are open I want to adjust my pose (or someone else’s) — so it was helpful to have a word to direct that energy. (He wouldn’t let us close our eyes.)
We held poses for quite a long time, Iyengar-style. I had a pool of sweat roll off the top off my head and POUR, not drip, onto the mat between my hands. (Luckily, at Greenhouse you scrub your own mats after class.) We did a variation on Extended Side Angle, with the front foot moved to the middle of the mat, that really helped rotate the front hip under. We did a passive Half Moon, stopping in each prep pose, that turned out wonderfully stable and calm.
That’s all for now, it was a good day.