Too often we as humans (and yogis) get TOO comfortable. Don't get me wrong, comfort is good. The familiar, routine, knowing (or thinking that we know) what is going to happen next by repeating a task, activity, or schedule can you feel in control, or at ease. This can be very good. I am naturally someone who is disorganized in much of my life. I have found routine to be a very important part of maintaining a happy, healthy life. This became especially important during the beginning parts of my yoga journey. Maintaining a consistent, daily, practice was extremely important to my overall well being. As a grew and expand as a yogi (and human) I came to realize that while comfort and routine is important, it can be overdone. I had forgotten how important and healthy the spontaneous and new could be. If I had not been willing to make changes years ago, and try yoga, i would never have found the path that has led me here. So for the last 6 to 12 months I have made mental efforts to make sure I embraced the new and got out of my comfort zone, my box. To that end...I bring you the "Studio Crawl".
The Studio Crawl is my journey through lots of different studios and teachers in Miami over the next couple of weeks. As you know, I teach primarily at Miami Yoga Brickell where I am fortunate to have a full schedule available of classes. This is where I have taken most of my classes over the last 3 years. Miami Yoga Brickell is like a second home to me. I love the shala and the instructors that have seen me grow from new student, to teacher and colleague and find myself feeling fortunate to be surrounded by so many people that inspire me and teach me on a daily basis. At the same time, this has kept me in my comfort zone. So along with my girlfriend (also a yoga instructor) we decided it would be good to spread our wings over the next few weeks and take classes at all the different studios in the Miami area with all the teachers I have been wanting to take but have been "too busy". First stop....Carlos Tao @ OM Beats Studio
Carlos Tao from OM Beats Studio
OM Beats studio is a quaint little studio off calle ocho. We arrived to a small class of about 6 students (including us). The first thing that popped in to my mind as Carlos introduced himself was "authentic". You could immediately discern from his energy and the way he presented himself to the class and began talking about yoga, that he was not just someone who took a random teacher training somewhere. This was someone who was serious about yoga as his craft, lifestyle, and a gift to be shared with all. It was also evident that Carlos was talker...but don't worry you learn to like it.
Now typically I take a Vinyasa, or Power VInyasa Flow style class. Breathing based, flowing to music, lots of Vinyasas, pushups, sun salutations, warrior sequences, and more. I knew ahead of time i should throw out any expectations I may have and boy am I glad I did. Class started with some simple relaxation and breathing in seated meditation (a little short for my taste but really that is just my expectations talking). I liked that he talked about breathing from within, feeling it in area I never thought about before, like my ears. His cues were perfect.
We immediately jumped in to discussing alignment in Tadasana, where Carlo proceeded to check on all of us with some quick glancing around the room. Constant alignment cues and talking were a big theme throughout the class. We quite a bit of time doing a simple flow (and i use flow here in the sense of movement in sequence, not traditional Vinyasa flow). Movements were slow, precise and always keeping us in the moment.
At one point about 15 - 20 minutes in, the little chattering monkeys in my head started getting annoyed. They wanted their usual flow and hot sweatiness. My mind wandered, making it hard to pay attention to Carlos. Next thing I knew all his cues about melting my heart, softening my shoulders, twisting this, moving that, became overwhelming. I was frustrated...for about 2 minutes. Then i breathed, came back to the moment, and went right back to enjoying my practice. That (<---that over there) is my comfort zone kicking in again. So one thing I could potentially see as problematic is for beginners taking this class. Without a good background in proper breathing and experience with yoga, you could easily get lost and frustrated in Carlos's class. But I could also sense that he knew we were a more intermediate class and I am willing to bet he would adjust his class if need be for beginners. And let's remember...this is yoga practice, not yoga perfect. It's no big deal if we come out of the moment and get frustrated. We just breathe, and come right back, not getting upset at ourselves.
So, I'm now past the few minutes of frustration, when we start doing handstand hops with frog kicks. The sweating begins! This is my type of class. The class proceeded with more personal instruction and a simple flow of maybe a dozen or so poses (we really didn't do much more than that, nor did we need to). There was a great mini workshop on "Wild thing" a pose I usually run away from because I feel it causes me back issues. Taking Carlos's queues I tried it today, and to my surprise, no pain! Next, we had a little handstand workshop against the wall. That was fantastic. Carlos was even nice enough to give me some personal tips after class. After the handstanding, it was time for some pigeon workshopping. Boy did I not realize how much could be going on in this pose! Every subtle adjustment was explained. It was great!
We finished up with some final poses, a quiet savasana and short meditation. Afterwards, I felt amazing. Truly an amazing class and experience.
I highly recommend Carlo Tao to anyone, but especially to intermediate/advanced practitioner looking to get outside of their comfort zone and do something new. Check him out online for his schedule, IG: @CarlosTaoYoga
Tomorrow the Studio Crawl continues with, PART 2, Maday Bu @ Pranoga in Doral
Please let me know what you think of this blog, any and all questions, comments, etc, are welcome.