My regular yoga teacher, Chris S., is on vacation for month. Two very awesome girls (Hi Amy! Hi Kellie!) from our yoga class decided to head over to another studio in his absence, and I was finally able to join them this week for a Monday evening class. And you know what?
I never in my life thought it was possible for my elbows to sweat.
That was until I came face to face with Howard’s Flo 2/3 class at aha yoga on Union Street in San Francisco. Prior to arriving at the studio, I was warned by my two friends that:
1) You will sweat. A lot.
2) It is hard.
3) I should bring a towel and lots of water.
I came armed with a small towel and 16 oz. of water (in my head, that was plenty, considering I rarely even bring water to yoga to Chris’s Extreme Yoga class), and felt confident I could handle this class, as my regular Tues-Thurs-Sat classes are pretty challenging (and sweaty). When I walked into the classroom, the temp was already at a balmy 80 degrees, and I could feel myself begin to perspire. This was gonna be fun, right?
Howard – standing about 5’8″, covered in tattoos – began the class with three booming “Om”s, then Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath), a cleansing breath that has you forcibly, and quickly, exhaling. What followed can be described as nothing short of a hurricane of asana – chaturanga, downward-facing dog, warrior (1, 2, and 3) – all in rapid succession. I could see my forearms glistening as I took a “break” in downward dog, and it felt great. As we kept going, I felt myself getting slightly dizzy from the lack of air in the room, so I snuck out for a bathroom break (highly recommended if you’re beginning to get overheated).
After the majority of our standing postures (which got very slippery after a while), we moved into a bit of abdominal work (and I’m still feeling it today!). After that – Pigeon, Lizard, Danurasana…at one point, we did Bakasana (really really really difficult to do if every inch of you is sweaty and your knees start sliding down the backs of your arms). He wanted us to jump from downward dog to Bakasana. Um. Yeah. That would be the “level 3″ section of the class. Some of the regulars were doing headstands in the middle of the room – me, I can’t do them without a wall (for safety’s sake) just yet.
By the time we got to Savasana, I felt like a corpse. I just couldn’t move anymore. Every last bit of moisture that I had in my body had been sweat out. (Okay, slight exaggeration, but seriously – my yoga clothes were sopping wet). The towel I brought? Completely soaked. (I recommend bringing at LEAST a bath-sized towel so you can stand on it.) I drank my water, and some of Amy’s (the girl drank about 4 oz. of water during that entire session, and barely broke a sweat. Amazing.). And here’s what I learned: when two of the girls who are regular devotees to Chris’s class agree that this class is HARD – they aren’t kidding. You’ve been warned.
It’s crowded, so show up early. Bring more water than you think you might need. Wear the least amount of clothing possible. Arrive hydrated, don’t eat anything for hours, and basically, be prepared to work. Howard doesn’t offer much in the way of corrections, so you better know what you’re doing. All in all, it’s a great class – both inspiring and humbling at the same time.
For a complete schedule of classes, or more information, visit the website here: http://ahayogasf.com They have an introductory special – $10 for ten consecutive days. Completely worth it!! Also, Bloomspot is running a special – 5 classes for $50 (an $85 value) – available for a limited time only!