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One of the treasures of San Francisco is the abundance of opportunities for yoga practice. I’ve had the idea to begin a yoga studios tour and I finally started with Yoga Garden on Divisadero. I chose to attend a restorative Iyengar class after calling and not finding out much info about their led ashtanga class at a similar time.

The class was small (6students), with one other new person and our instructor was both friendly and professional. I haven’t had an Iyengar class since the ’90s, so I was just open to experience whatever might happen. It was evening and I hadn’t eaten all day so it seemed restorative was the right place to be.

We started in child’s pose and Ryan encouraged us to be weighty (my words, not his!) and soften with gravity’s help. Something I do like about Iyengar precision is finding the pose and then staying in it for a longer time. It can be really wonderful; I like to call these ‘gravity-fed’ postures. In the whole class, I would have loved to stay in any pose longer. I think the class was already 2 hours long though!

I loved hanging in the ropes, but I also never felt like I reached a point of new expression in flexibility or strength and my mind was a bit wandering wondering as I was attempting to seek that internally, like more through internal loosening and micro-movements than through external change. The process was nice, but I think that is one of the challenges of a first time yoga student–so much new is happening it’s actually tricky to let go. I just kept returning to breath and my place in my practice.

I noticed how little our instructor talked, he really gave time for us to observe our own experience. It also made for stark contrast when there was noise in the room or outside though. Wood floor and empty walls means lots of echoing noise of construction outside and voices nearby. I was also freezing even though I wore more clothes than anyone else. That’s the bikram yogi in me, always hoping they’ll turn on the heat!

My commitment is to try the intro packages at every studio I can. My next step is to take Yoga Garden’s month unlimited. I’ll definitely practice in the restorative group again, but I also hope I can join some of the other teachers and classes.

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