Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dharma Mittra, final thoughts

I've spent the last three months doing yoga at Dharma Mittra, which I gave a preliminary review to earlier. Now, after three months, I can give it a more final assessment.

Most of the studios I've practiced at have been fairly eclectic in approach. Because Dharma's studio is guru-driven, the other teachers don't have much in the way of individual styles. That's not to say they are interchangeable - there is one, for no good reason, that I find annoying, and some are more advanced in their own practice than others - but there isn't a noticeable difference in their sequencing, whether they like to chant or read inspirational quotes, or whether they demo or adjust.

The classes are very sequenced, although not as much as strict ashtanga. They do have a good mix of poses, generally held for a while, and I like that they encourage everyone to work on inversions such as headstand and scorpion, even in level II classes. (Classes are levels I-IV, but they offer a lot more at the lower two levels.) This sequencing means you can make real progress on poses if you're going regularly. Only a few weeks in, I got scorpion for the first time and was making huge progress on forearm balances. The downside is that some poses get left out; I haven't done eagle in three months.

Now, one thing you may know about me is that I'm not a very spiritual person. You know how people say they are "spiritual but not religious"? You could say I am religious but not spiritual. OK, I jest a little, but the studio is far more spiritual than I am. They unironically capitalize more Abstract Concepts than a smartass like myself can fully get behind. I am comfortable in studios that emphasize the mental and/or spiritual benefits of yoga, rather than just the physical, but Dharma Mittra believes things I don't, and they are important to embracing his practice fully, I think.

In other words, I already find myself challenged by the notion of having a capoeira "mestre"; having a guru is too much for me.

Ultimately, I think it's a good studio, and if, for example, you were going to visit New York for a yoga tour, you'd be remiss to leave it out. (I'd still like to try his two-hour master practice myself.) But it's not going to be my yoga home.

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