When I first moved to Wilmington, I joined a fancy yoga studio that had a great variety of classes and instructors, all in a gorgeous setting. I quickly learned, however, that the membership fee wasn't in my budget and had to bid the lovely studio goodbye. It was hard. I had come from Nacogdoches and the wonder that is Morning Glory Yoga Studios, and I was desperate to find that same kind of community in my new home.
Enter: The Wilmington Family YMCA.
My friend Erica tipped me off to the Pathways Program, which is basically a reduced membership rate for people who can't afford the full price. I definitely fell into that category and the YMCA seemed like a good investment. It was a mile from my house, I could exercise without running into undergraduates, and they offered yoga classes. Even if the classes were terrible, it was only $13 a month. Surely I would fine something there worth $13.
Well, let the record show that this is, by far, the best $13 a month I have ever spent. I am officially a YMCA devotee. I have helped convince half the MFA program to also join, receiving free t-shirts and tote bags from the Y for my efforts. I have finally established a regular weight training habit (kettlebell classes twice a week!), I cross-train regularly (spin class, you hurt so good), and best of all - I've finally figured out which yoga classes fit my schedule and challenge my practice. YMCA, I love you.
The yoga thing was tricky. There are a bunch of classes and while they are described in the schedule, you really have to experience each one first hand. Through trial and error, I discovered that Yoga 1&2 was geared toward beginners, Ashtanga is great but getting to the Y at 6:00am is harder than you'd think, and Vinyasa Flow is okay but repetitive (and not in a good way).
I also discovered a few gems, and have finally settled into a yoga practice that seems like it will allow me to deepen my practice, challenge my abilities, and reap the benefits my body so desperately needs. Since I'm also running and cross-training my goal is three classes a week, and I've found that some combination of the following does the trick:
Monday @ 5:30pm: Flow Yoga, a 90 minute class that is usually packed, led by an instructor who has a really nice, relaxed teaching style. The pace of the class goes from slow to fast and I like that we can cover so much in the longer amount of time.
Thursday @ 6:00am: Ashtanga. Also 90 minutes long and we're able to get through most of the primary series. If I do not wake up in time for Ashtanga (which happens... a lot), then I might go to the 8:30am Vinyasa Flow class. The instructor usually teaches the same poses every week, but only dropping in now and then makes it less boring.
Friday @ 12:00pm: Power Yoga. One hour long and I'm glad. A powerful and athletic class and leaves me sweaty and shaking by the end.
Saturday @ 11:45am: Vinyasa Flow Yoga. One hour and fifteen minutes long. Taught by an older woman who used to be a ballet dancer. She's lovely and as soon as she walks into the room, I feel my body relax and open to the practice.
Namaste, y'all. For serious.
I feel so lucky to have a place like the YMCA. As a writer/student/blogger/reader, I spend the majority of my time sitting down, and I know that having a place I can go, whether it's to spin with friends, swing a kettlebell, or do a million downward dogs, is vital to my health and sanity. So thank you, YMCA, from the bottom of my healthy, strong heart. When I write my first book, you better believe I'll be including you in the acknowledgements.