When my yin and yang met on a mat

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN I told my bestie I was go­ing to a yoga class, her re­sponse was: “On pur­pose?”

Some­thing as whole­some as this is not what I would usu­ally do on a Fri­day night, but I’m al­ways open to new ex­pe­ri­ences (within rea­son). And so it came to pass, I ar­rived at myUTOPIA at the ap­pointed time for its Straw­berry Full Moon event last week, where guests were in­vited to “stim­u­late their fiery en­ergy to pu­rify tox­ins and open their bod­ies to re­store their yin-yang bal­ance ahead of the new moon.”

The ses­sions – in heated or non-heated rooms – lasted just more than an hour. Our room (non-heated) was lit with can­dles, which was won­der­fully for­giv­ing for a novice like me, who doesn’t even own proper yoga pants (I see lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween these and good, old- fash­ioned leg­gings from Mr Price, but I’m a rebel like that). The stu­dio is beau­ti­ful; it over­looks the V&A Water­front with the Cape Wheel seen from the large glass win­dows.

The idea was to cre­ate bal­ance be­tween equal parts of male and fe­male en­ergy, so we be­gan with some fairly easy, gen­tle stretches with in­struc­tor Anoushka Em­son. For about half an hour, I thought it might even be a form of ex­er­cise that I could em­brace in my life.

Then this lovely lady qui­etly left the room and was re­placed by Chris Vlok and sud­denly things cranked up. The moves came hard and fast, and he rat­tled off their names – down­ward dog, three-legged dog, full war­rior, aero­plane and so on – as I des­per­ately tried to keep up while watch­ing him bend his in­cred­i­bly toned and flex­i­ble body into seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble po­si­tions.

“Here, the bird of par­adise is avail­able to you,” he said at one point. Maybe in a few years, Chris, when I can ac­tu­ally link my hand un­der my leg and be­hind my back and not fall over.

By the end of this yang en­ergy part, I was hot, sweaty and ex­hausted.

Ap­par­ently not all yoga is the same though, so per­haps I’ll re­turn for an­other class with Em­son. As dif­fer­ent as these two halves were, they rep­re­sented the yin and yang phi­los­o­phy: Yin is char­ac­terised as slow, soft, yield­ing and is as­so­ci­ated with water, earth, the moon, and fem­i­nin­ity. Yang, by con­trast, is fast, hard, solid, and as­so­ci­ated with fire, the sky, the sun and, of course, mas­culin­ity.

On the same night, an art ex­hi­bi­tion by Ana Kuni and Lin­nea Frank opened. It show­cases fem­i­nin­ity and power as the theme, in­cor­po­rat­ing god­dess and war­rior art­works.

For de­tails about classes and up­com­ing events, fol­low on Face­book, call 021 202 2271, or go to www.myutopia.co.za

Since 2014, In­ter­na­tional Day of Yoga has been cel­e­brated on June 21 and is ac­knowl­edged by the United Na­tions. To cel­e­brate, there will be two free yoga ses­sions at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre to­day, at 8.30am un­til 1.30pm, and again at 2pm un­til 7pm. The first 250 peo­ple to ar­rive at each ses­sion will re­ceive a com­pli­men­tary Adi­das goodie bag, and your Quicket ticket (a for­mal­ity) will en­ter you into a draw for a three-night yoga re­treat in the Ka­roo from Novem­ber 2-5 for two peo­ple, com­plete with yoga gear, all courtesy of Adi­das. Take your own yoga mat or beach towel. Lim­ited mats will be avail­able to rent. Par­tic­i­pants can make a do­na­tion to these char­i­ties:Earth Child Project http://earth­child­pro­ject. org/ or Mother­s2Mothers https://www.m2m.org/

In­struc­tor Anoushka Em­son ... lovely stretches en­joyed in her in yin-type yoga.

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