Let the journey inward take you out
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on August 13, 2013. Posted with permission.
Power yoga delivers strength, endurance, balance, happiness and flexibility. But Lenore Bishop’s class is a beast.
Yogis follow their favorite instructors, and Bishop is certainly followed. She teaches with Ruby and Pearl’s in Ft. Myers and Bala Vinyasa in Naples. If you’re five minutes early to class, you’re really ten minutes late. It’s mat to mat and wall to wall.
Bishop teaches Baptiste style. The tradition builds strength and cultivates confidence. Through this a transformation to a stronger body and mind becomes possible.
The doors are shut. The AC is dead. It’s about 90 degrees. You’re sweating. A lot.
This is advanced asana. There’s no easing into this practice except a brief child’s pose. Bishop launches a swift vinyasa flow of multiple sun salutations and warrior sequences. The practice is peppered with postures like flying pigeon, crow with jumpbacks, half moon and tripod headstands.
Yoga is a time to move inward, but Bishop questions such wisdom in a world where people are more disconnected than ever.
Thus Bishop’s sneaky quest: She paradoxically combines the individual’s mat experience with a collective one.
She’s breaking all the rules to get there.
There will be talking. This room is not silent. When Bishop talks to the class, the class answers. Commentary and jokes flow freely. No one is shy about loud, moaning exhales.
Bishop reminds the class that there is a difference between curiosity and pushing. “What is possible, right here, right now, in this moment?” she asks.
Students laugh as they attempt, succeed and possibly (frequently) tumble out of tricked-out asana.
There will be touching. When it’s mat to mat, it’s hard to avoid smacking others. Bishop puts the crowd to work. As students balance on one leg for tree, they anchor themselves arm to arm. The steady balance the wobbly; the wobbly strengthen the roots of the steady. As the room reclines in twists, hands press strangers’ shoulders to the mats. In a sea of downward-facing dogs, lifted legs rest on neighbors’ backs.
Everyone got over mingling sweat long ago.
The music will rock. The singing bowls, harmonium, and Sanskrit chanting are notably absent. Power is intensity, so Bishop reaches for the “buoyancy” of Pink Floyd (with glow sticks and black light), the Beastie Boys, 80s favorites and hip hop. Yes, you can sing along and dance in your poses.
Some take their yoga seriously and may find this class distracting. Yet, Bishop’s approach is compelling. The goal of yoga is unity, to sense your oneness with all that is, to unearth your true self and to banish the lonely disconnection.
“Now I realize it is so important to connect with the people around me. The best parts of life are when we share our time with others,” Bishop said. What better time than when you are closest to your authentic self?
Once upon a time, a yoga teacher was called a guru. Some still are. Bishop may qualify.