I find myself attracted to many things ancient, all things mystical and most things trendy; yoga is a practice that manages to encompass all three of these qualities. I am not what you would call a fan of many “traditional” exercise routines…I know it’s incredibly important for my health, longevity, vitality, appearance etc. but it is also crude and inconvenient. And therefore, I’ve always relied upon my high metabolism to remain thin, albeit somewhat flabby. But, in the last few years, the many layers of my own personal onion have been peeling back at a much more rapid (and God knows, at times painful) pace; consequently I find myself more and more unhappy with most aspects of my previous state of being. This, inconvenient as it may be for my hedonistic bent, includes the afore mentioned lack of exercise.
So, with this shedding of old and unveiling of new self underway, I found myself in the shop of a local spiritual healer who adamantly prescribed some yoga classes for my journey. According to him, the spiritual benefits will outweigh the physical, which will be plentiful on their own. I took his advice to heart and googled yoga studios in Columbia. The two biggest hits I got were Amsa Yoga and City Yoga. The reviews on Amsa appealed to me most and I went to a class the very next day.
Amsa Yoga, located in a shopping plaza, is a small, one room studio with a partition separating the front desk and lobby area from the workout studio itself. The décor is welcoming, simple, warm and clean; perfectly fitting for a yoga studio.
I arrived about 2 minutes late (per usual, but I’m working on it) and the instructor, Anne greeted me at the door. She sweetly shushed my apologies for tardiness, led me to the studio and introduced me to the class as a newcomer to Amsa and to yoga. The class members were very welcoming, especially the woman directly to my right, Helen, who reassured me that everyone, including herself, had a first time at Amsa. An obvious, but comforting point.
Class that morning was titled “Yin and Flow Yoga.” This is a mixture of Yin Yoga (uber relaxing…poses are often held for minutes at a time…meditation is encouraged…Anne read poetry aloud) and Power Flow Yoga (a much faster paced and higher intensity style of yoga…more of a workout). We took deep rhythmic breaths, we downward-dogged, Anjali-Mudra-ed, tree-posed; we planked so much I can’t believe I didn’t crash on my face and most challenging of all… I tried not to kick or fall on the people to either side of me.
The poses were actually pretty universal in that they could be altered for any skill level; I kept my moves pretty basic while the owner of the studio (who was a student this particular morning) looked like a blonde Twizzler on her mat. It was impressive without being intimidating. I never felt like I was being judged as the novice that I am and thankfully I went pretty much unnoticed during class. This freed my inhibitions, allowing me to put forth my best effort and not be too embarrassed when I faltered.
The instructor Anne was great. She had a really soothing voice and touch, occasionally coming around to unobtrusively adjust our poses to perfection. At the end of the class, we used whatever props we wanted to relax and just lay on our mats for about 5 minutes while we unwound from our workout and prepared ourselves to step back out into cruel reality. I being a shy newbie, simply used an eye-pillow, but others around me put pillows under their legs, blankets over their bodies…Anne even offered to tuck us in (a little much, if you ask me). After the class, I honestly felt high…a pure, natural, happy high. Even a little dazed. Everyone else must have been right there along with me because we all just sat on our mats for a few moments smiling like fools and saying things like “That was so nice” and “I can’t even remember my to-do list. The regulars milled around chatting with each other while I thanked the Anne and Kimberly and told my new friend Helen goodbye. I was in a strangely peaceful and open-to-the-possibilities type of mood for the remainder of the day. I was inspired to try something else new and unusual in my own personal world: Indian food. But that’s the next Columbia adventures post. First things first: If you are interested in trying out Amsa Yoga, I’d highly recommend it! The first class is free and the prices after that are very reasonable compared to some of the others I’ve seen listed in the Columbia area. I will probably be returning to Amsa, but plan on trying a few more studios before making my way back around.
Amsa Yoga Contact Info: