There’s a saying in Yoga (don’t worry, it’s not in Sanskrit) that goes something along the lines of the postures that instill the most dread are the ones that are most needed – even instructors aren’t immune.
And while I have been a yoga practitioner and instructor for many years, there are still entire lineages of yoga that intimidate even me. For many, it may be the arm balances and pretzel-like configurations on Instagram feeds; for me, it’s the practices that require stillness. Despite the name, signing up for Avara Yoga’s Tuesday evening Relax and Restore was a big step out of my comfort zone. Avara means “traveler” in Hindi, a phrase close to owner Meghan Fisher’s heart. Having spent time as a pop-up instructor, teaching classes in the field without a studio to call home, when Fisher opened West Hattiesburg’s Avara in the summer of 2014, the name was an obvious choice.
Upon my arrival to the intimate studio, tucked into a small strip mall on Old Hwy. 24, my anxiety over the prospect of quieting my thoughts for an entire hour (in the middle of press week, no less) was lulled away. Ambiant music echoed softly as a bead-draped lantern cast a dream-like kaleidoscoping stream of pink light across the darkened floor.
I knew I was in expert hands: Fisher holds two certifications totaling 700 hours (like any other practice, yoga instruction requires certifications obtained through concentrated teaching hours, with most instructors receiving the basic 200 hours to be considered a Registered Yoga Teacher). With an assortment of props, like bolsters (which are torso-sized pillows), sandbags, blankets, and even eye pillows to assist in easing into postures meant to promote restoration and relaxation, I decided to let my inner deadline-driven dialogue hold its tongue while I moved through a slow series of postures that a yogi of any experience level could master. My favorite was an assisted “backbend,” which involved reclining with the support of the bolster on my low back, a block supporting my neck and a sandbag applying gentle pressure to my thighs. Encouraged to modify postures as needed to find relaxation, the 60 minutes soared by and I found myself wakening from my final Savasana with a sense of peace that is usually only cultivated with margaritas and a full night’s rest.
THE FIRST STEP:
Studio shy? Start your yoga journey at home with mindful breathing. Find a comfortable seated position, set a five-minute timer, close your eyes & focus your attention on long breaths in & out of the nose.
For new yogis looking to combat pre-practice jitters, Fisher (pictured above) advises reading the class descriptions prior to attending your first class. For more information on what to expect for your first class, read the FAQ’s provided at avarayoga.com
YOGA BASICS | MONDAY & WEDNESDAYS @ 6PM
Yoga Basics is the perfect place to begin a yoga journey, brush up on skills, or learn the foundations of yoga. This is the ideal place for true beginners as well as seasoned yogis. With a focus on proper alignment, fundamental vinyasa poses and creating flow, this class offers something for everyone.
WARM POWER FLOW | MONDAY @ 7:15PM & TUESDAYS @ 6PM
Turn up the heat! Body heat and room temperature that is. This Power Vinyasa will warm you up from the cooler weather, probably even make you sweat a little. Each class will be set to music, moving through a sequence of various poses and most likely include arm balances and inversions.
RELAX & RESTORE | TUESDAYS @ 7:15PM
Whether it is a long day at work, high impact workouts, training for a marathon, or just too much stress, our bodies deserve the time to restore and reset.
Having found a way to deal with the stresses of working in publishing, you can find Whitney practicing what she preaches at Avara Yoga, which provided promotional consideration for this month’s Modern Fit.