I remember taking my first online class with Vytas. I had heard through the grapevine that his classes were tough, challenging, and dynamic. Always on the lookout for a good, sweaty yoga session, I chose his Vasisthasana 2 class from Udaya Online.
The first thing I noticed about Vytas’s teaching was how descriptive he can be. His instructions help you visualize deep inside each muscle being used, as well as creating consistent awareness of breath at all times.
The class begins with a short child’s pose before you are brought to the theme of the class, Vasisthasana. From plank, Vytas leads you through a calm and focused side plank to give a point of reference for the class. Being the beginning of the class, you are strong, rested and probably able to hold this pose for quite some time. Don’t change that dial, because you are in for quite a treat that simultaneously challenges and rewards you with a sense of progression and accomplishment.
I’ve done Vasisthasana many times before. In class and at home I’ve always felt side plank comes easy to me (hand stand press-ups not so much). I took this class thinking we’d be going through a variety of different sequences incorporating the standard Vasisthasana, and boy was I wrong. Sure, this pose is the root of the class, but Vytas helps you attack it from all angles—And I mean ALL angles! From the first Vasisthasana, Vytas takes you through a later sequence incorporating tree pose or Vrksasana. You might be thinking, what in the world does this have to do with a side plank? Just wait. Soon enough, the realization sets in that you are about to try side plank with your leg in tree pose. I remember beads of sweat crawling down my face the moment this thought set in. Sure enough, through careful instruction you are led to your hands and attempting side plank in Vrksasana. The first variation was surprisingly opening, until Vytas throws a curveball and has you attempt the pose with the bottom leg! Not so easy now! The first time I tried this, I remember falling lightly to the ground, laughing at how ignorant and unaware I could be at all the variations that come with Vasisthasana.
Throughout the class, you proceed with a number of flows and sequences that both strengthen and provide increased flexibility, gearing you up for the final variation: Vasisthasana 2. In my practice I’ve never attempted this, as I thought it was nearly impossible for anyone with legs as long as mine. Being 6’5’’, this pose was a pipe dream for me! With the mindset of play, I proceeded with Vytas’s careful instructions and attempted the final variation of the class. Sure enough, I was able to hold this pose for a mere moment before sagging my hips and laughing to the ground.
In the final Savasana, all I could think about were the words ignorance, humility and play. I was surprised at how many different variations this pose could incorporate while opening up your body, humiliated as I fell to the floor laughing in my apartment, but remembering that it’s all just play and that soon with practice this pose will be another tool in my box of hip openers and balance challenges. Thank you, Vytas and Udaya!