At the Brick, a lot of our classes focus on physically building a better you. But to detox from a hectic and chaotic 2018, wellness is just as essential. That is why we have spoken with Adrienne Altenhaus, The Brick’s teacher in Vinyasa, Yin and Ashtanga Yoga, to learn how we can move into 2019 with a clear, calm body and mind. “When you learn how to control your breath, you can learn how to control your body and mind”
Adrienne Altenhaus has been practicing yoga for most of her life, beginning in New York City during her dancing career. She discovered that yoga was the perfect compliment to her dancing as it emphasized movement with breath, balance and focus. Yoga easily became part of her daily routine. “Ever since my first yoga class, I loved it. The more yoga I practiced, the more I could integrate my yogic knowledge as a foundation for my dancing and my life”.
So for those who don’t know, what essentially defines yoga?
Yoga is based on the integration of the breath with the body and mind. There are many facets to yoga. The physical aspect (asana) practice is just one of the many parts of the yogic life. Yoga has a long history based on philosophy and guidelines for compassionate living. In western culture, I often see that taking a yoga class has become synonymous with getting a good workout or sweating. While it is great for the body to sweat to rid yourself of toxins, it is not my primary goal of teaching yoga. I love to focus on proper alignment, mindful moving and concentration on the breathing in combination with mind and body.
At The Brick, you are teaching three types of yoga: Vinyasa Flow, Yin Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. Can you explain the differences between them?
Vinyasa Flow is based on the idea that every movement is connected to the breath. Your inhalation and exhalation are equally long. Usually we lift the heart open and stretch on an inhalation and move inwards or bend on an exhalation. In a vinyasa class, the teacher composes a different class depending on the focus of the lesson ranging from a “ peak pose” or building awareness of different ways to move the body. You move from one position (asana) to the next with your breath.
In Yin Yoga, we are more focused on waking up the connective tissue between the muscles, bones and ligaments to bring fresh blood and oxygen to these tissues. This will help to open the meridians or highways of energy that flow through the body. This will wake up your vital energy, (chi or prana) and bring you a healthier energetic body and a calmer and steadier mind. Very useful for all, even body builders whose muscles are sometime so developed that they find it difficult to move. A challenge in finding stillness and inner quiet, a more passive form of yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga is the new yoga class at the Brick. It is a very active form of yoga. In ashtanga yoga, you practice the same series of asanas in each class. We begin with sun salutations, then standing and sitting poses. This helps you move deeper into the practice as you can explore every detail of your body each time you practice. Every movement is guided by the breath as in vinyasa practice.
After your many years of practice yoga, why do you think it is good for people to try and practice yoga?
I have heard some people say that they are too inflexible to do yoga, but that is just the reason to come to yoga. I love to promote the idea of “mobility” instead of “flexibilty”. It is so important to keep the body mobile and yoga can bring you to a more mobile, fluid body with a calmer mind. When you learn how to breathe and how to move with your breath, you can also begin to empty your mind of thoughts that continually keep you entrapped in your mind. You can break through these patterns, little by little, one breath at a time.
Interested in following one of Adrienne’s yoga classes? Then join us this Wednesday or Thursday for the following group courses:
Wednesday, 16 January:
10h00 – 11h00: Ashtanga Yoga
11h00 – 12h00: Vinyasa Yoga
18h30 – 19h30: Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Thursday, 17 January:
19h30 – 20h30 : Ashtanga Yoga
20h30 – 21h30 : Yin Yoga