Due to a personal loss two years ago, I found the Zen Stretch class at the Yoga Sanctuary on the Danforth when I was on the hunt for something/anything that could help me release a lot of pent up aggression, chill a manic tangle of memories, as well as bring my collapsing physical body back to life. A 3-for-1 deal with Zen Stretch or I’m still mad with grief and despair.
Aside from the meditative and healing qualities of the class, it’s a fitness monkey’s dream. There is a lot of power and focus in the stretches to bring one back to NOW. The intensity of the class is as crazy as one needs it to be with constant muscle engagement. All this is balanced by slow and focused deep-breathing.
The class is available in person or by DVD, however, if in the Toronto area, I would recommend the live class, at least, for the initial introduction. The instructor and mastermind behind the class, Bodhi Battista, leads the class. He is himself a very dynamic yet calming person. While the class allows one to choose the intensity level, Bodhi always encourages the students to push themselves right into the next day. He has that presence that makes one want to try. Such is the way with all good teachers. And if all that breathing and stretching and grunting fails to keep the mind present, Bodhi will perplex us by naming strange parts of the anatomy that are benefiting from the exercise.
Extra oxygen and good instructors make going out to any kind of yoga or stretch class worthwhile. Otherwise, why don’t I just workout at home in the comfort of whatever I want or don’t want to wear. Good instructors can get those extra few seconds out of any exercise and any person. Especially in terms of yoga instructors, they also help to reintroduce me to my body and get us on better speaking terms.
While some yoga sequences can leave one feeling drained (sometimes in a good way), the Zen Stretch class is definitely an upper, in a very peaceful way, by DVD or by class and after two years of regular practice, I still say it’s a keeper. Or I’m still mad with grief and despair.