Many people ask this question. It is common to overhear this sentiment in the yoga studio changing room, “I just don’t like the 90 minute classes. It’s too much. I can’t fit it in. I’m just a beginner, etc.” This is a normal conclusion, considering that most magazines prescribe 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day and considering our fast-paced society of fast food, 22-minute sitcoms, and the 2-minute song, but we believe that the 90-minute class with the same 26 postures is more gripping than the latest Breaking Bad episode and will hold your attention more fully than the 20-minute Cross Fit Workout Of the Day. While it is always the same postures, every day is different. Every day brings you a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow, and we believe it is worth every minute of it.
The 26 posture series follows the tradition of “the Beginners Class” that was developed by Bikram Choudhury, an Indian yoga master, to work all the systems of the body systematically. Years of thought and practice have gone into this series. It is tried and true for over 40 years, and it is designed to be completed in a 90-minute class. The series includes two sets of most every posture – giving you two chances to practice the posture and two opportunities for your body to open to the posture. Without a doubt, the second set of the postures is typically your “destination set” – the deeper set in which the body is more open to the posture, and your muscles and mind have retained memory of the posture from the first set which will aid in performing the posture during second round, helping you to master the posture. It is still possible to achieve this in the 60-minute class, as some postures are practiced twice, but you do not get as much rest between postures, which is another important part. We consider 60-minute classes to be more of a maintenance class to maintain your practice when schedules do not allow for 90 minutes of practice.
Perhaps the most important reason for 90 minutes is the chance for internal struggle and therefore, possibility for refinement. When you enter the room for a 90 minute class, you must choose over and over to remain. To remain in the hot room for the full 90 minutes. That, in and of itself, may be the most significant challenge. Lying in savasana wanting some ease, some air, some water, some relief can be the hardest yoga that is done in the room. When you stay in the room for 90 minutes, you have conquered a real and significant challenge. You learn the most important lesson that is to be learned – that you are stronger than you thought. When you stay in the room for 90 minutes, even if you are laying down half of the class, you have at some point faced yourself, your fears, your weaknesses and you have used your mental focus and determination to put those thoughts, perceptions, or physical feelings aside and you conquer. It may not be a transcendent feeling. It may feel more like giving up. A surrender to the heat and struggle. But either way, you have accomplished what you set out to do. You challenge your body and mind, through a 600- to 1,200-calorie effort, you stretch yourself to the limit, you grow stronger – inside and out.