The 26&2 clicked for Jen when she least expected it.
Name: Jen Anders
BHYW regular since: 2017
Teacher since: 2017 (Core & Cardio), 2018 Yin, Hatha
Practice Schedule: A lot! 26&2 3-4 times per week, Core & Cardio a few times a week, plus regular yin, restorative, and some vinyasa practice.
Jen says: “Every class is a different experience.”
How did you come to the 26&2?
I came to the studio specifically because I wanted to try the 26&2. I came from a hot power vinyasa studio, and I had several friends who had been practicing here and telling me I should try it. I had a hiatus from my yoga practice after surgery, so when I got the go-ahead to come back, I decided to try that place I’d been driving by all these years.
How was your first class?
I took a couple of 26&2 classes that first week and thought, “Oh my. This is not for me.” The pace and the deliberateness of the practice were so different from what I was used to. I found my way to the Core & Cardio and found my groove with it.
What made you try 26&2 again?
Obviously, the studio is centered around the 26&2, so over the next couple years I continually would come back to it to give it another chance, thinking that I just didn’t do it right, or I could try harder to like it more.
And in all those times of trying to take a class here and there I was still fighting it the entire time. I was going into class and gritting my teeth and saying “I’m going to get through this whether I like it or not.”
What changed for you?
Really, the turning point for me was when I started doing a lot more serious reading in my yoga teacher training, and thinking about the ideas of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure, and how that actually increases your suffering. I decided to go back and try 26&2 with this new mindset, where I’m just going to be there in the class and do what I can do, and not have any expectations.
That class felt totally different than all the times before. I just let myself do all the postures. I decided I was going to do them all, and I don’t care whether I like them or not! That’s not the point. The point is to find these different postures and breathe and exist like this for the next thirty seconds or a minute.
I found a place where the practice was working for me, then committed to showing up several times in the same week, and then the next week. After a few weeks of that, I thought “I actually like this now.” Now, the deliberateness and the pacing feels good and relaxing. It allows me to do my practice without having to think about what’s going to come next. That is comforting, and a way to use it as a stepping stone to find the higher part of it, the breathing, the meditation, the whole experience.
How is the practice feeling for you now?
It’s feeling really good because I’ve tried to focus on different postures in different classes.
I particularly try to think about the ones that are more of a challenge to me, and figure out how to make them work. There are 26 different postures, so there are a lot of different ways to focus.
Every class is a different experience. Every day is sort of an assessment of my energy, where I’m at emotionally, and finding the posture or handful of postures that I want to pour the most energy into… to get the fullest experience I can.
How has that experience influenced your practice of other types of yoga as a student and teacher?
It’s made me a lot more thoughtful about how energy is moving. I’ve had a lot of fun putting 26&2 postures into some of the other classes I teach, and seeing how they overlap. When we’re doing banana-asana in yin class, how is it the same and different from half moon in 26&2? It’s neat to think about how this posture is working some of the same muscles or opening some of the same joints, but it feels different because we’re in the heat or not, flowing or not, sitting or standing.
How about taking the practice off the mat? Do you find that the lessons that come out of the 26&2 relate to other practices?
I think the 26&2 is a more intensive education in some of the same concepts that are in almost any yoga class.
There’s the difficulty of staying still in restorative class when you’re not working any muscles and the difficulty of staying at your edge in a yin class. I find the 26&2 the most physically challenging. It’s really pushing me to go a little bit further and little bit deeper with the idea of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations, seeing things through, and being present and persevering in whatever is in the present moment, knowing that everything is okay and this is just temporary.
How do you find that 26&2 and Core & Cardio work together, as a teacher and student?
There are certainly a lot of similarities. They’re both in the hot room, they’re both sweaty, they’re both physically challenging. But, they’re opposite in that the Core & Cardio is an opportunity to let out a lot of energy. We’ve got noise and everything is fast and moving all the time.
The 26&2 is equally sweaty and equally challenging, but it’s much more focused on stillness and patience, and you have to be very quiet! I find them challenging and complementary in those opposite ways.
My favorite one is standing head to knee because it’s challenging, but it also feels the most accomplishable. I can see the changes and I can see how I’m improving in that posture. I thrive on being able to see advancement.
Least favorite posture?
My least favorite posture is still floor bow. Although, in the last week or so, something clicked for me… you hear that chatter of the instructor a hundred times and finally, something clicked about kicking my feet up to the ceiling and not just out and back. I can enjoy getting a little more height in that posture. Now I’m definitely holding it until the instructor says “change” and not giving up when I’m anticipating it three seconds before!
If you could tell people one thing about the 26&2, what would it be?
Don’t have any expectations or try to do things perfectly. Just show up. Be there through the experience, and then do it a few more times and see how it sits with you.