Outlaw Yoga or Teddy Bear Yoga?
Mark Stefanowsi led an entertaining, rambunctious class at Kindness Yoga Broadway last Tuesday evening (4.15.14). His Outlaw Yoga combines an exceptionally strong social sharing element with bouts of PowerVinyasa workouts. As a presence, Mark was dedicated, encouraging, and something of a big teddy bear despite the hard-ass biker appearance. Mark really cares about your experience — a Kapha-dominant demeanor.
Purpose / Theme / Results
The stated theme of this Outlaw Yoga class was "Notice the resistance when you are asked to do something you don't feel like doing, but suck it up and following through with it anyway rather than avoiding it." He began class with a personal story illustrating his theme. Then we broke into pairs and shared stories about a time when we experienced similar resistance. At some point we started with, of course, down dog and proceeded with several sets of PowerVinyasas, gradually increasing speed to induce sweat -- and sweat we did. The room was heated to a comfortable 80-something degrees (my guess). Then came some partnered handstand work, more sharing about that experience, and then another bout of more intense PowerVinyasas. Rock music was blaring the entire time. Moving this quickly from pose to pose, asana practice crosses the line into exercise. The class theme was related to the asana thusly: Even though you are tired and sweating and perhaps out of breath and sick and tired of doing down dog, drop the attitude and keep going." Fair enough, but the effect of an Outlaw Yoga class is to increase Pitta (heat) in the body, and Rajas in the mind, meaning it stimulates (or agitates) mental activity. This is exactly what kapha-dominant people like Mark need. The class ended with a yin-yoga style pigeon pose, and a very short savasana.
The Instructor’s Presence That Day: A mix of high Kapha (Social Director) and high Pitta (Drill Sergeant)
Mark is a big, burly guy. For the social chat aspects of the class, he made time for student-to-student interaction and encouraged group sharing of experiences. Like a good parent, he also took advantage of every opportunity to applaud his students, quite literally as well as figuratively. For the vinyasa section, he made sure you got a good workout. Love of beer was occasionally mentioned as a principle of Outlaw Yoga.
Compatible with 3Gems Principles?
Yes and no. A great deal of energy is expended outward in this class in the form of excessive talking and strenuous physical exercise. 3Gems practices, on the other hand, are intended to increase and internalize energy and stillness in the bodymind, not expend it in exercise. Still, for those who are overweight, and particularly for those who need to be pushed into physical exercise, this class would be useful while those qualities persist. This sort of practice is best done in the morning, as the increased Pitta and Rajas it induces may interfere with sleep.