For this new Interview With A Flowgi segment, we met up with Marcia Hoffheins, Flow’s studio manager and expert instructor. We wanted to talk all things Ashtanga, Power Hour and how at the root, it’s all about healing, and Marcia is as good as it gets when it comes to those subjects. So thanks for being here Marcia, and let’s get started!
Obviously the name Power Hour says a lot, and we know the course description, but as a seasoned teacher how do you define this class?
This class is designed to move a student, in a very short period of time through a balanced practice. To focus on building heat, strength and flexibility – but also to look at how the body moves. Most of us at Flow strive to balance the body from head to toe. Some classes are designed differently (yin,restorative for example) but when we can get a good balance of it all – it’s the most rewarding class to teach and to take. You should feel rejuvenated, balanced and ready to take on the day!
Is it only poses from Ashtanga, or does Power Hour employ other unique forms of asana?
This is an interesting question. Poses don’t belong to Ashtanga or Iyengar – they are just postures. But what we do is base the format on the Ashtanga series. So you start with Namaskars to build heat and slowly warm up the body; standing postures to further deepen the openings in the hamstrings, quads and spine; balancing postures to keep you focused on your breathing and strength; and then it’s on to seated postures, core strength, back bending and inversions. But the poses themselves you will see in any Vinyasa class. Vinyasa is Ashtanga!
Speaking of Ashtanga, what’s it all about in your words?
Ahhhhh, healing. In fact, many students know that a year ago I could barely move. I couldn’t twist, bind or barely do a forward fold due to an injury in my back. A year ago today I couldn’t do revolved triangle. Today, just now actually, I moved through the entire Primary Series at home with the exception of about 4 postures. Ashtanga Primary Series is called Yoga Chikitsa – Yoga Therapy. And the more I move through my time as a “yogi” the more I teach the public, and the more I lead teacher trainings, the more I rely on this practice for myself. I have literally healed my body through this practice. I am sure anyone could find their own discipline to do this as well – but for me – it was and is Ashtanga. Sure it’s HARD – but life is hard. In the challenging moments, when I want to give up, cry, what have you – I am typically able to find some sort of magic – lightness and release. But it’s taken a long time to get here.
Clearly both Ashtanga and Power Hour are challenging, but are they too challenging for the more recreational Flowgi?
No! I’m going to keep this answer simple. Yoga meets you where you are in the body that you show up with. I think these practices seem “un-attainable” to the recreational Flowgi, or Yogi in general, because of our ego If you can realize that your body today is different than yesterday, and will be different than tomorrow – these practices shouldn’t be any easier or harder then lets say – Yin Yoga… which has it’s own set of challenges.
We’ve heard it said that Ashtanga is the most popular form of yoga for men, what do you attribute this to?
Hmmm. I don’t now. Probably because you sweat, you are challenged, but also men have tremendous upper body strength and this practice, when practiced in its true form, requires a lot of upper body/core strength. I would have to guess that this is why
Does the class delve at all into Ashtanga’s philosophy regarding the Eight Limbs, and if so, how? What’s that all about to you?
Each instructor at Flow brings a different aspect to the practice. When I teach the full series, I like to discuss the 8 limbs and explain what we are doing beyond just the asanas. However, in a 1 hour class, it’s hard to do this. Most of us try to use a concentration for the students, but we don’t get too deep in the weeds. That’s a whole other class!
Knowing how much you enjoy Ashtanga, what advice would you give to someone who enjoys it but struggles with its many difficult poses?
Just take your time! You will do the pose when you are meant to. 2 years ago I was able to do all the postures in the primary series. Today, I cannot. It’s just what happens – and if you understand the bigger picture – which is that you are there to heal yourself not injure yourself, and to focus on positive thoughts vs. self-defeating ones then the postures don’t matter anymore and it really becomes a practice of patience and self-reflection.
Thanks for spending some time with the Flow Blog, we really appreciate it.
Thank you for asking me to share my ideas on Power Hour, Ashtanga and this awesome practice of yoga-asana!