by: Susan Ray
Growing up, we are taught over and over again to follow rules and to fit into templates. Rules and templates can be super useful, given the right scenario. They can be used to guide us and protect us, like in the case of driving. Coming to a stop at a red light is a great rule – it protects you from getting into an accident when you drive through an intersection. However, rules can also hinder us and serve as a roadblock, wherein breaking the rules can invoke freedom and creativity, while still preserving the core intention behind the activity at play.
This is exactly what the founders of Alchemy have done with yoga. They’ve taken an incredibly amazing style of movement and removed the unnecessary rules, while preserving the general structure and anatomic rules necessary to reap the physical and mental benefits that yoga offers.
In traditional vinyasa yoga, an inhale or exhale breath is linked to every single movement. Certain movements are only done in conjunction with an inhale breath, and certain movements are only done in conjunction with an exhale breath. Some schools take these rules a step further by teaching yoga postures in a very particular order, and utilizing transition postures to get from one plane of movement to the next, rather than moving across several planes of movement in one fell swoop.
When I tried my very first Alchemy class, several years ago (before an Alchemy studio even existed), I was deeply ingrained in the yoga world. I had been practicing and teaching vinyasa yoga for years, without plans to leave. I came to my first Alchemy class without an open mind, and as a result, I felt offended and very uncomfortable with the way they did yoga. I stewed over their yoga for several years, and finally I realized that what I was so uncomfortable with was the fact that they weren’t following the rules of traditional yoga. I also realized that if I continued to move through life following traditional rules that had been set out for me, I would never allow myself any freedom, fun, or the ability to make innovative changes in this world.
Alchemy isn’t a yoga studio, nor is it claiming to be. Alchemy is an innovative gym, utilizing innovative movement to make bodies feel healthy and strong. The yogic movement we do in class is intended to warm up our muscles properly so that we can crush our workouts as safely and efficiently as possible. It’s meant to draw in the elements of isometric conditioning and balance to prevent injury, and to help us understand how to help our bodies find and come back into balance. Perhaps most importantly, Alchemy’s yoga is meant to be fun!
We don’t tell you when to inhale and exhale because we know you know how to breathe on your own. We put postures in different orders to express creativity of movement, and to explore the challenges of movement patterns that are outside of our comfort zones. We vary our pacing through postures to show you how athletic you really are – sometimes we move fast, forcing high levels of coordination, sometimes we move slow, focusing on control and isometric strength – and because a solid pace creates momentum, which in turn creates positive change.
Rules are great when intended to protect you. Here at Alchemy, we intend to make you feel alive. Whether you’re flowing, pushing, pulling, or jumping, we’re here to help inspire you, and we’re not afraid to break the rules in the process. This is why we’ve successfully built a community of such strong and vibrant athletes and coaches. This is why our classes feel so good on your body, and this is why you experience and invoke such positive change both inside your body and out, within the studio and beyond.
Sooz is a Coach and Retail Lead at Alchemy Edina. In her free time, she’s a creator of all kinds of things. Need style inspiration? She’s your girl. Her favorite snacks are almond butter Perfect Bars and Simple Mills cheddar crackers.