Dancing Shoulder Blades
Michiko Minegishi – kitty cat or Scorpion? (photo by Ulrike Reinhold)
- Samurai Sideplank (photo by Ulrike Reinhold)
One doesn’t expect to see a drum kit in a yoga class. Certainly you don’t expect to begin a yoga class with drumming. A few gentle OMs? Sure. A sanskrit prayer or two? I’ll mumble my way through it. Perhaps a bit of a dharma talk? Love it. But a strident looking Japanese warrior in black with red forearm cuffs weilding two sticks and beating a large martial Japanese drum? Hell yes!
Thus began Michiko Minegishi’s Vinyasa Flow class. A lithe, slender framed Japanese woman who commanded the raised stage in the centre of the yoga barn pavillion, she was some sort of cross between samurai warrioress, hardened yogi, radiant contortionist and, um, cute little Japanese kitty cat?
Apologising for her lack of English (which only made her cuter), Michiko then led us through a blistering series of vinyasas. There were side plank variations, twisting bending supporting poses, one-legged balancing poses, and at one point I was asked to stick my head under my leg and feared that I would never get it out.
Her interpreter was on hand to help Michiko explain which arm to stretch, which one to lift, and which side to lengthen and strengthen. And throughout each difficult pose our martial drummer was in the background alternately pounding and tapping and banging away the intensity of each position with his artful drumming.
It was somewhat like a scene from a Japanese samurai training camp, a Shonen Knife concert and a Hello Kitty cartoon. At odd moments Michiko would do something indescribably cute – a little noise, a little exclamation, a little instruction after we were upside down to stand up and “now check your hair”, a little reminder over half way through that “this is the warmup” all spoken with a childish smile and her Japanese accent.
At one stage she even had a little mock tantrum on the stage, jumping up and down and saying “not finish” when several of the class were resting in disbelief at what they had either just done or were being asked to do.
Minegishi is obviously an accomplished practitioner as can be seen in the strength and economy of her movements. It was definitely one of the most unique yoga sessions I have attended – not to mention the Taiko drummer.
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Written by : Russel Price