“Looks like we are going to have a big, energetic class today,” said an exuberant Terri Bahr while situating mats to maximize space in the loft-like Lyons Den. The yoga studio, ablaze with floor to ceiling windows and a temperature near 95 degrees, was packed with yogis, yet still maintained a generous 6 inches between each mat once class had begun.
Finding her spot up front, Terri told us to take Child’s Pose as she spoke about the breath -- particularly the journey between our first breath at birth, and our last breath at death. “Everything in between is your life," she said. "Be messy. Be raw. Be you!"
Yes (the band) came blasting through the speakers to punctuate her announcement that our journey in class would be guided by theAlmost Famous soundtrack.
“I try to create a flow of sound that matches the yoga flow. Some songs bring power and inspiration, other songs bring lightness and deep meditation,” Terri said about her class music selections.
We began moving with a few rounds of Downward Dog to High Plank then Chaturanga (or Knees Chest and Chin) which brought us into Sun Salutations A and B, and eventually to Headstand (or Dolphin as a modification).
“On a philosophical level, inversions allow us to see the world through a different perspective. Sometimes you need to look at things in a completely different way to really see them clearly,” she said before giving us a juicy recovery period in Child's Pose.
The class followed the Baptiste flow of specific poses in sequence with a few creative variations.
Other standing poses included Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Airplane (AKA Warrior 3) and Half Moon. The pace was swift, yet I never felt like we were “powering” through the poses to quickly. Instead, my body was challenged by the long holds (which included Utkatasana, Warrior 2 and Lunge Twist) that called on my muscles to work.
Terri’s infectious sense of humor filled many moments of the class. At one point when our arms were lifted up in the air, she had us wave them around, dance party style.
“During the challenging moments, I remind my students not to take themselves too seriously and breathe. A laugh here and there, goes a long way,” she said to me after class. “Yoga is about balance; it can be hard and it can be easy. It's really a metaphor for life itself. In a yoga class, like in life, there are obstacles and challenges. The idea is to create lightness and space for my students to face them,” she said.
When we broke for water, Terri mentioned that the building of Lyons Den used to be a brothel. "So these walls have absorbed a lot,” she said underneath a smile. “Feel free to release all your stuff here.”
Accompanying us down to the floor was “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. The class followed Terri’s lead, and sang the lyrics out loud. It was reminiscent of the bus scene in Almost Famous when everyone joined in together to sing.
A series of core strengthening moves came next – bicycle crunches and several Boat Poses – “High Boat, Low Boat, High Boat Low Boat,” Terri instructed while we lifted and lowered our bodies from the floor. Backbends followed.
When the ceiling fans turned up to high, class began to cool down with a deep, long Ankle to Knee Pose.
“In our day to day lives, we hold a great deal of tension, stress and negative emotions in our hips and lower backs. The purpose of this pose is to help release this, create more space, be more open. When we do this, it changes the way we think. When we change the way we think, it changes the way we act toward others. At the end of the day, it changes lives,” explained Terri.
A reclining twist led us to Savasana.
After class, I approached Terri (with shaking legs and covered in sweat) to ask about her teaching style. She told me “My goal is to make a connection with each and every student, and leave them with a sense of empowerment.”
Drop-in classes are $24. Mat rental $2, towels are free.