Yoga Sleuth was intrigued by Deborah Bagg, a funny, funky, devotional South African who looks at yoga through an organic, creative and spiritual lens. And, so one lazy Saturday morning I found myself in Chelsea at the beautiful Yogamaya Yoga Studio.
Deborah started the class by showing us pictures from Vanda Scaravelli's classic Awakening the Spine. We looked at ancient Egyptian drawings and reliefs of backbends. The half naked acrobats looked as if they were doing Urdva Dhanurasana (Full Wheel) to entertain monarchs.
We also viewed a photo of Scaravelli attempting a standing drop back juxtaposed with a picture of a beautiful ocean wave. Obviously it was going to be a class of deep backbends with a suitably active playlist.
We warmed up with vigorous Sun Salutations. She asked us to do a variation with our hands on blocks so that we were able to get the most out of our Upward Facing Dog poses. We were asked to put weight in our feet as we took Warrior I, allowing us to find more life in our mid-spine. And, we played with holding our top foot in Half Moon Pose.
Throughout the class Deborah asked us to release ourselves from holding and find all the possibilities that lay within. She encouraged us to forget about our fears and through precise instruction got me to jump back to Chatturanga from Crow.
Using a strap, we practiced Dancer Pose, standing on one leg with our other foot caught in a loop, our arms bent at the elbow and held overhead. Lifting the foot to the head and taking the head back to the foot.
Once warmed up, we practiced full Locust variations. Chin on the floor, hands underneath our torsos, legs lifting to the sky. It's a pose that's not often taught but Deb's clear instructions helped everyone attempt it in a manner that was safe on the lower back.
Since we were well warmed up and prepared, we were ready for Full Wheel and Standing Drop-Backs. The Ancient Egyptians had nothing on the group of 15 students assembled for this class. When it came time to drop back, Yoga Sleuth utilized the wall to come towards the floor while Deb assisted a student on my right to come back quietly in the middle of the room.
A well earned Supta Padangusthasana took out any kinks in my flexible lower back and then it was time for a lovely rest.
Deb's class was thoughtfully themed, well -sequenced and energetic. While clearly not for beginners, intermediate students should feel that the class will challenge them enough without pushing them too far. I'll surely be back for more.
Drop-in classes are $18 for Single Full-Length, and $13 for Hour-Long.