Yoga Sleuth was pleased to return to the sweet and homey Usha Veda yoga studio on the quiet Northern tip of her beloved Greenpoint, Brooklyn one cloudy Thursday morning. I have attended Kelly Voegelin’s class many times in the past, and am a huge fan. Without fail, she conveys a sense of calm and peace throughout the class that makes me feel as if I’ve been on a retreat rather than just steps away from the noisy, dirty New York City street.
This was my first time taking Kelly’s “Community Flow” class at Usha Veda. It is $10 cash only, which is really a bargain as long as you have cash (I, of course had to run home and grab some as I only had $5 and a piece of lint). It is an open level class, but the day I went, there were clearly some new students as well as a pretty pregnant one in attendance, so the flow was slow and full of choices and variations. With the changes and excitement of spring swirling around in my head as I arrived to class, this focused, measured, and less fiery practice was exactly what I needed.
Kelly began class with a reading from BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Life” (which I just added to my Barnes and Noble wish list) discussing how asana can help us connect the body and breath to the mind. This seems like a simple idea, but it was certainly a good reminder to begin class with; it can be easy to simply go through motions in one’s practice, forgetting that the asana is just one part of a whole practice.
We began to move, starting in Uttanasana before stepping back into a flow that consisted of Downward Dog, Plank, Cat/Cow, and other basic mat poses. When one of the newer students seemed confused about Knees/Chest/Chin, Kelly broke it down in a way that was a seamless part of the flow. She really has a gift for clearly instructing basic poses in a way that isn’t halting or boring to a more advanced student. I would guess that this also makes new students feel more comfortable, and it undoubtedly makes them better informed.
Transitioning into standing poses, we took Warrior II, Extended Side Angle, and Triangle, passing through a wide leg stretch in the center of the mat to move fluidly to the other side. Kelly offered the option of Knees/Chest/Chin, lowering all the way to the belly, or Chaturanga as vinyasas in between.
Standing poses peaked with Tree into Warrior III (we were given the option of using blocks to help with balance here), although Lizard was the most challenging pose for me. I always lower the knee in that pose whether or not the choice is given, but Kelly was sure to give several options here.
Beginning to slow down, we took Pigeon Pose, which really felt wonderful. Coming onto our backs, we took three Bridge Poses, slipping a block under the sacrum for the final one. From here, we lifted our legs into a restorative Shoulderstand variation. Finally, we used the straps that Kelly had brought around for Paschimottanasana. We were given the option to take any last poses we felt our bodies needed before resting in Savasana, so I took a brief twist.
After a short Savasana, we found a tall grounded seat on the mat. Kelly closed with a gentle reminder about using asana to find wholeness and balance in our bodies and in our lives. As I went back out into my crazy spring day, I certainly did feel more balanced and more peaceful. Who knew $10 cash could buy such a lovely little retreat?
-Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth
This Community Flow class is $10 cash. Mat rental is $1.