As the weather continued into the high eighties, Sleuth thought what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than in a relaxing restorative yoga class. Anthea Yoga and Healing Arts Center is a cozy neighborhood studio just off the R train in the south part of Astoria, close to all the diverse restaurants of Broadway. The studio also serves as a healing arts center with private rooms for massage, energy healing, acupuncture, psychotherapy and Reiki.
I paid at the back at what looked like a former bar or social club which now stocks herbal teas and vegan pastries instead of alcohol. "What props do I need?" I asked the karmi at the desk. "I'll get them for you," she replied and gathered two blocks, two bolsters and two blankets for me.
Sylvia Mouzourou, the owner, would be teaching this afternoon. She commenced class with a Upavistha Konasana (or Wide Legged Straddle Pose). Sylvia would demonstrate the set up first before the students began setting up. For this pose, our two blocks propped up the bolster. On top of that we we placed two blankets, then splayed our legs in a wide legged straddled and laid our heads on the blankets.
We held this pose, and each pose during class, for approximately ten minutes while Sylvia’s soundtrack of wordless relaxation music played in the background. Between each pose, Sylvia would have us sit in a brief Sukhasana meditative position for a minute.
Our second pose of the afternoon comprised Legs Up the Bolster. We took our blankets off the bolster and then lay back and propped our legs up on the bolster that was held up by two blocks. Sylvia came around and covered our eyes with an eye pillow as we relaxed into it.
Our third pose was a twist. Laying our blocks in a step ladder shaped we placed the bolster diagonally on top of the blocks then put a blanket between our bent and twisted legs before folding our torsos over the setup. "You can lay your head to one side or the other depending on what feels most comfortable," Sylvia said. Between the twists, Sylvia once again had us meditate in Sukhasana. Sylvia also advised us to be aware if we were clenching our fists and to make sure our palms were flat on the floor for this restorative pose, allowing the wood floors to support us. At the end of the twists, Sylvia also had us take a wide-kneed Child's Pose.
Our final pose of the day was Supta Baddha Konasana. We kept the block/bolster configuration of the previous pose but rolled up a blanket length-wise and wrapped the rolled-up blanket around our ankles and opened our knees out to the side before laying back against the bolster with both hands resting at our sides. "If you need to prop up your knees, let me know and I'll help you," Sylvia said, always coming around to students needing assistance or prop adjustments.
After ten minutes of relaxation, Sylvia had us roll out of the pose to the right, encouraging us to come out gently, with our eyes remaining closed, then sit in a meditative position for several minutes allowing a few more savored moments of stillness.
Class ended with a simple Namaste and we slowly moved to put our props away, mentally at our "Sunday Best."