On a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, Yoga Sleuth found herself happily hiking across the Pulaski Bridge to attend Jennifer Batson's Yin and Restorative class at The Yoga Room. The hike had to be at least half a mile, and I felt quite entitled to some delicious restorative love as I crossed the river to Queens. I had never actually attended Jen's class before, but had witnessed her teaching several times as a musical guest for her special candlelight restorative workshops. The students in these workshops seemed so happy and so wonderfully relaxed afterwards that I decided to make it a priority to physically take one of Jen's classes myself. It was a good choice.
Probably due to the beautiful weather, the class was relatively small. Although it's kind of hard to tell because space at the Long Island City Yoga Room is luxuriously abundant (coming from someone who has crammed into classes held in small offices and closets elsewhere over the years). Everything about the space is clean, tranquil, and just lovely.
I noticed that the apparent "regulars" who had entered the studio before me were already supplied with several bolsters, blocks, and blankets, so I grabbed the same. Love those props! As the last students filtered in, Jen greeted everyone and was careful to ask if anyone was working with any injuries. After some initial Oming, we got right to it.
In true Yin fashion, the class consisted of a few juicy poses that were held for several breaths. This allows the body to hopefully get deeper into the posture. Jen would first show us how to set up the pose (always with several props), and then we would follow suit. She said, "I will do my darnedest to make sure you’re supremely comfortable." She did, and I was.
Our first posture was Supported Fish using a Pilates ball under the "bra line." A block was used to support the head, and a bolster was placed under the knees. We stayed here for several breaths with the eyes closed, and with Jennifer's soothing music and the perfect temperature of the room, I felt my tensions begin to melt. I had never used a Pilates ball in yoga before, and I think it's time for me to go prop shopping!
We also did a pose called Praying Mantis, which was a sort of Balasana variation. The elbows were placed on blocks with the head supported by the floor (or another block if it didn't reach). The hips were back toward the heels (like Balasana), but were still a bit lifted in the air. This was a deep opening for the triceps, and it was an interesting combination of work and rest.
Another fun named posture we did was Dragon Pose, which was rather like Crescent Lunge using blocks under the hands. We began with the blocks in line with the feet, and had the option of increasing the intensity by bringing the blocks further back or bringing the hands up on the knees. Jennifer said to "back out" a bit if any of the deeper variations brought any tension into the shoulders or neck. Though I usually consider Crescent Lunge quite easy, I became aware that as I placed my hands on my knees, some tension did seep into my shoulders. So, I placed my hands back on the blocks. Why not?
We also took a choice of two Plow variations: on the floor with the feet pressing against the wall, or standing forward with the back and shoulders against the wall. I took the latter, and as I struggle with my tight hamstrings, this was the most intense pose of the class for me. But it was interesting to try Plow in such a different way.
Jennifer offered a two-part restorative pose for Savasana. The first involved leaning back against two bolsters (one propping up the other in a T shape) with blocks under the arms ("arm rests"), a blanket weighting down the hips and a third bolster under the knees. Jennifer called this "the full Monty." Amazing. We had the choice to stay there for as long as we liked, or we could move the bolsters so that there were two under the knees (propped up by blocks) and a folded blanket tucked at the edges as a pillow. Wow.
Jennifer really has a wonderful way of clearly describing each pose and helping everyone to get into it keeping the energy and mood in the room very peaceful and relaxing. She also gave excellent adjustments. This class is Restorative, Yin yoga in a pure and beautiful form. You won't burn calories, but your body will feel amazing. And isn't that mainly what Asana practice is about?
-Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth
A single drop-in class is $20. New student special: 3 weeks unlimited classes for $39.