Curiously, at the start of class at this friendly neighborhood Astoria yoga studio, there was a small slip of paper and pen at the top of each of our mats. Our teacher, Elizabeth Barnett, told us that the theme of the month was "Feed Your Soul" while going around the room asking for names and any injuries. It was a full house, and one person had just taken class with studio owner Anne-Margaret and was hanging around for more.
As Elizabeth made her initial rounds, she asked us to write down three things that feed our souls and to think about ways to make the things that feed our souls more a part of our lives. This marked the "mantra" component of the "move, groove and mantra" class.
After a brief silent meditation, we took some standing side bends and some slight standing back bends to forward bends with hands interlaced behind our backs. From there we took some standing side bends, and a slight back bend from standing to a forward bend with hands interlaced behind our back. We then segued into Sun Salutations with Elizabeth keeping a strict eye on our alignment, asking us not to let our shoulders go below elbow height in Chaturanga.
As we moved onto standing poses, and the music got more groovy, we transitioned from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 to Triangle to Peaceful Warrior. In another sequence, we took a series of Peaceful Warriors to Extended Side Angle. In one Vinyasa sequence, we lowered ourselves all the way toward the floor for a series of Cobras.
Here, Elizabeth advised us to squeeze our legs together and push into the tops of our feet, adding that she'd recently been watching a documentary about snakes. Apparently, snakes can dangle from tree branches in a j-shape and launch themselves into the air from their tail. Elizabeth asked us to imagine having that kind of power in the tops of our feet. She gave Sleuth an adjustment at this point, pressing down on my feet.
We then took a Crescent Moon with a twist and Elizabeth advised us to take any padding we needed for our knees. We later grooved our standing poses toward the back of the room, coming into Tree pose at the back of the mat. While carefully adjusting others in the room, she asked us, if we felt we had good balance, to move our branches and play with the balance.
Our back bend portion of the night was Half Wheel with the option to put a block under the sacrum and for those who had Full Wheel to take three Wheels. After decompressing our backs, we came into a series of forward bends: Paschimottanasana, Janu Sirsasana and Baddha Konasana.
For those who were new to Sirsasana or Headstand, they were allowed to take their mats to the wall. For those who wanted to practice in the middle of the room, they were allowed to stay where they were. Elizabeth offered assists to both those at the wall and those in the middle of the room.
We were then give the option to take a Shoulderstand or just rest with Viparita Karani, AKA Legs Up the Wall. Elizabeth first demonstrated how we could come into this pose. After finagling for spots at the wall in this busy class we took our restorative pose for the night. Elizabeth then had us take a pre-Savasana five minute silent meditation. There was an option to stay in the meditation or slowly make our way into Savasana after the five minutes was up.
Class ended with three Oms and the peace mantra "Shanti Shanti Shanti." We left class with our souls fed for the night.
-Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Single drop-in classes are $17 with $1 mat rental.