The Yoga Room is situated in a fun, diverse area of Astoria, Queens. On my way to class I passed The Arepa Cafe, an authentic French creperie and the Museum of the Moving Image.
Having already experienced Victoria Greene's accessible and down-to-earth instruction at one of the free outdoor classes in Astoria Park I decided to see what her studio class was like. Originally hailing from Cambridge in England, Victoria is also a Professor in Modern Dance Technique.
Victoria instructed her packed class to gather two blocks, a blanket and a strap. "Anyone want to tell me anything about their life?" she asked the class. Nobody raised their hand so Victoria continued. "Students are often asking me if yoga can reduce stress. Yes,” she answered, “but it's not that you'll come to a yoga class and you'll forget about your stress forever. I like to think of the mind as a chalkboard cluttered with words and yoga can help erase some of that clutter. It won't fix your life but it may give you moments of clarity."
Victoria began the class with some fast paced Sun Salutations but added a few variations of sweeping the arms up and around several times at the top of the mat while in Tadasana. The class wasn't heated but Sleuth started sweating fairly early on. While holding a high lunge, Victoria encouraged us to shimmy and shake the shoulders so we wouldn't become too tight or rigid in the pose. She also had us circle our arms down and around several times to loosen up the arms. "While you’re holding these poses, see if you can come to that place where the mind is a blank slate."
During the standing poses, Victoria continued to build on an interesting sequence that included low lunge to Ardha Hanumanasana back to lunge to Pyramid (AKA Parsvottanasana) to a Seated Spinal Twist. "Let yourself glide into it and then fix yourself once you get into the pose," Victoria advised us.
Warrior II, Ardha Chandrasana, Reverse Warrior, a standing lunge twist and Extended Side Angle were added to the mix. "I like to tent my fingertips to give myself more room to elongate the spine," Victoria added.
Victoria gives you the freedom to play and experiment in her class, giving you encouraging tips without being fanatical about the alignment. While in a Standing Split, Victoria encouraged us to play with taking our hands off the floor and allowing ourselves to open up the hip even though that was not always the conventional instruction in a yoga class. We played some with our balance in Warrior III and Tree Pose with a side stretch. Twists were added to the mix with twisted high lunge and a Revolved Half Moon.
We worked on opening up the hips jumping into a Malasana and holding the pose for several breaths and taking a twist in the pose. From Downward Dog, we raised one leg, opened up the hip and then landed in what Victoria called a "Demi Pigeon" with the foot tucked in slightly more towards the hip bone. Staying balanced in our Demi Pigeon we then raised our arms and intertwined our arms above our heads. This pose was indicative of Victoria's creative sequencing.
We also worked on Lizard. Some of us took hold of the big toe and opened up to the side in a Vasisthasana with the top leg raised perpendicular to the floor
In Crow Pose, Victoria encouraged more advanced students to work on straightening the arms. As class moved into the back bending portion, Victoria had us work on Bhujangasana, Salabhasana and Dhanurasana. This naturally prepared us for Dolphin Pose and practicing coming up into Forearm Stand. "You'll know when you’re ready for this pose when you get your hips over your shoulders before take off," said Victoria.
After attempting Forearm Stand in the middle of the room, Victoria then asked us to work on Headstand, but she demonstrated the pose first, telling us it was very important not to jump up in the pose. Again, she instructed us to get our hips over our shoulders and lift up into the pose one leg at a time.
After giving us several minutes to work on our Headstand, Victoria instructed us into Janu Sirsasana and Tarasana.
The final poses of the night were aided with a strap. First, we laid down on the floor, lifted one leg and put the strap over our foot and stretched the leg into the ceiling while flexing the foot, then we stretched that leg across the body, stretching out the IT band while keeping the opposite hip glued to the floor. Then we stretched out the leg away from the body for a hip-opening stretch. Putting the strap away to the side we then stretched out in a Happy Baby before rolling down into Savasana.
Victoria ended with an Om, then gave out her email address and encouraged us to send her questions and suggestions.
Elated from her yoga high, Sleuth floated home but not before stopping off to sample some yummy Middle Eastern food on Steinway Street.
-Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes at Yoga Room $20, $2 mat rental.
The Yoga Room has another studio location in Long Island City.