'Tis the season of holiday hype that garners all types of imbalances. To stay centered amidst the buzz, Sleuth relies on the practice more than ever, and class with Jillian Pransky seemed like a great way to get grounded. Well-known for her “chill-out” teachings, I was excited to experience a Vinyasa Flow with Yoga Work’s director of restorative teacher training.
Seated in Virasana, up front in the bright and spacious room, Jillian began class with a dharma talk on the subtle body of energy. She spoke about how Western doctors analyze the body by looking into the organs. While in the East, doctors regard the energy centers, or chakras as a primary source for treatment. She added that in yoga we’re also working with the subtle body, and our class theme was to calibrate the chakras, and refresh them in preparation for the upcoming busy spell.
The chakra talk continued with Jillian going into detail about the parts of our personalities that are governed by each energy center, along with their color associations, and the mantras we would chant to encourage the opening.
Still seated, she started a body scan by having us place our hands over the area represented by each chakra. She complemented the physical instruction with insight into the meanings behind these focal points.
After closing the talk with namaste, she asked us to meet in Tadasana at the top of the mat.
Standing in Mountain, Jillian emphasized the strength in our legs with our feet planted firmly on the floor. We were working on the root chakra. Jillian had us take several rounds of Chair Pose, and requested that we bring our hips closer to the earth each time. We moved through a vinyasa of straight legs, arms up by the ears to Chair with arms reaching behind.
Tree, another first chakra pose, came next. The posture was enhanced with a vinyasa of lengthening the leg to the side then lifting it up into Tree. Jillian gave more details about the root chakra (when it’s in balance we can let go easily), and we chanted the mantra Lam.
For the second chakra, Warrior 2 and Goddess pose were included in the sequence. Jillian reminded us to use the strength from our legs and feet (and root chakra) to feed into the sacral (or second) chakra. She made this connection throughout the entire class – how the energy of one chakra helps to balance the others, how they build on each other. We chanted the mantra Yam, and Jillian spoke about the fluidity of this chakra - its element is water and its color is orange.
Class continued to move through the chakras with a sequence that helped balance the energy. The third chakra, focused around the solar plexus, used Upward Dog as one of the postures along with several deep breaths into the rib cage. Lion’s Breath was called on to open the throat chakra. And Camel came for the heart.
Jillian split her time between demonstrating the poses up front with walking around the room. She gave clear instructions, frequently called the pose names in English, and used silent interludes to fill the space with a calming quality.
The music, chosen specifically because of it’s healing influence on the chakras, played lightly in the background.
Her sequencing allowed for a couple opportunities of yogi’s choice - during the third chakra sequence we could take supported or active Bridge, or supported or active Shoulderstand. And at the very beginning of class, we could take any pose before meeting in Tadasana.
For the sixth chakra we indulged in a full body twist. Starting on our backs with arms out like a tee, very slowly we dragged one hand across the body, and towards the other arm allowing the body to follow until we were on one side. The feet were the only part that didn’t move. We chanted the mantra Om lying on the floor.
Before we took rest, Jillian guided us through a meditation to join both sides of our bodies (the sun and the moon) in harmony.
When we finally got to the crown chakra, it was time for Savasana with two blankets - one placed over the pelvis, and the other was used for warmth.
I rose from rest feeling balanced, aligned and completely refreshed.
-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $30 with $2 mat rental. Locker rooms and shower facilities available.