Showing up to East Yoga is similar to visiting a friend – complete with a genuine warm welcome and overall sense of familiarity (enhanced by Bon Iver tunes breezing through the speakers). The arrival process is very intuitive, from the coat and shoes drop-off on the ground floor to the navigation of the sweet, studio space for the restroom and props.
It was 8am, a great time for energizing kriyas, which is exactly how Tatum Fjerstad began her open level class. For the first round, we took two minutes of Kapalabhati breathing. The two minutes passed by like an hour as my arms were extended by the ears with the thumbs facing in.
The next kriya consisted of more rhythmic breathing – this time arms extended to the side, with our hands on the shoulders for a torso twist that accented each inhale and exhale. Again, two minutes of the meditation tested my endurance.
For the final kriya, similar to Cat/Cow except sitting in Hero’s Pose, we placed palms on the thighs then extended our chests on the exhale, and drew our torsos back in towards the spine on the inhale.
When we finished, Tatum asked us to sit quietly and observe how we felt both before and after the kriyas. She had us place our palms together, in front of our faces, and then bring our hands over the face to completely cover our eyes.
Next we went to warm up our lower bodies. As we laid down on the mat, Tatum told us to move our legs anyway that felt good. She encouraged us to follow our bodies, and discover how we needed to move. Happy Baby and Reclining Twist were offered as a follow up.
Sun Salutations ensued which included a few rounds of knees, chest and chin before Tatum had us “find our flow” and choose the way we wanted to move through the vinyasa.
Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Reverse Triangle, and Triangle were included in the sequence, and while holding Triangle, Tatum said we could take any arm variation. I noticed one yogi extended both arms by his ears while another took the bind.
Tatum split her time between walking around the room with joining us in the postures up front. She spoke in a clear voice, and her demonstrations provided a helpful visual.
As we moved through our vinyasas, Tatum commented on how the practice isn’t linear – it’s not about going from pose to pose. Instead, she wanted us to feel each movement within the shapes so we could be more in our bodies throughout the entire class.
It was a mixed level group. Tatum provided appropriate options to accommodate everyone.
“If you have to get off the yoga bus, then do so,” she said while demonstrating the different levels we could take in a particular variation.
The next sequence included Dancer’s Pose to Bound Half Moon to Extended Half Moon to Standing Split. Before we began she said, “Often when we get into our self practice we rush through the movements. We don’t have to rush, we have plenty of time.”
When we came to the floor for Pigeon, Side Stretch and Seated Spinal Twist, Tatum brought our awareness back to the simplicity of the breath. She had us focus on the feeling of the breath moving in and out of the nostrils.
Towards the end of class we were given “two minutes to play.” Tatum suggested Wheel, Shoulderstand or any posture our body needed.
“When we move on our own, without following the direction of someone else, it can be very powerful,” she said.
While in Savasana, Tatum went around the room with gentle, lavender infused head massages. It was a nice touch that instilled a sense of calm to round out my practice.
When I woke from rest and came to sit, I felt enlivened. I was ready to take the clarity gained from class into the day ahead.
-Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20. Introductory new student special: 3 classes for $30