What do you get when you mix a hot yoga sequence with a deep roar of passion? Will Schneider. On Tuesday evenings at Earth Yoga (61st St. between 1st & 2nd), Will steps into his fiery lion’s den fully present and prepared to lead a 75-minute practice calledConquering Lion Yoga, originally founded by Kelly Morris. While this style of asana is sure to make you feel the burn, it’s also recognized as, “yoga to set your life on fire.”
The moment Will made his way towards the front of class, he took full control of the room. With sensual melodies playing in the background, we were led into an opening meditation seated on a block. “If your mind starts to wonder,” he shared, “that’s ok.” After one collective Om, we found our way to hands and knees moving through a few rounds of Cat/Cow on each inhalation and exhalation. Will was mindful in offering clear breath cues as he circulated the room with a vibration of confidence and ease.
Plank Pose was the focus of the opening sequence highlighting proper alignment like tucking the tailbone and (literally) firing up the core. After a few flows in and out of Plank to Downward Dog, we played around with poses like Extended Side Angle and Standing Split. The focus of each movement was to flow on the breath, finding stillness and presence on the inhale and moving deeper into the pose with each exhale.
It wasn’t until about halfway through class when we began practicing leg lifts into Handstand that I caught myself losing control of my breathing. Thankfully, a brief pause in Child’s Pose helped everyone come back to the connectivity of breath.
We continued to move into more challenging arm balances like Bakasana and Tripod Headstand as Will kept drawing our attention to the benefits of core strength. With my abdomen tightening and the heat of the room rising, the sweat began to drip. As I went deeper into my practice, I leveraged my Ujjayi breath to carry me past all forms of doubt and exhaustion.
Will challenged us to see if we could let go of any sensations we were feeling to itch, dry sweat or make adjustments so we could learn how to just remain present in each moment of discomfort – valuable instruction for my every day life.
For cool down, we moved into forward-seated poses like Janu Sirsasana and then legs overhead to Halansa. We held Shoulderstand to flush out any tension held in the body after such a core-strengthening focused class. One last loud exhale in Fish Pose, and then we all made our way into a peaceful Savasana.
Will guided us into a fully relaxed resting pose as we found rootedness into our mats, down through the floorboards and even deeper into the ground. “Keep breathing,” he reminded us, as we began to drift off. As my eye sockets became heavy and my mind still, finding my way back to earth felt as glorious as a powerful lioness conquering her own kingdom.
-Ashley Howard for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $29 with $2 mat rentals. Introductory 7 day unlimited - $39.