Yoga Sleuth had been attempting to make it to Hira Lesea’s Ayurvedic yoga class at Loom for weeks. Maybe months. Somehow, Mondays at 10 a.m. seemed impossible until one gray March morning. I had been working very late the night before, and I raced to Bushwick with my gallon of coffee slopping about in one hand.
I didn’t know what to expect, but was interested in learning a bit more about Ayurveda. The Loom Yoga website says that Ayurveda (which translates to “science of life”) is a “traditional Indian medicine system (that) uses diet, herbs, mantras, physical practice (asana) and meditation as its cornerstones for a holistic approach to health.” The Chopra Center’s website (www.chopra.com) says that “It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential.” My only experience with Ayurveda was an online quiz that I had taken to discover my Dosha (the elements that make up the body and mind). It seemed inconclusive.
I hadn’t been to Loom Yoga Center in a while, but I love this place. Lots of great teachers, fun classes, and positive energy. It is also located in a sort of Bushwick style mall that features a yarn shop, a coffee shop, a bakery where they offer baking classes, and other interesting looking businesses that weren’t even close to open at 10 a.m. If I lived upstairs in this building I would never need to go out.
I arrived at class a teensy bit late (as is my wont), and they had already begun with some Qi Gong exercises. Hira and my classmates were standing while moving their weight steadily from one foot to the other, lightly patting their bodies with their hands to get the energy flowing. As I joined them, we tapped down our legs and up our arms to the shoulders and neck.
Hira explained that this was activating the energy channels in our bodies and helping us to warm up. And it’s true. By the time we settled in a standing forward bend with bent knees, I definitely felt more awake and alive.
We began our asana with Downward Dog and basic vinyasa flows. The poses Hira led us through were simple, but very precisely instructed. We did several lunges and standing poses, Hira encouraging us to use props and to be very exacting with our alignment. It was a small class, and each of us received helpful adjustments.
As we practiced, Hira explained that during the spring, the body naturally wants to cleanse itself. She said that by eating healthy foods and doing certain exercises, we can help expedite this cleansing process.
Our flow included a lot of precise twists, which we held for several breaths. Hira encouraged us to lengthen the tailbone and bring the elbow higher up in our standing lunge twist, which she said would allow for a deeper twist. She adjusted me several times, encouraging my ribs to soften in rather than jut out to create a backbend shape.
After some supine twists and a refreshing Savasana, Hira told us to find a comfortable seat. She explained that in Chinese medicine, the liver is considered strongly connected to the eyes. She said that by exercising the eyes, we can help the liver to work more easily and efficiently, which will allow for the liver to help cleanse our body.
In our comfortable lifted seat, Hira led us through some eye exercises. Keeping the body still, we rotated the gaze slowly clockwise and then counter clockwise. I can’t yet speak for my liver, but it felt good to stretch the eyes a bit. This is definitely something that I don’t often do.
Hira seemed very knowledgeable about Ayurveda as well as Chinese medicine, and I was tempted to sign up for her Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse workshop (happening April 12th). I’m sure that would be a great way to learn more about Ayurvedic practices and to help to the body transition healthily into spring.
As I left Loom, the coffee shop was in full swing and some of the other shops were starting to show signs of life. I felt awake and alert, more than ready to transition into spring.
-Abby Payne for Yoga Sleuth
Single drop-in classes are $15. New students can pay $40 for 4 weeks of unlimited classes (including one introductory Aerial class). Mat rental is free.