When I walked into Strala Yoga for Suzy Park's 'Energize' class, there was a bit of a bustle in the entrance way. People were chatting about as they removed shoes, and a few smiled at me when we made eye contact. The check-in process was a cinch since the studio manager breezed through everyone’s name. Just as a woman made space for my shoes under the bench, I realized that I’d just entered the good vibes zone.
Suzy was in the yoga room, a spacious loft beaming with sunlight, along with a bunch of others sitting on their mats. Since the front row still had space, I took a spot there. When Suzy saw me setting up, she approached me with an introduction. She then asked if I was part of the training, referring to the many from the program who were there for class, which I was not.
Seated up front on a blanket, Suzy began by leading us with simple twists using our torsos. While we rocked slowly in circular motions, she said things like “find your natural rhythm” and “keep your movement soft and gentle.” It all felt very fluid, intuitive even.
In Cat and Cow we were encouraged to take the traditional undulation or to “make it sassy” by adding in any other type of movement we chose.
Clear in her instruction, Suzy took time to fully explain the positioning of poses as well as letting us know where the sequence was heading. When we flowed through High Lunge, High Lunge Twist, Warrior 2 and Reverse Warrior, I was able to relax into each posture while still feeling the invigoration of the vinyasa. My body broke a sweat, yet I never felt I was working too hard. The pace was smooth and purposeful.
Throughout class, there were many moments for individual variations. Suzy would guide us into a pose then turn up the music so we could find our own way into the most fulfilling expression.
Options abounded within each sequence. In Prasarita Padottanasana, Suzy suggested Headstand; some took her up on this offer while others swayed their hips back and forth with their hands resting on the floor. Others held the forward fold with clasped hands behind the back.
Among the standing postures were Tree, Dancing Shiva and Eagle, the latter of which Suzy had us release by opening our leg out wide to the side.
At one point we went from Standing Split to Handstand practice in the middle of the room. Suzy encouraged the inversion with a simple direction of walking the hands forward and placing weight onto the palms. If someone wasn’t up for it, there was no pressure to invert; alternate postures were provided.
When we went down to the floor for Pigeon, many variations were taken. Some stayed upright for the backbend, while others lengthened long on their mats. It was a luxurious hold, and I was the benefactor of Suzy’s assist, an amazing, massage-like maneuver.
To wind down, we took a forward bend “of our choice.” And then were given one last opportunity for any pose that felt right for our bodies before Savasana.
Once we came back to a comfortable seat, Suzy said we could keep a gentle movement in our torsos (similar to what we did at the beginning of class), or find stillness. We raised our arms out to the side, and ended with hands in prayer.
When I opened my eyes, my neighbor was still bowing forward, and there was another yogi hugging her from behind. What I had originally felt to be good vibes from the studio had transformed into the recognition of a sweet and caring community.
- Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $18. New Student Special $20 for 1 week unlimited, $40 for 2 weeks unlimited, $80 for 1 month unlimited.