Staying Curious To Find The Magic With Katie Richey
On the Lyons Den website, Katie Richey says there's something magical about physicality. Sleuth, always looking to find the magic, decided to check out an early morning class to experience Katie’s statement firsthand. Walking into the bright, lofty yoga studio, I noticed that most everyone had slip protectors over their mats, along with large bottles of water by their sides. When Katie entered, she brought a friendly smile and an upbeat energy into the room. She announced that we would start in meditation, and said to take a block, if it created a more comfortable seat. After a few moments of connecting our minds into our bodies, followed by six long, deep breaths, we chanted Om three times together. Then we stood up to let the physicality of the practice begin. A brief warm-up got moved our bodies into a modified Surya Namaskar A, where each pose was given a couple of breaths to settle. Katie spoke about finding space in each pose. While we held Downward Dog, she asked us to stay active in the shape. After class, she explained, “Downward Facing Dog, in particular, is a pose where we tend to kind of 'hang out.' A passive Down Dog results in dumping weight into the wrists and shoulders and putting strain on the spine. Finding space is about connecting to your foundation: in this case, the hands and feet, in order to grow longer through the spine and activate your muscles more deeply. Pushing down through your hands, pressing your heels to the ground, and lengthening your tailbone gives you better access to staying engaged, and breathing deeply.” As the vinyasa progressed with several rapid rounds of Surya A and B, the sweat dripped off my body. I looked around and saw that everyone was drenched, including Katie. And we were just ten minutes into class. (It should be mentioned that Lyons Den is a hot yoga studio—the temperature for this class was stationed around 92 degrees.) Regarding a hot yoga practice in the summer, Katie said, “Electrolytes are your friend! Coconut water is great, too. And, I actually think hot yoga is a great tool during the summer. I'm convinced sweating deeply in the room helps you battle the outdoor heat with more resilience! And I'm from Texas, so you can trust me on this.” Her sequence was a combination of energy- and stamina-building postures like Chair, Plank, and Chaturanga, balanced with more restorative and expansive poses, such as Fallen Triangle, Pyramid, and Standing Forward Bend. A couple of times she had us stand in Mountain to collect ourselves and tune into our personal powers. And there were also several Lion poses offered, for release. In the standing series, Revolved Chair, Tree, and Eagle were included along with Handstand in the middle of the room, where I received a skillful assist. After class, Katie told me, “At Lyons Den Power Yoga, we base all of our sequences off of the Baptiste Journey Into Power series. JIP offers a powerful backbone that consistently feels good in the body. From there, I thread poses together and add creative transitions. My intention as a teacher is always to keep my students connected to their cores so they can expand out powerfully.” According to the site, Power Beats is a Vinyasa class that blends high-energy music with a fun, powerful yoga flow. “I spend A LOT of time curating playlists,” said Katie in our post class chat. “Usually, I start with one particular song that inspires me, and then move from there. I craft the music to ebb and flow along with the practice.” Our class consisted of music by Lorde, Sia, Little Dragon, and Kid Cudi. The sequence's intensity stayed pretty high for about three quarters of the class. A few times, when my body wanted to quit, I tuned into Katie’s positivity that kept flowing along with her ongoing breath focus. She told us to tap into our Ujjayi breathing, and clearly instructed when we should inhale and exhale. Katie and I spoke about the breath after class. “Part of what is so amazing about practicing yoga in a community is the feeling of belonging that can occur from a room full of twenty people breathing in unison. Cultivating this breath is not only great for the energy in the space, but also integral to deepening my students' focus on their own bodies. Ujjayi breath gives you a deeper access to your body.” She also encouraged us to stay curious throughout the practice, and how facing each pose with curiosity will make the challenges feel more like an adventure. I tried to look curiously at the strenuous sequence of Down Dog Split into resting the leg on the upper arm and then lifting it back up. My mind was working hard to convince my body it was too tired to continue. Then I recalled the sign in the women's changing room, “Don't wait for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain.” This statement, along with a curious mindset, gave me the boost to keep on. It seemed that I had finally found the magic within the physicality. Backbends began with Locust and Bow, followed by Bridge and Wheel. Goddess was given as a rest from all the backbending. A welcome reprieve came in the form of Pigeon and Seated Forward Bend, and then a Supine Twist took us into Savasana. When we came up from resting, Katie had us Om three times—not to close class, but to begin the day. —Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes: $24. Mat rental: $2. New student special: one month unlimited for $89.
Open Lyons Den Power Yoga 279 Church St, New York, NY 10013 (646) 490-8888