Though The Class is not billed as yoga, specifically, Taryn Toomey, founder and teacher of the method, was trained at Yoga Union, and there are several yoga-influenced elements throughout. Sleuth, curious about this "cathartic mind-body experience" went online to sign up for a 7:15am slot. (Classes fill up quickly, so pre-registering is highly recommended.)
On the morning of, I saw a woman wearing white workout pants and bright Flyknit Nikes standing in front of the nondescript Tribeba building. We walked in together, and took the elevator up to the 5th floor.
Check-in was a cinch, thanks to the online booking system. There was a basic changing area with cubbies where a couple women were unloading their bags. Shoes are optional—some kept them on while others went barefoot.
In the studio, which is also used for toddler dance classes, black Lululemon yoga mats were lined up in symmetry facing the mirrored wall.
As people filtered into the room, Taryn gave hugs to some, and warm welcomes to the rest. Seconds before class began, a man entered and chanted “Toomey!” on his way to a mat in the front row.
After hitting play on the sound system, Taryn spoke clearly, into her headset, that the time had come to begin again.
We took a couple deep breaths, then went right into jumping jacks, a lot of them. The music, pumping loudly, became the timekeeper for the class. Each exercise lasted the duration of each song, which felt like an eternity, yet was also reminiscent of some Kundalini kriyas, when it felt like certain body parts were going to fall off from the extreme exertion. Taryn emphasized the cleansing work with constant reminders to push through the walls that we’ve created within and around ourselves, and then to let it all go.
To place even more emphasis on letting go, we shouted the word “HA!”, loudly and in unison, to help release whatever stress or build-up that burned inside.
I asked Taryn about “HA!” after class:
“It’s a sound that started happening organically when people would come out of an exercise, and I realized that it was also helpful to use when we are in the experience, as opposed to coming out of it. The ‘HA!’ helps to draw tension up and out, it's coupled with the feet hitting the floor.”
The class is a hybrid of bootcamp, cardio dance, and toning moves, but it’s got yoga postures and philosophy sprinkled throughout. After a scathing series of burpees, Child’s Pose is given as a respite. Plank, known for its strengthening benefits, is included in the core series. Goddess and Baddha Konasana did their parts in helping to restore balance, and, just like in most yoga classes, Taryn constantly reminded us to stay connected to the breath.
When I asked Taryn about the impact that her teacher training has had on the class, she explained that the TT she did was extremely alignment-focused, and that it gave her a solid foundation of how to work the body anatomically.
On a more philosophical level, this idea of journeying through the self to the self is fully explored in the class.
“What we do in The Class is engage one in their own personal experience. We ignite the body in order to get the mind to react. As the body heats up and is challenged, the mind starts to say things that, for me, are 'sticky,' and by that I mean, 'hard to just let go of.' They are old patterns, which usually show up in the way of 'I can't, I'm not strong enough,' and are the things that weigh you down, rather than lift you up."
Towards the end of class, we arrived at the heart-opening series—a gesture that expanded and contracted the chest with elbows bent and hands by the ears. Taryn told us that all of our work had led to this point, so we stayed with this fierce expression for the entirety of a remixed version of Madonna’s "Justify My Love."
In our post-class chat, Taryn explained how The Class sequence works the entire body.
“We work one muscle group per song. We start every class with the soles of the feet and work the body up the midline. We start with a large muscle group to exhaustion, then to secondary and tertiary. We use hopping, shaking, and bursts of cardio to flush out the contraction that was formed in the body. We believe in strengthening that space in the body and allowing for a flushing so the strength doesn't become dense and stagnant, but fluid and open. By the end, you are completely exhausted but clear and connected to a deeper sense of self.”
At the end we took some figure fours while lying on the back. Taryn told us to stay on our backs if it felt appropriate, or to sit up for meditation.
The last few moments were spent connecting to the breath, body, and spirit.
When class ended, I wiped down my mat with a renewed energy to begin again.
—Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in cost for The Class is $30. Pre-registration online is recommended. Sign-up opens one week prior to the class date.