Yoga Pole is a studio I recently came across while walking the streets of Cobble Hill. Taking a glance at their website, I noticed they had a fascinating range of classes including a “Monkey Style” introducing the basics of using the pole in yoga, a handstand class (with the aid of the pole), an aerial hoop class and “Pole Ninja.” My inner circus lady was highly intrigued.
For my first Yoga Pole experience, I decided to take it easy and go for the "Restoring Myself" class which was a restorative class with the use of the pole. Our teacher, Laura Myzwinski's bio page suggested that I would be learning from someone who has truly benefited from the healing effects of Yoga Pole, since she had struggled with flexibility and the after-effects of a car accident three years ago before discovering the studio. While classes are on the expensive side, they are limited to a five-student maximum so each teacher can give students personalized attention and feedback.
Arriving 15 minutes early to sign the waiver and get myself orientated and settled in, Laura suggested I spend a little time on the foam roller, ironing out any kinks in my body. She asked me what brought me to the studio and then took a couple of minutes to show me some positions and movements to work on with the foam roller. As a few other students walked in, they joined me. As I was lying on my back foam rolling, I took note of the cool logo on the ceiling wall paper and blocks which featured the shadow of a yogini in various pole positions.
After Laura had set up circular mats around each pole base, she directed us to find a pole and had us start by lying down in a simple Savasana with our hips in line with the pole. Laura then turned on quiet and wordless Chinese classical music. After ten minutes of deep relaxation, Laura eased us out of Savasana by having us bend one of our legs and circle the bent leg around. "Think of yourself as the tin man," Laura said. "You're oiling your joints." We then bent the leg and squeezed it in close to the torso before switching to the other side.
Laura then had us note that there were three types of yoga belts next to each of us. The red belt was the shortest and thinnest and the most intense to use. White was the next level and purple was the longest, thickest belt. Laura asked us to select one of the belts then wrap it around the arch of the foot and lengthen the leg in the air at a ninety degree angle keeping the other leg pressed on the floor in a Supta Padangusthasana.
Laura came around and gave each of us a personalized adjustment, taking us deeper into the stretch. Staying in this position, we did small circles with the foot. Next, we took the leg out to side. My foot didn't quite reach the floor so Laura put a block under it. She took her time adjusting us and allowed us to spend a good several minutes in each position. Once we had worked on these poses, we then took a supine twist, and again Laura gave each of us a firm adjustment. We finished off the supine poses with a supported Bridge with a block underneath the sacrum.
Coming up to sitting, Laura instructed us to get a bolster and rest it against the pole at a diagonal angle. From here, we took our legs wide apart into Upavistha Konasana then laid our torsos against the bolster with our cheek turned to one side. We rested in this position for about ten minutes before Laura gently talked us into a standing position.
In our standing position, we pressed one hand into the pole and straightened the arm. Laura then talked us through various forearm and shoulder stretches with our hands at the pole. We also came into a position where we leaned away from the pole while gripping it with both hands. Laura ended this sequence with a bowing/pole gesture as a way to express that class had ended.
At the end of class, Laura spent a minute with each of us individually getting feedback on the class and asking if we had any questions. It's another characteristic of Yoga Pole classes that teachers give this level of individual attention. Feeling refreshed, I left class with a curiosity to try something more advanced next time.
- Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $35. Circular yoga mats are provided.
Sunday 6:00-7:00pm Open level
Yoga Pole Studio 43 Schermerhorn Street, 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (917) 365-3896