Exiting the R train, I found myself plunged into the bustle of Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills. I had to check the address of Bamboo Moves twice, as I found myself staring at an apartment block, but, soon enough, a sign confirmed I was in the right place. Once inside the studio, on the second floor, I was transported to a yoga haven. The man at the front desk was super friendly. He showed me around, and inside the practice room, I was greeted by smiling faces. The studio was fragrantly scented with Nag Champa incense and brightly colored with painted signs displaying Sanskrit words such as "Aparigraha," "Santosha," and "Ishvarapranidhana."
Before the class began, our teacher, Jessica Fitzpatrick, wearing an adorable "T-Rex Hates Chaturanga" T-shirt, asked if I had yoga experience or any injuries. She advised everyone that Happy Hour class was aimed at begonners, but if we knew any challenging variations, we were welcome to take them. The class was a diverse group of age ranges and a rare equal-balance of men and women. Bamboo Moves seems to be a neighborhood studio that reflects the diversity of the Forest Hills area.
Class began with pranayama, inhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of two. Jessica told us that as our breath capacity increased, we could change it to inhaling to the count of six and exhaling to the count of three. We then warmed up on all fours, lifting the right leg and left arm, and taking hold of the back foot, if available to us. We switched sides.
Still warming up, we did several "thread-the-needle" shoulder-openers on each side. Rather than holding the pose, Jessica had us do several rounds of moving with the breath. After walking us through multiple rounds of Sun Salutations at a rapid pace, it became clear that Jessica is the kind of teacher who likes her students to move. We were warmed up in no time.
In our standing poses, we practiced Utkatasana, with a prayer twist, Warrior 1, Extended Side Angle, Triangle, Parsvottanasa, Runner's Stretch (aka, Ardha Hanumanasana), Warrior 3, and Warrior 2. Getting more deeply into the hips, Jessica also walked us through Anjayanasana and offered us an assortment of variations, included taking hold of the back foot and bending the back knee, coming down onto the forearms in Lizard Pose, and working towards Eka Pada Koundinyasana. While holding these hip-opening poses, Jessica encouraged us to wiggle around and get into the hips, which, she also noted, are sometimes called “the junkyard of the body,” where we hold all our unnecessary stuff.
Getting even deeper, we held a Malasana for some time, taking variations with a twist, and, for those who were working on it, a Crow Pose. Jessica then encouraged us to rest a while in a wide-kneed Child's Pose before going onto a backbending component.
For backbends, we were offered the option of Bridge or Full Wheel. Jessica then demonstrated and walked us through Headstand. She made her way around the room, giving us each individual feedback depending on where we were in our practices with the pose. Noting that Headstand was the “king of asanas,” Jessica then had us do the “queen” as well— Shoulderstand. Following this, we took Matsyasana to stretch the neck.
Bringing the class into Savasana, Jessica encouraged us to put a blanket under our knees, or even cover ourselves with one and get super comfortable.
After waking us out of our Savasana dazes, Jessica shared that she'd been reading a lot about Pope Francis, who was visiting the city that day. She'd been inspired by something he said, that "peace is an act of courage," and that, as yogis, it was imperative for us to hold a positive space, even when surrounded by negativity, a helpful reminder for us city dwellers.
Jessica closed the practice with some announcements for the studio, including noting that they were participating in the Forest Hills Street Festival, and invited us to stop by, or volunteer.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in Happy Hour classes at Bamboo Moves: $10 (cash only)
Regular drop-in classes: $22.
Mat rentals: $2.
New Student Special: $59 (one-month unlimited)
Friday, 5:30pm-6:30pm Intermediate
Bamboo Moves 107-40 Queens Boulevard, #206 Forrest Hills, NY 11375 (718) 263-0788