Awesome '80s Slow Flow With Ellie Aaron
"Yoga For Tired People!" announced the sign on the door at Savasana Station. And, at 6pm on a Friday, Yoga Sleuth had to admit he was a tad fatigued. However, despite the proclamation, we were going to get an energy boost at Ellie Aaron's 7pm class, as we shook it to the sounds of the '80s. As a bonus, I decided to get there early and take Ellie's "Ultimate Relaxation" yoga nidra class. We lay down, cocooned in our blankets, as Ellie's profoundly soothing tones guided each finger and toe, arm and leg into a state of bliss. Despite being in a state of sheer tranquil inertia, we came alive in time for the hour-long "Village People '80s Tunes Slow Flow." To rev us up, Ellie began pumping up the volume, with Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" as we were setting our mats. Ellie is a YogaWorks alum and a holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and hosts her own podcast, the Ellie Aaron Hour, every other Monday. The class was filled with regulars who greeted each other warmly, and a few newbies—like this guy. The yogis swapped stories of their weeks, as "Centerfold" by The J. Geil's Band accompanied us. We were all in agreement that this was where we needed to be on a Friday night! We settled into Hero's Pose as Ellie greeted us and asked us to introduce ourselves to each other. "Share one piece of gratitude from your week and what you want to work on this evening." I picked my favorite, twists, and after intros, we did a brief seated meditation. "Notice if your mind is elsewhere," said Ellie. "It likes to wander to what happened earlier, what you're going to have for dinner. See if you can bring your attention back." We returned to the present moment, where we all truly belong, then, after a few deep breaths, the singing bowl rang, and we began to stretch. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar was a fitting segue. "See if you can press the tops of the feet into the ground," said Ellie, as we made our Vajrasana active. We reached our arms up and then took a seated twist to the right, then raised the right arm and side-bent towards the opposite knee. We crossed the hands and twisted in the other direction, then bent back into a baby Camel. We rounded the spine into Cat Pose and opened the chest in Cow, then went "upside-down-v” for the first time. "Hello Plank!" said Ellie, as we came into that pose, aided by "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp. "Really root down inside of your palms!" said Ellie, as we came back to Down Dog, then raised the right leg and lunged forward. "Take your time and breathe!" she reminded us. "Make sure the back leg is straight, and open your spine. Can you relax your shoulders? Of course you can!" We enjoyed the "Heat of the Moment," and came to to the top of the mat for a forward bend. We bent our knees, took hands to hips, and slowly rounded our spines all the way up, bopping in unison to the music for a mini-dance party. Lowering down, we slithered into Bhujangasana, then tucked our toes and brought the legs up off the ground, returning to Down Dog and letting the head and neck release. Our vinyasa now progressed to Chaturangas and Up Dogs. “Ok, let's talk everybody!" said Ellie, sensing a need for a refresher. "If you're doing Chaturanga, hug the elbows near the body. If you're coming into Up Dog, straighten the arms all the way. Lift the thighs and legs off the ground. There you go!" she grinned as we followed her cue. We sat back into Chair Pose, breathing and holding the posture for a solid minute, rather a New York one. "Anyone know the name of this band?" asked Ellie, as the sounds of synthesizers and slap-bass rollercoastered through the room. "Aha!" I announced. "Take on Me" soared as we danced through Warriors 1 and 2. "Greet the spatiousness between your right ear and right shoulder," said Ellie, as we came into Side Angle to the tune of "99 Luftballoons." "Knee is still over the ankle of the front leg, be sure that's happening. Breathe, everybody." We hopped to the front of the mat and into a Tree as Steve Perry's "Oh Sherry," played. "Is this Michael Bolton?" asked a yogi. "It's the guy from Journey!" I piped up, ever helpful. We wrapped our arms into Eagle formation. With our legs still in Tree, we challenged our balances with a baby bounce. "Beautiful!" smiled Ellie. "Feel your own breathing." We came down to the mat for supine twists and a choice of Happy Baby or a simple inversion as Phil Collins felt it coming "In the Air Tonight." I put a block under my sacrum and raised my legs in the air, then we came down into Savasana, covered by blankets and with bolsters beneath our knees. We thanked Ellie, each other, and our '80s artists for helping us end the week right, and went off to find that dinner we were all trying not to think about.
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth Drop-in classes: $24