The recent holiday shenanigans made Yoga Sleuth grateful that he had his yoga practice to help him decompress and detox! And as my yoga craving is pretty much 24/7, I was thrilled to find the perfect class in a slightly unusual time slot: The Saturday 8pm Spiritual Warrior at Jivamukti. The class was quite full as I set up shop against the wall and Jenna Faith greeted us.
Little Neck native Jenna is an 800-hour alum of the Jivamukti program, and still found time to get an AAS in fashion design from FIT. And “fit” we would be, thanks to Jenna’s power sequence coupled with her powerful voice, which stirred us from our post-turkey and ham inertia. She counted out each number of breaths we took in each pose, giving our practice a welcome precision, aided by some soft piano music ideal for a Saturday evening. The warm-up was a ten minute sequence that the Jivamukti team calls “The Magic Ten.” We came right into down dog, taking ten breaths, then walked as one to the top of the mat. "Releasing the neck, fold over," said Jenna, and she counted us through ten breaths in uttanasana. After ten breaths in a yogi squat, hands in at heart center, we rearranged into in a "teepee twist." Placing the feet where the knees were we placed the left arm around the shins, twisting right and then switching up to counter-twist as the music picked up to a Northern soul vibe. The Spiritual Warrior Class is designed to be experienced at a quick pace, with the sequences standardized to allow students to get it in their muscle memory and progress from week to week. So there’s not a lot of variation or between-poses banter, just back- to-basics vinyasa. Jenna was generous with hands-on adjustments and assists, including helping me pike up my hips in my down dog, no doubt sagging from recent adventures with stuffing and biscuits! Jenna had us come to the wall to catch some airtime in handstand practice warm-up for 25 breaths. "We either kick up or come to a 90 degree angle against the wall," she explained, walking through the room to monitor everyone's playtime. Coming back to the top of the mat we interlaced fingers at the base of the skull, lifted the chest and arched back for the standing spinal roll. We then brought the chin to the chest, elbows towards the ears. "Exhale forehead towards the sternum, inhale," said Jenna. "Exhale to upper ribs, inhale. Exhale to the navel, inhale. Exhale to the pelvis, inhale." We continued in this manner until the forehead was touching the now bent knees, then lifted up. "We dedicate this evening's practice to someone we love," said Jenna as we closed eyes and clasped hands in prayer. "Or someone we're currently having difficulty with; or even someone who can use this practice but could not physically be here with us this evening." We “Om Shanti”d as she backed us up with her harmonium. Then we were off and running into our surya namaskar as the music changed to reggae. Jenna called out the postures in Sanskrit as we shifted to one breath, one movement. The standing sequence included the classic series of utkatasana, warrior two, extended side angle, parsvottanasana, and lolasana, with some generous helpings of ankle to knee pose and side planks. Coming down to the mat we played in locust and bow pose before flipping over for three sets of wheel, then rinsed out our inner workings with reclined eagle twists. After forward folding in paschimottanasana and janu, we took 50 breaths each in shoulderstand and headstand. "People Get Ready" accompanied our journey, then the music stilled as we came to sit with our backs to the wall for seated meditation, Jenna dimming the lights to near darkness so we could fully go within. Jenna gave us welcome adjustments to our neck and shoulders as we completed our practice in savasana, the music resuming with an instrumental New Age lullabye. Then the harmonium sounded once more as we topped off the evening with one more chant of “Om Shanti.” "Have a beautiful rest of the weekend!" grinned Jenna. She thanked us all individually as we filed out into the night, or in my case, the delights of the Jivamukti Cafe!
--Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth The Spiritual Warrior 60-minute class is $15, with mat and towel rental included. New Student Special: $45 for one week of classes
Saturday 8pm-9pm Intermediate Jivamukti Yoga School 841 Broadway, #2
New York, NY 10003 212-353-0214