As Sleuth headed up to Lyons Den Power Yoga, a couple of yogis were on their way out, drenched in sweat and comparing notes on whose legs were shaking more as they walked down the staircase. I was immediately reminded of the strong impact class at the Den can have, and was looking forward to Power Journey Beats with Meg McNeal. Since it is hot yoga with the temperature situated around 92 degrees, I took two towels (offered for free at check-in) and brought my water bottle in the room with me. When Meg came in, she asked the class to introduce ourselves to the people nearby. We began in child’s pose, knees wide. From there, we went into several rounds of plank to downward dog. To kick up the intensity right away, Meg had us lift each leg off the ground while lengthened in plank. “Make sure you have integrity in the bottom leg before lifting the top leg,” she said while we rolled into side plank. The room was filled by our deep inhales and exhales guided by Meg’s authoritative tone. She also played a beat-driven soundtrack, which kept my energy high. After moving through surya namaskar A and B a few times, she had us do a round on our own. “It’s not a race. Use your breath to determine your pace,” she said. While the breath plays a major role in Meg’s class, she also puts a lot of emphasis on subtle alignment. She instructed us to draw our shoulder blades down the back upon several occasions. At one point she had us lift them up to the ears just to make the release more prominent. In downward dog, she placed her hands on my shoulders to help guide them down my back. Her touch was firm, and knowing. It was obvious she had a lot of experience with assists, which was demonstrated as she lifted my neighbor’s legs into an acro-yoga-like move, but really, it was just another deep assist. Standing postures included in the class were triangle (with the lower arm reaching forward), extended side angle, and prasarita padottanasana (some went into headstand from here). “Think of this as a hip-opener, like tree,” she said, as we extended our legs to the side in utthita hasta padangusthasana. “It’s not so much about the extended leg.” Traditional tree pose came next. Meg’s sequence was fluid, and included twists like revolved chair, revolved triangle, and revolved extended side angle. When it seemed like we were going to the floor, Meg told us otherwise. “We are going to practice drop-backs into wheel,” she said. After giving some explanation on how best to try (chin to chest, heart lifts up), she offered up the wall for those who were near it, or we could do regular wheel on the floor. Several rounds of navasana were next. Again, Meg reminded us to keep our shoulders integrated into our bodies. Finally, the intensity of class subsided with long pigeons on both sides. Dandasana, janu sirsasana, and revolved janu sirsasana were easily received by my well-worked, sweat-covered body. “We just twisted, but feel free to take a supine twist,” said Meg, before changing up the music to something soothing, which accompanied savasana. To close class, we created a wave of “om”s by chanting three times at our own pace. When I stood up, I remembered the yogis I passed on the way in. I, too, would make a drenched-in-sweat, leg-shaking exit. —Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $24, with two towels included. Mat rental $2. New student special: Unlimited monthly for $89.
Intermediate Lyons Den Power Yoga 279 Church St.
New York, NY 10013 646-490-8888