Finding a comfortable seat in sukhasana was as easy as my decision to visit Pure Yoga West on a Tuesday afternoon with Pam Reece. This 75-minute early-afternoon vinyasa class (on a school day) was exactly what sleuth needed. As the class began with a collective sense of centeredness, Pam led us in a room-vibrating “om” that gently, yet powerfully, landed each breath into the depth of my lungs.
We warmed up the body with a few cat/cows, and then moved directly into a few modified rounds of surya namaskar. “You’ve got options,” Pam reminded us, “that lead to choice.” While I had the option to lower into baby cobra, or skip the vinyasa all together, I opted for the traditional flow of adho mukha svanasana through chaturanga into urdhva mukha svanasana and back to adho mukha svanasana, several times repeated.
On the last round we added in a lunge, opening the arms wide and twisting to one side, careful not to swing into neighboring students. “Stay here,” Pam guided, “or choose the option to go deeper by adding a twist.” My hands met at heart center as I drew my elbow to knee and revolved my ribcage open. As I opened my heart to the ceiling, it felt like I was challenging myself to choose the best option for my body, rather than just following general instruction.
We continued to flow, adding in a sequence of virabhdrasana two into ardha chandrasana and standing split. Each transition felt sincere and calm as Pam guided us slowly and mindfully through the sequence, leaving room to breath into each pose. “You can move quickly through each transition to reach the end result,” Pam said. “Or, you can move slowly, with intention and gratitude, for your body’s mobility.” I chose the latter, quite willingly.
We practiced deep forward folding, facing the sides of the studio room, with plenty of options to advance with side crow and other arm balancing remixes. Weaving the option of choice throughout class felt both liberating and empowering.
We found our way back to a comfortable seat, this time setting up for a forward fold in baddha konasana. As I lowered deeper with each cycle of breath, Pam offered a friendly and insightful assist that helped me deepen into the pose with the help of extra pressure on each thigh—magical.
As we began to cool down, Pam offered space, and options, for us to end our practice with any inversion of our choosing. While some students lifted into salamba sirsasana and adho mukha vrksasana, I found my way into salamba sarvangasana, waving my legs around like octopus arms.
As I lowered myself down into savasana, Pam’s kind and gentle presence walking along the edges of our tightly cramped mats softened the energy in the room. There I was, once again faced with choice. Stress? Or surrender? I chose to surrender. Or perhaps, feeling fully relaxed guided me to the best option.
—Ashley Rose Howard for Yoga Sleuth
Pure is membership only, but one-time drop-in classes are available for $21. Towels and mats provided.
Tuesday 4-5:15pm Open
Pure West 204 W. 77th St. New York, NY 10024 212-877-2025