The Giving Tree Yoga Studio is a truly warm and welcoming studio for Astoria’s community of yogi(ni)s offering a wide variety of services including massage, Reiki, aromatherapy, and astrology conducted by their talented staff. As for yoga, they offer a fun and creative array of classes including Move, Groove, and Mantra, AromaYin, Chakra Yoga, Graceful Yoga, Graceful Gratitude, Total Training, a New Moon Women’s Circle, and of course, my choice for the evening, Kundalini Yoga. Many of the teachers often incorporate elements of Kundalini meditation into their regular vinyasa classes, too, so it’s a generally Kundalini-friendly environment at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio.
The Thursday 5pm Basics class is led by Anthony Wood, a co-owner of The Giving Tree and a Swedish Institute-trained massage therapist. (He also leads a New Aquarian Men’s Group). At the beginning of class, Anthony asked each person to say their name and let him know if anything was going on with their body he should know about. He also asked if anyone was new to Kundalini yoga. Four hands went up in the room of approximately ten people. Anthony then took the time to describe and demonstrate some of the fundamentals of Kundalini yoga, including the most essential, breath of fire.
We tuned in with “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” followed by “Aad Guray Nameh.” Anthony then led us through a series of warm-ups that included taking the legs wide apart, inhaling in the center then exhaling over the right leg, inhaling in the center and exhaling over the left leg.
Anthony introduced a Kundalini kriya (a set series of movements) for those new to practice: The Basic Spinal Energy Series. The kriya has a series of ten movements that include spinal flexes in easy pose and rock pose (108 times), spinal twists in easy pose (26 times), see-sawing the arms in a bear grip (26 times), shrugging the shoulders up and down for two minutes, necks rolls, and the Kundalini classic Sat Kriya for five minutes, followed by a 15-minute savasana relaxation.
It was an invigorating practice, but the mood was mellow. Anthony didn’t play any music in this class, he kept the lighting low, and kept quiet after setting us up for each movement, allowing each student to have their own meditation experience. He also gave us a quiet meditative minute in between each movement to allow us to fully absorb the changes in our bodies.
After fifteen minutes of savasana, Anthony led us through a gentle wake-up, rubbing the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet together and taking a couple of lazy spinal twists before rocking up to sit. We ended with a very simple meditation—bringing our hands to our heart, we closed our eyes and were instructed to allow the mantra “Wahe Guru” (roughly translated means “Wow! Wisdom is here”) vibrate at the crown of the head. After a few minutes, Anthony then directed us to allow the mantra to vibrate at the heart chakra. At the end of our meditation, we closed with “Long Time Sun.”
As we packed away mats and props, Anthony announced some of The Giving Tree’s exciting upcoming events which include teacher training in Lima, Peru—where the giving continues outside of the studio.
We trickled out as students flowed in for another fun sounding class called Zen Flow.