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Shell Merrill

It was a 90 degree day. In other words, the kind of day where nobody wants to move. Sensing the mood of the room, Shell Merrill suggested to those of us who had arrived early to lie down while we were waiting for class to start. Since it was so warm, she also checked in to see if we needed air conditioners on at the front and the back of the room. YogaWorks Eastside has a stage up front where Shell would often demonstrate throughout class so students could easily see her. Being a beginner class, this was especially helpful. She’d also intermittently walk around the room to check on students and give the occasional hands-on adjustment.

Shell’s teaching attracts a refreshingly wide age range of students and with that in mind, she led a class with a slow and gentle pace. Once everyone was settled, she started with savasana, advising us to put a bolster under our knees and to cactus our arms. “If you’re feeling grumpy, it’s good on a day like today to cool down,” she said, wisely.

After several minutes of savasana, Shell asked us to bend our knees and put our feet on the bolster, then take some lazy twists, dropping the knees from side to side. We stretched one leg to the sky, then the other. Bending one knee out to the side, we took a pigeon prep on our backs. Bringing us up to sukhasana, Shell then walked us through some right nostril breathing for several minutes just to provide a little stimulation, she said. From there, she took us through cat and cow, thread the needle, and then a wide-legged downward dog. To build the flow, Shell walked us through some easy sun salutations, which involved doing mostly baby cobra instead of up dog and an added, spine-wringing lunge twist with the knee on the ground. After a few rounds of gentle sun salutations, our standing poses (with the assistance of blocks) included low lunge to parsvottanasana, triangle twist, and a lunge twist. “You can take your knee off the floor,” Shell advised us in lunge twist, “but not if it makes you grumpy and overheated.” (Duly noted.) Bringing us back down to the floor, we worked on janu sirsasana and a seated spinal twist with one leg long and the other leg bent. Coming back to our breathwork at the beginning, Shell had us complete class with left nostril breathing, this time to cool us down for our final pose, savasana. We ended class with a final, refreshing “Om.” As we packed up to leave, Shell encouraged us to come back to her Sunday class if we needed further cooling down. With this heat, it may be in the forecast. —Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth

Drop-in classes are $28, with $2 mat rental. New students can try two weeks for $25.

Friday 9:15-10:30am Beginner

YogaWorks Eastside 1319 3rd Ave., 2nd Fl New York, NY 10021 (212) 650-9642

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