In the midst of a particularly hectic July week I decided to take a Thursday night vinyasa at Pure Yoga East with Kat Fowler. Looking for a class that would both challenge me and help me un-wind, I found her class met me right where I needed it to.
Kat began by leading us through a series of five “Oms” followed by the chanting of a chakra aligning mantra. I was already beginning to feel the load of my over-packed New York City lifestyle lighten. It was the commencement of a class that would leave me feeling like I just pressed the “reset” button on my mental and physical self.
Asana practice began gently and slowly. Kat led us through a slow-build of poses like adho mukha svanasana and anjaneyasana that warmed us up and began to lightly stretch our bodies. There were moments of stillness in tadasana and balasana intended to make sure we remained aligned with our breath. Leading us through a warm-up that set a steady tone for the rest of class, Kat then began a more challenging series of poses.
After guiding us through the sequence she gave us the instruction to guide ourselves through the same sequence. Giving the class this space allowed us room for exploration within the poses. The sequence flowed through poses like warrior one and two, trikonasana, and viraprita virabhadrasana. Personally, it led me to ask myself what it was that I needed. Should I do less or more in triangle? Does my body want or need this chaturanga or should I perhaps skip it and rest in a child’s pose?
Kat waited for us to find each other and unite in downward facing dog before taking back the reins to continue on with the stable stride she had been keeping throughout class. Her sequencing challenged my body and mind yet continued to facilitate my connection with the breath. Adho mukha vrksasana and bird of paradise added an extra bit of challenge to the class.
I find my practice is consistent with an intermediate class but despite the intermediate/advanced level of this class I did not feel pushed beyond my limitations. Kat's approach more closely resembled a trusted voice that gave me the space to express myself more deeply through the asana practice. Choices and modifications were also given throughout class as a way of meeting everyone in their current state.
Kat timed class wonderfully which allowed us to gently cool down from the more invigorating previous sequence. Beginning with another balasana, cool down did not feel rushed or un-prioritized. She suggested a restorative setu bandha sarvangasana with the option for urdhva dhanurasana if we felt we needed the final backbend. She allowed everyone an extra three minutes of self-guided practice to explore any other poses we felt we might need before final savasana. The option to take our final resting pose early was also on the table. I chose to finish with halasana into matsyasana combination before resting in savasana.
Class ended with a moment of seated silence and a final wring out of five more “Oms.” I left with much gratitude feeling like my practice was complete. I give credit to Kat’s steady pace, grounded energy, and her ability to allow students the room (under her watchful guidance) to explore their own needs. It truly was a balancing experience.
—Erika Beaton for Yoga Sleuth
One-time drop-in classes are $21 without membership. Towels and mats provided.