Proved correct once again that there is no holiday from yoga practice, Yoga Sleuth joined a packed Labor Day Weekend class at Zen & Yoga for some hot vinyasa in the heart of Forest Hills.
Audrey Kate Geiger, clad in a rock 'n' roll t-shirt that was like a rallying cry, greeted us warmly as befitting the heat of the studio, which eventually topped out in the mid-90s according to my yogi-sense (and the heater just above my mat!).
We started moving pretty quickly, coming into table top and playing with hovering the knees a few inches above the mat.Then we reached the right arm forwards and the left leg straight back. After mirroring with opposite limbs we reared back into down dog. Audrey Kate, a native of West Long Branch New Jersey (and finalist on the singing competition series Rising Star), suggested maintaining fluent movement through the hips and legs rather than holding steady.
Now it was time for some serious flowing. We were invited to keep the back leg high after our down dog splits as we pushed into plank and chaturanga, building on the intense but welcome heat.
Audrey Kate's class is perfect for students interested in trying hot yoga for the first time. Though the class is at the standard intensity level of a vinyasa flow, there is always the invitation to rest and modify, and the heat is never overwhelming. There were pauses in child's pose throughout class, and Audrey Kate checked in with us frequently, urging modifications whenever our bodies felt it was right, such as knees to the ground in chaturanga, a foot on the mat in side plank, and a knee lowered in lunges.
The standing sequence saw us charge through all four warrior poses, plus an added spell in extended side angle with an optional bind. We rose from a forward fold to a flat back and stretched our arms parallel and straight ahead. Lowering down we took vasisthasana with any variation that called to us (mine was a raised top leg), then we were back on our feet to test out balance in the heat with a tree pose, followed up with an eagle wrap of our arms and legs.
Next it was time for some core work. Coming to our backs, we lifted our torsos up to our bent knees for a crunch-style boat pose, then lowered down supine, only to rise again five times. We were rewarded with a sleeping pigeon, a pose I had a good feeling we were going to see today. Audrey had us check the back leg was straight before we sank down, and suggested that we use this grounding posture to truly surrender and let go into the moment. We followed up with juicy supine twists and a happy baby before sighing down into Savasana.
Audrey Kate congratulated us for committing to some mat time during the busy holiday weekend, and left us with a thought that was apropos for the looming tropical storm and for life in general: rough seas can always be conquered, if you pick the right wave to surf.
—Jim Catapano for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $22 with $2 mat rental. New students can try a two-week introductory special of both regular and hot classes for $40.
Sunday 10:15-11:30am Intermediate
Zen & Yoga 107-21 71st Ave. Forest Hills, NY 11375 (718) 544-9642