Sleuth, feeling a bit bogged down by a busy schedule, decided to head over to YogaWorks Soho for a pick-me-up with Chrissy Carter.
When I walked into the yoga room, immediately I noticed a friendly chatter filling the space. Yogis, perched on blocks over their mats, talked with one another creating a jovial atmosphere. Chrissy, adding to the amicability in the room, walked around hugging people while asking how their vacations were.
To begin class, she had us grab two blankets, two blocks and a strap. As everyone went searching for their props, Chrissy demonstrated exactly how we would fold one of the blankets before placing it aside so we could come to virasana. She took the time to go over the proper alignment of the posture, referring to specific bones and muscles and the placement they should find as well as calling on other areas of the body, like the jaw, that shouldn’t put any effort in the pose.
We moved into a core-warming series from there—slow and methodical as we lengthened the legs long, sliding the blanket along the floor, and then drew the knees back into the chest, and up to 90 degrees.
"Make the movement slow and interesting,” said Chrissy, “And then do this 200 more times."
When the room fell silent after this last comment, she added, “Is it too early for jokes?" In case you weren't already familiar with Chrissy’s humor and affable personality, at that moment it became apparent.
Striking the right balance between playfulness and earnest teaching, Chrissy’s class was a challenge without ever feeling like a struggle. Her easy temperament matched the fluid pace of her sequencing which included vinyasas of plow to chair, warrior one to warrior three and down dog to paschimottanasana (with the optional jump through), and then jumping back to down dog.
Her knowledge of anatomy and experience with the practice was evident in her language and teachings, but her humor and approachability continued to keep the mood light.
In trikonasana, we flowed from one side to the other. "Do it as if you are a professional trikonasana-er,” she joked.
Chrissy then spoke about how the night before she spent too much time on Instagram watching ballet dancers and was incredibly inspired by their grace, so she challenged us to find a relevé in between the trikonasanas.
Other standing postures included tree, padangusthasana, and standing split. Chrissy always took time for complete explanations of the poses, sometimes offering demonstrations as an extra guide. She also gave individual attention with hands-on assists along with specific verbal cues to help someone find their fullest expression of a pose.
In upavistha konasana, she commented to the class that sometimes our heads lean too far forward in the pose and then came straight to me to guide my head back.
To cater to the different levels of the class, Chrissy always had options for specific poses. In headstand she encouraged people not to be shy about going to the wall, adding that she had done her own headstand practice at the wall for 8 years. If headstand wasn't in the cards, she also suggested legs up the wall as a choice.
In shoulderstand she had us go back to our blankets, then gave a full explanation of getting into the pose, recalling the ab work at the beginning of class from the plow vinyasa to help us into it. An ankle-to-knee brought us into our final pose.
During a nice, long savasana Chrissy shared a story about the princess and the pea relating it to our rest in that we should be able to let go, even if we feel there are adjustments we’d like to make. The goal was to be with what is. We took this into our seated meditation before class closed.
When I went back outside, I felt energized from class, and despite my to-dos, I could relax with what is.
—Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $28, with mat rentals for $2. Locker rooms and shower facilities available.
YogaWorks 459 Broadway New York, NY 10013 (212) 965-0801