Anthea Yoga is tucked away in one of the quieter areas of Astoria. It’s also the kind of small studio where everybody knows your name. Since I hadn’t been to the studio in about a year, before class began, Olga Hardie made it a point to introduce herself to me and ask if I was working with any injuries or whether or not I was new to yoga.
This is a flow and meditate class so Olga started us out with a lotus mudra and three gentle “Om”s. “September feels more like the new year to me,” she said, evoking the studio’s theme for the month: back-to-school. Olga is a soft-spoken teacher—perfect for a quiet, meditative evening class. She’s also a black belt in karate and a Physician’s Assistant by day, both of which likely play into her yoga teaching style: calm and gentle, clear and direct.
Before our flow, Olga instructed us onto our backs for a very short savasana followed by a long stretch, wiggling the fingers and the toes. We then worked on a supta padangusthasana series, first lifting the right leg up in the air at a 90 degree angle and holding, then stretching the leg out to the side, and then back the other way into a languorous twist.
Moving us into the flowing component on the class, we warmed up with some gentle sun salutations, repeatedly lifting our arms up into the air and then back down into uttanasana for several sets. Knees, chest and chin were repeated. It was a slow pace and easy warm up. For the most part, Olga remained at the front of the class demonstrating, occasionally leaving her post to give a couple of beginners pointers and adjustments, while giving us all sufficient space for our own practice. The music was set to low, further enhancing the nighttime mood.
As we worked on our standing poses, Olga added a half side plank, moving our hips down to the floor to stretch the IT band, and then back up. Then she added in a high lunge, warrior one, prasarita padottanasana, warrior three, and standing split.
At the front of our mats, we practiced tree, with Olga giving us the option to take a side bend, followed by utthita hasta padangusthasana, culminating in natarajasana. Bringing the sequence down to the floor, Olga had us hold navasana for a few breaths. This was followed by a wide-legged side stretch on both sides then tarasana. Olga talked us through two flowing bridge poses, lifting the hips and stretching the arms up overhead, and then bringing everything back down to the floor. For those who wanted to take their practice further, we could come up into full wheel. To recover from wheel or bridge, Olga instructed us to take our feet to the width of the mat and allow our knees to fold in towards each other. “Take any other stretches you need before savasana,” Olga advised, before turning the lights to dark.
As advertised, there was a brief meditation following savasana. As we slipped into our meditative state, the room and neighborhood outside was quiet and still. We focused on our breath in an easy pose, and then Olga closed the class with three final gentle “Om”s. Outside, there was a gentle September breeze to complement the ease we had found in class.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $10, with mat rental for $1. New students can try 30 days for $49.