Although Earth Yoga, a warm and friendly studio on the Upper East Side, offers mostly hot classes, Sleuth opted for the non-hot vinyasa with Chris Temple on a recent Wednesday morning.
As I entered the sweet and sparsely decorated yoga room, a pacifying soundtrack of "Om Shanti" came through the speakers creating a relaxed atmosphere. I welcomed the opportunity to join the already present yogis who were reclining for the few moments before class began.
Chris came in asking us to place a block underneath our hips to begin in hero pose. He then went on to speak about the experience we were about to have, suggesting that we leave all judgements behind in order to stay open to whatever arises. He then added that when bad things do happen, it is actually good because it teaches us to be humble, which is key for happiness.
From there he had us clasp our fingers behind our necks, and lift our chests up towards the ceiling. “Similar to a cow-cat, expand your heart space forward then bring it back in towards the body,” Christ said.
The warm-up continued with a vinyasa of downward dog, plank to the floor, superhero pose (a salabhasana variation) then back to child’s pose. While, technically, this wasn't a hot yoga class, the room did begin to heat up as verified by the sweat I soon felt dripping down my back.
The pace quickened and intensified as Chris had us plank and chaturanga through most of the transitions, but he also kept an inclusive attitude for those who weren't up for the extra challenge. This attitude carried through most of the class as he provided options for the different levels of his students.
In janu sirsasana Chris said, “Hold the toes, if you can. But no problem if you can’t—just bend the extended leg slightly, and hold onto the calf.” While we rested in child’s pose, Chris spoke on making changes in our lives, and how that is the result of small shifts made regularly rather than grandiose events. “Miracles are really just the result of all of our efforts,” he said.
The class continued with dynamic sequencing that had us moving around our mats, facing each side of the room (including the vibrant pumpkin-color wall), and kicking up to handstand if we were inclined to do so. Warrior one, two and three were included in the sequence along with half moon, triangle and extended side angle. In chair, he asked us to check in with our experience, and notice how it felt without judgement.
When it was time for pigeon, he explained that in yoga we work to exhaust our bodies so we can surrender into poses, such as pigeon. He then encouraged us to drop into our bodies, and feel heavy in the hips.
For backbends he offered bridge and wheel. The mixed level class seemed to split in their decisions as half went for one while the rest took the other. Before savasana he gave us happy baby, and then a nice rest.
When we returned to our seats, Chris closed class with one "Om" then asked us to try and take the small shifts made in class into the rest of our lives.
As I rolled up my mat, I noticed how my body felt—it was sweaty from the work I had done. This left me in a calm state, a nice shift to carry into my day.
—Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $29, with $2 mat rental available. New students can try seven days unlimited for $39.
Earth Yoga 328 E 61st St. New York, NY 10065 (646) 726-4710