This Friday night’s AromaYIN class is inspired by The Giving Tree’s recent restorative yoga, massage, Reiki, and aromatherapy workshop, and is now offered several times a week. As the website description says, the class is wonderfully indulgent, and draws from all of the aforementioned elements to create a self-rejuvenating and deeply restorative experience. A tip for newbies: try to get to the class 15 minutes early, as sign-in takes a little bit of time and so does setup. For this class you need a mat, a blanket folded in half length-wise on top of the mat, two blocks, a bolster, two smaller bolsters, and sometimes, a strap.
As I was waiting for sign-in, I noticed The Giving Tree was offering safety pins for yogi(ni)s to wear as a symbol of support to those feeling vulnerable in the community. Located on the last stop of the N/W train on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, The Giving Tree has always offered itself as a haven of support for local community. Our instructor, Kim Amoroso, who has been studying, training, and teaching at The Giving Tree since it first opened in 2009, told us that she was just back from a 500-hr teacher training certification at Kripalu and had just finished a module on meditation. As a result, she had some new meditation techniques for us.
Kim suggested we start in sukhasana with a bolster or blanket underneath our hips to allow us to relax into the pose. With our hands on our laps, we were to slide our hands up, but very slowly, almost as though the movement could not be discerned. Once our hands reach the height of our ribs, we were to bring our hands slowly back down, palms facing up. Following the meditation, Kim had us stretch out in child’s pose and then come on to all fours for a few rounds of cat and cow. Deep hip openers were offered early with lizard on both sides. Kim’s relaxed teaching style offers options for a variety of bodies. Kim walked around the class offering tips and suggestions for each of us. We could come down onto our elbows if that felt possible, or be more upright with our palms on the floor if the lizard pose was causing too much strain. Lizard was followed by pigeon prep. Again, Kim offered a number of options for making this pose more restorative and comfortable. We could fold our torsos over a bolster. We could use multiple blankets underneath our hips. Kim wanted us to allow our minds to relax in the pose. Between each pigeon prep, we could stretch out our legs in downward dog, but Kim asked us to do this off the mat, on the floor where it was less slippery (our mats were covered with a blanket). We were then to place a bolster in the middle of our mats and lie down on the bolster with our hands off the bolster for a restorative fish. Kim said if there was any strain in the neck then we should place an extra blanket underneath it. We could also place a hand on our belly if we wanted her to put a blanket underneath the head. At this point in the class, Kim came around to each one of us and gave us a subtle adjustment and massage, and allowed us to inhale a new aromatherapy scent. After about five minutes in restorative fish, Kim had us move our bodies down the bolster until the sacrum was off the bolster. She had placed a rolled up blanket at the side of each of our mats which we could use for our necks if we so wished. “This is just a suggestion for what I think might help you, but I don’t know how that feels in your body, so if the bolster is a strain on your neck, please take it out,” Kim said. Our final pose was, of course, savasana. Kim advised us to keep the props well away from our mats so we were clear to relax completely without being hindered by anything touching the props. In savasana, Kim offered each of us an aromatherapy scent and head and neck massage. It was blissful to relax in this safe and warm space. —Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20, with $1 mat rental. New students can try two weeks of unlimited classes for $30.
Friday 5-6:15pm Beginners
The Giving Tree 22-56 31st St. Astoria, NY 11105 (718) 728-0110