If you’ve had enough of the January cold and snow, Yoga Sleuth found Crunch gym’s core yoga class to be a great way to warm up.
Ric Mathews, an avid gym-goer and Thai massage specialist, would be the one to get our inner embers burning. He started us out in a closed knee child’s pose and instructed us to let out a big sigh—not big enough! he joked.
Class started out slow, but things were about to heat up. Ric’s opening sequencing incorporated crescent moon, followed by ardha hanumanasana, or half splits, gate pose, and half vasisthasana. This was just our opening—what followed was some challenging and intricate sequencing designed to warm up the whole body, but especially the core.
In plank, we took one leg to the chest and then back again, repeating this five times before moving into a high lunge. From here, Ric built on standing poses, adding in new poses or nuances with each vinyasa.
We worked on high lunge, warrior 2, extended side angle (taking a bind on the second round), and triangle, but we also worked on some heated sequences in between such as downward dog, raising a leg and bringing to the chest five times, and downward dog to fallen triangle, repeating the sequence several times.
We “rested” in a forearm plank during which Ric had us swivel our hips from side to side. Later, from downward dog, we would walk out to plank, take a side plank on each side, and then, from plank again, walk to the back of the mat for a forward fold. This was repeated several times. “If you come to this class every week from now until summer your body will be smoking!” Ric joked.
This class was not just for the core, though. Our thighs were about to feel some of the burn. With our feet mat width apart we held a chair pose, then squatted down into malasana, and came back up to chair, which we repeated ten times. Afterwards, Ric had us try a crow pose, which we had been not-so-secretly prepping for, and which was a welcomed break for our legs.
Further into class we held a warrior 3, bent the back leg and brought it forward where we caught hold of the big toe, extended the leg out to the front and then to the side. Testing our balance, Ric then had us bring the leg back down to the floor while keeping hold of the big toe. We switched sides but on the second round we took hold of both toes, squatted down, then placing the butt on the floor, brought the legs up into navasana.
Still holding onto the big toes, we extended the legs wide and brought them back to center—ten times. For those still in the game, Ric challenged us to come back into a squat while holding onto the big toes. Easier said than done! Laughter ensued as we all made our attempts, so Ric tried to demonstrate to show us this was possible. But after stumbling a few times himself and laughing along with us, he let us off the hook.
Since this was, indeed, billed as a core class, there were plenty of mini workouts for the abs. In navasana, we were instructed to take hold of a block with both hands and twist side to side. We held our legs at ninety degrees and lowered and lifted them ten times, and then finally lowered the legs down to the count of ten. At the end, Ric encouraged us to let out a sigh—and our sighs were much more audible and satisfactory to Ric this time!
On the floor, we cooled down with salabhasana and bow as backbends with some floor twists. In fish, Ric gave us the option to do the more advanced pose with legs and arms extended at thirty degrees. Finally, we released into a sweaty savasana.
We exited the studio, almost surprised by the sound of loud music and the sights of hardworking gym-goers, since we had worked so hard getting our inner fires burning so we could keep our minds cool.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Yoga classes at Crunch are membership only but new students can sign up for a free guest pass.
Tuesday 6:30-7:30pm Advanced
Crunch 90 John St. New York, NY 10038 (212) 227-0005