Sixth Street Community Center was founded in 1978 as a community space offering enrichment programs in visual arts, creative writing, urban gardening, cooking, health and nutrition. It seems appropriate that this space also hosts local artists and yogis who offer various community classes and workshops on the third floor, known as ABC Sanctuary. It doesn’t hurt that this welcoming space also has gorgeous, brightly colored stained glass windows to gaze through while you practice yoga.
Our teacher, Amikole, leads a donation-based class on Tuesday nights at the Sanctuary. Noting a lot of new faces in the class, she asked, “Is it okay if I go a bit over? I’d like to do a little massage at the end and it might take me a little longer than normal if there’s more of you.” Who could argue? After nodding our consent, Amikole asked us to start in downward dog. She asked us to think of a sound or color or mantra to carry us through the class. She also asked us to pay attention to the armpits—a body part that does not get a lot of attention—and to create space there.
In cat/cow, Amikole invited us to get creative and try out different sighing sounds, from “haaaa” to “sssss” to “hmmm.” Back in downward dog, Amikole instructed us to lift a leg in the air and think of length rather than height. For those of us wanting to take the pose a step further, we could move into flip dog, again opening up the armpits and creating space in that area. Returning to downward dog, we would take knee to nose, knee to elbow, and then knee to opposite elbow before settling into low lunge followed by lunge twist.
Amikole is the kind of teacher who likes to hold poses for several breaths, and give intricate description for each pose. After holding each of these poses for a short time, we went through our first flow with Amikole giving very particular instruction for plank, chaturanga, upward dog, and downward dog.
Building on the standing poses, Amikole added warrior 1, warrior 2, and peaceful warrior to the mix, noting that peaceful warrior is a side stretch rather than a back bend. After going through another vinyasa, Amikole had us hold utkatasana several times, asking us to keep the weight in our heels, open up the armpits and roll the arms in towards each other. On the third run through, Amikole added in a few pushups to the flow.
Then came a series of standing poses: a side angle, side angle twist, a transition into bound side angle.
Doing similar movements, as before, from downward dog we would bring knee to nose, knee to elbow, knee to opposite elbow, then land in a pigeon. Amikole took the time to adjust and give a light massage to each of us in this pose.
Our backbends of the night were “superman” and camel. In superman (or salabhasana), Amikole encouraged us to reach out and create length in the body. Backbends were followed by a seated forward fold.
Holding ardha navasana, we scissored our legs in and out to the count of ten for a quick end of class ab challenge. Then we squeezed ourselves into a tiny little ball before releasing into savasana. During this time, Amikole gave each of us a dreamy neck and shoulder massage, as promised.
After we had rested, Amikole thanked us profusely for coming to class and told us our donations would be going to a yoga arts organization. Not only were we doing sometime good to ourselves by coming to this restful class, our money would also go towards enriching others.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $10 suggested donation with free mat rental.