When I walked into Woom Center for Mariah Betts' class I was immediately welcomed in by the warmth of the studio and the smell of Woom's blended signature scent and herbal baked goods. A lovely young man and a pup named Shapiro assisted me in signing up for class and showed me around the studio. The initial vibe was comfortable and inviting. Mariah began class by introducing herself and asking if anyone was new to the studio. She explained that the theme of today's class would be exploration—how intriguing! I was very happy to have her revisit this idea in different ways throughout the class. We began in virasana with two blocks under our seat. We set our eye masks over our eyes and began pranayama. With each exhale Mariah asked us to release our to-do lists and expectations. She prompted us to begin humming and to direct that “hum” towards the crown chakra. She explained that the sound of "hum" can be used as a tool for self-soothing. As we explored this she suggested we try different pitches and then continued the exercise using the sounds “mah” and “ah” as well. The practice was cleansing and allowed me to let go of any free-floating energy that was existing within me. After this sound exploration we removed our eye masks and were enveloped by walls projecting beautiful visuals of greenery. I immediately associated these images with the heart chakra. The images continued to change throughout class and created a psychedelic atmosphere that (in my head) took me far from NYC. We began to warm up our spines with cat and cow pose as Mariah suggested we explore the poses and begin to incorporate “animal-like” movements to help release any tension that noise exploration had brought up for us. Warm-up also included some gentle stretching and opening of the shoulders as well as core strengthening exercise intended to fire-up the mula and uddiyana bandhas. Laying flat on our backs we placed a block between our thighs at the base of the pelvic bone and curled up our head and neck while keeping the lower belly pinned down towards the ground. This was followed by lunging sun salutations and then traditional Surya Namaskara A.
We built upon this and came into our main standing sequence that travelled from adho mukha svanasana to low-lunge twist, utthita parsvakonasana, peaceful warrior, triangle, and half moon. As we moved through the flow Mariah continued to add on deepening variations like standing split, ardha chandrasana chapasana, adho mukha vrksasana, pincha mayurasana, and parivrtta trikonasana. The transitions were smooth and the deepening of asanas felt natural. Throughout class Mariah circulated the room adjusting students. Her physical assist for pincha mayurasana felt intuitive and wasn’t overbearing, allowing me to find success in the pose on my own. After forearm stand, we rested back in virasana. And as we closed our eyes, she suggested we just feel. This type of guidance was a pleasant reminder that we were on an inner journey exploring the higher vibrations that the asanas provided for us. We gently transitioned into seated postures like ardha matsyandrasana and navasana and then down into an extra comfy savasana using two bolsters, a blanket as a pillow folded and tucked under the curve our neck, and an eye mask placed over the eyes. I was able to drop in and lose time in savasana but was delighted to experience one final cleansing experience of the gong while I rested down. Mariah held true to the art of exploration throughout the class and I loved the emphasis on the vibrations of the subtle body. I left feeling like I had just taken a spiritual bath of sorts—invigorated, lively, and joyous.
—Erika Beaton for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $25, with free mat rental. New students can try two weeks for $54, or one month for $99.