It was chucking down rain the whole day, so a class for “those looking for a slower practice,” sounded like a good option for this quiet Thursday morning. Led by Hannah Gruber, a teacher who has found reprieve from allergies and asthma through therapeutic yoga, the YogaSole class is also recommended for “mature” students and those struggling with injuries.
Before class began Hannah went around the room asking each of us how we were doing and whether we had any injuries; one person wanted to work on legs, one person felt she needed yoga because there had recently been a death of the family. Hannah listened compassionately as each of us told her our struggles and needs.
After chanting three “om”s, we remained sitting and Hannah instructed us to begin tapping our chests as a method of stimulating and cleansing the lymphatic system. We then took our arms out to the side and pulled them in towards the chest in a rapid and repetitive manner, followed by raising our arms up and down rapidly with the breath.
Bringing our legs out to an upavistha konasana shape, we leaned over to each side, allowing the head to drape down. Then, with one arm back behind us, we would lift the other arm into the sky for a side stretch, trying to keep a lift in the stretch.
With our legs in front and slightly apart, we rocked them back and forth. Bending the legs slightly, we then took hold of the soles of the feet and rocked back and forth in this comforting movement. Sitting in easy pose, we did some kundalini-style twists, inhaling to the left and exhaling to the right, rapidly.
On all fours, we swayed the hips side to side like an elephant. “Has anyone ever ridden an elephant?” Hannah asked. One student had. “They’re so majestic,” Hannah said as we aimed to mimic their majesty.
Coming up to stand, we stooped down into a forward fold with the legs mat-width apart. We moved through some light sun salutations—simply lifting the arms up to the sky, then bringing the arms back down to the floor, half lift, and back to uttanasana, forward fold.
From downward dog, we moved into plank, then all the way to the floor. We were going to work on sphinx, though some students found the pose presented challenges for their various ailments. Hannah suggested putting a bolster under the pelvis which students agreed made the pose much more tolerable.
Going to the wall, we worked on the shoulders. Situating our bodies an arm’s length from the wall, we placed one hand at shoulder height and then turned our bodies further away from the wall towards the room for a big chest opening shoulder stretch. Hannah advised us to bring a lift into our chests, similar to what we did in the upavistha konasana shape.
After working on both sides, Hannah directed us back to our mats to work on legs, not forgetting the student’s earlier request. Wrapping the belt around the ball of the foot, we stretched each leg up into the sky. We created a loop in the strap and wrapped it behind our neck, using it like a fulcrum while taking our leg to the side for a final stretch.
For savasana, Hannah suggested either making a bridge by placing two blocks on their highest height under a bolster and resting bent legs on top of the bolster, or placing the bolster length-wise and laying our torsos back on the bolster. In the latter position, before complete rest, Hannah asked if I wanted a sandbag for my thighs. I said I did, and I’m glad—for me, this completed the restful pose.
Closing the class with three “om”s, Hannah recommended good self-care and quiet contemplation for the rest of the day as the rain continued to bucket down.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20, with mat rental a $1 donation.
Thursday 11-12:15pm Beginner
YogaSole 254 Windsor Place Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 541-1382