I recently came to the conclusion that I need to add more yoga into my schedule, at least once a week. Tuesday was the first day of that resolve, when I made my way to Virayoga and the amazing Elena Bower. I had been hearing about Elena for what seemed like forever, however, the closest I ever came to taking a class from her was that big yoga event in Central Park a few years ago that got cancelled due to a thunderstorm. At the time, I just thought I wasn’t supposed to do yoga in the park that day but it turned out that it also marked the last time yoga was a regular part of my life. That needed to change.
I decided that a good first step to my returning to yoga was to finally take a class with Elena, since Virayoga is on the FITiST list and I had a credit I needed to use before it expired. It is so easy to get distracted with all of the choices on FITiST but because my back was acting up, I was dead set on getting a yoga class in to loosen things up. So on Tuesday, after my great morning spin class with Holly at Flywheel, I snagged a yummy and free latte at Joe’s (oh how I love a full coffee card) and slowly meandered down to the 12pm class at Virayoga. The studio was a beautiful, high ceiling, loft-like space that was huge, but was full by the time I got there. Since the class was in the middle of the day, 90 minutes long and on a Tuesday, I assumed that it would be sparsely attended – I was so wrong. It was PACKED. I got there about 15 minutes before class started and there were already 30 people all set up in the room. I set up my mat in the midst of obvious regulars, figuring that I would at least be able to follow along if I got totally confused about what pose we were supposed to be doing – which almost always happens to me in a yoga class. By the time class was set to start, there were 41 people in the room, which suddenly didn’t feel expansive anymore. Right after everyone settled in, Elena came in and made her way to the head of the class. I was floored at how beautiful she was and how it seemed like everyone held their breath as she walked in. For the first 20 minutes or so, I just didn’t get the hold she had over the room, but it was amazing to watch. The poses were challenging and held for what seemed ages to my tight muscles. As she sat in the front of the room talking us through them, I was fully resistant to being in the moment. I internally grumbled and thought “this is going to be a LONG 90 minutes”. There were two assistants in the class but they never came to me, seeming to stay with the more experienced practitioners in the class. For the first part of class, I assumed that Elena would stay at the head of the room, talking us through the poses while the assistants corrected the room physically. Then it happened – I Iooked up and Elena was in the middle of the room with her hand on someone’s back and the graceful demonstration of that touch made me realize why everyone had held their breath when she came in – they were waiting for that moment. She was amazingly good a talking people through poses and articulating small adjustments she wanted us to make, however, Elena is breathtakingly good hands-on. The first time she adjusted me in a Warrior pose, I fully understood the breathless anticipation everyone had. She moved me deeper into the pose, firmly, while explaining what I needed to be thinking about physically in the movement. Then, she moved my hair, which had gotten caught in a funny way as I had moved in to the pose. That completely won me over. It was a thoughtless gesture, I am sure, but it was so sweet and comforting, that I practically swooned. The rest of the class flew by. I was completely open and entirely in the moment when we finally laid down for the Shavasana at the end of class. It was one of those moments where my mind didn’t wander at all as I laid there. A woman named Spring started singing a chanting based song while playing her guitar softly. It was a beautiful, magical end to a class that made my heart feel three times bigger and my soul a little lighter.
As I walked out into the beautiful, sunny day, I felt grateful for the chance to have taken that glorious class and for life in general …you really can’t ask for more than that.
(Top photo of Elena Brower from the Virayoga website and bottom image a little internet goodness.)