Finding Zen On The Helipad: SoundOff Yoga

Nightfall at #HelipadYogaThis summer I went to a LOT of outdoor yoga and did no actual yoga. I loved being outside, the vibe of large groups of people gathering to practice but never actually laid out my mat since I was in charge of an event series. When I first heard about SoundOff’s HeliPad Yoga event with yogi superstar Elena Brower and Miami’s Jennifer Pansa, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what it really was.  I was pretty sure though, that the views from downtown’s helipad at sunset would be worth the uncertainty, and my final chance before summer ended to practice outside. I quickly accepted the invite and then a day later,  I took the train to a station I’d passed through but never gotten off at and let the adventure begin.

After waiting for a little while as they finished setting up, we were let in. A quick check-in, and drinks from Butcher’s Daughter and WTRMLN water, we were handed our headphones as we made our way out to the helipad. Sliding on the headphones, I went to find what would be my spot for the next hour and half. It was amazing to be completely surrounded by the normal NYC city noise and suddenly only be able to hear the pumping music and the occasional directions from Elena. It got me really excited for what was to come…

sunset at #helipadyoga

The thing that didn’t excite me at all, was ALL of the bird poop. It was everywhere… and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The germaphobe in me momentarily panicked and almost ran away. Then I had a stern talk with myself, picked the least terrifying spot and laid down my mat. I just spent the class being very, very aware of the parameters of my mat. Others seemed not to care in the slightest which was probably a much healthier response… but that dude who walked barefoot between mats really did freak me out. I tried to just let it go and focus on the absolutely amazing view around me since being on the Helipad meant that you were actually out in the water and both Brooklyn and Manhattan are a sight to behold from that vantage point.

Brooklyn view

Elena and Jennifer led a joyful flowing class to the sounds of DJ Tasha Blank who really just seemed to understand how to both sooth and motivate you through music. It was easily one of the best soundtracks to any yoga class I’ve ever been too. Since we were on the Helipad, the flow focused on taking flight and being uplifted in every movement. I really went for the view… but found that as the sun set, the practice got more magical. As the night fell and the only lights were from the glowing headphones, I got lost in the beauty of the night and the practice. I stopped worrying about anything else and just let myself go with the flow of the evening.

As we lay back for Savasana, I looked up and fiinally, away from all of the building lights of the city, I could see the stars above me. I breathed in and was just fully grateful for this adventure.

FBS’s Sweaty Intel: January Edition

A few months ago, I heard a solid report that Soul Cycle had signed a lease in Brooklyn, near the Borough Hall stop in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown area.  I was pretty sure at the time that this was true, but when I saw the recent posting on Soul’s Career section looking for Front Desk peeps for “Brooklyn Heights, CT” I knew it had to be getting close. CT has no Brooklyn Heights… but BROOKLYN’S Downtown/Brooklyn Heights area is ripe for an awesome Indoor Cycling option and given the lease report, I’m now counting down the days ’till it’s officially announced. The Downtown Brooklyn area is massively lacking in fitness options and the studio that gets to this area first is going to have such a stronghold by the time ALL of the huge new buildings go up, it’ll be hard for anyone to compete. I’m not even a little surprised that Soul would see an opportunity and swoop in.

Soul Cycle Saying

 

One of my VERY favorite yoga studios – I.AM.YOU in Nolita is beginning to offer community classes (donation based) on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. This loft-based studio is just freaking cool – athletic flow and awesome music. These classes will be taught by one of I.AM.YOU’s finishing school trainees, but knowing Lauren, she wouldn’t have anyone teach in her space that wasn’t amazing.  I’m so hitting this up.

IAmYouMats

In classes that seem both fascinating and slightly terrifying –  STREB has started to offer German Wheel (aka the giant hamster wheel) as a weekly class. This used to only be offered as special workshop but now you have the option of dropping in – for $35. Flip, roll, swing and invert yourself inside this giant metal wheel – it encompasses all of the fun and excitement of gymnastic tumbling without the high impact. These classes are taught by Chris Delgado, a certified German wheel instructor who has over 4 years of teaching experience and STREB says it’s open to all levels from beginner to competitive level training. I’m both curious and terrified of this one…

German Wheel Chris Delgado

 

Images from Soul Cycle & I.AM.YOU and Chris Delgado‘s Facebook pages.

Really Listening: I.AM.YOU’s Live DJ Class With Lauren Imparato

IAmYouDJclass

Things go wrong when you think you know an address…so on my way to Lauren Imparato’s I.AM.YOU, I took one of those random street elevators to a super sketchy second floor of an entirely different building, that instead of offering me a yoga sanctuary, offered massage services by the minute.  I thought, for a brief second, this is how a horror film would start and backed out quickly. Once I was back on the street, a quick Google search gave me the right address (I was two doors down) and moments later, I was finally in the right elevator and headed to I.AM.YOU.  I was running late, like class is about to start late, and I almost bagged out completely since I HATE being that person rushing in at the last minute.  But when I got to the floor, the door was still open and people were still being checked in, so I threw my stuff in my bag, ditched my shoes in the hallway and checked in. I walked into the darkened, stunning loft with its black mats carefully laid out and was grateful that I had actually made it.

The room was packed – of course. I had a momentary panic that my normal hide-in-the-corner-of-the-room spot wasn’t an option, and I thought about fleeing. Lauren saw me freeze, gave me a fierce hug and said without flinching, “You are going THERE” and pointed at an open mat in the middle of the room.  I paused. “GO”, Lauren said firmly and then was off to someone else.  I poked my way over to the mat and tried to settle in but with only a sliver of space between each mat, I also start praying that I didn’t take someone out during this class with my non-yogi ways.

IAmYouMats

Once all thirty mats were filled and everyone was settled in, Lauren told us the focus of the practice.  In most I.AM.YOU classes, Lauren has everything completely planned out, but during the live DJ class, there is an improv to music that is played.  So that night’s focus was all about really listening. That if, for one moment of your night, you were truly able to tune everything out and just really listen to yourself and the moment– that was success. That night, Jennifer, another of the I.AM.YOU teachers, was assisting and as we went through the athletic flow of the evening, it seemed like there was always someone there guiding and correcting my movement. Lauren and Jennifer seamlessly moved around the room, adjusting people, working as a team to get everyone in the room.  Sigh. Have I ever mentioned HOW much I love adjustments? I.AM.YOU instructors, for how amazing, challenging and athletic the practice is, are really just masterful at making sure everyone is in the right position.

Lauren Imparato

Lauren’s flow that night made us work with each other to get a little bit of space to fling ourselves around on the mat but because of the vibe of the night, everyone would just smile and shift. As the songs would change, the flow would morph and you had to really listen to the cues Lauren was giving. I strained to follow but occasionally would just peek at the girl on my left who was a regular and seemed grasp what the next thing was immediately. I never felt totally lost but occasionally my mind would drift off to the great music and cool vibe of the room and I’d suddenly realize I’d missed a cue or two. The hour and 15 minute practice flew by and at the end, as we lay in Savasana, I was totally blissed out. When Lauren made it to me to rub my temple to seal the practice, I melted. At the end of class, as I threw on my clothes and made my way out into the night, I wondered why I wasn’t at I.AM.YOU every single week… it really is just a magical spot in the world.

Photos from I.AM.YOU’s Facebook page. Top photo is from the actual class, if you look very closely you can spot me!

Yoga For Runners (and Non-Running Athletes) at Mala Yoga

Mala Yoga recovery-runners_calf_with-text

I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I DO have super tight hips and hamstrings so I’ve been dying to try Mala Yoga’s “Yoga for Runners” class designed by Stephanie Creaturo.

“Yoga for Runners is a class designed for runners by a lifelong runner who happens to be a yoga teacher. We strengthen muscles that runners need for stability and support, we stretch what gets tight, and learn manual release work to give our muscles and joints some relief.” The last line of the class description really got me.  It said that the class was designed for runners but any athlete was welcome!  I am pretty much always looking for yoga classes that are designed to open you up so when I read this class description, I knew I had to try it.

Mala Yoga studio

Mala Yoga is one of those studios that just shouldn’t feel as awesome as it does.  A simple one room space with very minimal decorations on the second floor of a busy Brooklyn street, it is one of the warmest, most welcoming studios I’ve ever been to. After checking in and setting up my mat, I snuck a peek at the people who looked like they came to the class alot and grabbed the same props that they had gotten. I am always excited by classes with yoga props, since I figure I need all of the help I can get! For this one, we got a tennis and golf ball, 2 blocks, 2 blankets and a strap. Before the class started, Steph made her way around the room to check in with everyone. As she stopped by my mat, I sheepishly told her I didn’t really run at all, mostly did CrossFit and Spinning but that I have a case of Planter Fasciitis. I felt a little like I had snuck into a class I didn’t belong in, but as she talked to me she rubbed my foot and told me where I should start rolling on the golf ball that I had gotten and told me that ALL athletes were welcome. Tight hips are tight hips. I immediately relaxed and was completely smitten with Steph for her openness and caring for helping everyone – even us non-runners.

mala_yoga_window

As the class started, Steph told us that this is NOT a Vinyasa class, and it so isn’t. One of my very favorite moves happened right away – rolling our calves out on a tennis ball that was placed on a block. It was ridiculously yummy. I knew from that first moment that I was in the right place. We did hip openers, side stretches, hamstring releases and as we went through, Steph would call out what different issues each pose would help with… all based on what people in the class had said were things they were dealing with. In each pose, she was also amazing about adjusting people into the right spot so that they could get the most out of the move. A good adjustment means the world and a couple of times, I almost cried with joy as she moved me gently into the right spot. The class FLEW by and honestly, by the time we hit the last pose, a shavasana twist with our legs up the wall, I was blissed out and more open then I’d been in MONTHS.

Mala Yoga-sc_tennis-ball-hip-w-text

I would recommend this class for any athlete but runners should be there EVERY single week. It was seriously heavenly and I can’t wait to go back -Steph has really created something magical…

Photos from Mala Yoga’s Blog , photos of Steph taken from a great post she wrote on restorative work you can do at home. 

Breath + The Beats: Urban Asanas’ Joyful Celebration

Urban Asana 1
Reading the description of Urban Asanas in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights‘ awesome series Breath & The Beats of the Streets reads: “Get your flow on to a live DJ, followed by drinks, snacks and friends new & old” – I knew I had to go. I’d met Jyll Hubbard-Salk, the trailblazing owner of Urban Asanas, at a few Brooklyn Lululemon events and loved her energy. I had heard amazing things about her teaching, but had just never made it to one of her classes and really, it was starting to get ridiculous.

 Jyll Hubbard-Salk

Urban Asanas is a yoga studio dedicated to the community and is the first of its kind in the neighborhood – with the awesome mandate of “maintaining the strength and diversity of the people we serve. Our focus is on movement through music, collaboration, and heart. Urban Asanas welcomes yoga practitioners of all levels and socio-economic backgrounds.” There is seriously nothing about that that I don’t love.

Urban Asana Practice

The event, held at Jyll’s house so that we could practice outside in her stunning backyard, is just around the corner from the studio and as it turns out, it is ridiculously easy to get to. Just a few blocks off the 3 train, I made it there really quickly and ended up being one of the first people there. I must admit though, when I read the description of the evening’s event, it didn’t even occur to me that the description “from 7-9” was for the actual practice. I assumed that it would be an hour of yoga then an hour of hanging out – so when she casually mentioned that the 2 hour practice might start a couple of minutes late, I almost fell down. However, it was so beautiful outside and I was there already, so I just rolled out my mat, laid down and looked at the beautiful sky above.

Jyll's Corrections

There were 10 of us who ended up in Jyll’s backyard for the yoga portion of the evening and as soon as the class started, I knew this was going to be a kick-ass flow. Jyll is irreverent and vocal during the class, with a keen eye for what every single person is doing in each movement and how to get them deeper and more correctly into the pose. I was so thoroughly impressed with every single correction & cue – although often funny, each correction was perfect, thoughtful and helpful. She is also an amazing hands-on corrector. I love being guided into position… because really, I sometimes just don’t know where I should be moving from in yoga and having Jyll’s skilled hands guiding me into it was amazing. It was a challenging flow and the two hours actually flew by. The music was soulful and though Jyll moved us with the music in a seamless flow, a few times the music would just move people and they would start rocking out to the beat in between their Warrior poses. By the end, I was completely spent and totally blissed out.

  Urban Asana Practice 2

After class, food and sangria was brought out and more people arrived to join Jyll’s party. As the evening shifted from class to party, I looked around and marveled at the amazing, interesting and cool group of people that she had brought together. I was so grateful to be there and spent the rest of the evening just reveling at Urban Asanas’ awesome community.

It was an evening that reminded me of the reasons why I love Brooklyn.

Photos and Video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for Fatbottomslim

YOGASMOGA: Clothing & Karma

Yogasmoga_HeaderI first heard about the new company, YOGASMOGA (based in NYC), when I was sent their beautiful Breath video – and was immediately curious because I loved the sentiment of the video. Their online store is open already and they hope to have a physical store open in NYC this year. As they told me, they are in the process of finding the right location, “a special place where we can do events such as free evening and weekend yoga classes, as bringing the community together is one of our core principles.”  After going to their site and reading how their company is based on “honoring the tenets of Yoga”, I loved the Karma-based core of this new company. YOGASMOGA’s desire to do good while creating clothes to workout in is awesome and when they asked me if I was interested in trying out some YOGASMOGA, I immediately said yes. I was so curious what I would get! When I got the package in the mail, I was shocked to find the exact outfit I would have chosen for myself – I giddilly pulled out a pair of their Tippy Toe Leggings and a Yantra Tank.

Even though on YOGASMOGA’s site they have spinning and running sections, I was a little worried about how the clothes would perform outside of the yoga world. I decided I’d break the outfit up and pair it with things I already own, just in case.

First up were the Tippy Toe Leggings in Carbon – I loved the look of these from the moment I saw them on the site – a long, tight legging made of their version of a high-performance wicking fabric called Aurum+. When I pulled them out of the bag, they seemed small but fit perfectly when I pulled them on.  I was shocked by how flattering they were! I was headed to a Brett Hoebel workout at 24hr Fitness and thought it would be the perfect place to test them out. The leggings don’t have the normal “performance” fabric feeling and I was excited to see how they would hold up in what I knew would be a super sweaty class filled with constant movement. A Capoeria-based class, called “Nitro” was basically 45 minutes of speedy squat, low to the ground lunge and kick moves that never really let up. The leggings never bagged and stayed put in every single move – I never even fiddled with them once.  Even though I was super sweaty at the end, they weren’t. I loved them and really just want to wear them constantly.

yantra-tank_india-blue_town_2_1Next up was the Yantra Tank, a waist-length, fitted tank. I have a long torso so I am constantly yanking down most workout tanks, which are usually cut too short for me.  Finding a tank that stays put is always a challenge. The Yantra is in India Blue and is really flattering on, but I was skeptical that it wouldn’t ride up during a workout. I decided to test this one out in a Barry’s Bootcamp class and I was fully prepared to be yanking it down constantly on the treadmill.  This tank shocked me. It didn’t move an inch through sprints on the treadmill or the shoulder presses by the bench.  It turns out their description is totally true –  “You would think there’s a magnetic force controlling it – but, really, it’s just great design.”  I LOVED this tank for running/bootcamp/strength workouts and it easily goes on my favorites list. I loved it so much that I also tried it in a spin class, but for me, it was just too low cut for that one. I spent a lot of that class catching glimpses of myself in the mirror and being like “Oh, goodness, there is a LOT of chest action happening here.” I wasn’t worried it would move and I’d put on a show, but it was just a little much for my personal taste!

There is a lot I love about the YOGASMOGA clothes that I tried: the fit, the function but one of my favorite things is that the awesome fabric that is used for all of the products is produced here in the USA. I love what they say about that choice on their site: “Science teaches, the fabric of our society can be more than the spirituality that binds us. We know that yoga pants can be hip and trendy. But, they can also create jobs for people in need when they’re manufactured in a town that’s desperate for opportunity. Not only are our fabrics made by our fellow Americans, but they are also eco-friendly as they haven’t accumulated frequent flyer miles.” YOGASMOGA’s mission to keep their supply chain close to their NYC headquarters is just awesome.

Karma is an amazing thing and I can’t wait to see what the year holds for them….

Images from the YogaSmoga website.

Disclaimer: I review only things I love. I was given these items to test but did not guarantee a review.

Aerial Yoga at OM Factory NYC : A Blissful Treat from Lululemon

One of my favorite things is to always keep an eye on the Lululemon community calendars for each of the stores in the city, because sometimes you find a gem in there. I DO wish all of NYC’s different Lulu calendars were combined but really, a little leg work never killed anyone! My favorite free “community sweat” classes, though, are always the ones they occasionally hold in the featured studios. This week, Lululemon Union Square’s class turned out to be an Aerial Yoga class at OM Factory! Score!

I have been dying to try out OM Factory’s Aerial Yoga for a while. The studio was already 3/4 full by the time I filled out my waiver/newcomer form and made my way into the room. The room was set up with 15 (or so) bright orange silk “hammocks” – I grabbed one of the mats hanging on the wall & took a spot in the back of the room under one of the silks. The class filled up quickly and a few people had to be turned away since with any Aerial class, once the hammocks are filled, that is it. No squeezing in at the last minute in a class like this! While I waited for class to begin, I sat in my hammock and swung, taking in the bright pretty space. OM really is a lovely little peaceful gem in the craziness that is Union Square.

The instructor for our class, Sarah Sadie Newett, came around to each of us before the class started and had us stand by our silks to get measured. The hammocks, when pulled taught, are supposed to be at your hipbones. That way when you fold over it, the hammock will support your weight in various poses. Our class was billed as a “foundations class” – which meant that there was a lot of stopping to have the next thing explained to us. While we listened, Sarah often had us swing in our hammocks, which is really just a seriously soothing way to have anything explained to you. Ages ago I took some Aerial Yoga classes, so it didn’t really bother me that I couldn’t always see what was being demonstrated up at the front of the room. We did a lot of moves with one leg suspended out in the hammock, which is a fun way to explore your balance and go far deeper into the poses.

In every Aerial yoga class though, I just am chomping at the bit to do my absolute favorite thing – hang upside down. Almost every other pose is just what I have to do to get to flip upside-down in those awesome hammocks. I could be really happy hanging upside down every single day. In an “Aerial Silks” class, the fabric is in two sections and being upside down is a feat. but because the silks in Aerial Yoga is a one piece hammock, the upside-down move is awesomely easy. It cradles as you flip back and you can either straddle your legs out or my favorite, to wrap them around the silks. It is so oddly comfortable and freeing. While we were upside-down, Sarah also had us try a handstand – I was stunned when I pushed right up into a full handstand and could hold it! The silks wrapping around you give just enough support to keep you steady and straight, which is sort of the key in a handstand. So freaking cool. The class wound down with a few supported down dogs and then it was finally time for Savasana. Aerial Yoga’s version is amazing – you spread the fabric out, sitting on it and pulling it up around your shoulders before laying back and sort of inchworming yourself out to a fully extend position. It is like being in a cocoon, swinging freely in the air. It is so weirdly freeing to not feel the ground beneath you, like bobbing on your back in the ocean, just very calming and centering.

Shaking up your routine is such a very good thing. I wouldn’t suggest replacing your favorite yoga flow class with Aerial Yoga, since every one I have ever take has stopped and started a lot – but the special magical moments in those classes really are truly amazing. I am so grateful to Lululemon for their community sweats program that finally got me to a class I’ve been meaning to go to for ages! I’ll definitely be back at the OM Factory soon to get to see the world upside-down again….

Photos of Aerial Yoga from the OM Factory NYC Facebook page. Bottom photo just a little bit of internet goodness.

Finding gratitude at Virayoga with the help of Elena Brower

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.)

I.AM.YOU: The class that made me love yoga again…

On Saturday morning, at the perfectly reasonable hour of 11am, I was standing in front of a non-descript door in Little Italy wondering just what I had signed up for. I had been hearing amazing things about I.AM.YOU studio for awhile, but have been so wary of signing up for it since every description seemed just too cool for me- and I honestly thought it just couldn’t live up to the hype. I was so wrong.

To get up to the studio, you get onto a creaky elevator that opens directly onto the street and then drops you off in front of a large metal door. I was one of the first to arrive but the hall was quickly filled with a ridiculously attractive crowd, who were all very serious about their I.AM.YOU class. When the doors finally opened, a few of us were new and had to sign in so the crowd behind us surged around, since people really wanted to snag their favorite spots. I ended up in the back row with the two other newbies to the studio – which was nice because I could scope out the studio before the class started. I.AM.YOU is in a gorgeous, open loft and all of the black mats were laid out before all of the students arrived. I LOVE not having to bring a mat to class and when they are already out so there isn’t that weird moment of trying to fit in somewhere. Saturday’s class, though, had more people than expected, so there was a little shifting around of rows.  Everyone was reminded to always RSVP so the class count is right and starting class goes smoothly.

The class starts off with a 10 minute section of visualization and chanting. I really hate chanting usually, as those of you who have read my previous posts know, it just completely sets me on edge.  But this class was the first time that wasn’t the case. Lauren Imparato has a deep, sexy, melodic voice that was just amazing to listen to – the chanting sounded more like singing. Even when people answered her, they tried to match the melody of it and it was absolutely beautiful. Lauren then told us a wonderful, relatable story about intention and learning before putting on the music and beginning the flow portion of the class. The first song that came on was a rap song and you just knew you were in for a VERY different kind of yoga experience. I.AM.YOU’s flow is challenging, non-stop and so very, very good, set to an amazing, energizing playlist. Good music always helps me in a challenging class and this class was really challenging. I loved every minute of it even though it was hard. Lauren’s adjustments were so sure and helpful – you just knew you were in good hands. By the end of class I was wiped out and blissful and fully in love with the I.AM.YOU experience.

Lauren and the I.AM.YOU studio really are just as good as everyone has said. For the first time in ages, I have found a yoga class that I can’t wait to go back to and I am grateful for that.

(photo: via I.AM.YOU website)

THE GOOD, THE BAD &THE UNFORTUNATE OF FREE YOGA

I love Lululemon’s free classes that they offer at all of their locations. In the best cases you find teachers you LOVE and can seek out again, and in the worst cases you spend an hour with a teacher you never, ever want to take again.  The worst cases are still pretty good though, since Lulu uses teachers that someone there has taken and loves. So even if they aren’t your cup of tea, they are almost always pretty solid. OH and yeah, they are FREE. At least during a free bad class I am not spending my whole time being pissed about the money I spent to try someone out. Which leads to this: I hated today’s class at Lululemon Brooklyn.

The Shala Yoga House opened a new yoga studio in Brooklyn, but it is really pricey. It is an offshoot of a beloved Manhattan studio that I had been hearing raves about for years.  So when I heard about the free Ashtanga class lead by Shala BK today at Lulu, I knew I had to go. I love a hard, challenging yoga class and Ashtanga classes always fit that bill, but I knew I was in trouble from the moment this class started. I am not very chant-y. A couple of ohms is totally fine, but much more then that I am just not into. At the very start of this class we were told we were going to start with ohms and a “Call and Response”, all I could think was damn. That Call and Response thing? A Long Sanskrit chant that went on forever. Then when we finally moved into the poses, she did them all with their “proper” names. Ugh. I really don’t do enough yoga to know what a chair pose is, unless you actually say chair pose. Sorry. I am just not yoga cool like that. I hate the wholier-then-thou vibe of thinking that anyone who doesn’t know the proper name just isn’t yogi enough. Luckily, we did every sequence 5 times so I was only clueless for the first pass. The good part though was she did some great really physical corrections – I love having my hips pushed down during downward dog and then in shoulder stand she pulled up my feet allowing me to get into a deeper expression of it then I have ever managed before. So great but then there was more chanting. So MUCH Chanting. Seriously, how do you chant that much in only an hour?? It was a good hard class just not remotely for me. I can see why people love this style of teaching, it makes you feel like a part of something special, however it makes me feel like banging my head against the floor.

After, I meet up with the fella and we went out for a seriously amazing, fresh and cheap burrito! I would have chanted for THAT.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to.