Yesterday was my third or fourth class with Ariel, one of the newer teachers at Greenhouse. He also teaches at Kula and David Barton. Such a sweet guy, but his classes are like boot camp! (Tasty, tasty boot camp.) A 90-minute class will be 85 minutes of standing poses, followed by a bit of relaxation / meditation. (He’s always running over, so I think they’re going to make the class an hour and 45 minutes instead.) But his sequencing is so interesting, and his demeanor so calming, that it never feels that long. He has reminded me of what I love about vinyasa, and inspired me to keep going with it.
A Laughing Lotus grad, Ariel teaches a textbook Lotus class: crazy variations you’ve never seen before, a charismatic soundtrack, and a dance-like flow. (Minus any chanting, however.) He’ll do three or four long sequences per class, repeating each one once or twice. Each sequence is like 20 poses, so I inevitably think he’s forgotten to do the other side — I don’t know how he remembers them. The class is intermediate/advanced level (it was originally called advanced, but no one showed up), so it includes things like Crow with one leg extended, Peacock with the elbows by the sides, Standing Splits with the torso rotated sideways, or half-bound Half Moon. The great thing about new poses is that you return to beginner’s mind: listening with full attention and humility. There are so many new details to master that there’s less room for an internal narrative. Same thing for physical challenges: you get to ride the edge of awareness by pushing yourself. So for 90 minutes, this class lets you get outside your head and just act.
I also love how Ariel includes key pranayama and bandha exercises within the vinyasa flow. In Parsvottanasana (Forward Angle), or Down Dog, you’ll complete an exhale, then retain the breath as you lift the head or the hips, feeling the uddiyana bandha. Kapalabhati is similarly worked into surprising places.
There aren’t a million alignment details in his classes, so be sure you know where your knees and tail should be pointing before you go. But he’s great about encouraging patience and compassion, and the pace is moderate, so there’s plenty of time and space for modifications if you know them. A rubber mat would be a good idea, as I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so sweaty, and the standard blue mats tend to slide a bit.