EarthRise Yoga with Derek Beres at Equinox

I’m thinking more and more about teaching regularly, since I’m working on this yoga book and need my vocabulary back. I should probably try to pick up a class at my local studio, but I haven’t gotten around to calling them. My boyfriend is a member at Equinox, and he’s been working on me to teach there the Soho branch has no classes on Thursday nights. I could teach the Atmananda sequence, and its stretching/strengthening series would be a good complement for their Tuesday night Ashtanga junkies.

EarthRise Yoga with Derek Beres
EarthRise Yoga with Derek Beres

So, I went to take a class there, the BF got me a guest pass. He likes the Wednesday night class with Derek, who happened to be in my teacher training. I’m always curious what Atmananda graduates are teaching, if any of them are still teaching the sequence. Derek studied Budokon for a while, and now calls his yoga “EarthRise,” so I was excited to see it. He’s always been a clear, solid teacher, and he teaches 10 or 15 classes a week at Equinox so I know he’s popular there. I’ve done one group fitness audition, for NYSC, but I didn’t know if Equinox classes tended toward spirituality or aerobics. I mean, obviously the latter, but my question was, to what extent do the popular teachers focus on meditation, philosophy, etc.

Class was a physical challenge. The focus was strengthening, and of course it was the day I’d moved a vanload of furniture in and out of my fourth-floor apartment. We did some crazy Down Dog and Chaturanga variations that left my arms wobbly. (They could probably use the work inversions are my most unsteady poses.) The climactic sequence was something like:

  • Down Dog Split
  • Plank with one knee outside the shoulder
  • Push-ups with knee outside the shoulder
  • Flying Crow with knee outside the shoulder
  • Down Dog Split with knee bent
  • Dancing Dog (touching bent leg down towards Full Wheel)
  • Side Plank on the other side
  • Dancing Dog Split (top leg slides under the body at 90)
  • Side Crow
  • Low Lunge
  • Crescent

The sequencing was really creative, BF says the class is different every time. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced so many new poses and transitions in one class, and it was nice to return to the novelty and exploration of beginner’s mind. The first half of class was a strong workout, with plenty of variations offered, and good reminders to have fun. He had the class laughing a couple times, which cut through any competitive kill-face. We spent about 40 minutes in standing / challenging poses, 20 minutes in fixed / meditative poses, and 15 minutes in pranayama and cool-down poses. I was surprised to have so much cool-down, but it was much appreciated. About 40 minutes in, my sore muscles were like, “we have another 50 minutes of this???” but the class eased up shortly after and closed closer to 75 minutes than 90. The steam room after class was heaven, almost reason enough to become a member.

The students were mostly mid-level, and not very flexible, so that is good to know if I ever try to teach there. The more muscular we are, the tighter we are, so of course a gym population is probably stronger and tighter than a yoga studio’s students. I’m not sure what I would teach at an audition; the last one was 40 teachers taking turns teaching 5-minute segments. I could do a key pose like Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend, where there are a lot of alignment details or variations to share, or a quicker sequence of a few poses that is more creative and feels better, or even a meditative pose with more of an inward focus. I guess this reflects my wandering spirit right now; on one hand, I feel kind of weak and scatterbrained, so strong vinyasa classes would seem to do me good, but on the other hand I’m wanting peace and quiet, so I resist them.