I love lunchtime classes, even though I never make it to them. Short and sweet/sweaty, they remind me that it’s possible to fit a great practice into sixty minutes. (It’s the leaving work part that I can’t seem to manage.)
April Martucci, director of the Mind Body Studio at the swanky Reebok Sports Club, finally got me to a lunch class yesterday. I really liked her website, and her yoga style is called “The Fire Dragon Method” — how could I resist?
She started class with a few thoughts on cycles, or patterns of life. For example, our social lives have changed drastically now that spring weather has hit the city. The Eastern perspective helps us remember not to get attached to particular habits or feelings; things come and go. This applies to our practice, too.
I could definitely relate. When I got tendinitis in my shoulder, I could no longer rely on my practice to be an endorphin-laden escape. (And I’d been very attached to that escape.) I had to appreciate the therapeutic side of yoga, enjoy the breath a little more.
We started class with three rounds of OM, and one round of call-and-response chanting. I hadn’t expected anything exotic in a sports club. But the class mumbled through it cheerfully. “Just say anything!” April instructed. Don’t expect any world music, however; the playlist included John Mayer, Portishead, Adele, and Led Zeppelin.
From there it was straight on to the Sun Salutations (A and B). They were Ashtanga based, with some variations like Revolved Chair (Parvritta Utkatasana). We did a few rounds at one breath per pose, and then slower rounds where we held each pose a few breaths. My favorite part of the warm up was a repeated sequence from Down Dog: stepping forward into High Lunge, swooping up into Warrior III, stepping back into Warrior I, opening out into Warrior II, arching back into Reverse Warrior, and on with the flow. It felt perfectly fluid, as if those poses were always meant to be together.
April teaches with the relaxed vibe of someone who’s led group classes forever: no pausing or searching for the words. We did a boatload of poses, but it never felt rushed. (The sequencing was really harmonious; we must have saved time in transitioning.) Side Plank into Rock Star; Standing Split into Half Moon; I really felt the flow. Instructions were simple, moving us quickly and efficiently along. You’ll need to know the names of your basic poses in order to keep up. As we slowed towards the end, she read another passage on the philosophy of practice, giving us a few more ideas to chew on.
Adjustments were awesome; April has a background in massage and dance. She sat on my legs in Locust, and helped my shoulders open up up up.
This was a Level 2/3 class, and April made sure to challenge us. Standing poses abounded. Forearm Stands and Handstands took place in the center of the room. We even tried the hopping-up Handstand where you squat and jump your hips over your head. It was the most athletic class I’d taken in a while. Three Full Wheels, and I was ready to rest.
Be sure to bring flip flops or sneakers; you have to cross back through the main lobby/café to get from the locker room to the yoga room. And, if you have the time, a swimsuit for the whirlpool. There are all kinds of sports club amenities to enjoy.
I’ve been caught up in the details of anatomy for a while, so it was great to return to a sweet vinyasa flow. Hints of Ashtanga, bits of Atmananda? Whatever the source, I was grateful for the change of pace.