If the thought of rising early on a Sunday morning for a yoga class dredges up some less favorable childhood memories, then you are not alone. However, upon reflection, reframing this experience in a positive light, the similarities between yoga and Sunday mass do not end there, especially when it comes to a class with Daniel Aaron of Radiantly Alive.
The welcoming space at Radiantly Alive can be compared to a modern place of worship with its clean, minimalist, white interiors, glistening wooden floors, and of course, its devoted worshippers, reveling in the sense of community, and hungry for the teachings of the guru himself, Daniel.
The open, light, spacious studio draws a full house this particular Sunday, on the eve of a teacher training, with fist-distance advised between mats. Well-equipped with foam blocks, bolsters, straps and cushions, all members are adequately prepared for what’s ahead.
Daniel, appearing on the raised altar, confidently quells the chatter and welcomes the congregation sharing his insights and theme for the class. The need to attend to the clutter in one’s mind is today’s ‘gospel according to Daniel’.
Enter archangel Sue, his very respected assistant, whose job is to warm up yogi shoulders with a lubricated shoulder squeeze in the first ‘Downward Dog’ pose. What a welcome awakening for the muscles that provides as the scent of Daniel’s personal blend of Tiger Balm quickly fills the space.
Interweaving his sermon throughout with references to Titian, the Vietnamese Monk, and some quips on today’s theme, Daniel’s loyal disciples bust through every move, preferring the more advanced variations of poses. The frequent inclusion of humor is perfectly timed as physical and mental tension starts to mount -just as Sunday mass would not be complete without a few giggles. Unafraid to stop the class for a group demonstration, Daniel’s knowledge and skills is available for all. His well-rehearsed prompts are executed with conviction whilst his adjustments are shared strategically throughout the group. With a penchant for a challenge, his Boot camp style encouragement seems to be welcomed, particularly by the high- achievers in the group.
Not forgetting the regular adjustments from Sue, the two combine to create the perfectly executed open level Vinyasa yoga class. Hints of ‘Alleluia’ line the faces of all as Savasana is announced - the final third eye blessing from Sue with Daniel’s ‘ Spirit of Savasana’, serving as the perfect ‘Amen.’
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