I was mulling over ideas in my head how to start this article.
Then when I was leaving class the other day, I followed two young men out the front door. One turned to the other and said, “It's not really a work out; it's an experience.”
The words I heard, summed it up.
Besides getting a great work out, you get a mini spa treatment, therapy session, and meditative bliss. All in one short hour!
The yoga to the people class starts with stressed out New Yorkers crammed next to each other in a no frills environment.
The first time I went, I was a little put off by the crowd. But after about the third class, I became addicted.
The class starts slow in child's pose focusing on your breath and connecting with your body.
Then the first collective breath: Empty your air out, take a deep breath in, exhale with a vibrational breath HA or Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
There is smooth transitional movement and the pace builds up gradually: down dog, forward fold, mountain pose.
Then the fun begins: warrior one, warrior two, reverse warrior, side angle, binds, crescent lunge, and power lunge among others. And always three sets of chair pose. Which I fear and look forward to at the same time.
In between the hard work, more collective breaths. Emptying air out, taking a deep inhale, then vibrational breath HA or HM Hmmmmmmmmm.
After some of the sequences, you do the series of postures on your own: one breath, one movement, right side and left side. This is a moving meditation.
We are encouraged to close our eyes and feel the poses from the inside out. To not be concerned so much with how things look but focus on how they feel. We don't have to compare ourselves to others. This is a refreshing attitude. When I first came to NYC 16 years ago, what turned me off of yoga was the competitiveness. People acted like: Look at me I'm Sandra Dee. I can do headstand, I can do handstand, I was a Sports Illustrated model in my younger days…
After the moving sequences, there is half pigeon. This is a pose about completely letting go while using the breath to open up the hip.
Then we continue: a series of back and forward bends pausing for breaths in between. Hard work is alternated with release.
At the end of class, you have worked really hard and feel great. The body feels this great release. You can revel in this release.
And then you get a quote, a breath, and the ringing of the Tibetan singing bowl plus savasana.
The quote is profound.
The last collective breath is the best – emptying, inhaling and exhaling.
The bowl sound has this intense vibration.
The final savasana is like nirvana. The body is completely open and the mind is still.
Everyone is quiet leaving the place, still feeling the trance. You don't really need to talk to anyone. You have communicated by breathing together and doing the class.
What an experience!