Last year, I fell in love with yoga during a rough spot in life.
Without a doubt, yoga was my therapy. I walked into Laughing Lotus a hot mess, and walked out a zen, happy being, smiling to myself as I walked home. (No, really.)
Since starting my new job in October, I’ve pushed myself hard in every area of life: work, working out, trying to finish my Junior League term. Oh yeah, and there was that whole prepping for a photo shoot thing.
I always, always, always want to take preventative care of my health where possible, rather than reactive care. Since coming back from LA, everything’s felt a little off: my stomach (although new probiotics have helped) has been a hot mess, my muscles have been really tight and I’ve caught myself grinding my teeth. (< sexy beast right here.) I keep joking around saying that “sleep is overrated,” but it’s not. It’s REALLY not.
So I’ve been attempting to dial back on the workouts – both in intensity and frequency – and on some of my other commitments.
And to go to yoga, not because I am injured or in desperate need of some therapy on the mat, but because it is good for me.
A new studio opened in my neighborhood, and I thought I’d check it out eventually. It’s a little more expensive than Lotus, but it’s closer.
A crappy, rainy Sunday was the perfect day for it. The studio, Yoga Shanti, is the NYC outpost of a center they started out in the Hamptons. (Usually it’s the other way around!) It was started by famous yogis Colleen Saidman Yee and her husband Rodney Yee. I’ve tried some of Rodney’s Gaiam classes, but I’d love to try both his and Colleen’s in-person classes. I know he’s a huge personality in the yoga world, but I love that he still teaches regular classes. (Same with Tara Stiles!)
Tonight, I took class with Joyce Englander Levy. At the beginning of class, she said we’d be focusing a lot on shoulder work.
Crap. My shoulders were tight as hell. This would hurt.
The practice actually ended up being much more gentle than I expected. The practice started with us lying on blocks under our shoulder blades with our heads on blankets. We were to take that feeling of our shoulders on the blocks and feel that through the rest of our practice. Joyce is an adjuster, and I love that. She talked a lot about yoga being a way to write your own story and every practice being different. Since I haven’t been doing yoga often, I remembered that as my muscles popped all over the place.
(I should also add that I’d had several drinks at brunch but didn’t want to lose money for the class I’d booked, and I was terrified I’d completely fall out of any difficult pose.)
Through my group fitness addiction, I’ve become the sort of person who definitely feeds off the energy of the class, and I guess subconsciously I try to mirror my classmates. There was a group of women in front of me that seemed pretty new to yoga and had no idea what Warrior I or Warrior II were, which was a little distracting.
Since we all spend so much time in front of computers, it was such a treat to work on shoulder openers, and I found myself melting in to the mat for savasana and almost getting mad when she told us we were done!
I did an an intro week deal, so I’ll be trying to go back this week—and in the future—for sure! They also offer Kundalini, cross-training yoga (UM YES!) and urban zen. It sounds like they’ve put a lot of thought into how to cater to us crazy Type-A New Yorkers.
What areas do you like to focus on in yoga? Favorite poses? Have you ever done yoga after several drinks? I don’t really recommend it.