Those who are new to Yoga hear all the hype from their yogi friends, but it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. When you first try Yoga, like all things – first impressions matter and if you stumble into a style of Yoga that isn’t for you, it can turn you off to the whole idea. I always suggest trying multiple teachers at a certain studio or in a particular style of Yoga, to make sure it really is something you like, or don’t like. Below are explanations on what to expect from my classes, so you’re not caught off guard once class gets going!
The word Vinyasa translated literally means “To place, in a special way”. It is this idea of moving with intention, initiated by the breath. In a Vinyasa Flow class you will find stillness while holding postures, but also have opportunities to explore a fluid, dance like movement, in doing so you learn to connect intention to breath, and breath to movement.
In a more practical sense, Vinyasa is also used to describe the “reset” sequence of postures that are seen most commonly in a class. We call this a reset because it prepares the body for the following postures, while building heat and strength.
Many people in the yoga world have heard of the word Chaturanga (but maybe not its full phrase, Chaturanga Dandasana) though fewer know what it actually means. Chaturanga Dandasana translates to Four Limb Staff Pose. The posture is stagnant, holding a plank with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and hugging in towards the body, but still keeping the body lifted from the ground, having this long “staff” or “stick” like shape. In a Vinyasa, Chaturanga includes the movement into this low plank, from high plank (like a reverse push-up). More people are probably familiar with the postures “Upward dog” or Urdva Mukha Svanasana, and “Downward dog” or Ado Mukha Svanasana.
These three flowing postures create our Vinyasa. In a Vinyasa Flow class this flowing sequence happens often, but there are always modifications given to make this sequence, and each class, accessible to all practitioners.
Gentle Vinyasa classes have less Vinyasa sequences, but still incorporate a fluid movement, initiated by the breath. This type of class is great for beginners, as the pace is more relaxed and we take more time in postures to find correct alignment to get the most out of it. Gentle classes can still be physically challenging, but for the most part is a lighter version of Vinyasa Flow. The challenge with Gentle Vinyasa is keeping yourself mentally focused; with intense physical classes, I find it easier to keep the mind in check, as you have to stay focused to help with balance, or core work etc – and in this class the mind has more room to wander. In these classes I want students to get the physical benefits from a yoga practice, but also I urge them to use the class time as a moving meditation.
Stretch & Strengthen (Yin Yoga)
Yin Yoga is a slow paced class, holding postures for a few minutes rather than a few breaths. The intention of Yin is the dig deep into the connective tissue of the body to open up the joints and muscles through gravity and body weight. Unlike Restorative, Yin classes can be quite intense and uncomfortable at times (uncomfortable is not to be confused with painful!). Props are often used to achieve safe, and deep stretches. Breath is always a huge part of Yoga, and in Yin it is quintessential. The exhale most importantly helps the body release from the intensity building in the body, allowing you to move deeper. With a regular practice, Yin Yoga can surprise you with it’s abilities to give you more and more flexibility in the body (and mind).
Hatha Chill is slowing it down a step further with an emphasis on physical alignment, and mental stillness. In this 75 minute class you’ll only connect with a hand full of postures, but you’ll connect deeper than you ever have before! Going beyond the physical focus, Hatha Chill classes try to bring modern yoga back to it’s more spiritual roots as we incorporate pranayama, meditation and mudras into the practice. As someone from an intense Ashtanga background, it delights and surprises me to say that I have the most fun creating these classes!
Restorative Classes can range from a movement based class to a stillness based class. Whichever side of the spectrum we’re on, the class is still a calm, melting flow. Emphasis is given to moving (or finding stillness) with intention, with a deep focus on the breath. In Restorative classes props are heavily used to make the body as comfortable as possible. Yoga Nidra (Guided meditation) is often used in Restorative classes to keep the mind from wandering elsewhere. Restorative Yoga is highly recommended for all body types, as everyone needs more restoration and relaxation in this busy city.
Aerial Yoga, although quite new in this modern form, originates from one of the earliest Yogis – BKS Iyengar. Iyengar was the founder of what we call Yin yoga. In Yin we use props to help the body feel comfortable while digging deep into connective tissue and joints. If you were to watch documentaries of Iyengars first studios, you might see a student hanging upside down on a wooden dowel attached to the ceiling with two ropes. Although new students of Aerial Yoga may feel intensity and even pain in places like their hips and the arches of their feet – rest assured, silk is much more comfortable with a wooden dowel!
In an Aerial class, we take this Yin philosophy, of holding inversions and postures with the help of our silk hammock, to go deeper into stretching than we normally could on the ground, as well as adding in a Vinyasa element, of fluid, breath focused movement. Aerial classes are accessible to all levels, but if you’re feeling nervous about your first class, I would suggest attending my Friday noon class, as it is specifically tailored for beginners.
Check out the Class Schedule here.
The classes I teach through Utkata Yoga are nothing like my mat or silk classes! In all Yoga the goal is to release tension, both physically and mentally, but in Chair Yoga that goal is met by light stretches while staying seated in your chair, and classes only last 30 minutes. You won’t break a sweat as we aren’t building strength, and there’s no need to bring Yoga clothes to work, whatever you wear in the office is fine. It is so important for office workers to take time out of their day for movement, as most people who work in an office complain of back, shoulder, neck, and wrist pain.
Click here to hear Inna, the founder of Utkata Yoga talk about the “sitting epidemic” and take a quick Chair Yoga demo. If you think this would benefit you and your coworkers, click here to request me to teach in your office.