Studio Review: Iyengar Yoga in NYC

After completing 8 fitness classes in 2 days, Iyengar yoga was # 9 on the list, bright and early on a Sunday morning. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, as I had never taken an Iyengar-style class or really done any research on what to expect. With that being said, I was thinking it might be an intense class, since the first thing you see is Iyengar (the man who created this style of yoga) doing some crazy advanced yoga pose as soon as you open the Iyengar website.

Upon arriving, me and my 3 friends walked up a flight of stairs to a very pristine-looking studio, with glass doors & a very open reception area. We were the first ones there, so we popped off our shoes and signed in at the front desk (we signed up for a level 2 class). The staff at the front desk was extremely nice and gave us a tour of the studio after we signed in.

We walked into the main studio, and lining the right wall were straps (see pic below). I have to admit, I freaked out a little. But, was also super excited – what the heck were we going to be doing in class??

iyengar

photo credit: http://nyescapades.blogspot.com/2009/06/awe-inspiring-yogathon-at-iyengar-yoga.html

As far as security goes, we could bring our bags into the room with us, so there were no worries of theft. We grabbed a mat, blocks, a strap, bolster, and blankets for class – I don’t think I’ve ever used so many props in one class!

After talking with the teacher, Richard Jonas (sweetest person EVER!), he showed me an exercise to relieve my low back pain (My QL has had huge knots on it for the past year) & told me to hang out there and breathe into the stretch. Then, class began!

We started out with meditation, then went through a series of poses, in insane detail. While I love an intense yoga class, Iyengar was almost like taking an informative workshop that breaks down different yoga poses. You also use a ton of props to help you get into poses properly, which also helps with proprioception of different parts of your body. It was incredibly helpful as a teacher, as Richard broke down how to get in difficult poses in different ways – I’ve been incorporating a lot of what I learned in my own classes!

IyengarYoga

We did end up using the wall once, which was pretty cool. We took a middle rope and wrapped it just below the hip bones, leaning forward, and relaxing. It felt so. so. good. I wish we spent a little more time on the wall, but there wasn’t enough time. All the more reason to come back!

Before the end of class, we did a shoulder stand with a bunch of blankets & a bolster – I’ve never used props like this, and it made the inversion a lot easier & more comfortable!

iyengar 2

pic credit: http://nyescapades.blogspot.com/2009/06/awe-inspiring-yogathon-at-iyengar-yoga.html

Overall, I think Iyengar yoga is an amazing practice for those looking to learn the correct technique for all yoga poses, but in extreme detail. It’s not like a normal vinyasa class where you are constantly moving – you are sitting a lot during class, listening & learning from the instructor before trying the pose yourself. So for all you yoga lovers out there wishing to deepen your practice or just learn how to do yoga poses correctly – I highly recommend checking Iyengar out!

Summary: Perfect for beginner yogis. Wide range of classes for beginners, to prenatal, injuries, etc. (free classes specifically for breast cancer & HIV students) Very welcoming, clean studio.

Pros: Lockers (bring your own lock!). Decent locker/bathroom space. A few toiletries provided. Awesome staff & teachers.

Cons: Not sure how clean the props were, as no one cleaned anything after class

Cost: $15 for a 1.5 hour single-class drop-in

Studio Review: The Class in NYC

After teaching at Lululemon a few weeks ago, the manager there told me to check out “The Class” while I was in NYC. Since I was traveling with 3 other women this time around, it was a little harder to create a schedule to accommodate everyone. However, I managed to squeeze the class in right after our flight landed – 9:30 am.

While I looked up details about what to expect beforehand, the class ended up being something completely different than what I thought (in a good way!).

We arrived at the 5th ave location around 9 am & was greeted by a doorman at the front of the Bandier clothing store. We walked through the store & went upstairs to the studio, where someone was just starting to set up all of the mats.

The class nyc

We dropped our things in a locker & grabbed some water, waiting for the class to start. Then… people started to pour in. By the time class was ready to start, there were well over 60 people squeezed in close to each other.

the class nyc nina elise

The owner/creator of The Class was teaching that day – Taryn Toomey – and I was able to chat with her before & after the workout. She is seriously such an amazing soul!

Again, I just want to mention that I had no idea what to expect. I watched videos online beforehand, but I was thinking this would be more low-key. Nope. This. was. intense. By the end of class, I looked like I had jumped in a lake, and there was a huge pool of sweat on my mat. I am not sure I can articulate in words exactly how the class went, or exactly everything we did – but I can tell you how it made me feel. Free. Open. Loose. Emotional. Fearless. Intense.

There was a mix of yoga, pilates, plyometrics, dancing, shaking, shouting, screaming (yes, some people were screaming), meditation… the perfect mix to let loose & feel empowered.

Class began with Taryn walking around the room, waving sage around to clear energy & set the tone of the class. We were told to close our eyes the entire class… which, I was initially confused, but as class went on, I understood why. This wasn’t just a physical workout – it was a process of going within, forgetting everything around you, facing that heavy shit inside of you, and releasing it in any way that felt right to YOU. We moved our bodies until our muscles gave out on us, then kept moving some more, allowing ourselves to push past what we thought were our limits. We shook our arms, our hands, our bodies, shaking out any energy we were holding onto. All the while, our eyes were closed, and Taryn spoke beautiful, powerful words to push us through the workout and go within.

Class ended with core work, stretching, and meditation. I felt lighter, stronger, and ready for the rest of the day.

the class nyc bandier

Yes, this is my sweat. Yes, this is just from the last 15 minutes of class.

Overall, this was an amazing mind-body experience that allowed me to release any thought of looking dumb and move my body in a way that felt GOOD. Different, but so, so good. It’s like free therapy rolled into an intense, physical workout. The women (and men!) at the class all had something in common – yes, they were all pretty fit, but all came to release something – stress, work, brain chatter, the past… whatever. And that is why this class is so amazing – it provides an environment for people to be themselves, with no judgement. So thank you, Taryn, for creating such an amazing, empowering method for all <3

Tatum toomey the class Nina yoga

Post-workout sweaty selfie w/Taryn Toomey

Summary: Can this pleaaaseee be taught in Ohio?! It’s like therapy & and an intense workout, all in one. I would go to The Class a few times a month just to let loose & let off stress. It’s now one of my all-time favorite workouts ever! Go try this – it might be a little out there, but trust me – no one is even looking at you the entire class. Basically, a free pass to get weird, and who doesn’t want that?!

Pros: carries Smart water (my fave). Free towels + free mat. Water-refilling station (however, was broken at the 5th ave location when I went). Decent-sized lockers (bring a lock!). Toiletries + hair ties available in bathroom. Post-class, you just rolled your mat up & left it in a pile – everything was cleaned & taken care of for you.

Cons: Only 1 bathroom. Locker area was a bit tight to change/grab your things after class.

Cost: $30 for a 75-minute single class pass

Recap: Florida, Sloths & Yoga

Hi all!

This past week has been SUCH a whirlwind! I traveled to Florida for an intense 2-day self-awareness/meditation workshop, with a few pit stops along the way. After landing back in Columbus at midnight on Tuesday night, all I could think about was sleeping for a week straight!

After arriving in Florida last Thursday, I attempted to go to the beach. About 5 minutes after applying my sunscreen, it started raining! Fortunately, there was a gazebo on a pond nearby, and my cousin and I ran for cover. When we were there, we got to hang out with a bunch of turtles. little one, old ones…. they kept coming up to the gazebo – there had to of been at least 15. I felt like a turtle whisperer! Finally, we ended up walking back in the rain, and it was WONDERFUL! The air was warm, the rain was warm… it felt like when I was a kid and used to run outside during storms to jump in the puddles 🙂

On Friday, my cousins and I traveled to Miami to cross off something on my bucket list: hold/pet a sloth. We went to Safari Edventure – and ended up holding a lot more than just a sloth! Tarantulas, pythons, alligators… and we even got to interact with wolves and kangaroos! It was such an amazing day! Below are a few pictures of my interactions with the animals – lots of selfies!

wallaby selfie

Wallaby Selfie

python

Holding a Python with my cousins!

alligator

I can’t believe I held a freaking alligator.

and now, for the best part of the day: SLOTHS!!!! I got to hold their hands, feed them, pet them… It was so surreal. They are such gentle and happy animals!

sloth selfie

I felt like I was dreaming… I’M TAKING A SELFIE WITH A SLOTH

Sloth4

Kisses, because they love me!

sloth 3

Feeding the King grapes

sloth 2

First encounter… did not disappoint!

sloth 1

Literally cannot contain my excitement!

nap sloth

Xena the Warrior Princess fell asleep with a grape in her mouth.. too tired to chew

happy sloth

After eating an entire banana, he is ready for sleep

sleepy sloth

HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS FACE?!

Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to 18 total hours of being locked in a room with 30 other people, learning how to deepen our self-awareness and meditation practice. Think of a mashup of teachings from all religions/beliefs/law of attraction/eckhart tolle/abraham hicks/a course in miracles, all broken down into a daily practice. It was an emotionally exhausting weekend, but totally worth it. I have started a daily awareness/meditation practice, for 15 minutes, and I love it! I think it will also be a huge complement to my Yoga Teacher training beginning in May.

Sunday I went for a run, then to the beach for 4 hours. I really need to move here. The weather is PERFECT. Warm and sunny, what more could you want? At sunset, my cousin’s boyfriend took us down to a pier, and we took a few yoga pictures. All I have to say is… stunning. He is an amazing photographer! Below are a few shots:

Sunset Yoga

Pincha on the Pier! Photo Credit: Michael Vinson

Sunset Yoga Blondes

My Cousin & I. Photo Credit: Michael Vinson

On Tuesday, my final day, I woke up early for a sunrise yoga video shoot with DP Froggy, an awesome cinematographer. We spent 2 hours filming – I cannot WAIT to see the final video! Here is a sneak peak on instagram.

Picture within a picture.. Yoga shoot in the works

Picture within a picture.. Yoga shoot in the works. Photo Credit: Michael Vinson

Unfortunately, I had to leave sunny florida and head back to cold Ohio. My flight ended up being delayed, so I didn’t get home until late. Although, I don’t mind. I ended up getting a drink with a retired man at the bar who talked my ear off, and struck up a lovely conversation with a school teacher on my connecting flight. Meeting people is definitely one of my favorite things about traveling!

Over the course of the entire trip, I ended up finishing one of my books for yoga teacher training, another book by David Hawkins, and Rachel Brathen’s new book, Yoga Girl. Highly recommend all books – I love reading other people’s stories, and pretty much anything that opens my mind (whether I agree to it or not!). What is on everyone else’s reading list? Any recommendations? I already have a stack of books next to my bed that I am sloooowlyy reading, but I am always up for more 🙂

I hope everyone’s past week was as full of happiness and growth as mine was! This weekend I’ll be going for a run in prep for my quarter marathon the beginning of may… and lots of baking/cooking! Stay tuned for a post with a recipe for an Easter treat!

Presence

This past week, I  flew out to Costa Rica on an adventure. I went to School of the World in Jaco, a place where you can be productive while on vacation. I decided to take spanish lessons and yoga classes, 2 of my top interests at the moment. I went, thinking I was going to improve my spanish and maybe deepen my yoga practice; however, what I got out of this trip was something I never expected.  I learned to slow down, for the first time in my life. I met people who had such a sense of adventure, a joy for life. And it touched a very deep part of me that I have not been faithful to, a part that has been buried deep for so long. Hearing others stories of travel, seeing their dreams, their desires, learning their reason for travel, their life stories… it was beautiful. So many people coming from all over the world to one place, all for the same reason – to experience. To experience adventure,  the beauty and love of other countries, a change in their lives… And it opened my eyes to the present. To allow myself to slow down, to not always rush around.

I have always listened to that voice, urging me to rush, to not stop and be in the moment. And there is that other voice, that always tells me to slow down. to be patient. to relax. and that loud voice of anxiousness has always, always won. Always afraid to let go, to let that silence overcome me. To sit still for 2 seconds, afraid of what thoughts might come crashing in. Afraid of that space, the space that allows one to be present and enjoy life. But not anymore. I have felt this shift happening within me the past few weeks; that gut feeling that things are changing, that I am changing. I am feeling more at peace, allowing myself to enjoy things I would always brush off and not care about. And that loud voice, telling me to always be on the go… it is scared. it is scared that it won’t be listened to anymore, lost in the silence it so greatly fears. And I am embracing it, slowly, cautiously catching glimpses of the peace that comes with just being.

As I lay on my yoga mat tonight in Shavasana, concentrating on my Ujjayi Breath, I chant the mantra **”I choose to enjoy this present moment. I choose to enjoy this present moment.” Hearing the breath come in and out of my nose, through my throat… Letting go of all tension in my face, my arms, my legs, I feel the energy running through my body. I am aware of the sounds around me, yet  am somehow stepping out of my mind, aware of myself, my thoughts and how my body feels. And I realize, that I am present. It is so peaceful, yet so startling – I knew that this is how every person should feel – beautiful, at peace, an overwhelming feeling of love. It was just a quick glimpse in a short time, but it brought me such joy. It was like something shifted in me – I let go of having to be in control of every move and thought, focusing only on the sensation of my body and the sounds around me. I just WAS. I wasn’t a body, I wasn’t my thoughts… I was everything, and I was all around. I didn’t want to stop being in that moment – it was so refreshing, so new, so relaxing. Like taking a hot shower after a long day, or taking off your shoes after being on your feet all day. Relief. Something your body welcomes, that calm, that release of stress – it craves it, never wanting that feeling to go away.

Being present is hard. It is like learning a new way to live, a new way to breathe, a new way to run… learning a new language, to excel at a sport, to improve your posture. It will take time, but practice will make you better. Just sticking with it, and knowing that at your core being, you are love and joy. You are here, but are just bogged down with the thoughts of everyday life. So slow down. Focus on your breath. Develop a mantra. Take a few seconds to be aware of the present moment in the middle of your day.

You never know when your last moment on earth will be, so will it really matter if you are a few minutes late? Will it matter if that car cut you off? And does it make sense to worry about things that will most likely never happen? No, not really. Most everything can wait. And if you don’t know, just like anyone else on this earth does not know when their time is up, you might as well be enjoying the present moment while you are here. So take a longer detour, enjoy things you would normally pass by, be a few minutes late to work. Be here. Be aware. Others will pick up on your presence – and in the words of Marianne Williamson, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

**I choose to enjoy this present moment mantra comes from the book of meditations, Expand this Moment, by John Selby. It is a simple meditation that you can say at any time in the day to bring you centered and back to the present moment (kind of like a coffee break for the mind :))

–  “I choose” – enables you to assume control over your own mind

– “to enjoy” – specifies where you aim your attention – at enjoyment

– “this moment” – aims your attention at the immediate sensory events happening inside and around you right now

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