Monday, May 16, 2011

Forrest Yoga at Pure Yoga East

If you have been reading my blog regularly you can probably safely assume that I like to work out. Also, that I like to work out hard. While I did once enjoy yoga (my preferred style was vinyasa), it has taken a back-seat in the scheme of all things fitness in my life!

Last week I was invited to try out a class at the east side location of Pure Yoga. Of the classes I was being offered the only one which worked according to my schedule was the Forrest yoga class. Not knowing too much about it other than that it sounded very earthy and grounded, I decided to give it a try. Best case, I would find something else to fit into my workout schedule and worst case I could still write about it on the blog. Also, I had been wanting to check out the east side Pure Yoga facilities so off I went.

Pure Yoga East reception desk. Source: Pure Yoga
Pure Yoga East is a calm and serene oasis off the bustle and chaos that is 86th street. There are six yoga studios located over the studio's four floors. My class was going to take at a studio one flight below the reception (see above). At 730pm the place was bustling with yogis! The women's changing room was really large with a lot of lockers (bring your own lock though) and showers. The waiting area outside the yoga studio was very zen with wooden floors and was lined with seating arrangements in neutral colors. 

Waiting area. Source: Pure Yoga
The studio itself was lined with maroon yoga mats which we claimed as we entered the room.

The studio. Source: Pure Yoga
I chose a spot in the front row so that I could see my instructor, Erica Mather, clearly. This being a studio for hard-core yogis I expected the instructor to be regimented and intimidating but Erica had an ease about her that made me like her immediately. She also gave great direction and explained the philosophy behind Forrest yoga. Forrest yoga was created by Ana Forrest, who, as per her website, "took poses and modified or created new ones to address today's lifestyle physical ailments." At the beginning of the class Erica went over the basic moves we would need to familiarize ourselves with for this practice. The first one she made us do was 'active feet' where you raise your toes off the ground and keep them that way. She added that it is very hard to do continuously and is meant to increase awareness and concentration. She was right! Next she taught us about 'active hands' which involves spreading your fingers apart. The aim is to open up the bones and stretch out the soft tissue in our hands and, again, have a greater connection to our whole body.

The class involved holding poses for long periods including the longest warrior one I have ever done! At least that's what it felt like. There were backbends, dolphin poses, abdominal crunches with side twists, all while staying in "active hands and feet." This added a more challenging element to the class. There was a set of sun salutations that we performed near the end of the class and ofcourse the class ended with savasana (corpse pose). 

The difference between this class and the traditional vinyasa classes that I have taken in the past is that Forrest yoga is slower paced, but involves holding positions for longer periods which can get really challenging. We also held poses such as tilting our head sideways to our shoulder and staying that way for a while. Initially, I was concerned that I would not get anything out of this pose but after coming out of it I immediately noticed how open and stretched out my neck area felt. 

The class lasted an hour and 15 minutes and while I did not leave dripping in sweat, I did feel stretched out and limber especially around my neck and shoulders. Neck and shoulder pain are two of the "lifestyle physical ailments" that Forrest yoga aims to address, and based on the one class I took, I would say it did its job. Erica placed a lot of importance on breathing and alignment and that helped me get more out of this class than I initially thought going into it.

The Good:
1. Instructor: Great instructor who knew exactly what she was doing, gave great cues and was watchful of the clients' alignment.
2. Studio: Beautiful space offering tons of classes with umpteen different yoga styles to choose from.
3 Location: Being on 86th street it is easily accessible by both subway and bus.

The Not-so-Good:
1. No Drop-in classes: Pure Yoga is membership-only. For someone like me who likes to drop in for the occasional class, this is not ideal. However, if yoga is your thing, getting a membership would be worthwhile.
2. Music: My Forrest yoga class was music-less. This is a personal preference and I prefer music.
3. Slow pace: While I appreciated the slow pace and poses held for long periods, I think I still prefer the faster-paced vinyasa style.

Pure Yoga East is a great studio offering many different styles of yoga. While Forrest Yoga was a little slow for me I did appreciate feeling more elongated and calm after the class. There was also temporary relief of the neck and shoulder pain I deal with daily (constantly having a baby attached to your hip does that to you...). Additionally, my instructor was great- she was knowledgeable and provided a lot of hands-on corrections. Since yoga is not something I practice regularly, obtaining a membership would not be worthwhile for me.  However, I left feeling taller,with my neck long and my shoulders pressed back, and that has made me reconsider the back-seat yoga has taken in my life, and because of that I am glad I tried something I ordinarily would not have.


Amber said...

I love your reviews - they are so thorough! I really like that Pure has the yoga mats set up ahead of time. I wish other places did that.

Mom at the Barre said...

Aw, thanks, Amber! Sometimes I think they are too detailed. But when I read a review of a fitness class, I want to know everything, from what the front desk experience was like, to what the locker rooms are like,to exactly what happened in the class. A little extreme, I know. I'm weird! :-)

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog so I could find yours! :)

That yoga studio does sound really nice. I think any one would sound nice to me though. I really would love to try some out in my area...but $ always gets in the way.

Mom at the Barre said...

Tina: Thanks for stopping by! You're right. These studios can get so expensive. Although I have found yoga to be more accessible, with lots of studios offering $10/donation based classes. So keep an eye out for those.

Rach @ Girl on the Run said...

Great recap! I'm usually an endurance junkie, but I really wish I could get into yoga more...I think it would really help my anxiety. There's just so many workouts to do, so little time..

Mom at the Barre said...

Thanks, Rach! I have my tried-and-tested workout routine that I like to stick to but once in a while I do like to throw something into the mix, like this Forrest yoga class! I agree,too many workouts!

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