mariel yoga teacher

My husband, who was in class, took this pic while I was teaching last Saturday. 🙂

In connection to a beauty story that I’m working on, I went to seven yoga classes for seven days straight last week—practiced, assisted, or taught.

Here’s how it went down:

Took Lori McAlister’s Flow 1–2 class at Sonic Yoga. Lori is in fact one of my favorite teachers but for a number of reasons, I hadn’t been to her class in over a year. So I was a bit scared as her Vinyasa flow classes tend to be intense and legit “sweatfests.” Thankfully, I did alright and didn’t pass out (whew!). Lori’s been teaching for over a decade now and you can tell her high level of expertise and experience by how her classes flow and feel. This concludes the alliteration portion of this post.

I’ve been back on the assisting floor for my darling teacher and mentor, Jeffrey Duval, who teaches the Tuesday evening Flow 1–2 class, also at Sonic. Now that I’ve been instructing more regularly, I have a keener appreciation for assisting. This is where you literally, serve your teacher and class, with duties that include checking the room, lights, clearing clutter, assisting students, demo-ing poses, etcetera. A big part of it is the physical aspect of adjusting and refining asanas, and it does take a while to get comfortable touching random people. There is an art and science (and intuition!) to this, which I won’t get into here. But ask me personally if you like.

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Sonic Yoga at 754 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

Wednesday evenings are usually reserved for my regular All-Level class at Zen & Yoga in Forest Hills, but another teacher and I ended up switching schedules for a few weeks, so I had a chance to sub the Flow Fundamentals class at Sonic that evening. So much fun.

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So much fun being on the sub-list at Sonic Yoga!

First Sri Dharma Mittra class with my two good friends, Natalie and Naoko! The three of us did the same 200-hour teacher training in 2012, and we’ve kept in touch since. We like taking classes together from time to time, and going to brunch afterward. 🙂 We’ve also gone to the last two Solstice in Times Square events held every summer.

Solstice in Times Square event in 2013. [Naoko Holden]

I loved Dharma Mittra’s class; it’s a different experience. His classes are based on the traditional eight-limbed Ashtanga yoga practice (yoginis out there reading this, correct me if otherwise). I’ve heard it said before that his space, Dharma Yoga New York Center, allows for a deeper exploration of one’s asana practice; it feels safe. Personally, I think the carpeting makes for a cushier yoga practice in that if you fall over while attempting an inversion, it’s not as scary as compared to crashing on concrete or a hardwood floor.

On an esoteric level, I do believe that an embodied teacher is able to carry a certain energy in class. Dharma Mittra has been a practitioner and teacher of yoga since the sixties. At 76 years old, he still does headstands and teaches regular classes in New York and various cities here and abroad.

But beyond the physical practice, here’s what I learned. (And suffice it to say, I’ll be going back.)

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First. Hot. Yoga. Class. Believe it or not, I’ve never taken a hot yoga class ever. I mean, the room already gets steamy enough in a regular Vinyasa class, so the thought of going into a hot room from the get-go didn’t hold that much appeal to me.

But then again, it’s the dead of winter so off I went to Yoga to the People on 38th Street with my co-worker John. At the start of class, in Child’s Pose, it felt like I was on the beach. It was quite nice and relaxing. Midway it became too hot and I got a Vata headache that lasted all evening. Slept it off and took a Tylenol and I was fine.

I would go back, perhaps every two weeks. Except for summer time, when hot yoga is too Pitta-aggravating.

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En route home post-hot yoga. I am red as a beet.

Taught the 10:30 a.m. class at Zen & Yoga and it was special as my husband came along to practice. We’re such goofballs at home, he says he doesn’t recognize me when I teach. 🙂 Anyhow, I also looove teaching this class, it’s a beautiful community: kind, accommodating, and appreciative. People are pretty chill and they come to class with a fun and calm attitude—they’re there to have a good time.

The beauty of yoga is the more you do it, the more energized you feel. It’s weird. But try it. On Sunday I did my own practice at the gym in preparation for the class I taught Wednesday evening. This seven-day yoga thing was fun. It’s nice to plan it with friends and colleagues so it becomes easier to pull off, then all you have to do is show up.

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Now that is a perfect Downward Facing Dog. 🙂