Class Descriptions

class_descriptionYoga Classes at Garden Street

We teach Yoga with a focus on both alignment and movement. Our yoga emphasizes clarity of intention and precise principles of alignment that will – over time – integrate body, mind and heart. Garden Street teachers present both the physical and philosophical aspects of yoga, linking the great lineage and tradition of yoga with down to earth practical instruction in how to practice Yoga in a way that will create greater brightness of mind, vibrancy of body and openness of heart.


CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

BASIC

The Basic class is a perfect follow-up to the ABC class or – if the ABC scheduling does not fit your schedule – you can jump right into a Basic class. Focus is on fundamental poses. Precise principles of alignment and skillful movement patterns are presented and students are introduced to yoga breathing techniques. Build a strong foundation in Yoga, cultivate strength, flexibility and stamina in your body, and deepen your discipline, focus and open-heartedness.

ALL LEVEL

These classes accommodate a variety of yoga experience Your teacher will gear the class to the majority of the students but will offer variations and modifications to accommodate students with less experience. More experienced students will learn to refine basic asanas, explore deeper poses and practice in a way that encourages a fuller integration of the principles of alignment into the poses that are practiced.

RESTORATIVE FLOW YOGA & MEDITATION

This healing and rejuvenating offering for all levels includes gentle movement, breathing, and restorative flow Yoga that warms, opens and renews the body and mind. It is an inward moving and restful practice to enhance health, deepen relaxation and promote rejuvenation. Each class includes a 10 minutes meditation.

SENIOR YOGA

This well loved class follows the program of regular classes of the same level but at a slower pace and with a range of modifications to make the poses progressively more accessible. Yoga can help reduce stress, improve circulation, build community connections and address challenges that result from chronic health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia. Taught by Thine (pronounced Tina) a senior herself, and one of the most talented teachers in the region, who says, “Seniors are much stronger than most people realize. They can do anything that younger students do, they just need more time”.

TUESDAY SCHOOL (LEVEL II / III )

This deeper practice and is listed as Level II/ II because it is a class which builds on experience with and an adept application of the Anusara principles of alignment. Additionally, the class moves students deeper in their ability to go inward and sit in closed eye practices such as pranayama and meditation.It is ideal for students who have taken Immersion or who have attended classes at garden street for a minimum of 2 years. Some exceptions to these prerequisite poses are available by teacher permission.

YOGA FOR ATHLETES

A unique yoga class for athletes who would like to cultivate the edge of faster recovery, enhanced mental focus and fewer injuries. Not for people looking for ‘athletic’ fast paced, ‘power’ yoga. Open to all levels, including Yoga beginners.

ABC’s (Absolute Beginners Classes)

This class is a wonderful place to begin. It is specifically designed for absolute beginners but is also appropriate for those who wish to begin again or who are working through a physical injury. Learn how to practice Yoga from the ground up. Set a strong foundation and learn principles of alignment and skillful modifications to improve your strength, flexibility and balance while experiencing the stress-relieving benefits of yoga.

MEDITATION – A six-week class series:

    • Receive guidance and support for navigating the physical and mental challenges that occur during meditation
    • Rely on the presence of a teacher and the support of the kula (“good company” of the class) to strengthen your capacity to sit in meditation
    • Although there are many excellent styles of meditation, this series focuses on mantra meditation technique.
    • Each class will include inspiration and encouragement to practice, theory of the practice, time for questions and answers, and meditation.

“60” – Level II / III

This Level II / III 60 minute class is a led practice. This is a courtesy practice open to students who have consistently attended classes at Garden Street Yoga for a minimum of 2 years and who also concurrently attend a weekly 90-minute class. No exceptions please.

PILATES CLASSES (private classes on Mat & Reformer, by appointment)

Pilates and Yoga are wonderful partners. Each enhances the other to tone, firm, lengthen and strengthen your body while increasing balance, endurance and overall performance. Pilates classes offer specific and unique approaches to increased core strength, balance, flexibility, anatomical awareness and alignment.

 

YOGA THERAPY

Yoga Therapy uses the techniques of yoga to help with pain management, increase flexibility, and improve posture. Anusara® Yoga’s Universal Principles of Alignment™ safely and effectively realign your body toward its optimal blueprint, reducing tension, stress, and pain. In your private session, you’ll receive one-on-one, hands-on adjustments, and learn stretching and strengthening techniques to use at home. Please call or e-mail to schedule an appointment.

CORE & SUBTLE BODY

(Offered Periodically): Strengthen the physical and energetic (pranic) core. Abdominal work, bandha (deep core strengthening), somatic movement (inspired by Feldenkrais and Hanna Somatics) pranayama (breathing practice), and guidance in meditation.

 


YOGA ETIQUETTE AND GOOD PRACTICE

BEFORE CLASS

Arrive a few minutes before class begins. If you must arrive late, please wait quietly outside the door until the class finishes the quiet centering practice and chant, which happens at the beginning  of each class.

In the practice of Yoga we are creating a container within which Work can happen – this work is the great work of evolution and transformation – it is alchemical – and like any good alchemy it needs a sealed chamber. Our bodies, our minds and the physical practice space need to be contained. We use Muscular energy, intention and attention and a closed door to seal the chamber or make sacred space. When people straggle in it makes more difference than they realize. So the teacher creates the boundaries. And as your own teacher you must do this in your home practice. (All of this applies to leaving early also.)

Please, no alcohol or other mind-altering substances before class. Let the yoga do the mind altering for you.

Leave your shoes outside the studio space. Remove your socks.

As we enter the studio, we are leaving the rest of our life behind. The practice of leaving the shoes at the door (and of having clean feet), is traditional and honoring of the teachings of Yoga.

Please bring your own mat to class. Although there are a limited number of loaner mats available, it is a good idea to practice using your own personal mat for both sanitary and energetic reasons.

This also encourages the idea of sacred space – it’s not just any mat – it is your practice space. And it encourages mindfulness – you have to remember your mat – have to keep it relatively clean.

Inform your teacher of any injuries or concerns you may have.

This is fundamentally the student’s responsibility. Students should remind (and remind again) regarding injuries. But in a litigious culture it behooves the teacher to cover her bases.

Be aware of good hygiene to avoid offending your fellow yoga students. No strong perfumes, please.

This is obvious to most people but not all – and it also is a wonderful awareness for your home practice – I mean, what is it that you are showing up for? I like to show up to practice as if I were showing up for the Beloved – the divine. (It’s not in my nature to overdo this one!)

Unless you have a special need, please turn off all cell-phones and pagers before class begins.

DURING CLASS

Leave your competitive nature at home. Honor your inner voice and your edge.

Keep your awareness on your breath and your practice. Guide your focus inward. Avoid looking around too much.

When tempted to compare and despair – try instead to celebrate the beauty and strength you see demonstrated around you when you do look around.

Avoid a lot of chit-chat if you can help it. But at Garden Street we do place an emphasis on community of practice. So just have a little “field awareness”. Not everybody wants to come to Yoga to have yet one more opportunity to engage in shallow conversation.

Have a light heart and a good time. Laugh at your teacher’s jokes even if they are not funny.

In keeping with the yogic principle of “saucha” (clarity, purity) set your mats out in an even and orderly fashion. Avoid “camping out”, i.e. having jackets, bags, etc. clustered around you. This helps to maintain clarity of alignment in the room, which in turn helps to create clarity and alignment in the body and mind.

  • Leaves the pathways clear for students and teacher
  • Keeps the wall space clear for wall work
  • Is a visual courtesy
  • Honors the use of shared space

Leave time for a good Savasana (relaxation pose) at the end of class. If you have to leave early, take your own Savasana before you go. Do not leave during the class Savasana so as not to disturb this time of stillness.

AFTER CLASS

Please return all props neatly where they came from. Take time to re-fold blankets neatly, if necessary.

Move slowly and with awareness to maintain the vibrancy and stillness you have gained during class.

Smile and offer the fruits of your practice outward to all you encounter.

About Namaste – The ending to most Yoga classes is the Sanskrit word Namaste, which means: I honor the place in you where the whole universe resides; the place of love, of light, of truth and f peace; The place where – when you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me – there is only one of us.

Why Roll to the Right After Savasana?

Symbolic:

  • Pradakshina and circumambulation – devotional practices
  • In India, it is considered more auspicious to enter a holy place with the right foot.
  • In many parts of the world, we extend our right hand in greeting.
  • The right side represents the east; rolling toward the east, or the rising sun, symbolizes asking for blessings, grace, and bliss.
  • Physiologically: Heart is on the left, when you roll to the right, it remains open and free of pressure.
  • Rolling to the right keeps the ida nadi, energetic channel, (corresponds to cooling energy, Yin, Lunar) active and helps keep your body in a state of calmness as you come into a sitting position.
  • By opening Left nostril the right hemisphere of the brain is stimulated which is responsible for creativity and spatial awareness.

Pausing on the right side:

  • Allows blood pressure to reach it’s potential homeostasis.
  • Allows energy to be redirected in the present moment as needed and circulated appropriately.

 


PRACTICE NOTES FOR BEGINNERS

WHAT TO WEAR Clothing should be non-restrictive. Shorts and a T-shirt, or a leotard are preferable to baggy pants or sweats. Bare feet are essential.

  • Students gain so much more if the teacher can see their feet, ankles, knees, etc.

WHERE TO PRACTICE – Practice in a clean, level, warm, well-ventilated and quiet place. Avoid practicing in direct sunlight, wind, draft or chill.

WHEN TO PRACTICE – Schedule any block of time for your practice which best fits into your daily routine. It should be a time which is as free as possible from distractions. It is best to practice on an empty stomach. Wait at least 1 to 2- hours after a light snack, or 3 hours after a full meal, before doing a strong practice.

In the mornings, the mind tends to be sharp but the body is stiff. Although the practice is not easy in the early mornings because the body is generally stiff, the stomach is empty and so the practice can have a very cleansing effect.

During the late morning and early afternoon, the body tends to have peak strength and flexibility and the mind is still sharp. Mid-day practices, when possible, are ideal.

In the evenings the body is flexible, but a little less energetic. In addition, the mind is generally not as sharp as earlier in the day.

EYES – In every pose, except Savasana, keep the eyes open. This will help you stay present and focused. Also, with the eyes open you can reference your physical position with the outer environment. Referencing your alignment with the floor, ceiling and surrounding’ walls helps to increase your awareness of you posture and makes balance easier. While the eyes are open, they should stay soft and relaxed as you balance outward perception with an inner observation.

BREATHING – The breath in each pose should be smooth, even and steady. The breath should not be held or restricted. Both inhalation and exhalation should be practiced through the nose, not the mouth. If the breath becomes too fast or labored while in a pose, then come out of the pose and rest. In between poses, focus on your breathing to quiet the mind and relax the body. The quality of the breath not only reflects the condition of the mind and body, but also can directly affect both mind and body.

STRONG SENSATION” (or DISCOMFORT) vs. PAIN –

As one puts forth effort to perform poses that the body and mind aren’t used to, there can be a resulting discomfort or strong sensation. A feeling of discomfort in a general area of the body while performing a posture with good alignment is not a problem. Discomfort or strong sensations are relative feelings. A beginning student performing the same pose an advanced student will generally feel much more discomfort than the advanced student.

Discomfort does not indicate injury. The feeling of discomfort will soften and lessen if one does not mentally fight the feeling.

Pain in a yoga pose, on the other hand, usually indicates a physical misalignment or imbalanced muscular action. A specific burning or intense localized sensation in the body is referred to as pain. If one feels pain in a muscle or a joint, one should immediately change or modify the posture until the pain is relieved. One should closely observe the postural misalignment that caused the pain, and correct the pose accordingly.

Pain indicates that injury will probably occur if misalignment is maintained.

PROPSProps, such as blankets, belts, a wall, blocks, etc. are used to modify poses in order to meet the needs of various levels and experience. Use the minimum amount of props necessary to achieve the highest level of integrity in each posture’s alignment and expression. In many cases the use of props can improve your alignment, and can also teach you how to create balanced action and alignment without props. In general, props are best thought of as a temporary aid not a permanent affordance to a posture.

EFFORT AND SURRENDERAny amount of effort in a pose should be balanced or tempered with a sense of release or surrender. The face should be relaxed and the eyes soft in every pose. One’s heart should have a joyful, open and celebratory feeling and expression in every pose.

    • Advanced practitioners will express more of the state of surrender and freedom than effort.
    • Beginners will need to focus more on effort and discipline. Effort without a sense of surrender or openhearted expression can lead to harsh and constrictive action, and therefore to injury.  .

MENSTRUATIONWomen should avoid strenuous yoga practice during their menstrual period. In particular, inverted postures, where the pelvis and feet are positioned above the heart, should not be performed during this time. Strenuous or inverted poses during the menstrual period can disrupt the flow and cause irregularities and disharmony in subsequent menstrual cycles.

That’s the traditional teaching. My experience and opinion deviate a bit. I tend to agree with Barbara Benaugh’s article (copied below).

Yoga and Menstruation   By Barbara Benagh

First of all, there is no consensus on whether to avoid inversions during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The two opinions are basically divided between those who think that no women should practice inversions during menstruation and those who feel the choice varies from woman to woman.

Those who encourage a ban on inversions cite fears that certain physical problems may arise. Until recently, increased risk of endometriosis was considered the most common risk. But since more is known now about that disease, the idea has been debunked. There is also a theory that inversions may cause “vascular congestion” in the uterus resulting in excessive menstrual flow. (For more info, click here.) If true, this risk is probably most relevant for women who hold inversions a long time. Some teachers say that since a woman’s energy is low during menstruation, high-energy poses such as inversions should be avoided. This makes sense, yet not all women experience low energy during menstruation; indeed, many feel quite energized.

Philosophically speaking, menstruation is considered to be apana, meaning that energetically, its vitality is downward-flowing. The argument against inversions during menstruation maintains that inversions will disturb this natural energetic flow. However, inversions are recommended in some systems of yoga as therapy to improve elimination of excess apana. In Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, B.K.S. Iyengar recommends practicing inversions to alleviate menstrual problems such as heavy flow and irregular periods.

The contradictions don’t stop there. Some teachers recommend avoidance of inversions such as Sirsasana (Headstand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) while suggesting no such caution with other poses that invert the uterus, such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Downward-Facing Dog.

Since I know of no studies or research that makes a compelling argument to avoid inversions during menstruation, and since menstruation affects each woman differently and can vary from cycle to cycle, I am of the opinion that each woman is responsible for making her own decision. Pay attention to how you respond to inversions (indeed, ALL asanas) during your period. A short Headstand may be fine while a longer one isn’t; maybe you will find that backbends or twists adversely affect your period. If your energy is very low, restorative poses may be just the ticket, though you may find a more active sequence of standing poses alleviates cramps and the blues. You really won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you feel it in your own body.

The bottom line is that hatha yoga is full of contradictions and varied opinions, leaving each of us ultimately responsible for our own choices. Pay attention to your body and discover what works and what doesn’t—not just during your period but every day.