Photos by the Galfromdownunder - mid downdog!
Is yoga better outdoors or indoors? Beach or park? Ashram or gym?
I've generally preferred indoors, finding the outdoors a bit of a distraction. But think of the advantages: better dissipation of neighboring sweat, no one bumping into you, and the chance to gaze up at the sky and watch clouds in that boundless blue sky slide by - something we rarely do when we become "grownups" grafted to swivel chairs and tempurpedic mattresses.
Last Thursday, lying flat on my back on Pier 64 with a piece of foam between me and the concrete, I felt strangely exhilarated.
The occasion? The free every-other-Thursday yoga class offered by Chelsea Piers Fitness Center, the massive complex just over yonder. And yes, it really is on Pier 64.
Hint: to locate the cross street, subtract 40 from the Pier number and you get 24th Street.
The instructor, Paolo, was possessed of a delightful South African/British/Spanish something else accent that sounded pleasing even through a megaphone. With a full hour and a half to burn, from 6.30-8.00pm, there was plenty of time to start off very gently and take everything very slowly.
Did anyone not want to be touched? He made sure to ask, and yes, I've had that first-time experience of having someone jump out of their skin when I approached them to adjust and they weren't expecting it ... always ask, and best when they are in a warm-up child's pose, so they can raise their hand anonymously to others.
We started out facing the river, a little challenging in the early evening summer heat, and I admit I had to put sunglasses on. Alternatively, one could do it Kundalini style - eyes closed for the entire class!
Paolo remarked how the 70-somethings in his senior class were able to stand on one leg longer than he, a great sign that Chelsea Piers is for all yogis great and small, the young, the old and the restless. I've been to several classes on its lustrous, high-gloss polyurethane floors, floors that make you feel like a star just to tread on them. And being a gym, I guess, the classes are refreshingly inclusive and low on "yogatude". Then again, in NYC, you can find as little or as much 'tude as you want - it's all good.
Every time I attend a yoga class I learn something new that I can take back to my own students. For me, it's the subtle, fine-tuning remarks here and there that make a teacher great, and Paolo offered several.
Above is John Boyd, head honcho of the Fitness Center programming. I'd approached John asking if he'd like a Yoga for Cyclists class on the schedule and learned that Spin Yoga was a new offering many gyms were considering. Although I'd ridden a bike for living, it hadn't occurred to me to combine the two - and in my case seems like a natural progression. So as a result, I'm taking the Spin Instructor orientation in August as another string to add to my bow. Why the hell not!
I confess I got these shots by interrupting my downdogging to snap them upside down, then rotated them. I made a little video too, but somehow failed to capture the passing parade of ferries, pleasurecraft with on-board swinging BBQ's, rowing teams, skywriting planes, helicopters ... all part of the Manhattan-flavored, OM-like setting.
See you in my 'tude-free Tuesday class at Chelsea Recreation Center. (I'm too geeky to have 'tude), and come roll out your mat next to mine at the next Chelsea Piers class on Pier 64.
Chelsea Piers Free Thursday Yoga (Aug/Sep) : www.chelseapiers.com/sc/pier64yoga.htm
More cheap or free (though I can't guarantee 'tude-free) yoga classes