Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Class Review: Strala Yoga's STRONG with Mike Taylor

Sunday morning, I headed down to SoHo to try another Strala class. I loved Heidi Kristoffer's RELAX class when I went at the end of July, but I'd been traveling and hadn't been able to make it back to try more classes yet. 

After taking Mike Taylor's STRONG class Sunday morning, you can consider me an official part of the Strala fan club. These yoga classes are everything I look for in a place to practice yoga. The studio is lovely, the students are chill (I didn't see anyone being competitive about who can do a better Crow -- spoiler alert, not me), and the instructors are laid back, helpful guides through the flow of that day's class.

The word "guide" is key here because Strala refers to its instructors as "guides" rather than teachers. The studio is very centered on each class being an outlet for everyone's individual yoga practice rather than a rigid set. I noticed this in Heidi's class and it was just as evident in Mike's class. I really love this aspect of Strala. 

Mike Taylor, from Strala's website
Before class started, as I was chatting with a friend about my sore foot--possibly minor tendinitis from my long run?--Mike asked where the pain was, then suggested "pumping" the foot (putting pressure on and off) to increase circulation to it throughout the class. I took his advice and my foot felt much, much better post-class. Thanks, Mike!!

I really liked the flow of Mike's STRONG class. I've taken some yoga classes that won't be appearing on my blog because I simply couldn't stand the flow; Mike's class flowed in a way that made sense to me, where I could easily follow the flow from pose to pose, and I appreciated that. There's nothing more frustrating to me than being in a class and being unable to figure out what the teacher is having us move through. 

The class was tougher and more cardio-based than the RELAX class I'd taken (which makes sense since one is supposed to be Strong and the other Relaxed...). For example, Mike had us hold Warrior 2 for something like two minutes, which might not seem like a lot, but just try it and then tell me two minutes isn't a long time to be in Warrior 2. We also did a lot of downward dog splits, and spent quite a bit of time in plank as well. Oh, and did I mention Mike's killer abs sequence at the beginning and end of class? I can normally keep up with abs sequences, even in classes like Physique 57, but I had to stop twice to stop the abs burning. It was awesome! There was still plenty of time for a lengthy shivasana at the end, enabling everyone to really center themselves after a rigorous hour and fifteen minutes. 

I am so excited that I've found Strala Yoga and hope to make it a routine part of my exercise schedule. And that's saying a lot, since I have to transfer at Times Square to get to the studio!

Class - STRONG
Site Description - Strala's STRONG class builds strength, balance, focus, and body awareness by finding the ease in each moment, whether simple or challenging. You will build a strong, healthy body and calm mind from the inside out. *Open to all levels*
Instructor - Mike Taylor
Length - ~1.25 hours
Cost - $15 drop-in, $10 for students, $2 for mat rental, $2 for Smart Water (but you can fill your bottle in the bathroom for free)
Location - SoHo (632 Broadway b/t Houston & Bleecker, 6th Floor, enter on Crosby St during construction)
Skill Level - probably not for absolute beginners since the flow moved pretty quickly and there wasn't guidance from someone doing the poses at the front of the room at all times. I'd try Strala's BASICS class Saturday or Sunday mornings first. 

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