JOURNEYoga in Arlington, VA
Thurs, June 11th at noon
Yoga with Stephanie
6 women, 2 men = 8 total attendance
I had to pay $2 to park. Not a good start.
However, I was greeted at the front desk by TWO smiling, warm-feeling people. They handed me a clipboard, asking for a brief medical history and waiver.
I felt immediately welcome and comfortable. They called me by name when I turned in the sheet, and directed me to leave my flip flops in a row of bench topped shoe cubbies in the front desk area. They pointed me to the bathrooms and noted where I could put my backpack once inside the room. My welcome was efficient, friendly, and the people I encountered acted with ownership.
The welcome area was lovely – bright and cheery with a filtered water spigot and coffee, and plenty of places to sit.
They have two rooms – capacities 15 and 30.
Class was held in the big room – high ceilings, stark yet clean décor. But weird HVAC sounds whooshed on and off throughout class. Job well done by Stephanie to find a music level that somehow could be heard over the whooshing, but then not too loud when the HVAC kicked off. Acoustics can be a nightmare for an instructor, so this feat was super impressive to me.
Occasionally during class, we could hear water moving through pipes loudly, I’m guessing from upstairs somewhere – which was a bit distracting. All I could think was – did someone just flush?
I entered at the last possible moment. Stephanie was smiling, sitting at the front of room. There did not appear to be any conversation happening. A silent room can be peaceful or awkward and this room felt awkward.
If she asked about injuries or if there were new people, it happened before I arrived. She grabbed a block for me, which was kind, but did not ask my name, and we started right away in savasana.
These people breathed loudly – I loved it! Stephanie read a quote about finding delight in your world, in your life, which I thought was a lovely intention to set for class.
She provided solid basic cueing, but nothing special. Stephanie offered block support options, which seemed to be used by those around me. A few good reminders and tips, and I absorbed some new ways to describe proper placement in some poses, like great placement cueing for warrior one.
Some of the poses that require more flexibility came long before I was warm enough.
About halfway through class, Stephanie remarked that nothing should feel “yucky” in yoga. There was some laughter, and she broke from her “yoga teacher” voice and disposition and mentioned how she’s a mom and how that’s changed her vocabulary. How she finds herself occasionally praising her husband *with tiny clapping motion and kindergarten teacher voice* “Good job, honey!”
Give me more of that person!
Note to instructors: You may think you have pretend to be more or less of something when you teach class – more feminine, more athletic, less silly, more soft spoken. Whatever you think draws you closer to that “ideal” yogi, or kickboxer, or whatever. The thing is – you must still be real. So, please, don’t use phrases that feel stiff coming out of your mouth. I don’t wear a ballcap turned sideways or recite prayers to Buddha. I am often silly in BodyFlow and often talk about breath in BodyJam. People will like me or they won’t and THAT’S OK.
Your class won’t be for everyone. But it won’t be for anyone if you aren’t real.
I reported earlier that Stephanie began class with a quote about finding delight.
Every class should be a tapestry, and if you start with a thread (in this case – delight), you have to weave that thread all the way through, song by song, until the participants find savasana again.
Translation – I needed more delight.
Speaking of song by song – Stephanie’s playlist was perfect for me. Of course now I can’t recall a single song or artist, but I remember thinking each song worked. Even if I had never heard the song, it seemed to fall right into the essence of the class. And it wasn’t typical. I definitely heard chimes, and Bob Marley made an appearance, but there were up-tempo tunes that worked, and folk rocky sounding stuff, too.
If you read my first ClassPass review, you “met” my fitness friend, M. Coincidentally, M took a Slow Flow Yoga class the night before at the same studio – JOURNEYoga. Her instructor was, by her account, a completely different spirit. She knew practically everyone by name. M called her “quirky.” Said she, “…definitely knew what she was talking about. She was very positive and engaging. I could have done without her breaking into song, but overall very personable style.”
I WANNA GO TO THAT CLASS! I like quirky. Maybe someday, but for now, I promised myself not to repeat studios.
Are you special?
In the fitness/wellness landscape of 2015, I can take a yoga class practically any time of any day without having to travel farther than three miles.
So to the Stephanies (and the Amys from ClassPass #1) of the fitness world – What makes your class special? What differentiates you from the next instructor? If you can’t answer that question, guess what? Neither can anyone who takes your class.
In summary, I found nothing “wrong” with this class, and I thought the vibe of the studio was very welcoming. With the right guidance, Stephanie could turn out to be an amazing instructor. Fingers crossed.
I went. I saw. I pedaled.