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Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge, Day 17: Venturing South

This morning I ventured south to Triyoga on Kings Road for a class with Mollie McClelland. While I don’t know Mollie personally, I have met her a few times and have always found her engaging and down to earth. This morning was no exception, and as she made her way around the room the room seemed to relax out of Chelsea high street mode and into the context of a yoga studio.

While class started and ended a little late, Mollie integrated an appropriately titled ‘level 2’ vinyasa practice with a spiritual frame of self-acceptance, a particularly important message for the group on that morning (in the women’s changing room there was actually a line to use the full length mirror. My locker was right in front of the mirror, and not once, but twice, I was asked to move as I was blocking the view). Her words were meaningful without being drawn out or disproportionate to the allocated practice time. Alignment instruction was basic and clear, and overall the class had a nice pace. The unique aspect of Mollie’s teaching style seems to be that she actively teaches rather than simply ‘leads’  a class by calling out postures and counting breath. There were at least two examples of this during the course of the hour when she slowed the class down to demonstrate what she was seeing happen in an asana versus what the body should be doing. Based on her comments and words of encouragement, my sense was that the class was able to self correct as a result, meaning they benefited by the intervention.

While the class was for the most part well rounded, there was one aspect of asana practice that was missing: the seated postures. For me this felt a little bit like missing a tooth. While we did do a number of standing forward folds and standing twists, the relationship of the body to gravity in standing versus in sitting is different, and a balanced class allows for at least a few seated postures to help release the spine and stimulate the organs.

Another point that drew my attention was the method suggested for practicing pinchamayurasana.  Mollie shared a technique from Edward Clark for coming up into forearm balance with the top knee bent, which she described as using the top leg like a lever to help pick up the bottom leg, then finding the interplay between the two legs as they lengthen together. This is when the body worker and Iyengar student in me cringed. Edward Clark is an acrobatic yogi who is capable of doing things that are not adequate or available for many, especially for those who are not uber-aware about how to maintain the integrity of the lower back in an inverted back bend. As I watched Molly’s sacro-illiac joint pull and twist in the demonstration, sirens went off and uniformed men with helmets ran into the room with a small trampoline to prepare to catch poor Mollie (ok, it’s late and I do have a three year old son obsessed with the fire brigade). Mollie actually demonstrated the approach beautifully and made it out of the posture unscathed, but suffice it to say that I opted to give the suggested approach a miss and keep calm and carry on with Mr. Iyengar’s technique.

Overall, I enjoyed the practice and found Mollie present, focused and intelligent. The studio itself was as stark and white as I found it during last year’s challenge (the only thing not white were the dark hairs on the floor around my mat). The friendly woman at reception was inviting, relaxed, and actually called me by name after signing me in.

Tomorrow, Mercedes Ngoh, round two.

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