When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it seems like there are two schools of thought: 1) don’t make resolutions, they’re too contrived; and 2) the gym membership, bullet journal, diet plan, and meditation classes begin Thursday. I fall into the latter group of hyper-ambitious “January fresh start” people, and this year I’m planning to add yoga as a much more regular practice in my life.
Over the years, I’ve turned to one-off yoga classes here and there for multiple reasons. Sometimes I’ve felt out of shape and in need of new exercises, other times I’ve felt busy-minded and hectic and needed to refocus my breathing. I’ve never taken a yoga class that didn’t pleasantly surprise me with new physical challenges, mental breakthroughs, or simply a little more energy for the day. As a runner, the complementary benefits of these classes have provided more flexibility and breathing along with strength and stability.
But before you draw some conclusion about how much I love a deep chair pose or how my downward dog is executed flawlessly, let’s take a step back. I took my first yoga class a couple years ago on vacation with friends in the Outer Banks (shout out to the cool people at Duck Village Yoga). I only agreed because I felt more comfortable embarrassing myself in front of strangers rather than all the people I know in Corning. However, as with most challenges that require a little vulnerability, the benefits far outweighed my clumsy lack of flexibility. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I bought a yoga mat from Wegmans when I got home (and didn’t use it until my return trip to the Outer Banks the following year).
Since then, there have been many highlights to my yoga career, including:
- showing up late and taking the last spot in front of a space heater
- falling completely asleep during shavasana
- saying “nope” out loud after the teacher described the pose we were about to do
- forgetting my left from my right and incidentally facing the entire class
- not being even a little bit flexible
Despite all this, I’m still maintaining my New Year’s resolution to practice more regularly in 2020. One of my primary reasons for keeping this goal is the new Crystal Heart Yoga on Pulteney Street in Corning, owned and managed by Elizabeth Moses.
The only time in my life I can say I practiced with any consistency (i.e. 4 weeks in a row) was when Elizabeth Moses had a Monday morning class at the Corning Y. A couple friends convinced me to go and I was immediately drawn to her teaching style. She is grounded and methodical while closely observing her students to adjust for their strengths and weaknesses; and she maintains a feeling of support and encouragement, even when she’s pushing the class to hold that beloved chair pose for an extra eternity.
Elizabeth is one of four teachers at Crystal Heart who all work under the guiding principle of Ahimsa, which is designed to help each student achieve their full expression of self. Their practice is rooted in personal discovery and growth, whatever that may mean to each individual. For me, it means improving my flexibility and strength in addition to my own mental calmness and focus.
I’ve taken two classes at Crystal Heart so far and I already feel at home. The studio is spacious and clean with lots of natural light. The teachers are kind and appropriately challenging, and they offer a variety of styles, class times, and even yoga therapy. If you’re traveling or don’t have any of your own supplies, it’s free to borrow their high-quality yoga mats, straps, blocks, blankets, and cushions.
So as you wrap up your holiday vacation and find you’re stressed and tired after only a couple hours back in the office, get on the Crystal Heart Yoga website and book a class. Whether it’s your first or 50th, you won’t regret starting the new year with this new routine.