Yoga: “Breathe, What?, Sweat!”

YogaYoga. Comes with a lot of preconceived notions doesn’t it? Some people love it; some people roll their eyes at it. For me, I take yoga for one reason and one reason only. One day I aspire to touch my toes. I can see them down there, but since I’m about a flexible as a telephone pole, I haven’t been able to touch them for decades.

So around the first of the year, EVERY year, I get the yoga bug. When I flipped my calendar to 2015, I caught it and quickly discovered the Lehigh Valley is a great place to catch that bug. There are tons of studios that offer such a wide variety of classes. Most studios allow you to take your first class free so you are able to get the feel of the environment, teachers, etc. Plus, many even have mats you can borrow if you are brand new to yoga.

After I managed to locate MY yoga mat, which I vaguely remember my kids using as a slip-n-slide this summer, I hosed it off, rolled it up and got ready!

In preparation for this article, I took three classes. Three very different classes.

Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love? Well the title of my yoga experience would be Breathe, WHAT?, Sweat

I took the Breathe segment at YogaMos in Hellertown. This studio is owned by couple Stephanie and Chris MoDavis, and it is located on the first floor of their beautiful craftsman styled home. Stephanie was the instructor the morning I attended, and if you can drum up a picture of the quintessential yoga instructor in your head, Stephanie is it. She’s tiny, long hair, soft spoken and incredibly positive and encouraging. Her class can easily be described as 50% mental and 50% physical. Oh sure, there are the Down Dogs and the Warrior One’s, but Stephanie tries her hardest to get you to try your hardest to center spiritually. And that my friends, is not easy for ole Kelli. When I do Down Dogs, I critique the state of my toe nails; when I am Warrior-One-ing, I am making a mental grocery list; when I am Chairing, I’m wondering if I can get to the 12 places I need to before the bus comes that afternoon.

In her relaxed manner, Stephanie flows between demonstrating the moves to the class and walking through the class calling the moves while adjusting people’s positions. She makes it very clear at the beginning that you do what you can do, and everyone will take their own experience away from the class.

The experience I took away from her class was this: She adjusted me during savasana. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with that, I’ll put it this way. That is where you lay there at the end of the class, relax, and breathe. Yep, she adjusted me during that. Not during my Warrior Two’s or my pitiful attempt at a Flying Pigeon. She adjusted me when I was just laying there… breathing. Any do you know what that told me? I was probably laying there like the Tin Man because I’m high strung AND HAD THINGS TO DO. But her hand on my foot and leg was her sweet way of saying, “Knock it off. Take one hour to yourself, enjoy and breathe.” Breathe.

The next class I took was at Emmaus Yoga on Broad Street in Emmaus. Emmaus Yoga offers a nice variety of classes as well as a few $5 community classes per week. If you are a person who wants to take yoga but doesn’t want to be tied to one studio, this is a nice inexpensive option.

The business is divided into two rooms. The office is on one side of the hallway, and the studio is on the other. The studio has an industrial feel but is nicely camouflaged by the color scheme and the paintings on the wall. I was sitting there taking it all in when in walked Britt Tagg. Britt is very tall, was dressed in very hip yoga gear, and adorned by very cool tattoos. When I saw her, I knew she was all business and she was. In fact, I think her opening line was, “Ok – let’s get to it” and we did. Game on. She ran a great class, she called it quick and there was no fluff. It sometimes takes me a few classes with an instructor to get used to their cadence of speech and this class was no exception.

During one series, Britt was calling the moves and I, in deep concentration, was trying to follow along. “Put your left leg here, and your right elbow there, and your head there and…” Well, the and’s finished, and I was in a position resembling a toddler gearing up for a game of leapfrog. But, when I looked up, everyone else was standing on their head, toes pointed beautifully in the air, and I think they were all smiling. What?

Britt runs a great class. If you are good at yoga, definitely go; if you aren’t good at yoga, go anyway. You’ll get better.

For my third class I wanted to try a hot yoga class. For that I chose West End Yoga on Highland Street in Allentown.  Hot yoga isn’t for everyone, but it is my favorite kind of yoga so I was excited to take this class. Combine that with the fact that the studio is in the West End of Allentown, which is probably my favorite place in the Lehigh Valley. I was two for two. And then I met the instructor Kevin Roth and I knew I’d love this hot yoga class even more. Three for three.

West End Yoga keeps their hot yoga room at 95-degrees, and Kevin keeps his classes fun and challenging. He also keeps them loud. His music is loud, not Motley Crue loud, but louder than most studios I’ve been too. And his baritone voice booms as he calls the class. That, again, is probably a love- it or hate-it point but I think it brings a great energy and I loved it. Plus, the louder it is the more distracted I am from my sweating earlobes.

Kevin teaches the class from his mat and does the entire class with you. That was perplexing to me. How he can essentially balance on one toe, in a 95-degree room all the while yelling words of encouragement to us, I will never know.  It was a fast hour; it was a fun hour and did I mention you sweat, a lot?

Three classes down and I still can’t touch my toes but I’m having fun trying.


(Now, did you really think I could end this any other way?)

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