Tour Stop #2: Samara Yoga, Somerville

I made my second stop on the SomerJill Yoga Tour of 2018, this time within my own city. Nestled in the heart of Davis Square, Samara Yoga is a sweet and sunny spot to practice.

Tour Stop: Samara Yoga, Somerville
Date: Thursday, January 25
Class: Vinyasa – All Levels (60 mins)
Instructor: Nicoline Valkenberg

Samara was opened in 2010 by Nicoline Valkenberg. The practice space is immaculate, and the blonde hardwood floors were positively flooded with light from the large windows at the front and back of the room, framed with gauzy curtains. Copious yoga props were meticulously stacked in the foyer, and the friendly staff made the “new student” experience a breeze. I was rolling out my mat within minutes.

What I observed: Nicoline’s cues were crystal clear, as was her theme for the class. She played with Ardha Dhanurasana, and her sequence brought us through five variations of that half-bow shape: on the side body, in Vashistasana, bound Ardha Chandrasana, Natarajasana, and the culmination, double-bound king dancer (with strap). I was one of seven students in the room, and Nicoline gave options in the more complicated postures so that we could progress as deeply as was appropriate for our own experience level.

What I liked: Nicoline called out postures in both their Sanskrit and English names, and provided consistent, eloquent guidance on how to build each asana. She bookended the class by dedicating time for grounding and centering. Without forcing a spiritual experience, she invited us to consider our mind-body connection at that particular moment, the quality of our breath, and how to capture a sense of calm. The physical space at Samara is utterly peaceful and shockingly quiet for its location in the Square (sandwiched on Elm Street between Sligo and The Burren).  I had no trouble hearing my own inhales and exhales, and truly felt relaxed at the end of the hour.

What I missed: I expected more vinyasas in a “Vinyasa” class. At least 20 minutes had elapsed before we took the first chaturanga. In total, I took four vinyasas, and two of those were optional—not much by way of heat-building. Mentally, I was prepared to enter our peak pose at the end of class, since we had come into so many earlier versions of the asana, but had my body been warmer, I think I would have been more physically comfortable. With the long opening and a generous savasana, we weren’t active for much of the 60 minutes. I spoke with Nicoline after class, and she said that pace was probably slower than normal (a fellow student chimed into to concur and deemed the experience “slow and sweet”.)

Recommended for: Lunchtime yogis who don’t want to worry about sweating through their clothes; yogis seeking a gently paced class with strong cues and space to fine-tune each posture.

Would I return? The drop-in rate is reasonable for the area, so if I could land in a class with a faster pace and denser sequences, yes.

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