Tour Stop #4: South Boston Yoga

Another tour stop is in the books. On a snowy Sunday morning, my friend Alex and I ventured to South Boston Yoga for a class with the studio’s founder and co-owner.

Tour Stop: South Boston Yoga, Boston
Date: Sunday, February 18
Class: All Levels Yoga (90 mins)
Instructor: David Vendetti
Practice Pal: Alex

What I observed: David is a well-known entity in the Boston yoga scene with a big personality and a particularly playful approach to his teaching. He had been described to me as polarizing, but the room on that Sunday was full of lovers, not haters. I got the impression that many of those students are there with David every weekend.

The space was plenty big to hold the fifty or so yogis in the room. Even though most of us had a pile of props and extra layers and bags piled around our mats, it was not crowded or cramped. I only once kicked Alex, but we were opening to Upavistha Konasana, so it honesty would have been a surprise had I not (#tallpeople).

SBY_props
Props, props, props, props, props.

What I liked: David created a warm and welcoming environment. His upbeat nature, and several rounds of Bhastrika breath brought the heat and the energy up in the room quickly. A series of lunge sequences with long holds had the sweat rolling down my brow within twenty minutes. David was on his feet and moving around the room, connecting with students through eye contact, encouraging words, and hands-on adjustments. I think he physically touched each person―no small feat with such a high attendance. I heard him provide additional cues for students when he noticed they were lost in a certain posture, and I also appreciated the way he referenced the physical space during his cues. Thinking about drawing your gaze toward the orange curtains (as opposed to just “the right”), or reaching your toes toward your neighbors hip pocket (as opposed to just “the left”) is really helping in getting a sense of your space within the room and upon the mat.

David announced his theme for the class early on (“side bending”), and his transitions between postures were surprising and fun. A spin to the right and we were on the floor; a twist to the left and we were upright and facing the opposite direction. He brought us through heaps of abdominal work, including a variation on bicycle crunches with a block balanced between elbow and knee. If that sounds complicated and crazy, it was.

I unwittingly parked my mat directly beneath a large skylight. The fresh snowfall had partially melted from the pyramidal panes, and I could see puffs of clouds drifting across the pockets of blue sky. I kept my eyes open for most of Savasana just so I could watch.

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Snowy skylight scene for Savasana.

What I missed: What I’m finding to be common among these “All Levels” classes is a lack of arm balances and inversions. I fully agree that more complicated postures can be dangerous if a student doesn’t know how to enter them safely, but I also believe that there are preparatory versions and variations that are accessible to all, and these versions are teachable within a normal class setting.

I had one major safety concern that I would be remiss in omitting here. The class culminated in a series of variations on Visvamitrasana (compass or sundial). The side bending we had done earlier in class is helpful for that posture, but the primary anatomical focus is hamstring opening. Lots and lots of hamstring opening (see Ashley Albrand’s beautiful demonstration). I personally did not feel like we had warmed up that muscle group sufficiently to enter Visvamitrasana, and I was nervous to be working in that posture.

Recommended for: Aside from true beginners, all experience levels would be comfortable in David’s class. I saw baby-faced undergrads and graying practitioners; stiff moonlighters in jammy-jams and ultra-fit regulars in luxury fitness gear. Everyone appeared to be working up a sweat, and everyone appeared to echo David’s good cheer.

Would I return? Can I go to Jazz Brunch afterwards at The Beehive again? Yes, please.

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Organ and elephant details.
SBY_open_space
Empty floor space before the masses arrived.
SBY_me_and_alex
Me and Alex doing Twin Trees.

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