Tour Stop #7: Prana Power Yoga, Cambridge

At the end of a long Wednesday, I met a former colleague at Prana Power Yoga for a class that wrung the last of the energy from my body and left me feeling contentedly kaput.

[NB: If you’ve been paying close attention to these tour posts you may be asking yourself, where is Tour Stop #6? It happened, but I’ve been sitting on the recap because I had a bad experience and I’m still debating what, if anything, to say about it.]

Tour Stop: Prana Power Yoga, Central Square, Cambridge
Date: Wednesday, March 28
Class: Prana to Music (75 mins)
Instructor: Emily Griffin
Practice Pal: Kate H.

I lived in Central Square for some time, and was then practicing at Prana two or three times a month. I remembered enjoying my time there, but it had been years since I’d be around for a class.

Prana has three locations: Cambridge, Newton, Winchester. The Cambridge location has two practice spaces, and we were in the smaller one. There were probably a dozen students in the class, which made the modest room feel cozy, though not crowded. Most of Prana’s classes are heated to 90-95 degrees. The class we attended was billed as “unheated,” but on this warm day, I became a sticky, drippy mess pretty early into class.

The drop-in rate for a single class is $20, which is the top end for what I see around Camberville.

prana_floor_space
Shining floors and massive windows in the smaller practice space at PPY.

What I observed: Emily was a calm and confident teacher. I feel like I got a sense of who she was as a person and as an instructor, but I didn’t feel like I was watching the Emily Griffin Show. She wasn’t there to show off or to entertain; she was there to lead the class. There’s something to be said for neutrality in teaching: being unremarkable in tone of voice and vocabulary allows the yoga to speak for itself.

What I liked: Emily used straightforward language, and clear, almost terse cuing. I didn’t have to look up at any point to get a visual clue as to what she was asking the class to do, and as a result, I felt very focused on my own practice, my own breath, and my own body. Emily used some variations on specific anatomical cues, and my ears perked at her asking us to notice how “the rib cage flares out” during the inhale, and to actively “pinch” the shoulder blades together in some upright postures.

Kate H. quite liked the breath work that began the class. Emily invited us to find supta baddha konasana, and cued us through several minutes of inhales and exhales. She suggested focusing especially on the exhales: as the lungs empty, pull the navel back, up, and in. Without explicitly stating it, she helped the class set up the uddiyana bandha (low belly lock, or upward flying lock). These minutes spent with deliberate, intentional breathing created a transition from the workday to the practice, and brought me into a calm, receptive head space.

prana_ceiling_lights
I’ve been staring at a lot of ceilings and lighting fixtures on this tour, and realized that some studios give this space more attention than the others.

What I missed: There was, I think, a teacher-in-training walking about the room alongside Emily to act as an extra pair of hands for physical adjustments. I personally appreciate hands-on adjustments, so was glad for this, but I received a few that didn’t indicated anything to me. I wasn’t sure if certain caresses meant I needed to extend into a posture, or alter my alignment, or just hang out and breathe.

And, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ll say that this class didn’t provide me any unusual or challenging postures on which to work. The sequence was pretty predictable: a series of surya namaskara a’s and b’s, some lunges and twists, a few seated forward folds. There were few standing balances, and no arm balances or inversions were taught (though they were offered to students who already had them in their practice―which begs the question, how would they ever become a part of your practice if no one teaches them to you?).

 

Recommended for: Busy yogis who want to squeeze in a weeknight class between work and dinner; yogis who want move the body and build heat for 75 minutes, but not think too hard about it.

Would I return? Yah! Though I didn’t feel like I’d had a transformative or informational experience, I did get a good workout and left with lots of good vibes.

prana_jill_and_kate
Yoga with friends is fun, even when they are half your size!

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